Eradication

The main objectives of our activity can be described as:

– the contribution for the construction of a better World, in which the different survival logics, often antagonised, could be harmonised;

– the contribution for the collective construction of a common patrimony made of actions and its marks and signs, susceptible of provoking pleasure and astonishment;

– the contribution for keeping primary productivity and site diversity where these actions are taking place, where these signs are being printed;

– the contribution for the eradication of social injustice and the arrogance of power;

– conclusively, the contribuition for the conservation of the colective heritage, made of antropic and natural values and of a mutual understanding between people and sites.

The general methodology can be described in the following sequence:

1 – reading and de-coding signs in the landscape. Identifying relevant processes and actors. Vertical /time reading as far as documents and people’s memory allows. Analysis and de-codification are a two phase process — the immediate, intuitive, emotive and the documental, confirmative;

2 – critical reading of the proposed or envisaged, required transformation program, through the necessary evaluation of the compatibility with the site, namely its charge capacity;

3 – critical evaluation of the compatibility / susceptibility between different actors and system components;

4 – proposing a set of alternative substitution systems and forms of integrating the existing and previewed actors;

5 – evaluation of results (and eventually going back to 3.)

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Joao Ferreira Nunes, Valdebebas Urban Park (2009)

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Eradication

Bitter Pill to swallow

Designed environments which are thought out, formalized, and complete are usually ‘lifeless’ and unapproachable because (a) they do not invite interaction and modification to suit immediate human needs; (b) they are unable to develop and become extended through human use. (…) Oddly enough, many environments which ‘work’ well for people meet few, if any,aesthetic criteria ordinarily employed by designers. (…)

George Rand, quoted in Lawrence Halprin, New York, New York (1968)

For most designers this was a bitter pill to swallow. (…) We do not seem to be able to structure the process of change. On one hand we need citizen participation; on the other the magnitude of he physical needs of rebuilding are enormous.

Lawrence Halprin, New York, New York (1968)

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Florian Rivière, Hacktivist Dublin (2012)

Bitter Pill to swallow

Toxic Discourse

Large Parks on disturbed sites should be recognized as landscapes of consumption as well as production. It is tempting for designers of large parks built on abandoned industrial sites to heroicize the buildings and machines that remain. Such strategies, however, privilege the histories of production over the histories of consumption that are also embedded in such sites. This allows visitors to distance themselves from the histories of human, material, and chemical flows on and off the site, and to limit their own culpability in and responsability for such histories.(…)

Toxic discourse is an expression of a collectivity of consumer-citizens who perceive their environment through the lens of uncertainty and risk. Disturbed sites are byproducts of economic policies that viewed nature as a resource and that accepted environmental degradation as the inevitable consequence of technological progress. The experience of designed landscapes on and in disturbed sites can render visible the consequences of the economic, political, and social decisions that led to those risks.

Elizabeth K. Meyer, Uncertain Parks: Disturbed Sites, Citizens and Risk Society (2007)

10369986_619454298189906_8759324547411185758_nEdouard Manet, Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863)

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Collectif 6, Déjeuner sur l’herbe version

Toxic Discourse

List

The List:

To roll, to crease, to fold, to store, to bend, to shorten, to twist,

to dapple, to crumple, to shave, to tear, to chip, to split, to cut,

to sever, to drop, to remove, to simplify, to differ, to disarrange,

to open, to mix, to splash, to knot, to spell, to droop, to flow,

to curve, to lift, to inlay, to impress, to fire, to flood, to smear,

to rotate, to swirl, to support, to hook, to suspend, to spread,

to hang, to collect –

of tension, of gravity, of entropy, of nature, of grouping,

of layering, of felting –

to grasp, to tighten, to bundle, to heap, to gather, to scatter,

to arrange, to repair, to discard, to pair, to distribute, to surfeit,

to complement, to enclose, to surround, to encircle, to hide,

to cover, to wrap, to dig, to tie, to bind, to weave, to join,

to match to laminate, to bond, to hinge, to mark, to expand,

to dilute, to light, to modulate, to distill –

of waves, of electromagnetism, of inertia, of ionization,

of polarization, of refraction, of simultaneity, of tides, of reflection,

of equilibrium, of symmetry, of friction –

to stretch, to bounce, to ease, to spray, to systematize,

to refer, to force –

of mapping, of location, of context, of time, of carbonization –

to continue.

The “Verb list” established a logic whereby the process that constituted a sculpture remains transparent. Anyone can reconstruct the process of the making by viewing the residue.

The sculptures resulting from the “Verb list” introduced two aspects of time: the condensed time of their making and the durational time of their viewing.

Both tasks and materials were ordinary. I was tearing lead in place, lifting rubber in place, rolling and propping lead sheets, and melting lead and splashing it against the juncture between wall and floor. The activities were experimental and playful. It wasn’t the question of how to accomplish this or that, nor was it the question of making it up as I went along: it was rather a free-floating combination of both.

I cannot overemphasize the need for play, for in play you don’t extract yourself from your activity. In order to invent I felt it necessary to make art a practice of affirmative play or conceptual experimentation. The ambiguity of play and its transitional character provides suspension of belief whereby a shift in direction is possible when faced with a complexity that you don’t understand. Free from skepticism, play relinquishes control. Play allows one to accept discontinuities and continuities; it also allows one to happen upon solutions or invent them. However, even in play the task must be carried out with conviction. It’s how we do what we do that confers meaning on what we have done.

b6b46091bd255cca12de0715ea943f5f-2 tumblr_m3nrdoOxW61rpri2zo2_1280Richard-Serra-Tilted-Arc-4  tilted-arc Richard Serra, Tilted Arc (1981-1989)

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Martha Schwartz, Jacob Javits Federal Building Plaza (1997-2011)

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Michael Van Valkenburgh, Jacob Javits Federal Building Plaza (2013)

List

Models

We are living in intellectually troubled times for landscape architecture. Part of the reason for the awkwardness in the present debate is not only due to imminent environmental degradation, but also to the rapid degeneration of our own symbolic understanding of nature. We are the receptacles of models of thinking inherited from our forefathers, and when it comes to nature, these models seriously hamper our actual perception of things. What we find out there has little to do with much of the idealized landscape preconceptions we carry. Older landscape models work effectively, only as ideals, with a deeply warped reception and conception of nature, which in turn, has measurable repercussions on the way we act upon the world. It is my belief that we should start to investigate possible options for a renewed relationship with nature that could also foster a new kind of landscape architecture, defending stronger cultural values of beauty and harmony.

Christophe Girot, Immanent Landscape (2013)

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Edward Burtynsky, Manufactured Landscapes Pictures (2006)

Models

Complex

Our image of the landscape is the result of complex cultural interpretations. The relationship of our personal experience, based in our cultural milieu to the landscapes around us is often underestimated. This includes how we interpret something even as simple as a public park. Parks have undoubtedly communicated cultural, behavioral and political cues throughout history.  Sometimes didactic and sometimes unintentionally instructive about societal norms and preferences, parks are not always as neutral as they might appear. Curiously, parks are instruments of power that seem almost benign in the public realm – few question the creation of a new park.

The design and appearance of a park generally reflects its cultural and geographical position. At the municipal level, parks are furnished with standard “from the catalog” items, such as benches, bollards and trash cans, which vary from country to country, and from city to city. Even in parks that are initially completely custom designed, these standard elements creep in as time and use progress. it is easy to identify the location of some parks from their bits and pieces, such as those in New York City from their dark green wood-slat benches. In contrast to this common quality, Superkilen in Copenhagen looks nothing like any other park in Copenhagen,and for good reason.

Jessica Bridger, Culture Riot (2012)

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Topotek 1, Bjarke Ingels Group, Superflex, Superkilen (2012)

Complex

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