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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

REVIEWED BY KOFI BOONE, ASLA

FROM THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

With more than 15 million views, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s groundbreaking TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” is likely the most viewed treatise on the consequences of making one story the story of the African continent. With surgical precision, Adichie reveals the lasting consequences of perpetuating Africa and Africans as only victims suffering from famine and war, or only the exotic backdrop for experiencing “charismatic nature.” But in the end, her most devastating criticism of the single story is embodied in her quote of the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti, “If you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with ‘secondly.’” Illustrating her point, Adichie asks facetiously what we would think if the story began with a “failed” African state instead of with European colonialism.

The issue of starting with “secondly” is present in cultural landscape study of the continent of Africa. The spirit of Adichie’s and Barghouti’s arguments resonates in the pages of Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by John Beardsley. The volume collects essays delivered at a symposium held at Dumbarton Oaks in 2013 and reflects an important first step in laying the foundation for future exploration. Through a wide array of disciplinary lenses, geographic locations, and time periods, Beardsley’s work eschews deriving a single conclusion about what is “African” and instead reveals the wealth of issues and opportunities with engaging the many cultures of a continent. The avoidance of narrowing and bridging the divergent voices contained within the book is challenging and perhaps belies the fact that this is one of the first mainstream publications on this topic. Given the lack of similar texts, there could be a tendency to attempt to be singular and definitive. However, borrowing from one of the book’s many themes, the result is a contribution to the “continuity” of a conversation about the lives and practices that have shaped meaningful place in Africa, a continent still invisible to the profession of landscape architecture. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

avenida-houston-jonnu-singleton-0290_resize

Avenida Houston is a 60-foot-wide promenade in front of Houston’s convention center. Image courtesy of Jonnu Singleton/SWA.

Avenida Houston was designed to celebrate the flyway paths of migratory birds and the vibrant energy economy that has made Houston attractive to domestic and international migrants alike. But in early February a new set of visitors will be attracted to this linear plaza: Football fans drawn by the suite of Super Bowl programming unfurled at the nearby (and newly renovated) George R. Brown Convention Center, and Super Bowl LI, to be played a few miles away at NRG Stadium.

Avenida Houston, designed by SWA Group, is a four-acre, 60-foot-wide strip of space that turned a desolate and unforgiving stretch of multilane traffic in front of the city’s convention center into an informal promenade. Two central themes, seemingly opposed, animate this new public event space: Houston’s industry and nature. “The conversation really started as, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Hever Castle Maze, Kent, UK, 1904. Courtesy Hever Castle & Gardens


Yew Maze, Hever Castle & Gardens, Kent, UK, 1904. Courtesy Hever Castle & Gardens

Labyrinths and mazes are meandering ways to get from one place to another. As such, they’ve mostly been placed in the arena of baronial garden follies like topiary: trimmed hedges, a gazebo at its center, some ducks in a pond, and a high five once you’ve successfully traversed from point A to B. But author Francesca Tatarella has found that labyrinths’ persistence over time and their geographic pervasiveness are clues to a much deeper truth. In her book Labyrinths and Mazes: A Journey Through Art, Architecture, and Landscape (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016), she sees them as a set of existential questions we ask ourselves. “Labyrinths help us draw closer to mystery, and stave off the fear that the unknown creates in us,” she writes. “They deal with questions such as: Should I even start a journey if I don’t know where it will take me? Will I get lost if I head down an unknown path? And if I do get lost, will I be able to find my way back?”

By navigating a labyrinth’s contours and completing its choreographed rituals of movement, she believes we can master a small bit of our inner world, (more…)

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BY DANIEL JOST

A palette of possible play spaces by Studio Ludo and Roofmeadow calls for natural materials including salvaged tree trunks and rainwater.

A yearlong design campaign in Philadelphia promotes the value of recreation.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Today, young children spend much of their time in schools and child-care centers, but these places rarely offer rich outdoor environments for unstructured play. That’s a problem, says Sharon Easterling, the executive director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children. Such play is not just a leisure activity. It’s how children learn. “Good early-
childhood education is really hands-on, play-based learning,” she says.

Over the past year, the association and the Community Design Collaborative in Philadelphia have partnered to bring attention to the important role that play—and thoughtfully designed play environments—can have on children’s intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development. As part of an initiative called Infill Philadelphia: Play Space, they created an exhibit, brought in speakers, hosted a charrette, and sponsored a design competition.

Their Play Space Design Competition, funded by the William Penn Foundation, sought ideas for (more…)

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From We Declare in the May 2016 issue, five landscape architects, scholars, and advocates revisit “A Declaration of Concern” for the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration.

 

LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF SUSTAINABLE HAPPINESS: ACTIONS FOR INTERDEPENDENCE

BY RANDOLPH T. HESTER JR., FASLA

Today, and every day, we reaffirm our interdependence. We offer gratitude to those prophets who declared interdependence before us: from the ancients Isaiah and Buddha to Harriet Tubman, Rachel Carson, Stewart Udall, Grady Clay, and Karl Linn, among others. In their honor we acknowledge our responsibility to make places for life, liberty, and the pursuit of sustainable happiness. We believe that this can only be attained in the foreseeable future through an ecological democracy, a participatory government driven by systemic ecological thinking. This ecological democracy has been in the making for 50 years, 250 years, and 250 million years, evolving in mutual dependence from sea slime to the landscape of humankind. We can see our choice as living happily within our limits or perishing as ecological illiterates. We choose to bend this evolution toward sustainable happiness by committing our every resource to the following actions:

Community. That land is a community is the basic principle of ecology. It has been for eons. Today all humankind is tied together in a
(more…)

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Since 2010, the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C., has played host to a speaker series that touches on a wide range of planning issues. One of its most recent lectures was Nature in the City | The City in Nature, featuring Douglas Meffert, the executive director of Audubon Louisiana, and Beth White, the director of the Trust for Public Land’s Chicago office, who each described the opportunities opened to these two cities by introducing active living infrastructure. For more information, please click here.

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LAMCASTJULY

Drones aren’t all bad, and in an interview with Yale Environment 360, Thomas Lennon, director of this two-minute video of awe-inspiring nature shots of the Delaware River watershed, explains the limitless possibilities drones provide over traditional aerial photography from helicopters. But the potential stretches further than nature videos and becomes a useful tool for environmentalists and artists alike, setting it apart as an aid rather than the controversial weapon the term “drone” is most often associated with. For the two-minute video and interview, click here or the picture above.

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