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)



Is the nature of landscape something that can be mapped, or is the landscape itself a thing or creature of the map? Or perhaps even a “monster” of the map? These are questions around which landscape studies have revolved in recent years. In this chapter I trace the two sides of the question and provide a capsule history of contemporary geographical scholarship, focusing on the contributions of Carl Sauer and European geographers. This landscape approach still dominates much of continental and especially German geography, but in Anglo-America it has declined and landscape has come to be seen not so much as some thing you can map, but rather as a thing of the map, that is, a creature born of cartography. I suggest a third alternative, which opens up new ways of thinking about things, nature, landscape and mapping. Maps are foundational pieces in the study of traditional and also postmodern and “non-modernist” landscape which in contemporary geography is concerned with the social bases for things governing and historically developing inter-relationships between society and nature—this is the thing about lansdscape.

Kenneth R. Olwig, Landscape: The Thing About Landscape’s Nature: Is It a Creature/Monster of the Map? (2017)

Pasini Garza Ramos Rosas, The Symbiotic Matorral (2018)



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)


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)



To Map

To map is in one way or another to take the measure of a world, and more than merely take it, to figure the measure so taken in such a way that it may be communicated between people, places or times. The measure of mapping is not restricted to the mathematical; it may equally be spiritual, political or moral. By the same token the mapping’s record is not confined to the archival; it includes the remembered, the imagined, the contemplated. The world figured through mapping may thus be material or immaterial, actual or desired, whole or part, in various ways experienced, remembered or projected.

Denis Cosgrove, Mappings (1999)

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Adriaan Geuze & West 8, Eastern Scheldt (1992)


Header: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas (1972)


In order to design for movement a whole new system of conceptualizing most be undertaken. Our present systems of design and planning are inevitabily limited by our techniques of conceptulizing and our methods of symbolizing ideas. We know only how to delineate static objects, and so is all we do.

Lawrence Halprin, Cities (1963)

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