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Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

BY ZACH MORTICE

A 360-degree photo of Santa Marta. Photo by José Duarte.

Renowned for their ad hoc flexibility, material economy, and compositional resourcefulness, Rio de Janeiro’s favelas can be treasure troves for urbanists. Unplanned, unsanctioned, and often unmapped, they mutate (adding a story, turning a ground floor into a shop, switching from sheet metal to concrete as soon as owners come into a few more Brazilian reals) at a pace unseen in the affluent global north. But these communities are located far away from most of the world’s stock of urban design expertise.

Last spring, to bridge this divide, Penn State landscape architecture professor Timothy Baird and architecture professor José Duarte taught a new studio that engaged students in the study of one Brazilian favela via virtual reality (VR) technology. The studio, which paired architecture students with landscape architecture students, posited VR as a proxy for expensive site visits. “Developing countries can’t always afford consultants because of the distance and difficulty to travel,” says Baird, who recently became chair of the landscape architecture department at Cornell University.

The virtual reality environment in which these students designed was constructed after Duarte and a crew of Brazilian students traveled to Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Marta favela before the semester began. They took thousands of still images, 360-degree videos and photos, and collected (more…)

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Close-up view of a moveable climate station.

Close-up view of a movable climate station.

From the November 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Reid Fellenbaum

Reid Fellenbaum, Student Affiliate ASLA

It’s 2080, a world deep in the throes of a changing climate where a landscape’s fertility is analyzed by mammoth structures that roam the Great Plains. It may seem like a scene from a sci-fi novel, but it is actually the basis for Reid Fellenbaum’s “Meridian of Fertility,” winner of the 2014 ASLA Student Award of Excellence in Analysis and Planning, which examines historical practices, climate models, projected precipitation, temperature, and current soil quality of the Great Plains region and suggests that the “Meridian of Fertility,” a geographical dividing line between prairie lands to the west and areas suitable for agricultural practices to the east, is steadily moving eastward. The project proposes a series of shelterbelts to slow this migration, as well as a return to dry-farming practices (a no-irrigation method that relies on the conservation of soil moisture) informed by structures called climate stations that use “hyperlocal climate predictions” to determine the best site for farmers to plant their crops. We talked with Fellenbaum about his project, and how he sees it as a focus on resiliency in a changing world.

(more…)

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