Mediating Strata: Connecting Landscape, Building & Artifact

If landscape and human habitation are two dynamic forces that the built environment is able to draw from over time, how can architecture as a constructed entity engage in a more explicitly reciprocal relationship with the different components of a place? More specifically, how might architecture operate as a mediator between the layers of a site such that its manifold relationships to time and place are activated in the present?

The site and program in this project draw from two city blind spots in Ottawa–one a semi-vacated post-industrial landscape on the Ottawa River, the other a compound-like cultural institution–the Library and Archives of Canada, both of which possess different forms of collections. These represent layers of the geological landscape, the built environment and the cultural artifact, which are hidden or inactive to some degree within the fabric of the city and have been treated in this project as found elements to be used as a way of testing the thesis question. What emerged from the iterative visual, factual, and interpretive readings of the area formed the basis for the design of a looped path system and two interventions in the landscape.

A path was chosen as the means through which the various strata uncovered on the site could be negotiated, connected, and framed in a material and perceptual relationship with the individual. The trajectory offers a temporal experience that is based in the present as a body moves through space, while it simultaneously offers the possibility of engaging with static elements found in a landscape marking the past. Essentially the looped path design enables multiple ways of understanding the same objects and structures in space.

canadianarchitect.com – Canadian Architect – 1/10/2008.
Written by Erin Hunt, Dalhousie University, Ottawa for her Student Award of Excellence

Committee in awe of design for Agua Caliente museum

Members of the Palm Springs Architectural Advisory Committee were impressed Monday with the swirling design of the proposed Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

Located at the southeast corner of South Hermosa Drive and East Tahquitz Canyon Way, the two-story, $40 million museum will include galleries, an educational facility and theater.

The architecture and landscape design were reviewed by the committee Monday and will now move to the Planning Commission and City Council for comment.

Because the museum is on Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indian land, the city and its commissions can review, but not vote on the project.

Committee in awe of design for Agua Caliente museum | MyDesert.com | The Desert Sun.

Jones & Jones Architecture/Landscape Architecture – Seattle

Could Harvard expansion restore Allston’s watery ways?

In the late 19th century, the banks of the Charles River near the Harvard campus were covered with marshes, cut through with small streams that advanced and retreated with the tides.
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Then engineers took over. The tidal marshes were filled, land was reclaimed, and many of the streams were buried underground in pipes.

Now, as Harvard begins its expansion on the Allston side of the Charles, there is a push to return the area to a more natural state – part of an emerging national movement that touts the environmental benefits of landscape restoration.

For the last two years, Harvard, the city, the local community, and various groups including the watershed association have worked – sometimes contentiously – to determine the best course for the project. Bowditch said her group’s main goal is to figure out how the drainage systems in North Allston work and how to make them work better.

Could Harvard expansion restore Allston’s watery ways? – The Boston Globe.

Environmentalists push $1 million program to save urban trees

Environmentalists eager to save urban trees are promoting the Evergreen Cities campaign, naming it one of their top four priorities for the legislative session that starts next Monday. They’re pushing a $1 million program to improve urban forests statewide.

Protections for urban trees vary widely in the Puget Sound region, contributing to a dramatic decline in the tree cover. Satellite images from the ’70s are dominated by green swaths with black specks of buildings and roads. Recent pictures are practically reversed, with black oozing across the image and green patches shining through.

It’s an urban deforestation seen nationwide. About 25 percent of city tree canopy vanished over the past 30 years, based on satellite image analysis by American Forests, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group.

Environmentalists push $1 million program to save urban trees. Seattle – LISA STIFFLER SeattlePI

Melbourne leads Australia in cleaning stormwater naturally

EVERY year, about 500 billion litres of stormwater washes off the roofs, roads and footpaths of Melbourne into our rivers and bays.

That’s about the same amount of water that Melburnians consume each year.

Often it comes in a thunderous rush, surging out of drains, damaging waterways, and pouring litter into Port Phillip and Western Port bays.

But a $20 million bid to use Melbourne’s stormwater on “rain gardens” across the metropolitan area has gathered speed since early last year.

Rain gardens are designed to absorb large volumes of water from downpipes, road surfaces and paved areas.

Melbourne leads Australia in cleaning stormwater naturally | Herald Sun.

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