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Posts Tagged ‘Harvard GSD’

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

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY JENNIFER REUT / IMAGES BY SARA ZEWDE

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

There are a number of arresting images in Sara Zewde’s proposal for a memorial at Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro, but my favorite is the one with the water. In it, ghostly figures in white are faded back over a scrim of water overlaid on the sea. Above their heads is a diagram of points and lines that ricochet out from a dense cluster triangulating across the sky. The palette is one of muted blues and grays. It feels both transcendent and somber.

The diagram comes from one of the spatial analyses that Zewde did on samba, the distinctly Brazilian musical form with African roots that lives in the city’s streets and squares. It depicts the roda de samba, an informal dance circle of musicians and spectators who become musicians. The character of samba is both sad and happy, a shout of joy and a lamentation.

In July 2017, the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site in Rio de Janeiro became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Zewde helped write the nomination, and her ideas are threaded through the descriptions. Recognized for “Outstanding Universal Value,” for its material, spiritual, and cultural significance, the wharf was and is the central element in a landscape that profoundly shaped the history of the Western Hemisphere: the built environment of slavery. (more…)

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In the latest LAM Lecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design landscape architecture professor Gareth Doherty examines the use of color in design through two climatic and ecological opposites: the landscapes of Bahrain and Brazil. The lecture, titled “Landscapes as Chromatic Relationships,” recounts Doherty’s travels through and fascination with the small desert island nation off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Roberto Burle Marx’s observations of the riotous shades of flora in his native Brazil, both the focus of recent books Doherty has penned.

In Bahrain, as explained in his book Paradoxes of Green: Landscapes of a City-State (University of California Press, 2017), the color green, especially when it’s observed as flora, is a prized jewel in the beige desert. Its cannibalization at the hands of encroaching development prompts ever-greater displays of resource-intensive landscaping, which leads to an uncomfortable paradox: The presence of green is often not so “green.” It requires tremendous amounts of energy and irrigation to make the desert bloom. For his book, Doherty took an ethnographic approach, exploring Bahrain’s cities and countryside on foot, all the better to look around and chat with natives. In his lecture he recounts melancholy strolls through neglected date palm fields, and farewell ceremonies for beloved courtyard trees about to be torn from the earth at the behest of residential development.

For Brazil, Doherty recounts Marx’s forays into the Brazilian countryside to collect new horticultural specimens, and his newest book (available this spring), Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape as Art and Urbanism (Lars Müller Publishers), collects the South American designer’s assorted lectures. It includes this sensual appreciation from Marx for nature’s ad hoc genius for composing in color: “All of this polychrome is seated on a backdrop where form, rhythm, and color are in harmony. Nothing was isolated. It was an orchestra of color. The yellows linked to the blues, the blues to the violets, the violets to the pinks. One could speak, even, of a battle of color in which one color would dominate at a particular season, supported by a background whose forms, rhythms, and colors enhanced those of the plants in a very particular way. This instability is precisely one of the great secrets of nature, which never tires us, and is constantly renewed by the effect of light, wind, rain, and shadows, which shape new forms.”

Outside of graphic design and fashion, color is generally stigmatized as a field of inquiry across most design fields. But as Doherty’s lecture and books argue, its mutability of meaning across various cultural contexts makes color a vital artifact in unlocking what a society or community values.

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If the design of our environments is a text that can be used to decode hidden meanings and obscured institutional values and biases, then design is a tool that’s equally up to the task of picking apart these inequities. That’s the intent of the second edition of the Black in Design Conference at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, subtitled “Designing Resistance, Building Coalitions,” and previewed by LAM earlier this month. Hosted by the Harvard GSD African American Student Union, the conference, held October 6-8, documents the effects of the African diaspora across the globe and the design fields, and questions the barriers and inhibitions to agency this community still faces. Its goal? More “radical and equitable futures.”

Across 10 hours of the conference, filmed and posted here, the organizers hear from a wide swath of design professionals, including planners, architects, artists, and landscape designers, such as Walter Hood, ASLA, and Diane Jones Allen, ASLA.

 

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