Landscape architectural design practice is explored through the relationship between current landscape construction approaches and the evolving contemporary environment. Techne acknowledges workability and the durable ecological, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions within the implementation of built landscape work over time and can offer an alternative landscape focus to the current design concerns of indeterminacy, openness and flux currently advanced by academics and practitioners. This paper represents landscape design practices based on the ideas of time and techne in the making of landscape architecture developed by the author within the past several years. Opportunities and challenges are outlined and discussed through practicum work of the Center for Technology and Environment (CTE) at Graduate School of Design of Harvard University founded and led by the author. In particular the potential of new site technologies, an emerging range of landscape materials and the nature of regeneration engineering are delineated through site design case studies located globally in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
On January 10, 2014, a forum titled “The Power of the Market: Impact of the Marketization Statement upon the Design Industry and Educational Development” was held. The conference was organized by Landscape Architecture Frontiers and hosted by the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture of Peking University. The conference attracted experts from governmental agencies, design firms, and universities to discuss how market reform and a more open market will affect the design industry, and how professional designers and universities can cooperate to advance the discipline.
Through an analysis of the dilemmas facing landscape architecture industry in China, this paper proposes that the core criteria for evaluating the industrial level of landscape architecture is the optimal allocation of lands and other social public resources. Marketization reform will result in both enterprises and individual practitioners promoting a benign development of the industry. Already, increased industry standards have placed higher requirements on educational quality. Finally, with the help of market forces, positive interaction between landscape architecture industry and professional education can be achieved.
It is indisputable that one of the biggest drivers of landscape change today is economics as a mediator of supply and demand. In order to satisfy demand for houses, goods and services, which are susceptible to economic cycles, social imbalances and the vagaries of fashion, land is needed, resources are needed and people are also needed, often in different places from where they live. Thus the market has great power. This is perhaps more balanced and regulated in advanced and mature capitalist economies and less so in developing post-socialist or post-planned economic conditions. It is also perhaps axiomatic that landscape architects consider any attempt to value such intangible things as aesthetics or beauty in monetary terms as undesirable. However, the market and economics has always played a role in Western countries, perhaps it is just not fully recognized; landscapes may have values but these are not always monetarized. When the assumption is that economics expressed through the market means land use change from natural to developed conditions, for example, and thus always a negative direction, this misses the point that good landscape and good landscape design can affect and be affected by the market.
The compacted and concentrated city area and its built environment draw upon an ever widening hinterland for its life support. These resources continuously pulse in and out of the city’s physical boundary through constructed infrastructures. In this sense, the reach of the city is far beyond its physical location, moreover, the denser the city, the starker the contrast is between its built form and the geographical extent of its depending territory. “Contextualizing the Ecological Footprint in Hong Kong” is an educational research project in which first-year undergraduates of the built environment at the University of Hong Kong (ARCH1028 Sustainability and the Built Environment) were encouraged to define and explore issues of sustainability within dense urban settings, and to speculate on the concept of sustainable issues. This paper presents the teaching approach, student research and contextual analysis of five decisive factors that the city relies upon for its life support (energy, food, people, water and waste), across eight different urban neighborhoods (Admiralty, Ap Lei Chau, Hung Hom, Kowloon Bay, Mong Kok, Sha Tin, Tin Shui Wai and Yau Tong) in Hong Kong. “Contextualizing the Ecological Footprint in Hong Kong” also enrolled 2013 Bi- City Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture (Hong Kong).
KuiperCompagnons and Paul Andreu Architecte submitted their proposal for the International Planning Competition of the New East Coastal Area in Shantou in 2013, and were awarded the shared first Prize. The proposal, Return to Shantou, outlines the site as an important function and service center to the future urban development of Shantou, and a driver for new urban growth, highlighting its potential to show distinctive characteristics of Shantou and become a catalyst for transforming the city from an inner bay city to one oriented to the coast.
Moon River is a tourism real estate complex project entrusted by Oversea China Town (OCT) Group in Zhouzhuang. The project uses modern design approaches and southern Chinese culture to show the unique waterscape of Zhouzhuang, “the first water village in China”. The incorporation of cultural inheritance shows a high commitment to social, cultural, and ecological values.
The Dali Stone Mountain Resort in Yunnan sits between the old city of Dali and the new city of Xiaguan, with the Cangshan Mountain on one side and the Erhai Lake on the other. The design team reshaped the landscape by improving the infrastructure and support facilities, preservation of the natural environment, and highlighting local cultural and architectural characteristics. A tourist destination was created by integrating residence, hotel and commerce facilities.
The Palm Island is composed of five buildings that “floating” on the lake. The dynamic and fluid architecture lines, vivid material contrast, and concise color selection have created the fashion and high-end commercial landmark image. The Palm Island has provided comfortable dining environment, improved the quality of life in the region, and also contributed to energy consumption reduction.
Through a series of regenerative design techniques, particularly measures to slow down the flow of stormwater, a channelized concrete river and a deteriorated peri-urban site have been transformed into a nationally celebrated wetland park that functions as a major part of the city-wide ecological infrastructure planned to provide multiple ecosystem services, including stormwater management, water cleansing, and recovery of native habitats, as well as a creation of a cherished public space for gathering and aesthetic enjoyment.
Sherbourne Common is both major civic amenity and poetic stormwater treatment infrastructure, and a key component of the renaissance of Toronto’s waterfront. The park seamlessly interweaves stormwater management, landscape, architecture, program, and art and is the first Canadian park to integrate a UV purification facility for neighbourhood-wide stormwater treatment.
The U.S.-Canadian Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin holds 20 percent of earth’s surface fresh water and sustains a megalopolis of 50 million people. For more than four years, the City Design Practice of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has pioneered a holistic, 100-year vision for the basin’s environmental restoration and economic renewal. The Great Lakes Century pioneers an ecosystem-scale planning perspective and suggests strategies for managing not just regional growth but global population growth and urbanization. SOM calls for a vision that balances humanity and nature for the good of both. SOM partner Philip Enquist leads the initiative that researched the vast region’s vulnerabilities and assets, defined visionary turnaround strategies and created powerful presentations to government, academic, environmental and public audiences. It created what was missing: a unifying and overarching bi-national perspective. Its innovative approach has been recognized by America’s highest urban design and landscape architecture awards.
This project is a projective fable in video format that positions political fiction as a design project. As primitive accumulation, production and landscape ecology are the driver of markets and economic structure, the project unpacks the contrasting ecologies of Mongolia’s steppe to China’s agricultural land use, establishing the connections between market forces and landscape architecture. The Nomad, The Technologist began with field research in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, examining sites of resource extraction across the Steppe — from the mines of Oyu Tolgoi and Erdenet to areas representative of Mongolia’s unique forms of transient urbanization in Ulaan Baatar. This project of design fiction moves through a series of proposed infrastructural elements that are agile and mutable depending on seasonal fluctuations of economic needs, using air fields, hangars and traditional landscape elements such as naleds (intentionally created ice shields) to envision an ecology of labor that is tied to an ecology of the Steppe. Seeing this proposal as factual narrative, the video ends in the far future of 2020 but using contemporary conditions and political situations of today — China’s battle against desertification and the Steppe as a mechanism to protect food security and a market economy based on agriculture.