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Archive for the ‘ENVIRONMENT’ Category

BY TRENT OKUMURA, ASLA, AND MICHAEL TODORAN

How to specify complex paving patterns to deflect urban heat from solar exposure.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

Designers are challenged by climate change as they attempt to mitigate urban heat, but among the biggest factors are the thermal properties of the very building materials they use in new developments, not least their paving surfaces. The material and color of paving make a critical difference in either contributing to or neutralizing heat gain brought by the sun (as do roofs, which typically involve simpler, monolithic material choices). Darker paving creates a hotter microclimate but lower glare, and lighter paving creates a cooler microclimate and higher glare. The sweet spot in specifying paving lies in brokering a balance between thermal and visual comfort.

The crucial metric is solar reflectance (SR), which is a measurement of (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The DAPL crosses two watershed systems. Map by Alma and Friends.

The recently completed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) will run for 1,172 miles from northwest North Dakota to downstate Illinois, pumping 450,000 barrels of oil per day and costing $3.8 billion to build. Those are superlative numbers that can blot out the complexity and vulnerability of the landscapes and watersheds the pipeline traverses. Making these facets of the DAPL clear is the goal of maps created by an anonymous group of designers calling themselves Alma and Friends. Their work has been collected and packaged by the Los Angeles public television station KCET with a series of articles on the ecological consequences of the pipeline.

These maps detail regional watersheds, individual bodies of water, indigenous lands, the blotches of human settlement that dot this stretch of the Great Plains and midwestern prairie, and past and potential oil spills. Collected into a series of seven interactive maps by KCET, (more…)

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BY STEVE AUSTIN, ASLA

Landscape architecture can mitigate carbon emissions, but it is also implicated among the causes.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, created by the consensus of 197 nations, went into effect in November 2016 and has enormous implications for the practice of landscape architecture. If adhered to by its signatories, the agreement signals the end of the fossil fuel era by midcentury, well within the life spans of many landscape architects currently practicing. Though it may seem wonderfully “green,” this energy transition poses profound questions for the practice of landscape architecture at a time when the discipline is needed more than ever.

The Paris Agreement foretells a civilization powered nearly exclusively by renewably generated electricity, not fossil-fueled fire, like today. This will impose severe limits on landscape architecture’s materials, construction methods, and professional mobility. The agreement also portends a society with much less energy overall, as fossil fuels currently make up more than 80 percent of total energy consumed and cannot be easily replaced. These stark realities will challenge landscape architects to adapt to the impending zero-carbon future.

Last year set the record for the hottest year in measured history, breaking 2015’s record, which itself (more…)

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BY ANNE RAVER

Studio Outside coaxes many landscapes from one neglected ranch.

FROM THE MAY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

There’s a journey-like feeling to this landscape, both in space and time, as the path curves through dense stands of red cedar and yaupon holly, then out to open savanna, dotted with live oaks and groves of post oaks.

“You can’t really understand these landscapes and the plants on the surface until you understand the underlying soil types and drainage patterns,” said Tary Arterburn, FASLA, a founding principal of Studio Outside, one sunny cool morning in early November.

“It’s sand, sand, and sand,” said Amy Bartell, a project manager at Studio Outside, who has spent countless hours on site here. She knows where the fine clayey sands of the Southern Blackland Prairie to the west finger into the coarser sands of the Northern Humid Gulf Coastal Prairie to the east.

The Dallas-based firm first walked the 132-acre property in 2015 to assess (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

São Paolo is a small aquaponics farming settlement where residents and visitors gather medicinal compounds from the surrounding jungle. 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, by Vanessa Keith/StudioTEKA (New York: Urban Research, 2017). Courtesy of Terreform.

In the not-so-distant future, what remains of São Paulo is something like an ecoresort medical crop farm for ewoks. People from all over the world travel to its lush, frequently flooded rain forest and set up shop in ovular pods in the treetops connected by open-air skywalks. They farm fish, grow sugarcane, and harvest rare, medicinal compounds from the surrounding jungle. Crews deconstruct the old city, leaving more room for this life-saving flora to reassert itself.

A continent away, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, is also in the process of unbecoming. Residents of its single-family houses are cannibalizing their neighborhoods at the stern urging of statist security forces. (Let’s say something like United Nations troops, perhaps wearing black helmets instead of blue ones.) The nation’s sixth-largest city will be shrunk to a tiny fraction of its former size to make way for more massive solar energy farms that dominate the desert landscape. Former Arizonans are invited to move themselves along with the bricks and mortar of their communities to a burgeoning megacity in Vancouver. Some people don’t want to go, and are meeting in secret to talk about what to do if they’re forced.

Those companion (but tonally opposed) visions of the future begin with the same book, Vanessa Keith’s 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, published by Terreform’s Urban Research, Michael Sorkin’s publishing imprint. It envisions a world where (more…)

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The nearly unquestioned dominance cars have had over our cities for more than half a century, we’re told, is a very expensive problem to fix. Now that we have millions of miles of car-serving infrastructure, is it too late and too expensive to replace it?

No. The Spanish have a better way. Developed by Salvador Rueda of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona (and documented in a video by Vox), the plan for Barcelona “superblocks” (or “superilles” in Catalan) gives urban planners and transit engineers a simple template to gradually reclaim streets from automobiles.

Best applied to nine-block areas as discrete superblock districts, the plan confines regular traffic to the perimeter of the site. Streets internal to the nine-block area become one-way loops, (more…)

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You can almost watch it come to life on the page: In the sprawl of Bangkok, an illegal dump the size of a large city block was scraped clean, sculpted, and planted thickly with 60,000 trees, many of them quite small. It now looks thick as a rain forest, with an elegant skywalk overhead and cobras on the ground (which is why you’d use the skywalk). This remarkable reforestation project, called the Metro-Forest, by Landscape Architects of Bangkok, repatriates more than 275 species once common enough locally, as James Trulove reports, that sections of the city around it bear their names. Thick as it appears, it’s only getting started. The plan is for the trees to engulf the skywalk in their canopy.

How to describe the vindication of taking an embarrassed site and bringing back some form of its original dignity? “Strangely exciting,” is how Gwendolyn McGinn, Associate ASLA, puts it to the reporter Anne Raver in this issue. McGinn, of Studio Outside, in Dallas, is working at the Tylee Farm in Texas, not far from Houston. The farm holds what is left of southern post oak savanna that was overturned and grazed nearly to death since the mid-1800s. With Studio Outside’s founder, Tary Arterburn, FASLA, and Amy Bartell, a project manager, she is working to restore the many ecological segues the site once had for newish residential owners who want to live well—as long as their land does, too.

Also in this issue: Staff writer/editor Katarina Katsma, ASLA, writes about the interlocking of plant science and aesthetics in the designs of Sandra Clinton, FASLA, in the mid-Atlantic; Jeff Link looks at the fine points of poured-in-place rubber playground surfacing; Karl Kullmann considers the new heights of drone mapping; and Jane Gillette reviews City of Refuge: Separatists and Utopian Town Planning by Michael J. Lewis, a book that will leave you thinking about squares. The full table of contents for May can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Control of the Canopy,” Rungkit Charoenwat; “Side Pocket,” By oinonio [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr; “Along for the Ride,” Gwendolyn McGinn, Associate ASLA; “Color and Cushion,” Site Design Group; “The Right Fit,” Huguette Row.

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