Editor's picks
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At Archstoyanie Park Wagon Landscaping masterfully took advantage of natural processes. The key to establishing this sculpture park, was patient curation of the emerging pioneer vegetation. The play between the ‘empty’ surfaces and forest produce dramatic effects and offers experiential richness – various ambiences carefully populated with sculptures. Under certain circumstances, this project poses the question whether it makes more sense to design a park, spend money to build it and to maintain it. With Archstoyanie Park, building is maintaining over the course of 10 years. Definitely a remarkable example of hard core landscape architecture.


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Beglinger + Bryan lays grounds for a rich ecosystem to emerge on its own in this in this pond merely by shaping the embankments. “Shallow water areas guarantee the survival of aquatic fauna. Embankments caused by terrain modelling at different angles and exposures will produce a high biodiversity.”


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This poetic intervention by Thilo Folkerts marks a former train station. The elements are placed partly on a green park structure and partly on paved, more urban area which suggests a departure/arrival from/to somewhere else. The sign marking the station name is redundant.


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A 50cm barrier along any beach can radically change natural dynamics, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. In the case of Hvidovre beach, the grassy area is a former landfill so this simple element is solving a number of problems whilst opening new uses. VEGA collaborated with Karin Lorentzen, a super-interesting Danish artist that designed the concrete wall. The result is an interesting and playful landscape element and I’m reminded of the Catherine Mosbach’s approach to form-finding – a little bit. Smuk!


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In terms of social responsibility Charlottenlund is landscape architecture at its best. It’s not often to see a project doing so little whilst giving so much to a community. Smart programming makes this all-season park a success. No unnecessary fancy details or decor, simply making a beautiful and sober environment for a wide range of sport activities and above all socialising.


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Post Industrial parks such as Zollverein, Duisburg Nord and many others always carry a sense of post-apocalyptic, dystopian landscape. Planergruppe Oberhausen managed to embrace this atmosphere in their design by the successful introduction of human-scale layer. The contrast between monumental industrial remains and evolving pioneer vegetation are masterfully composed in a Piranesi like impressions.


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A handful of simple but well thought gestures compose this interesting ‘harbour-campus-waterfront’. The soft willow trees contrast the rough harbour milieu and accompanying wind conditions. A comfortable wooden sun-deck catches much needed warmth. The suprematistic composition of wooden slabs give impression as if they were unloaded from a ship and then reorganised spontaneously for seating.


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Landscapes around busy transit hubs in general are usually designed as paved areas for the passengers buzzing through these noisy, dirty and smelly areas. In this sense, the introduction of an urban meadow is to be celebrated since it offers quite a complementary experience. Also to animals but above all to humans.


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The people of Cologne got themselves a nice urban couch in a form of a waterfront by the river Rhine. Neatly designed stairs with dark stone wall, absorbing warmth from the afternoon sun (I’m guessing) offers an interesting space for hanging out, watching sun go down behind the historic centre. With its simple contrasty design, the waterfront gives a beautiful frame to some archeological findings on site and also a boring brave-man-on-a-horse statue suddenly looks more appealing, when seen from the waterfront. It appears that the Rhine Boulevard by Planorama landscape architects gives new harmony to the site and celebrates urban life, by offering access to water and a beautiful view to many from both sides of the channel.


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This effortlessly beautiful and utterly relaxing courtyard pays respects to all existing qualities of the site. The big ash tree, the building, the textures, the proportions of the space, the history, the programme … It also introduces recycled objects, the courtyard looks a bit like an exhibition of found beauties.


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Gridgrounds exceptionally introduces humorous attitude in all the seriousness of a modernistic neighbourhood, precisely by playing around with the ‘old’ elements all neighbourhoods of this era were full of; grid manifestations, concrete, steal based play equipment etc. This intervention makes a statement that not much effort is needed to effectively correct mistakes of the past, for example like breathing some play in the tiresome grid of trees.


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Judging by other media, doubling the amount of pedestrian space on Times Sq. is the crown achievement with this hyper-urban site. But Snøhetta went much deeper than merely mastering engineering pirouettes. The design (selection of the material, it’s shape and colour) is full of references to past and contemporary culture connected to the Bowtie. The dark pavement complements the artificial light from above, giving it contrast like as found in black and white noir films. The benches were inspired by old cars from those noir times and from times of the establishment of Broadway’s theatre culture. Furthermore the coin-sized metal discs inserted in the pavement reflect the light from above and emphasize a kind of a ‘metropolis’ or ‘Blade Runner’ like experience. Snøhetta’s homage to artificial light also comes from the fact that the street was the first in US lit with electric lights. The lack of presence and recognition of this project in professional media and over-promoted doubling of the amount of pedestrian space are in my personal opinion problematic. It’s about heritage, culture, artistry, experience and yes, also the quality and quantity of pedestrian space.


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Here’s a nice photo essay based on the projects by H+N+S. Using aerial photography it introduces a kind of a distant view or a critical angle, quietly re-questioning shapes and programmes they had put on the ground.


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The purpose of this strange landscape is to reduce ground vibrations from the highway for the needs of synchrotron radiation laboratory MAX IV in Lund, Sweden. Roughly – the more chaotic the surface in terms of topography, the more vibrations will be absorbed into these tumulus kind of landforms. Further ecological measures were undertaken to provide for sustainable maintenance, like the use of sheep, effective storm-water management etc. It’s interesting how pure engineering sometimes gives birth to new typologies that also offer an interesting experience.


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McGregor Coxall: Set in Glenorchy, Tasmania on the Derwent River – Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park [GASP!] curves Elwick Bay’s east edge and terminates at Wilkinsons Point to bookend the Museum of Old and New Art [MONA] which opened in January 2011. MONA is changing the social and cultural fabric of the region and has […]


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This projects of course needs to be understood through the notion of temporary use. The fun of decomposing parking, as one of the most pre-set programmes gives this place a special, relaxed feel. The site plan is actually hilarious, but precisely because of this graphic deviation from what would be expected, the site now offers convivial grounds for various types of festivities and events.


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This site is soaked with complex memories of WWII and bloody protests in a fight for freedom in the 1970′. The heaviness of the past is contrasted by the lightness of the absolutely marvellous grading of the square. There are traces and signs of those memories still that suggest respect and soberness, but nothing is heavy about this design. So maybe the new ‘feel of the place’ suggests that confronting the past is perhaps behind? It optimistically allows for new uses in the times to come. Another thing worth mentioning is if you read the design statement, the museum was supposed to look more like a house and less like a landscape at first. The architects proposed a square also to give some space to the new Philharmonic (by another architect) across the street which is an act of super-consciousness in the world of architecture and I’m not sure how many architects are capable of that. This attitude makes the Philharmonic look like an Instagram ready teenager and the square it’s grown up neighbour.


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Besides offering the epic view, this pocket social space is in fact also a community garden, plaza, skatepark and a monument. The latter comes from the fact that there was a development that slid down the bluff in 1930′ and some remains are still visible today. It’s interesting that the remains inspired the forms of this project and not the previous state of the architecture before the accident. So there is a great deal of abstraction rather than some naive memorabilia, which is sadly often the case. A Google Maps visit will show that the initial planting scheme did not survive. Maybe it was changed by the members of the community, in any case it’s a pity since it was giving unique character to the place. As if the violet and yellow-ish plants would want to play with the sunset light and blue – pink hues of evening sky. It would be hard to believe that Sedum would not survive the climatic conditions of this site.


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Playscape be-Mine is about translation of industrial landscape to a playful recreational environment. Especially interesting is the concrete linear play element that much like the old mining shafts runs through an array of wooden slabs that were supporting the underworld. Furthermore, climbing on the concrete gets increasingly more difficult towards the top and requires some team work, which, according to the designers, acts “as an immaterial reference to the hard physical work of the old mine-workers, who had to trust one another unconditionally”. Reaching the top immediately pays off the effort of climbing. A poetic and beautifully designed coal circle offers an epic view on the surrounding landscape, industrial remains and of course the coal. The storytelling is intelligently manifested through means of abstraction.


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Visitors come to museums to see works of art, science or remains of the past, in order to get inspired, filled with new knowledge or to reshape the margins of their understanding. Catherine Mosbach seized the opportunity to offer a landscape that engages this mindset and is able to playfully explain the hidden stories this landscape inhabits. This is indeed a museum-park where visitors can observe what landscape has to say about itself and the traces of human activity on the site. One can move about as one would at an exhibition; passing through an array of different objects, each expressing its own statement … Catherine Mosbach revealed the layers of the site’s memory with all its features and debris, and translated them into a language common to the building and its programme. Whether you like its appearance or not, the Louvre Lens project is undoubtedly a strong conceptual landscape that reaches beyond practice by the book.


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The notion of innovation today in our profession is used too lightly. Often the term comes around in PR texts and in the end reveals decades (if not centuries) old knowledge concerning water management, restoration of habitats, other known ecological measures or simply minimalistic solutions that perform well. But every now and then there’s a project that can proudly use this term. The task of Buitenschot park is to reduce ground noise from the airport so that the residents of the nearby housing could enjoy quieter living conditions. The residents reported that there was less noise when the fields around were ploughed which gave clues to the designers. After some interesting experiments involving concert speakers and noises from all kinds of aircraft engines, triangular linear landforms were designed as an effective measure to reduce the noise. The result is this strange park that offers a special kind of experience to visitors.


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The hills are to be celebrated for the experience they offer – new views on Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Worth mentioning that they consist of the material from the buildings that had to be demolished for the new park to take the place. Especially interesting is the sculpture by Rachel Whiteread. A concrete cabin, that ads to the notion of distance – for a moment there the park seems abandoned and found which boosts the contrast between the concrete buzzing Lower Manhattan in the background and tranquil and softly shaped park, full of trees, grasses and shrubs moving with the wind.


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“If the music is true, the form takes care of itself.” said Cecil Taylor. River Aire Renaturation is an artistic and poetic project that comprises a series of appropriate interventions. The power of this project is in it’s honesty. Renaturation projects are often exposed to a great deal of faking, which is definitely not the case with the river Aire. The task of renaturation itself is fake although it depends greatly on the ambiguous definition of nature. It’s first success is that the river is not pretending to be there since always without any human intervention. The second crown achievement is the grid of sand that tells us exactly that and with the help of the water puts many natural processes in motion. The third is the former straight stream that is still in use as a park area.


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A bit surprised that Schønherr calls its beautiful design an ‘artistic decoration’. It boldly uses the space, puts the visitors directly in the centre and offers dynamic composition featuring interesting play of bright concrete surfaces and grass, pinned with trees. The design would appear even stronger if the pavement ‘frame’ by the building had been left out, so the grass would come closer to the facade. The facade would already act as the frame and the grass as a passe-partout. Probably this was not possible due to safety issues and emergency intervention access. By using simple tools, Schønherr designed an interesting space that offers a number of different possible experiences (hard / soft surfaces, edges, sun / shade …).


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