Mar 2018, Volume 6 Issue 1

  • Select all
    Kongjian Yu

    Local peasants have created unbelievably magnificent terraced landscapes using simple tools through cultivation, self-sufficiency, water conservation, and awe for the God of Earth. Before large machinery became the standard for industrial civilizations, the landscape had been shaped using only simple tools and had lasted for over thousands of years. This was benefited from simple technologies that maintained a harmonious relationship with the land, even if it was forced to. Industrial civilization, however, has created an antagonistic relationship between humans and land, brought about by consumerism. The excessive use of industrial machinery has also caused irreversible harm to the land. If these conditions are not changed, the landscape — an objective presentation of subjective thinking — will surely move beyond redemption.

  • papers
    Zhengneng CHEN

    The trend of global urbanization has put the contemporary cities in identity crises by accelerating place transformations, particularly in the thriving ground of China. This paper explores ways of conceptualizing place identity in relation to rapid urbanization in contemporary China. After a revisit of the main theories and studies on place identity from both the social sciences and design professions (in China and the West), the paper asserts a philosophical concept of place identity as a pluralistic and temporal construct. Drawing on this philosophy, the paper provides further observation and critique upon place identity construction praxis in China through three case studies. These cases together approach a holistic reading of the complexity of place identity construction in China today. Taken as a whole, the paper argues that construction of place identity in China’s urbanization should account for its pluralism and temporality in identity claims, multiple scales, and transformation of identity through time. The study of place identity issues in China’s urbanization leads to a critical reflection on not only the rapid urbanization of the recent past, but also that taking place now and likely to occur in more than a thousand small towns and villages in the future.

  • Views & Criticisms
    Moya Sun

    In this article, art works as unconventional landscape interventions are introduced, showing the interdisciplinary practices in responding to social and ecological issues brought by the rupture of global activities and local geographies. Started from natural geology and ecology, these public art works emphasize the close connection between individuals and the global system by coupling social, cultural, and economic phenomena with the physical foundation of the earth. In these practices, site-specific art is functioning as a tool to create intermediate spaces between mind and function, where questions, critics, manifestos, and actions, take forms through site interventions. The openness of these practices stimulates more dialogues among multiple industries about the sustainability of localization.

  • Views & Criticisms
    Yan MENG

    This interview centers on the urban development issues faced by most Chinese cities. Yan Meng, Principal Architect and Co-founder of URBANUS Architecture and Design, shares his perspective on cities, and discusses what kinds of cities are dynamic, lively, and healthy by taking urban village in Shenzhen as an example. Besides, as one of the curators, he hopes that the 2017 Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture can offer an opportunity to break boundaries, foster communication and exchange, and explore new urban development pattern in the future. Meng also believes that architects’ roles as an observer, a thinker, and a researcher could allow them to better respond to the unique context and cultural characteristics of a site as a designer.

  • Views & Criticisms
    Li WAN

    This interview is centered on the practice of earth architecture in rural West China, starting from introducing the post-earthquake reconstruction project in Guangming Village, Yunnan Province, as an outstanding example of the practice of the “One University, One Village” Rural Sustainable Development Assistance Program. Li Wan, the interviewee, explains the differences of design consideration and the difficulties in practicing earth architecture throughout China, while giving her prospect on its future application. Through a further introduction on the operation and project procedure of the Program by Wan and her team, the interviewee addresses that architects should take their responsibilities on solving social issues, with a hope that, through their site-based efforts, the Program could provide a global paradigm to similar earth architecture practices in other regions, rousing designers’ awareness of localization.

  • Views & Criticisms
    Tom RIVARD, Michael COWDY, Jack QIAN

    In a time of global challenges, cities are critical not only as vehicles for progress, but also as centers of diversity and resilience. Confronted with intensifying climates, and social, ecological, and economic issues, McGregor Coxall focuses on the stories people tell in making their cities. Our projects accept and challenge these stories which underpin city-making: the engine of economic progress, the marketplace of cultural production, and the myth of our separation from “nature.”

    The success of contemporary city is built on a paradoxical relationship with two pressures: global development and environmental impacts. To address these crises, McGregor Coxall works at two scales, simultaneously, on all of our projects: in the large-scale realm of regional economic development and ecosystemic operations, and at the scale of the person, the street, and the neighbourhood. The systemic understanding provides the contextual basis by which projects perform, economically and environmentally, while our understanding of communities makes each project a genuine product of its time, place, and culture.

  • Thematic practices
    Kongjian YU, Hongqian YU,, Yu SONG

    As a pilot project of water treatment in Zhejiang Province, the Puyangjiang River Corridor project has remediated the polluted river course into a popular ecological and recreational corridor. The project restored the aquatic ecosystems and improved the water quality by introducing a constructed wetland system which purifies the irrigation water and the tributaries of Puyangjiang River. Under a concept of Sponge City construction and a minimal intervention strategy, the design not only enhances the flood resilience, but also minimizes the disturbance to natural ecosystems of the site. In addition, the existing agricultural, water-conservational, and cultural heritages have been preserved and partly reused as recreational structures and facilities, contributing aesthetic and educational values to the site.

  • Thematic practices
    Landscape Architects of Bangkok

    To respond to the urban problems and to increase forest areas in the city, an urban forest reflecting Bangkok’s former landscape was designed and constructed. To create diverse forest ecology and stimulate plant growth, Miyawaki’s ecological method to reforestation was implemented, and local tree species were used for pioneer planting as they had once established territorial populations around Bangkok. The layout of the species was carefully grouped, and planting locations were also carefully selected. The skywalk and observation tower were designed to minimize disturbance of the burgeoning forest and allow close-up views of the maturing canopy. This project is distinguished by strong design gestures that are well integrated into the landscape by using Bangkok’s design language, creating a space truly to inspire public awareness of urban forestry and the importance of environmental stewardship in Thailand.

  • Thematic practices
    Gilles BRUSSET

    Increased efficiency in the design and construction of standardization is often accompanied by a loss of perception of the site. L’enfance du Pli (The Fold’s Childhood) is a sculpturelandscape, monumental and elongated in Boudines, Geneva. In a form of interpretating the force that spawned landscapes of the Jura Massif (Jura folds), the project challenges the principle of modern architecture and responds to the ignorance of the pre-existing landscape that presided over the realization of the Meyrin Park.

  • Thematic practices
    Alfredo BRILLEMBOURG, Hubert KLUM PNER, Haris PIPLAS, Urban-Think Tank, ETH Zurich

    In times of radical change, we need to look into cities as laboratories. A sheer unlikely candidate for such an urban laboratory is the city of Sarajevo. Yet, the city’s turbulent past of alternating periods of construction and destruction and the variety of social, cultural, and political layers in its built environment reveal challenges and potentials relevant to the state of many contemporary cities around the globe. Sarajevo’s discontinuous political, social, and historical development has created a bricolage city. By highlighting the existing local socio-cultural and ecological systems, the Urban-Think Tank’s “Reactivate Sarajevo” project aims not only to contribute to a post-war revitalization of the Bosnian capital but also to produce, from the experience of this extraordinary city, lessons of wider, possibly global significance.

  • Thematic practices
    Robert Z. MELNICK, Noah P. KERR

    The study of climate change impacts on cultural landscapes in the Pacific West Region of the National Park System by the University of Oregon’s Cultural Landscape Research Group, assessed how these landscapes might be affected by key climate variables, and developed recommendations for future research toward the agency’s goal of ensuring cultural landscapes’ resilience in light of climate change variables.

  • Thematic practices
    Jaclyn KALOCZI

    What if landscape architects could cultivate the sea to produce food? In the future, rising populations and the demand on resource consumption alongside the crisis of climate change leave agricultural land in coastal areas facing extinction. Across the globe, rising sea levels causes farmland flooded by salt water, unsustainable farming depletes soils, pollinators and crop varieties increase, and as land transforms from arable to urbanized, food security disappears. These worldwide threats present opportunities for landscape architecture to re-envision food landscapes for the future. Presented through an animated and narrated film, Agro-Pelago addresses global food security challenges while implementing local solutions.

    Thomas NIDEROEST

    Arid regions around the world comprise approximately 41 percent of the global surface area. These drylands are inhabited by 1/3 of the global population, are home to several mega-cities and nurture a multimillion dollar economy annually. However, continuous population growth and changing precipitation patterns created the phenomenon of water scarcity. To stabilize the local economy and facilitate population growth projections, governments around the world extend their water-energy-network to access foreign watersheds. As part of a comparative design research project under the Harvard based Charles Eliot Fellowship, this article addresses the global issues of water scarcity. It studies the effects of drought in arid regions, documents territorial water systems and outlines the socio-economic and socio-ecological effects of megaprojects. By revealing these processes, the article discusses the current water discourse from the perspective of landscape architecture and endorses a paradigm of abundance. To illustrate this complex social and economic proposition, a survey of international case studies provides the understanding of the territorial gap and demonstrates decentralized action on a local scale. Ultimately, to challenge water scarcity, a plurality of interventions at multiple scales are inevitable. The key for interdisciplinary planning and design lays in the hybridity of systems, which are framed by a landscape-based approach.

    Ursula BIEMANN

    In recent years, my videos have performed a shift from a global to a planetary scale. In pursuit of this new perspective where nonhuman actors begin to play an important role, my fieldwork has taken me to remote territories where fragile ecosystems have come under great pressure from the global resource extraction industry. In this article, I elucidate the two video works, Deep Weather (2013) and Forest Law (2014), to demonstrate how I use the video essay to create landscapes that are imbued with meaning beyond themselves. In the cinematic environmentalism these videos present and matter, physical and climatic processes no longer provide a dramatic backdrop for the narration of social events; they have moved to the fore to play the leading role, forming a world in which the human-Earth relationship is fragile, complicated, poetic, and intensely physical.