Parametric Design

The initial design for the park was developed through iterative analog diagramming, which was then replicated and expanded with the use of parametric software. Systematic urban analysis was performed on the site, evaluating land use, park usage, circulation patterns, tree conditions, and drainage systems. To resolve these interrelated variables, the design team utilized four material systems: an expandable, modular paving system; large sloping meadows; vegetated infiltration basins; and low retaining walls to mediate between paving and planted areas. Site research was also conducted, on multiple days and at different times, to determine both points of entry and desire lines. The design team then mapped these points and movement vectors and created the final design from their interpretation. The points were connected with a central pathway that thickened to support programs and amenities. The design process then proceeded through a hybrid of analog and digital techniques. Utilizing a combination of blend tools, manual adjustments, and hand drawings allowed for idiosyncratic moments while conforming to a robust formal rule set based on environmental, spatial, and material logic. Corrections and adjustments to the design were always performed by hand-drawn overlays. Physical models were created to develop the paving patterns and wall profiles. (…)

The primary determinants of the formal design decisions were driven by a hierarchy of circulation patterns, access points, social nodes, existing trees and structures to retain. By linking these points with a single path, the design forms a consistent linear promenade along the length of the park while allowing for lateral crossings across the park. Major and minor plazas are formed at key junctures through the thickening and thinning of the path to accommodate but also to allow for unanticipated appropriation. In the initial design phase, these decisions were made through intuitive understanding of the parameters of the site and embedded in an analog rule set that guided design decisions. In further research we have codified the relationship between the spatial logics of the design and the material logics of the tectonic, in a parametric algorithm.

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David Fletcher + Fletcher Studio, San Francisco South Park (2017)

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Mapping Fever

The geographic and mapping fever of the last decades, rather than indicating (as has been suggested) a “geographic turn” or even a “geological turn” may instead be a symptom of deep anxiety about the waning agency of architects, urban designers, planners, and landscape architects. The search for a merging or hybridization of these disciplines, the attempts to integrate environmental and social sciences into design practice, and the loudly vocalized ambition of architects and landscape architects to reclaim the right to design infrastructure at a territorial scale–all raise at least two orders of problems. The first relates to the obvious need to address the ongoing process of redefinition of the interrelated notions of space, territory, border, and network, a process in which a few architectural theorists are already engaged. The second demands equally urgent investigations of the frontiers and agency of each design discipline. Questions may be formulated as follows: Is there a territory of architecture (or landscape architecture, or urban design)? And if so, what are its borders? Are the disciplines undergoing a process of deterritorialization? Is it advisable to suppress the frontiers between art, architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, engineering, physical sciences, environmental sciences, and social sciences? Is it plausible to think that all these sciences and disciplines are engaged in design practices, and that this is the bond that unites them? If this is the case, how would this coming together of the arts and the sciences under the banner of design differ, for example, from the 1960s’ frustrated efforts to build a discipline a of “environmental design”? Should the scope and meaning of the notion of design be expanded?

Alessandra Ponte, Mapping in the Age of Electronic Shadows (2017)

 

Adriaan Geuze & West 8 + Ginés Garrido Colomero et alt. Madrid Rio (2011)

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Development

The drawing presented here for a park in Greenwich interests me highly as a unique landscape drawing. It, in a convincing way, depicts time and evolution. The development of an urban forest is the main theme in the project. The drawing does not simply explain the development of the forest. It mainly states that there are several stages of maturity which have an individual quality in terms of design. This drawing is important as it denies the idea that a landscape project can be represented by one drawing which shows the project in an unknown year in the future, in its supposed final state. Desvigne here, combining plan and section shows different moments in time as being independent optimal design conditions. In doing so, the designer is forced to be more precise about what happens over time: how big are the trees in certain stages; which configurations might come true by thinning the trees?  Apart from that, the drawing has a convincing beauty which has always been present in the French drawing tradition. Desvigne himself became known early for drawing with his work on theoretical gardens, “Les jardins elementaires”. Starting from here Desvigne became one of the international stars — in itself an interesting new phenomenon in recent landscape architecture.

Noël van Dooren, Speaking about Drawing (2012)

5 2 3Michel Desvigne + Christine Dalnoky, Greenwich Peninsula (1999)

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Drawing time

In all design disciplines, we speak airily about ‘representation techniques’. ‘Representation’ is often used where we might have said ‘presentation’, being the set of drawings you show to present a project. In reality, representation is quite a complex notion. Generally, representation is understood as ‘standing for something else’. In our design world, this ‘something else’ is the designed building or landscape. Linguistically, Corner argues that one could, in fact, say the built building represents the drawing – as the drawing was earlier. (…)

This does not solve two other problems. The title of my research is ‘Drawing time’. Once again I admit to favoring the short and less abstract words, instead of ‘Representing time’. Is drawing the same as representing? No – but the question could also be put the other way around: what architects do, is that drawing or representing? Until now, I have found no definitions which sufice to make clear the distinctions between ‘drawing’ and ‘representing’. For my research, I favor the physical aspect of drawing versus the quite abstract word representing.

The second problem is related to the first. If landscape architects represent landscapes, I would argue that only a complete plan (the set of drawings, text and oral explanation) is the representation.

James Corner + Alex McLean,

Taking Measures Across the American Landscape (1996)

 

Fewkes Canyon at Mesa Verde National Park

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Relationship

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Caspar David Friedrich, The wanderer above the sea of fog (1818)

The problem of landscape arises precisely because landscape, whether it appears in literary or painterly form, whether thought of in terms of the presented or that which presents, is indeed a function, and a representing, of our relationship with place. Is the term “landscape” inadequate to describe the complexity of that relationship? If we treat landscape purely in terms of the narrowly spectatorial and the detached (or as associated with a single historical formation or artistic genre), then perhaps it is. Yet the argument I have advanced here is that this conception of landscape is itself inadequate to describe the complexity of landscape as such. The problem of landscape is thus that landscape represents to us, not only our relationship with place, but also the problematic nature of that relationship—a relationship that contains within it involvement and separation, agency and spectacle, self and other. It is in and through landscape, in its many forms, that our relationship with place is articulated and represented, and the problematic character of that relationship made evident.

Edward S. Casey, The Edge(s) of Landscape: A Study in Liminology (2011)

 

Intention of Improving

Landscape architects develop ideas for changing places and landscapes with the intention of improving their design, making them better to use and more able to meet ecological requirements. Their work includes comprehensive and sustainable planning of the environment as it is lived in, and reconciling the different demands for creating open spaces capable of facing the future. The design process as an essential part of landscape architects’ activities includes both finding ideas and also presenting them visually. Landscape design is first and foremost a problem-solving strategy for open areas and open spaces. Images, sketches, plans and other drawings as well as models are produced, using a variety of techniques, with the aim to convey concrete planning intentions or possible consequences of developments that can occur under certain conditions. A written explanation is usually provided to support the strategies presented, but this could never be an adequate substitute for a visual presentation. As visual presentations are universally understood, their significance and statements largely make sense without words, a great advantage in a globalized world.

Plans and images also remain -and this is perhaps particularly true today because so many possibilities are available- unique objects, each with its own justification. Even though they are prepared in large numbers for any planning process, each one has its own statement to make, and is potentially interesting, exciting, harmonious, aesthetic or simply beautiful to look at. Even though the large numbers of visual presentations might suggest something different, landscape architects work economically: images are not prepared for their own sake, but because of the statement that each one makes.

Elke Mertens, Visualizing Landscape Architecture (2010)

Lateral Office, Caribou Pivot Stations (2010)

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Remarkable

So what do we mean by the art of design? I first saw this remarkable design at an exhibition of landscape drawings from 1600-2000 currently on display at Het Loo in Appledoorn. l remarked to my colleagues that it would be wonderful if a student handed in a drawing like that. Wondering who had designed it we peered at the text and found it was by le Notre; it was his design for the gardens of the Grand Trianon at Versailles, accompanied by eight pages of manuscript connecting image and concept, ideas and form.

It is remarkable for many reasons. It exhibits astonishing skill and confidence in the expression of ideas in form, through technology, with elegance and panache. Far from being a slave to the geometry of the plan, the asymmetrical design is an imaginative manipulation of the spatial structure of the landscape, intensifying perspectives, foreshortening views, skewing natural cross falls and creating vistas, connecting seamlessly with the landscape beyond. It is responsive to the topography and context, culture and time. Extraordinarily knowledgeable, skilfully exploiting the full range of the medium, this design is there to manipulate the emotions, express power, and control movement. This is what the art of design is about. There is no mistaking its brilliance – if you know what to look for.

A powerful cultural force is currently undermining any serious attempt to develop the kind of expertise le Notre exhibits. It is, of course, possible to teach many aspects of design. There are books on design theory, criticism, history, its technology and modes of communication. There are guides on collaboration, team building and how to carry out design reviews. But large chunks of the actual design process, the real nitty-gritty of the discipline, are clouded by subjectivity and therefore thought to be beyond teaching. Design is often characterized as a highly personal, mysterious act, almost like alchemy, adding weight to the dangerous idea that it is possible, even preferable, to hide behind the supposed objective neutrality implied by more ‘scientific’, technology-based, problem-solving approaches. Talking about excellence is actually considered somehow undemocratic and elitist. It is this kind of dogmatism that impacts so negatively on our thinking about design.

Kathrin Moore, Overlooking the Visual. Demystifying the art of Design. (2010)

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André le Notre, Design for the gardens of the Grand Trianon (1694). Stockholm National Museum of Fine Art.

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Drawing

Landscape drawing is an important issue. I am not speaking only of the debate between the supporters of computer software and the defenders of drawing by hand. I am talking about the kind of drawing that results—although it does seem to me, without wanting to fight a rearguard action and reject useful technological advances, that it is difficult to entirely overlook work by hand. The drawing plays a role that is at once descriptive and analytical—it is an instrument for visibility that makes it possible to understand how a landscape is made. But at the same time, it plays a constructive role since, in revealing this role, it creates the very thing that it unveils. It is the responsibility of the landscape architect to extend his gesture toward a futuristic area that is his alone to understand but that, if it is really made visible, will be clear to everyone in the end.

Gilles A. Tiberghien, A Landscape Deferred (2009)

 

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preparing-ground-slide-26 preparing-ground-slide-37Mathur-Da-Cunha-Mississippi-Floodspreparing-ground-slide-15Anuradha Mathur + Dilip da Cunha, Mississippi Floods (2001)

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Not Neutral

It has been said that we can realize only what we can imagine; but to realize what we imagine, we must convey those ideas to others as well as present them to ourselves. We use images, models, and words—alone or in combination—to conceive, study, test, construct, and evaluate new landscapes or modify old ones. Given the transient nature of most landscapes—always growing, always changing— landscape representation presents a special challenge. It is by no means neutral in a political sense or even in terms of design evaluation.

Marc Treib, Introduction to Representing Landscape Architecture (2008)

MAP Office, Hong Kong is a Land (2014)

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Representative Representation

In a democracy, the design of the landscape depends on the representation of the public. This public representation forces inventive drawing. Drawing against or for others is substantially different from drawing with or by others. Among their many tools, community designers consistently employ two focused drawing processes: “drawing on your feet” and “designing upside down.” They suggest that representative representation relies upon special drawing abilities not common among other design professionals.

By “representative representation” I refer to the way drawing engages the public through grassroots democracy for designing open space, neighborhoods, cities, and regions. This requires representing both the public and the landscape. Face-to-face collaborative drawing provides political representation. Graphic depictions provide what we professionally call “representing the landscape.” The complex combination gives us a special way of drawing: representative representation.

Randolph T. Hester,  No Representation Without Representation (2008)

Even when representations and mappings try to explain the reflection process of projects, an important part of the causes of decision making is almost always in the dark. All the requirements and wills of the commission, the desires of politicians or participative groups that are always present in democratic states seem to be hidden in the power of the process of design thinking. 

From Lawrence Halprin, some designers research in democratic design has tried to reveal that “other side” of design thinking describing how the projects make its evolution in time in a dialectical context where designer’s thinking and public representation are revealed.

But that kind of experiments seems to be few and not enough relevant in the context of the discipline. Especially if we consider the constant claim for democratic design that the discipline constantly suggests.

1. Information of the event, place and/or context in which you are immersed / or to describe.
2. Drawings of the protagonists of the space, event and/or place with a brief description drawn and/or written.
3. Hashtags of the event, place and/or context, project, collective, etc.
4. Data about the data -metadata- (labeling system, user license, etc.).
5. Posters that highlight concepts, institutions, groups, projects, geographical locations, etc.
6. Webs, books and/or places to expand more information.
7. Ballons that collect dialogues.
8. Icons, symbols, drawings that relate the environment or context in which you are.
9. Ideas or concepts to highlight.
10. Summary of the knowledge acquired, questions and/or reflections.
11. Drawn description of the people who dialogue and questions.

Carla Boserman, Storygram Morphology (Morfología del Relatograma) (2013)