Islands

A requirement had been that the brutal charm of the still-present trenches, concrete elements and anti-tank walls remain intact. At the same time, the preservation of the site’s ecological value was a priority, in which regard the client supplied Bureau B+B with detailed information. B+B took on the challenge of designing on these terms, with the result that the opposite poles of recreation and nature conservation were both taken fully into account in the design. With regard both to the existing wood landscape and military paraphernalia, little was changed, and simple interventions turned out to be sufficient to turn the rough area into a park. The firm’s free approach to the landscape – for instance the addition of recycled green glass to the loose-fill pavement, which sparkles by day and is illuminated by countless embedded solar-cell lamps in the evening – turned out to be an eye-opener for the German client. The terrain’s different biotopes were classified according to their respective degrees of sensitivity. Thus, the number and location of paths was ultimately determined by how intensively the park is used. Where nature needs more protection, there are, quite simply, fewer paths. There are even a number of spots that are entirely inaccessible to the public. Interestingly enough, though, these were not the ecologically most valuable spots, but those that, due to breaking branches and the danger of falling trees, were selected for clearing. These ‘islands’ are surrounded by fascines and are now used by the University of Brandenburg as research locations. However, despite the no-go areas, the circa 5-km-long network of paths gives visitors the feeling that they are free to wander wherever they wish. The intensive program was concentrated on the park’s periphery, around four ‘terminals’: large, brick-red concrete elements equipped with slides, climbing holds or trampolines. (…) Their form and use are not immediately clear at first glance. This is indeed their strength: you can sit, sunbathe or picnic on them or just look around; they can be used as décor for theatrical productions or outdoor concerts. The magical attraction of the terminals brings the recreational function of the Waldpark into focus – only nature lovers penetrate deeper into the park.

Bureau B+B, Waldpark Postdam (2001)

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Bureau B+B, Waldpark Postdam (2001)

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Islands

Eye-Candy

10559688_1064426183584175_44437481411702920_nWith modern Dutch urban planning’s almost religious dedication to function, every site, every millimeter, is given a specific, dedicated meaning. Planners, terrified of spatial non definition and other forms of perceived anarchy, organize the city with rigid efficiency. Easy-to-define, one-dimensional spaces and “experiences” are arrayed on the shelves of the urban super-supermarket waiting to be “bought,” consumed and shat out again by the modern city dweller. The result is a perpetual and numbing sameness. Xerox cities, urban cloning, planning laws, and regulations have jammed the city dweller’s global positioning system. His sense of address/identity has been eroded and with it the awareness of, and ability to decode, his environment. Within this contemporary landscape -a world of commerce,  functionality, efficiency, and eye-candy- the rules for urban this-and-thatness have already been written in stone and are not about to be erased to satisfy the whims of designer A, B, or C. The point, then, is for landscape planners and urban designers to lose their fear of the cloned metropolis and offset the weight of repetitive similarities embracing oddity and strangeness as part of the design toolkit. The introduction of off-beat and introverted spaces, unique objects, and indefinable elements, in addition to the freedom to play with indigenous natural elements and forgotten local flavors, offers the city dweller a refresher course in the identification and definition of specific places. The tree in the middle of a concrete desert; a rock balancing precariously above a stainless steel bridge; the simplicity of a water pool as  to a million marble slabs- perhaps the result of daring site manipulation become “addresses” of interest which the individual incorporates into his perpetual dream about a place of his own (different from the futile and nostalgic effort to recreate a place where he has been) a platform for exhibitionism, a world (or even just a zone) brimming with apocalyptic sensations, somewhere to relish the beauty of silence.

Adriaan Geuze, Colonizing the Void (2005)

Eye-Candy

Over-determinism

City landscapes are being increasingly commodified, monitored, and constructed in ways that discourage spontaneous appropriation and unplanned transformation. In resistance to this over-determinism, a few contemporary landscape architects and urbanists are seeking to promote qualities of indeterminacy, open-endedness, and temporality in their work. Their aim is to engender and support engagement rather than objectification. These efforts are particularly applicable to large-scale public, decommissioned, and marginalized lands within or at the edge of the cities. Such spaces resist popular prescriptions of use, identity, and meaning. Is this shift from form to events, permanence to change, identity to void, a recognition for the need to recover essential territories in the city that are “neither wilderness nor home”.

Anuradha Mathur, Neither Wilderness nor Home. The Indian Maidan (1999)

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People walk back to their homes as vehicluar traffic came to a standstill due to rains in Bombay.

Anuradha Mathur, Dilip da Cunha, SOAK (2009)

Over-determinism

Prototype

The best place to visit Holland is Japan. Holland Village, in the outskirts of Nagasaki is a condensed scaled down version of the real thing. Or may be it is the other way round and Holland Village in Japan is actually the original that makes its European counterpart nothing more than an oversized, inflated and (quite literally) watered down version lacking the purity and essence of its prototype. (…)

The notion of the actual creation of land is the essence of Dutch Landscape architecture. Whilst in the Anglo Saxon world Landscape is first an foremost a visual representation and a mental construct wrapped into a wet blanket of subjectivity, for the Dutch landscape is about the phisical and rational manipulation of an objectified reality. The Dutch Landscape is an efficient livework unit while the British landscape architects can design gardens and cannot design landscapes while exactly the opposite holds true for their Dotch colleagues.

Dirk Sijmons, Architectura + Natura. = Landscape (1998)


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Holland Village, Nagasaki

Prototype

Tyrannical

Turner notes that the word “landscape” has itself undergone a shift in meaning. In the seventeenth century it was a painter’s term. derived from the Dutch, which referred to a picture which depicted inland scenery (as opposed to seascapes, portraits, etc.) The scenery depicted was usually of ideal, or idealised places. The eighteenth-century “landscape gardeners” took their inspiration from painting particularly the works of Poussin, Salvator Rosa and Claude Lorrain, but sought to realise these ideal Landscapes throught the tangible manipulation of earth, war¡ter and vegetation. Things started to go wrong, as far as the meaning of “landscape Archiecture” was concerned, when a secord sense of the word “landscape”, which Turner calls the Geographer’s Sense, gained ascendancy over the original meaning. In this sense “landscape” has come to mean “a tract of land with its distinguishing characteristics and features, esp. considered as a product of modifying or shaping processes and agents (usually natural)”.

As Turner sees it, the problem with “landscape architect”, if “landscape” is used in the Geografer’s Sense, is that it implies God-like powers to rise mountains, to direct the course of rivers, to control the climate and to dictate the pattern of human seattlement” This aspiration to omnipotence is, he says, “as preposterous as it is sacrilegous as it is tyrannical”.

Ian Thompson, Ecology, Community and Delight (1999)

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Chris Reed + Stoss; Huangpu Riverfront (2012)

Tyrannical

Attitude

When we work as landscape architects, despite many explanatory models, design remains an obscure process of trial and error — who will clear up the error? — of ‘attitude’ and ‘intrinsic nature’ of morphology and performance models. C.Th. Sorensen talked about inventions. The results. at least, are on view.

Supposing we understand avant-garde landscape architecture the same way we do architecture and the other arts as the realisation of abstract ideas. in this case of nature, ecology and society. Then designing should consequently be understood as the ‘invention’ of information systems or layers that overlap with existing elements. This must precede any thoughts on appearance or expression. Working the other way round can be seen as trite, as patronage, and as predetermining interpretations and even feelings.

Peter Latz, The Idea of Making Time Visible (2000)

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Carl Theodor Sørensen, Geometrical Gardens (1945)

Attitude

Reservoir

The Third Landscape – an undetermined fragment of the Plantary Garden -designates the sum of the space left over by man to  landscape evolution – to nature alone. Included in this category  are left behind urban or rural sites, transitional spaces, neglected land, swamps, moors, peat bogs, but also  roadsides, shores, railroad embankments, etc. To these unattended areas can be added space set aside , reserves in themselves: inaccessible places, mountain summits, non-cultivatable areas, deserts; institutional reserves: national parks, regional parks, nature reserves.

Compared to the territories submitted to the control and exploitation by man, the Third Landscape forms a privileged area of receptivity to biological diversity. Cities, farms and forestry holdings, sites devoted to industry, tourism, human activity, areas of control and decision permit diversity and, at times, totally exclude it. The variety  of species  in a field, cultivated land, or  managed forest is  low in comparison to that  of a neighboring «unattended» space..

From this point of view, the Third Landscape can be considered as the genetic reservoir of the planet, the space of the future…..

Gilles Clément, The Third Landscape (2003)

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Gilles Clément, Third Landscape Garden at St. Nazaire (2009)

Reservoir