Category Archives: landscape

Nihon Noir: The Metabolism Movement in Photos

Image Credit: Tom Blachford

Photographer Tom Blachford’s series ‘Nihon Noir’ calls to mind futurism, science-fiction, film noir and yes, the 1982 cult classic film Blade Runner. Blachford was inspired by the Metabolism movement era architecture in Japan, and his images showcase its unique intersection of architecture and infrastructure.

Metabolism was a post-war movement brought to the international stage during the 1960 Tokyo World Design Conference. The designers behind the movement organized their vision into a manifesto entitled Metabolism: The Proposals for New Urbanism, which described a design ethos focused on meshing mega-structures with organic shapes. The most prolific member of the movement, Kenzo Tange, worked as a designer, architect, and urban planner until his death in 2005.

The images Blachford created were designed to showcase a neon futurism, and the buildings he featured were chosen because they combined brutalism and the principles of organic growth—the essence of this post war architectural movement.  “Though these buildings are from the past,” he said, “they appear as if they have appeared from the distant future.  My intention is for the viewer to ask not ‘where’ they were taken but ‘when.”

Source: Dezeen

Copenhagen Park Designed to Promote Inclusiveness

Photo Credit: Next City

Home to both young families and criminal gang members, Nørrebro is a diverse neighborhood. Its park—Folkets Park—has been contested for decades. As a response, Danish artist Kenneth Balfelt organized a project with architects and landscape architects to improve the park, prioritizing community engagement.

Nørrebro is a densely populated neighborhood with a longstanding mistrust of local officials. When a fire destroyed a building in the neighborhood resulting in an open lot adjacent to a factory, people moved into the the factory and Folkets Park and Folkets Hus were established. Folkets Hus quickly became a community house hosting theater groups, parties, music events, and political debates. The city repeatedly attempted to demolish Folkets Hus, but in the 1990s the building finally receive official approval.

Balfelt worked with all members of the community, asking them, “What their analysis of the park and the situation was, and what they needed from the space.” While most specialists argue that well lit pathways are more safe, Balfelt listened to community members who found dark areas of the park to feel more private and secure. Balfelt argued with the city to include zone lighting to accommodate well lit areas of the park and dark zones in the park. Balfelt enlisted young members of the community to help build and paint the playground equipment for the children. Tensions with gangs in the area have increased over the years, and a shooting occurred in the park last year, pushing officials to temporarily close Folkets Hus. Given the current climate, the park has prospered since the renovation.

Source: Next City

Architecture, Art, and Light in Marfa

Photo Credit: Mark Menjivar

Donald Judd moved to Marfa, Texas in the 1970s. Since then, Marfa has come to be known as a pilgrimage site for those interested in contemporary or minimalist art on view at Judd’s Chinati Foundation.

Artist Robert Irwin recently completed his contribution to the Chinati Foundation’s permanent collection. Irwin worked with the Chinati Foundation and the San Antonio-based architectural firm Ford, Powell & Carson for 16 years to create an architectural monument to light and space, receiving a 2017 design award from the Texas Society of Architects.

The building, a perfectly symmetrical ‘U’ shape, sits on the foundation of the ruins of a 1919 army barracks building. The artist, architects and the Chinati Foundation had hoped to accommodate Robert Irwin’s vision within the walls of the original structure, but ultimately its reinforced concrete walls proved too inflexible and unstable. Instead, Irwin’s building references the ruins that were once on site, and eye-level windows, sheer scrims, and polished interior surfaces allow the changing desert light to act as a material itself.

Source: Texas Architect Magazine and Artnet.

Muvuca: Restoring the Rain Forest One Tree at a Time

Photo Credit: Depositphotos

One of the largest undertakings of its kind, Conservation International plans to plant 73 million trees in the Amazon. This short-term project—called Muvuca, a Portuguese word describing many people in a small place—will restore 70,000 acres of tropical rain forest. A large quantity of seeds of various species are being planted allowing natural selection to demonstrate which species are most suited to survive. Ending deforestation could allow for the absorption of 37 percent of carbon emissions.

Source: inhabitat

Plans Revealed for Obama Library

Image credit: The Obama Foundation

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects have revealed the first renderings of the Obama Presidential Library, which will be completed in 2021. The library will be located in Jackson Park in Chicago, and is designed to “seamlessly integrate into the park and the community,” per the request of the Obamas. The museum portion of the complex is a multi-storied, stone clad structure that will sit opposite the horizontally oriented library. Landscaping will wrap around the museum and atop the library, which opens up to a public plaza. Barack and Michelle Obama presented the concept design and site plan at an event on May 3.

Source: Dezeen

Open-Source Tool Makes Comparing Street Networks Easy

Image Credit: Geoff Boeing

Image Credit: Geoff Boeing

Geoff Boeing, a PhD student at UC Berkeley, has created an open-source tool that allows researchers to directly compare city street networks. The Python-based tool generates black-and-white maps that visualize one square mile of a street network for a given city. The simple visual language of the tool’s renderings emphasizes the stark contrast between wide suburban blocks, tight 19th century grids, and radial ancient cities.

Source: NextCity

Trick Roundabout Designed to Confuse Drivers

Image Credit: Al Storer

Image Credit: Al Storer

Designers have implemented a “ghost roundabout” in Cambridge, United Kingdom to intentionally confuse speedy drivers. The new road feature consists of a circular pattern of cobbled bricks that resembles a traffic roundabout. The bricks are merely decorative; however, behavioral science dictates that the familiar circular shape will cause drivers to take notice and slow down. The formation has been criticized by those who believe it looks too much like a crosswalk or that the confusion it will cause drivers will be dangerous. By replacing vertical speed bumps, the “ghost roundabouts” could provide a slowing mechanism that no longer relies on giving the driver a physical jolt.


Source: 99 Percent Invisible

Dallas Floodplain to Become America’s Biggest Nature Park

Dallas will soon be one of the greenest cities in America thanks to the Trinity River Park, a new project that aims to transform a floodplain into a thriving urban green space. The park will feature playgrounds, trails, and lawns that enhance the quality of life of Dallas residents and help minimize flooding damage in the city. The designers of the park—Michael Van Valkenburg Associates—worked with city engineers to convert the floodplain. In a city known for its concrete landscape, this 10,000 acre park will be a welcome retreat.

Source: Inhabitat

World’s Largest Redwood Grove Planned for Irish Town

Image Credit: IceNineJohn (Flickr)

Image Credit: IceNineJon (Flickr)

The town of Birr, Ireland could become home to the world’s largest collection of giant redwood trees if Birr Castle’s Lord Rosse has anything to say about it. Eighty-year old Lord Rosse—also known as Brendan Parsons—plans to plant as many as 3,000 redwood trees despite the area’s cold and fluctuating temperatures. Nine redwoods likely planted in the 1860s are currently growing on the estate, with two different species represented. Although the hardiness of these trees has encouraged Parsons, the financial cost is still a barrier; in order to fund the project, the earl plans to offer the public the chance to purchase 500 Euro tree sponsorships.

Source: Inhabitat

Mending the Broken Earth

Image Credit: Estelle Chrétien

Image Credit: Estelle Chrétien

French artist Estelle Chrétien’s newest earthwork evokes memories of stitched-up injuries or unraveling clothing. “Ground Operation”—which features a split section of turf seemingly stitched back together with a white cord—instills in the viewer the importance of mankind’s role in molding the earth. Chrétien juxtaposes small-scale handicrafts with the kinds of agricultural and infrastructural interventions that change the landscape. According to Chrétien, the earthwork “…questions our relationship to natural resources,” helping us to realize our impact.

Source: The Creators Project

Did a Finnish Modernist Change Skateboarding Forever?

Aalto's first pool at Villa Mairea in Finland. Image credit: Jonathan Rieke via Dezeen

Aalto’s first pool at Villa Mairea in Finland. Image credit: Jonathan Rieke via Dezeen

Skateboarding magazine Transworld Skateboarding credits Finnish Modernist architect Alvar Aalto with changing the sport of skateboarding forever. Alto is credited with building the world’s first kidney shaped swimming pool in 1939, which also featured a rounded floor that formed a bowl rather than four sharp corners. Transworld claims that during the 1975 California drought, hundreds of these popular swimming pools remained empty—providing an opportunity for skateboarders to co-opt empty pools to practice new tricks on their sloped concrete floors. Without Aalto’s first kidney-shaped pool at Villa Mairea, the sport of skateboarding as we know it might not exist.

Source: Transworld via Dezeen

Tiny Huge Forest

Image Credit: Micah Bozeman, via New York Times

Image Credit: Micah Bozeman, via City Lab

The New York City Public Art Fund, the Save the Redwoods League, and artist Spencer Finch have collaborated to recreate a California redwood forest in downtown Brooklyn–at a 1:100 scale, of course. While “California’s Lost Man Creek is 380 feet tall, the Brooklyn version will stand around 4 feet high.” The trees representing the redwoods are metasequoias, which will be trimmed down periodically to maintain their height at the appropriate scale.

Source: City Lab