She started out by saying she never meant to be a landscape architect. Her uncles, cousins, father, son, husband are all architects; it’s like a congenital disease. She planned to go into fine arts but then she encountered earthworks and so smitten wanted to explore that. One thing led to another…
What is the landscape? We think of it in pastoral terms. We think of it in terms of purist erasure — Landscape is the world without us humans in it. It’s the remainder of leftover areas we don’t ruin. Or it’s when we make nice walking gardens. Trees, birdies, clean rivers and chilly hills.
But the landscape is a bigger circle encompassing every environment we’re in — the highways, the parking lots, the service areas, the sidewalks, the towers, the open pit mines. They are still the landscape. And we spent, statistically, 7 times more of our time on highways than in parks. It is what we create that then creates positive feedback loops in health, social lives, economics and environment. On some level we know that non-commercial space, like time off, pays for itself in a way. NYC’s Central Park brings $623 million/acre to the city because people want to see the park. It wouldn’t make economic sense to parcel any of its green space into any kind of “development”.
In a project she did in Toronto, Yorkville Park, having the park and public space has increased property values around it and increased the amount of shopping done because people want to be there. The green space takes its cue from the Victorian era houses and makes a collector’s box as if the landscape were each in cubicle of Canadian shield ecology. At the same time she remarked, it is better to do something that some hate and some like than something that people don’t care about because if people are blasé it won’t be maintained. If a project is taken to heart by some people, then it will be integrated into lives. For example, Grand Canal Square in Dublin, Ireland was a plaza to go in front of a waterfront performing arts centre. Even in Ireland’s economic downturn, the area was not effected economically because it served people’s needs for a space that worked.
She adds curves and colors to the built environment and green it but does so with a sense of whimsy that is considered from a design point rather than just random play such as in Ireland’s square which plays with colors and geometric shapes that mark outdoor areas.
Public spaces, whether commuter suburbs, or mixed use street plaza life govern the rules we employ against each other. Cultural change, she contends, happen in public space, not when we are sequestered and ghettoized.
She tries to tie in the project to its context. She talked about “creating a “there” there” as Stein put it. In a project going up in China she used sight lines to shape how people walked to see the model homes. The construction of the new homes was blocked from view by a wall with a vista with a cutout to see the distant hills. Along the path there are trees planted and metal sculptures that evoke Chinese lanterns and provide shade. The walk to the model home is so popular the developer has decided to keep it as a park.
Her commission in X’ian, China is a fascinating walled garden where none of the walls are parallel, most dead-end in the maze. You are always under the canopy of willows and approach them but never see the base of any trunks until the end. The end of each wall is mirrored.
Another project for a tower in Abu Dhabi was to make a green roof. The hitch was typical. The architects did their work and left and then it handed over to handscape architects but the design load of the building didn’t consider the possibility of a green roof. Her solution was to give dimension with mounds of greenery and water trickle feature along the seating, but the green are all panels that at thin planting on a foam core to give shape without weight.
Also in Abu Dhabi was a beach with special demands. People want to be separated by gender so males can’t access women and children, and so the immigrant labour can’t access the employer class. As well the beach front is tucked in between the ocean and a freeway because infrastructure for transport was designed first and leisure and daily life second.
In Jakarta, her firm is working on Pluit City. Jakarta has a lot of problems in the sense of it sinking worse than Venice. In Jakarta they’ve emptied their aquifers and have to catch rain water to supply local water needs. The project reclaims land, builds seawalls, replants mangroves which were all cut down which should help stabilize the coastline and regrow the fishery.
She’s doing multi-family housing in Japan with a funky stone form of fish among bamboo.
In this interview she talks about renewing mines,
We worked in Winslow, New Jersey, on a clay quarry that had been a dump for 30 cars. It was a degraded and socially dangerous site. With the client, and an ecologist, we regenerated it so now it’s an informal nature conservancy. Now, people want to know if they can buy the land to develop it into housing (no). But the point is, that now, there is a whole new set of possibilities for the site and the town.
They resculpted the 500 acres creating ponds, mixing in wood chip with clay so it could grow. It went from being a waste area to an area that migrating flocks use on their flight path. It is now trees and local species have moved back in. There are 11,000 clay quarries in New Jersey but it takes will and desire.
Martha Schwartz (of Martha Schwartz Partners of London, UK and her firm, Martha Schwartz, Inc. in Cambridge, Massachussetts with projects in over 20 countries) was the speaker on November 4, 2013 at the National Gallery of Canada.
She has received a couple pages worth of highly regarded awards and prizes including the Cooper-Hewitt Museum National Design Award for her body of work in Landscape Architecture, Women in Design Award for Excellence, Boston Society of Architects, 2005, an honorary fellowship from RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects), and several design awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, including residencies, tenure and an honorary degree.
But more importantly for this she was one of the most articulate of speakers the series has had and she organized the lecture into the half of principles of why landscape matters and then details of a few projects. And she did so with smatterings of humour, and with loads of enthusiasm and inspiration.
I was wishing through the talk that Mayor Jim Watson should have been there. He would have enjoyed her ideas, spirit and talk. Perhaps he was there. It is open to the public and a full room.
Quote: “You have beautiful, living and inanimate materials, and one can create something that has cultural resonance. The narrative or idea can be about anything. All great art is, essentially, a very personal statement or inquiry. A built landscape is not required to look or mimic nature. If we are creating it, like any other cultural art form, it can be what we wish it to be. There’s no law that says it has to look like nature. What if all the books or movies or plays were about one subject matter or were dictated by the government? It would be stopping the evolution of culture. Without realizing it, people have very clear notions of what a landscape should be, while we’re much more open about what a building can be because we know it’s a cultural artifact.” ~ Martha Schwartz [via]
P.S. The Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism present forum lectures irregularly through the regular university year.
Nov 18th will be the next lecture. It is by David Leatherbarrow of the University of Pennsylvania. He does research on history and theory of architecture and the city. His books include: Books include: Topographical Stories, Surface Architecture (with Mohsen Mostafavi), Uncommon Ground, Roots of Architectural Invention, On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time, and Masterpieces of Architectural Drawing.
Ready, set? Time for 13 things.
- It’s funny when travelling with 2 changes of clothes, I always have something to wear but look at a closetful and I can say, I got nothin’. Working while travelling, I have things to read and write. Back home, there’s an infinitely long to-do list.
- Decision Paralysis has a cure: Start Somewhere.
Tracks. Must follow. It sinks quite a lot in the mire. It must be a big Heffalump.
Why Pooh, it’s you.
- (I knew that.)
- On a more serious note, we have some people doing truly useful things, such as Dr. Alberto Yanosky, executive director of BirdLife Partner Guyra Paraguay. He has won the 2013 National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in Latin American Conservation.
Alberto Yanosky has been helping preserve natural habitats sine the 80s. He’s pictured here at a welcome to the Grassland tour organized by Public Pastures-Public Interest.
- He’s talking about what he’s learned with local people to Saskatchewan who are pressing the importance of keeping unbroken tracts of pasture ecology, and managing it with the help of ranchers.
- The issue at stake is that formerly publicly community owned pastures (larger than Prince Edward Island) is being transferred to the Federal and Provincial government with that possibly being sold to private citizens. The risk there is chopping up the continuity into tract houses. Like forests habitats, pastures work best in uninterrupted stretches, not as scattered islands. Here’s some info on Community Pasture System.
- You may have seen that our knowledge of grasslands is inching up. One diligent fellow has learned to translate some of prairie dog language which can convey some details of size, shape, species, speed and if human, if armed. (If we can get a bit of rodent speech, maybe human’s might not all be dullards.)Alumni Cadmus Delorme, Dr. Lynn Wells, Vice President Academic of First Nations University, Prairie Biologist and Professor Dr. Fidji Gendron, and Trevor Herriot (who has spent decades observing grassland birds and has a book on them.). They talked about the key importance of valuing the species of the grasslands.
There’s a fundraiser dinner tonight in Regina with Graeme Gibson and Margaret Atwood.
- There’ll be other noteable guests. Glenn Olson of the National Audubon Society, Rob Clay of BirdLife International, Dr. Alberto Yanosky, from Paraguay, Southern Cone initiative and BirdLife International and Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada. And a media conference on Friday.
Here’s a few second video of a crayfish as zhe battles the whitecaps washing in at Lumsden Beach, Saskatchewan.
Noteable Quoteable: “Funny, how gentle people get with you once you’re dead.” ~ Joe Gillis, Sunset Boulevard
Sometimes I think there’s a mole in Harper’s advisors who try to harm his chances, such as the whole ignore The Journey of Nishiyuu. The only strategic thing could be to drown out the efforts of many with the silence of one, to derail attention from them to him by glaring omission and state that international relations is more important than domestic dialogue.
At the same time people aren’t that readily trumped. A couple years ago Lakota youth felt categorically dumped into a category of poverty porn with a simplified portrayal of them. They demonstrated their aspirations and their view of the community they make in a video of their diversity.
Mud-slinging season in politics may only be exacerbated by paying attention but I wonder what was the thinking behind an attack ad over someone donating to a popularly valued health charity. It caused more attention and as much donations in 48 hours as a usual month.
But maybe it still got its intended effect?
The games are absurd.
A little attention there is a red herring from what this time? It’s like grocery sales. Such and such item goes on sale while other items go up so unless you want to go buy only the cheap items all around town, it nets the same. Even if it does it nets the same because some people will buy what they buy at any price, others refuse things on sale as defective or old or only buy by the higher price. So why not cut the games from the system?
A sense of proportion and a sense of humour is easiest when in extreme pain or relieved pain.
The thunderstorm that unleashed last night with lightning and a nearby thunderclap also made the barometric pressure much more compatible with my joints.
Besides that I went to a chiropractor. That only took me 3 months.
Now I can do stupid human tricks. I can turn my head to the right. Listen, no crackly sounds. Wait, it gets better. *and* the left. I can scratch my left shoulder with my right arm and scratch my own back.
Glad Game: And I can lift my right arm, suddenly even. And I can swing arms backwards. Without a pain jolt. Neat, huh.
I found some good books.
I was one of the winners of the tweet poetry contest at the Ottawa Public Library with Amanda Earl, Adam Thomlison and JC Sulzenko.
And I got a poem up with the excellent company at The Week Shall Inherit the Verse!
Phew. Quite a week.
All this and weather that doesn’t need a sweater nor a jacket.
The gardens are cleaned up. Spring onions are planted.
Walking in the dappling rain there were two little girls in their summer dressed on their doorstep. The littler one bent over to examine a rain drop splotch on the walkway and sang “rain, rain, little rain, won’t you come everyday”.
The picnic table and bench are back outside. The barbecue is out and ready to cook something.
Quote: “Any sportiveness in cattle is unexpected. I saw one day a herd of a dozen bullocks and cows running about and frisking in unwieldy sport, like huge rats, even like kittens. They shook their heads, raised their tails, and rushed up and down a hill [...] a sudden loud WHOA! would have damped their ardor at once, reduced them from venison to beef, and stiffened their sides and sinews like the locomotive. Who but the Evil One has cried the “Whoa!” to mankind? ~ Henry David Thoreau
Arts Citizenship Equity Events, Holidays and Festivals Ottawa Photos
Here a crew from NAC’s Le Café were prepping. A lot of restaurants and food shops were involved in making the day and raising money for the shelter which has been running since 1988.
All kinds of chefs were hard at work prepping for the seemingly endless tide of people. There’s more on the food angle at Eaten Up
Thanks to Knock on Wood Communications & Events we were able to take in the event.
In the end $35,000 was raised, compared to over $39,000 last round. That sounds like a lot but their annual expenses for shelter, clinic, building and all those expensive etcertas ran at over $4.2 million last year, over an $88,000 shortfall. Each year they adopt out 3700 cats, dogs and small domestic pets. It may cost $200-$350 to adopt a dog or cat, $27-200 to adopt a bird, or $7 for a house, but that cost of medical care and housing would boil down to $1300 each.
The next fundraiser is Wiggle Waggle Walkathon Sept 9.
Quote: “Always remember, a cat looks down on man, a dog looks up to man, but a pig will look man right in the eye and see his equal.” ~ Winston Churchill
Citizenship Environment Equity General Gnomes Link Dump Politics Thirteen Thursday
When faced with stress, you can make something cleaner or add to the chaos.
- ↑ Lookie There ↑ New, simpler, cleaner.
- SuperBri and I pruned the plugins, and css on site so there should be no more hangs and failure to load!
- The burning DNA that has been remodelled thru each site update is once more clear.
- Pretty DNA, watch it spin and change it thanks to Kasen Lam. Celebrate that science isn’t illegal (yet).
- Get geek geared up: DNA neckties, DNA dog chews, or inflatable beach safety DNA anyone?
- “Sweetie, next time you’re feeling superior, lie down until it passes.” ~ @YourAuntLola aka Deborah McKinlay
- Or with a terrible headache, a lie-down helps too; “The bill submitted as a budget bill to the Canadian House of Commons will introduce, amend or repeal nearly 70 federal laws”, including fair wage, pah who needs that, huh? What fun, start being a senior citizen later, take any job, fitting or not or be cut off from Employment insurance. Let’s end food inspection, cut CBC by 10% more…
- Bill C-38 has not passed, but is beyond bad news for environments. (We already are out of the Kyoto Protocol and it was such a baby step.)
- An internet Blackout to Speak Out on June 4 has over 13,000 pledged so far to protest this absurdly wrong headed bill.
- Which is fine but rather than trusting the ripple will reach them, register your position to your MP as well.
- The bill is far-reaching and short sighted which is a combo sure to whack over something with unfortunate consequences.
- You may experience some turbulence…On a lighter note, anyone want mini moo cards? Refer with this # and get 10% off
- 10 Questions that create success in life like “Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?”
[More Thursday 13 participants]
Quote: “The world in old photos, / or the world in spring – / which is younger?” ~ Roo Borson, p. 24, Rain; road; an open boat (M&S, 2012)