Posts Tagged ‘taxonomy’

BY ZACH MORTICE

The lago at Roberto Burle Marx’s Sítio, which he composed by eye from truckloads of species collected during his botanical expeditions. Image courtesy Julian Raxworthy.

It’s time for landscape architects to re-embrace what makes them fundamentally different.

 

Since its inception, it’s been hard to find much agreement in landscape architecture over the profession’s purpose and how it should work. For some contemporary designers, landscape architecture, in theory if a bit less in practice, is most visible when ecological systems are designed and deployed to remediate the earth, water, air, and biomes, often at an infrastructural scale. And yet, a profession wholly obsessed with infrastructure would to seem to miss the trees for the forest.

The Australian landscape architect Julian Raxworthy posits a way forward in his new book, Overgrown: Practices Between Landscape Architecture and Gardening, published by The MIT Press. Landscape architects, he notes, have retreated from the defining element of their corner of the spatial world: the development and management of planting design. Plants, he argues, are defined by their growth over time and the maintenance used to train them. Gardeners (whose ranks Raxworthy once populated) haven’t lost track of this fact. Growth is landscape architecture’s fundamental currency. From there, he launches into a populist call to tear down the blue collar/white collar divide between gardeners and landscape architects. Raxworthy (who is headed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after living in Cape Town, South Africa, for five years, teaching at the University of Cape Town) seems to admire messiness and rebellion against the bespoke and delicate. That preference is not surprising if you chat him up about his days as a music writer in the 1980s in Sydney, attending shows by Public Enemy and Dead Kennedys. Of one of his case study projects (created by a designer who never studied landscape architecture), he writes: “As a gardener rather than a landscape architect, the only plans Korte produced for the project were to satisfy the authorities. All other decisions arose organically through spending four years on site with a gang of four young German laborers who had returned from Brazil and smoked marijuana constantly. He looked back on this way of working with some nostalgia, saying that this time on site was the height of his career.” (more…)

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BY KYNA RUBIN

LAMjan16_Metasequoia

The 1940s discovery in China of the dawn redwood, a living fossil, remains in shadows cast by war, political upheaval, and scholarly intrigue.

From the January 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

On a clear August day in 2002, Ma Jinshuang, a botanist, struck gold. At the bottom of a cabinet in a dark, moist, long-abandoned herbarium in Nanjing, perched unprotected on top of the conifer specimens, lay a barely intact cluster of twigs and needles. A rotting heap of nature, to most eyes.

But Ma had spent years finding the pile—the lone survivor of a lost series of specimens that, in 1940s China, led to the botanical find of a century: a living fossil we now call Metasequoia glyptostroboides, or dawn redwood.

Its discovery captivated the world, especially the American public, and made possible the myriad (more…)

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