Posts Tagged ‘Q&A’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Jill Desimini on her new book, From Fallow: 100 Ideas for Abandoned Urban Landscapes.

FROM THE AUGUST 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

As a rule, Americans are wizards at making waste disappear. Trash magically vanishes from the curb, wastewater disappears with a flush. But there is one by-product of our current economic system that cannot be disposed of with a snap of our fingers (or with infrastructure): vacant land. When a piece of property is abandoned, it cannot be bagged up and thrown away.

Jill Desimini, ASLA, has spent more than 10 years documenting vacancy across the United States as a senior associate at Stoss Landscape Urbanism and as an associate professor of landscape architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where her research focuses on spatial strategies for shrinking cities. In her most recent book, From Fallow: 100 Ideas for Abandoned Urban Landscapes (2019), Desimini marries a decade of documentation with more speculative imaginings that take the form of simple, evocative drawings.

It is a catalog of both existing states and potential changes. Desimini presents each separately, to free the design possibilities from any “direct political, economic, ecological, and sociocultural” context and leave them to imagining. “A vacant lot is not one thing, even though we tend to think of it as such,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “Terrains have different scales, elevations, adjacencies, uses, climates, and cultures. And just as no one territory is the same, so no one idea is sufficient.”

I spoke to Desimini about the new book. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

São Paolo is a small aquaponics farming settlement where residents and visitors gather medicinal compounds from the surrounding jungle. 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, by Vanessa Keith/StudioTEKA (New York: Urban Research, 2017). Courtesy of Terreform.

In the not-so-distant future, what remains of São Paulo is something like an ecoresort medical crop farm for ewoks. People from all over the world travel to its lush, frequently flooded rain forest and set up shop in ovular pods in the treetops connected by open-air skywalks. They farm fish, grow sugarcane, and harvest rare, medicinal compounds from the surrounding jungle. Crews deconstruct the old city, leaving more room for this life-saving flora to reassert itself.

A continent away, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, is also in the process of unbecoming. Residents of its single-family houses are cannibalizing their neighborhoods at the stern urging of statist security forces. (Let’s say something like United Nations troops, perhaps wearing black helmets instead of blue ones.) The nation’s sixth-largest city will be shrunk to a tiny fraction of its former size to make way for more massive solar energy farms that dominate the desert landscape. Former Arizonans are invited to move themselves along with the bricks and mortar of their communities to a burgeoning megacity in Vancouver. Some people don’t want to go, and are meeting in secret to talk about what to do if they’re forced.

Those companion (but tonally opposed) visions of the future begin with the same book, Vanessa Keith’s 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, published by Terreform’s Urban Research, Michael Sorkin’s publishing imprint. It envisions a world where (more…)

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