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Archive for the ‘SOIL’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

John Whitaker’s Dark Matter project posits a memorial landscape that is a forum for collective action and protest. Image courtesy John Whitaker, Student ASLA.

An ASLA Student Award-winning project challenges outdated death practices.

 

One of the most startling projects submitted for the 2020 ASLA Student Awards was Dark Matter—a proposal that uses landscape as a transmission medium for the ecological values of the deceased. With arresting images and a somewhat unconventional project type, Dark Matter dazzled the jury, which bestowed the Award of Excellence in General Design on the project last spring. John Whitaker, Student ASLA, an MLA candidate at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, designed a proposal that created a memorial landscape that grows over time to unify human remains with nonhuman ecologies, promoting biological and cultural diversity and offering mourners “the continuation of a relationship that would endure over time with both their loved one and the larger site,” Whitaker says. (more…)

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BY PATRICK SISSON

A high-tech greenhouse developer argues that preserving the agricultural landscape
requires a sustainable, scalable start-up.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

One of the first things visitors will notice inside the sprawling AppHarvest complex—a 60-acre, 2.76-million-square-foot, 30-foot-high greenhouse in Morehead, Kentucky—is the blinding, almost antiseptic whiteness. A forest of tomato plants, green tendrils reaching up from nutrient-rich charcoal beds toward the glass roof, will soon be arranged in rows that stretch nearly a mile end to end. Walls, gutters, and flooring, all coated in white to reflect the sunlight, give the appearance of a soundstage.

“It’s just awe-inspiringly massive,” says Kentucky native Jonathan Webb, the company’s founder, about the experience of standing inside a space the size of 30 Tesla Gigafactories. Seedlings have already been planted, and by the end of the year, AppHarvest will be shipping the first of what it hopes will be an annual haul of 45 million pounds of fresh, Kentucky-grown tomatoes to grocers including Kroger, Walmart, and Costco. “We’re trying to use technology to align with nature and put nature first,” Webb says.

As its name suggests, AppHarvest views farming and food through a start-up lens. For Webb, who has a background in the solar industry, the central argument is sustainability. Tomatoes are grown year-round in a climate-controlled, chemical-free greenhouse using hydroponics, robotics, more banks of LED lights than a ballpark, and two species of wasps for natural pest control, resulting in significantly more produce per acre. Strategically placing one of North America’s largest greenhouses within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population means less time between harvest and consumption, ideally resulting in a tastier tomato and less trucking emissions. Nearly $2 billion worth of tomatoes are currently shipped into the United States annually from farms and greenhouses in Mexico.

Webb argues he needs to go big to fight the dystopian farming practices of Big Agriculture, which run ever-larger industrialized operations that emit noxious levels of animal waste and fertilizers. Animals raised on huge CAFOs (concentrated animal feed operations), for instance, live in crowded misery, amid complexes that stain the landscape with so much ammonia and nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and methane that children nearby developed elevated levels of asthma. Artificial structures of glass and steel the size of airport terminals can free up the land by concentrating production. It’s a pragmatic strain of tech utopianism that asks if the sacrifice of a small portion of the landscape can serve the greater good. (more…)

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

Peat/Land: Strategies for Restoration, Design, and Planning of North Carolina Peatlands, by Madalyn Baldwin, North Carolina State University, Student Analysis and Planning Honor Award.

“Paludiculture isn’t a well-known concept, but I only wanted to dedicate one graphic to introducing and explaining it, so the aim of creating this graphic was to fit in as much information as possible while trying to keep it legible. My goals were to create a graphic narrative that provided a definition and overview of the concept, explain the existing agricultural conditions and spatial relationship to peatland as well as what is produced here, give specific examples of crops that could be produced by adopting paludiculture practices, and use icons introduced earlier in the project to reference the specific restoration strategies and steps toward implementation. Overall, I was hoping this graphic would read as an infographic for paludiculture, answering the following questions: What is it, how and where can it be implemented or adopted, and what are the benefits?

Madalyn Baldwin, Student ASLA

 

Peat—decomposed plant matter that accumulates in boggy landscapes—sequesters a large proportion of the world’s carbon compared to its relatively small percentage of coverage, yet it is often used for energy production or simply drained to convert peatland to farmland. What if peatland were viewed less as an agricultural impediment than a climate-restorative opportunity? That’s the question addressed in this study of Fair Bluff, North Carolina, which was built on drained peatland, and was subjected to heavy flooding in recent hurricanes. By relocating Fair Bluff’s downtown from its current low-elevation site to higher ground, residents would gain a central peat park that would celebrate the region’s high water table while embracing better climate resilience that aligns with the disaster recovery plan. Here, innovative strategies for monetizing carbon storage would encourage preservation and restoration of peatlands, with increased public access and education programs to build visibility and instill the value of this natural resource. Encouraging paludiculture (wetlands agriculture) would promote peatland regrowth, and the new public park would offer tangible and long-term ecological benefit to residents in the region.

—Haniya Rae

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Photo by Robin Hill.

From “An Emerald Necklace at 70 Feet” in the October 2020 issue by Timothy A. Schuler, about a green roof system at the University of Miami devised by ArqGEO and the Henry Company that can keep everything planted amid hurricane-force winds.

“Hurricane ready.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Curbing Sediment collects sediment washed along curbs and street aprons in shallow troughs. Image courtesy Halina Steiner and Ryan Winston.

Research at the Ohio State University aims to keep stormwater sediment stranded on the road.

 

When Halina Steiner tested new sediment-collecting infrastructure in her lab at the Ohio State University (OSU), she noticed a mysterious magnetism pulling people toward the bits of beveled foamboard she had crafted into sediment collectors. As water mixes with dirt and sand starts flowing across the planks of foam, and sediment settles into intricately carved CNC-milled grooves, “it’s very mesmerizing,” Steiner says. It’s like sending a paper boat down a stream or, more accurately, “down the gutter,” she says, because that’s the exact place Steiner is looking to intercept sediment that pollutes and clogs waterways. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY PHOEBE LICKWAR, ASLA, AND ROXI THOREN, ASLA

FROM THE JUNE 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Phoebe Lickwar, ASLA, and Roxi Thoren, ASLA, have just published an excellent new book, Farmscape: The Design of Productive Landscapes (Routledge, 2020), which should consolidate many stirrings of the past decade in landscape architecture to reclaim a serious purchase on food production after generations of the two realms’ drifting apart. The book speaks into the gaps among where food is made, where it’s needed, and where it’s eaten. The examples pull from history through to recent practice, with the ornamented farm of early 1700s Britain; Frederick Law Olmsted’s Moraine Farm; the urban gardens of Leberecht Migge and Leopold Fischer in Dessau, Germany; and works by Martha Schwartz Partners, Mithun, and Nelson Byrd Woltz.

Just as the book came out, the pandemic began, quickly raising questions about food supplies. There were numerous reports of stalled and wasted produce, dairy, and eggs. Meatpacking plants were struck by outbreaks of COVID-19. LAM asked Lickwar and Thoren to trade notes by e-mail for a week in April about their reactions to the kinds of disruptions emerging, and how more intentional, landscape-driven approaches to food production might avert other disruptions down the line.

—Bradford McKee (more…)

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BY KOFI BOONE, ASLA

Julian Agyeman works toward sustainability that embodies justice: “I’m the one who asks the awkward questions.”

FROM THE MARCH 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

Julian Agyeman, a professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University, is a pioneer in the overlapping terrain of social equity, environmental justice, design, and planning. His decades of scholarship, including the groundbreaking book Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (The MIT Press, 2003), have shaped global dialogue on the links connecting improved environmental quality and social equity. In a recent conversation, Agyeman shared his thinking on aligning issues of social equity and environmental justice with teaching and practicing of built environmental change. This interview has been edited and condensed. (more…)

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