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)


Large Parks

Large urban parks are complex and diverse systems that respond to processes of economic growth and decay, to their own evolving ecology, to shifts in demographics and social practices, and to changes in aesthetic sensibilities. Because of their size (defined here as having at least 500 acres in area) their location (often close to dense urban environments!, and their site histories (such as former industrial zones that need remediation to make them suitable for recreation), these parks require a process-driven design approach that does not intend to provide a definitive plan for the site as much as it seeks to guide its transformation into a public recreational space. Because the design and construction of large parks take years, if not decades—often with changes in public administration and funding in the interim, and lengthy public processes that require ongoing revisions—designs are open-ended, incorporating diverse approaches and uneven levels of intervention and management. They focus on frameworks that adapt to changing conditions rather than forms composed to conform to an aesthetic whole.

Yet for all their susceptibility to the ebb and flow of urban circumstances, large parks remain fundamental to cities, not only because they take on infrastructural and ecological functions displaced from densely built centers but because they are distinct, memorable places. They absorb the identity of the city as much as they project one, becoming socially and culturally recognizable places that are unique and irreproducible. Those large public parks that we are continuously drawn to as designers, ones that have captured the imagination of writers, artists, social historians, and philosophers, and that continue to be used intensely centuries after their making, have in common seemingly contradictory characteristics: they are flexible, adaptive, socially dynamic, emerging sites, and they are also visually powerful, unforgettable places. They are the product of deliberate decisions that leave them open-ended in terms of management, program, and use, and they result from equally conscious decisions that isolate, distill, and capture for the long term that which makes them unique. This chapter examines the relationship between process and place. More specifically, it explores how process-based practices, those that leave the site open to contingency and change—a contemporary requisite of large and complex sites—also incorporate strategics that accentuate a place’s enduring qualities.

Anita Berrizbeitia, Re-Placing Process (2007)

Iñaki Alday & Margarita Jover + Christine Dalnoky, Meandro de Ranillas Water Park (2008)