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Posts Tagged ‘LAMcast’

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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While most renewable energy advocates push for an inclusive “all of the above” approach that embraces solar panels, geothermal, and tidal power, there’s usually one method around which all others orbit. In Northern Europe and the North Sea, that’s wind power.

Dutch landscape architecture firm H+N+S has a plan to harness this potential by installing 25,000 wind turbines in the North Sea across 22,000 square miles, the focus of this month’s cover story, “Power Play 2050.” Over the next 33 years, they say the North Sea can generate 90 percent of power demanded.

H+N+S’s plan, dubbed “2050 – An Energetic Odyssey” and featured at the 2016 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, is an economic development plan as well as a climate change plan. They predict booming and expanded ports (including an entire island dedicated to the manufacture and construction of wind power infrastructure) and a net gain of jobs, even after accounting for job losses in fossil fuel industries. It would be an incomparable build-up of energy infrastructure, but there’s also a conscientious sense of economical re-use and environmental sensitivity. As described in the video, oil pipelines will be co-opted for carbon sequestration, serving the fossil fuel burners that remain. And wind turbines will have to be designed so that they act as welcoming habitats for underwater plants and animals. These towers will be 12 miles out from shore so that they don’t ruin anyone’s seaward view, far enough away so that the curvature of the earth makes them mostly imperceptible.

“It can be done,” intones the video’s calm, precise BBC-documentary-style narration, “but only when a tailwind can be organized in the shape of realistic pricing or taxation of carbon dioxide that would provide the invisible hand of the market with green gloves.”

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Landscapes of Longevity is a feature-length documentary that spans cultural landscape theory, public health research, and narrative filmmaking to answer a question that affects every person: How does one’s environment affect the length and quality of one’s life?

After summarizing how planning traditions engineered physical activity and social connection out of much of the built environment, creating an “obesogenic cultural landscape,” the film seeks out locations that avoided these urban planning pitfalls, and exist as a sort of reasonably modest fountain of youth. While they were landscape architecture graduate students at the University of Virginia, directors Asa Eslocker and Harriett Jameson chronicled the epic stair-climbing abilities of nonagenarians on the Italian island of Sardinia, visited kimono weavers in Japan well into their 10th decade, and walked the lemon groves of Loma Linda, California, with their 93-year-old caretaker.

The film began as a research project by Eslocker and Jameson, which earned a 2014 ASLA Student Honor Award, and later a 2015 ASLA Student Award of Excellence once the pair started to translate their work into a movie. It pays equal attention to how the design of space, both public and private, can affect physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health. And by comparing the environments in each of their case study locations, they uncover a set of landscape features that seem to enhance longevity and quality of life by simply existing: elevated views that enhance attachment to place, visual landmarks on horizons, and opportunities for immersion in nature. Again and again, the common denominator for a long and healthy life is connection: to people, places, and the world around you. As Landscapes of Longevity makes clear, that’s a value set uniquely suited to landscape architects.

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Sasaki Principal Gina Ford’s prescriptions for landscape architecture’s future are a succinct set of progressive values: diversity, equity, and collaboration. At her Landscape Architecture Foundation presentation titled “Into an Era of Landscape Humanism,” the designer of the Chicago Riverwalk outlines how landscape architects have to reflect the diversity of the growing populations they serve in order to meet clients’ needs, design in ways that address historic gaps in access to restorative landscapes, and collaborate across professional boundaries to knit together holistic and healthy environments. It’s a definition of landscape design that begins with human needs and social realities, and lets landscape architects’ unique and critical talents flow into the world from there.

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Horace Mitchell, whose title is lead visualizer of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, has mapped sets of U.S. Geological Survey data on stream flows of the entire Mississippi River Basin, which, of course, includes the Missouri River and Ohio River watersheds. Mitchell traces the streams’ flows from source to mouth (though not at actual stream flow speeds). It takes a while for water to run from the continental divides to the Gulf of Mexico, but it eventually does get there.

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Presented by the Architectural League of New York, this lecture by Mia Lehrer details many of her firm’s “advocacy by design” efforts throughout her years in practice. Based in Los Angeles, Lehrer focuses on a wide variety of projects at differing scales, each of which takes a unique approach to bringing nature back into the city.

This lecture and discussion were presented as part of the Architectural League of New York’s Current Work series. For more information, please visit here.

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“Forests aren’t simply a collection of trees,” said the ecologist Suzanne Simard during her recent TED Talk. In this 18-minute lecture, Simard details her experiments of the past 30 years on the unique way trees communicate with one another and how that has translated into an in-depth knowledge of the ecosystem of a forest. By knowing what and how these species interact, Simard says, we can begin to understand the effect we have on the landscape, such as clear-cutting of forests and how to manage our natural resources to become more sustainable.

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