Posts Tagged ‘Landscape consultants’

Guest post: Localising playgrounds

07/06/2012

Paige Johnson is the author of the Playscapes blog, which at 80,000 page views per month is the most widely read source of playground design on the web.

Playgrounds can be one of the worst offenders in the struggle to make public spaces locally relevant. Following a standard recipe of ‘kit, fence and carpet’ ensures that a play space could be in Milton Keynes or Madagascar, Swindon or South LA. Without context, who’s to tell?

Adding local context to a playground installation increases community commitment to the space, involves local providers, and is just plain more fun. Localised elements can form the basis for new playground installations, or be added to improve existing ones. Here, examples from my four years of writing about playgrounds at Playscapes illustrate strategies for localising the playground.

1.  Consider topography

Whenever possible, playgrounds should make the ground plane itself part of the play, preserving or reflecting local topographies.

Retaining an existing pile of rubble at a reclaimed industrial site in France allowed this playground by Agence TER to fit into a familiar local site AND be more exciting by hanging off its steep side.

Topographies can be simpler constructions as well: this spiral mound in London, made of turf by Mortar and Pestle Studio, recalls similar Elizabethan garden features. (more…)

Guest post: Why play matters in design

06/06/2012

Today’s guest post comes from Cath Prisk, Director of Play England. Play England is the national organisation campaigning for children’s freedom to play. Design and engineering of the spaces and places children grow up have a key role in making sure we reverse the trend that is keeping 70% of our nation’s children locked inside.

“90% of adults played out regularly in their street as children. Nowadays 29% of children aged 7–14 say they don’t play or hang out in their street at all.”

Source: Playday 2010/ ICM Research

If you think about where you live, how often do you see children and young people outside enjoying themselves? Now think about when you were young – how often were you roaming your neighbourhood and playing outside?

There are many reasons why children are less visible in our neighbourhoods, but design of the spaces and travel routes around them is a critical part. (more…)

Designing town centres for walking and belonging

03/05/2012

GUEST POST: Agata Szacilowska, Landscape Architect with the Greenspace Development Environmental Services team at North Lanarkshire Council (NLC), describes the design and regeneration of Motherwell’s historic town centre.

In Motherwell Town Centre, NLC aimed to improve the quality, function and appearance of the streets and public areas.

The design was developed through internal and external consultation, and was presented for comments during public displays, on hand delivered leaflets and on the council’s website.

The resulting project involved realigning and resurfacing footways and roads, and installing new street furniture, lighting, street trees and public art.

But its overarching themes were sensitivity to the town’s historic buildings and the movement of people around the public space. (more…)

Ecobuild 2012 – External Works notes

02/04/2012

As the dust settles after the 2012 Ecobuild event, here are few observations, in brief, from the External Works corner. (more…)

Natural stone surfacing: balancing acts

09/03/2012

The palette of materials for hard surfacing spawns more and more options as construction technologies develop, not least with emerging concrete paving and bound surfacing products. Progress marches on.

But the appeal and effectiveness of natural stone in landscape architecture and construction – hardwearing Yorkstone, sympathetic limestone, fine-grained slate, solid granite – still stand, complemented as well by similar advances in stone manufacturing processes.

One reason for the persistent role of stone is the way that it allows designers, specifiers and contractors to balance competing priorities in projects: the authenticity of heritage styles versus the dynamism of contemporary accents; standing out in new build projects versus blending into restoration work; the civic benefits of pedestrianisation versus the commercial importance of traffic management. (more…)

Landscape architects: is Building Information Modelling (BIM) improving your business?

11/01/2012

More than just a buzzword in 2011, Building Information Modelling or BIM took centre stage last year when Paul Morrell, Chief Construction Adviser, announced government plans to have all public projects operating under a BIM framework by 2016.

Following that announcement, BIM has rarely been out of the trade press as more and more companies quickly move to adopt it as a key strategy to win business and improve working practices.

What was noticeable, however, was a lack of coverage and contribution from the perspective of landscape architects.

So it’s good to hear that the BIM Academy at the University of Northumbria are looking to speak with landscape architects who have experience of integrating BIM into their own practice.

They are specifically looking to get a better understanding of the potential requirements of the profession to improve workflows and support greater efficiency and collaboration within the BIM framework.

If you are a landscape architect and would like to contribute to this research, please contact:

Nahim Iqbal, BIM Development Leader, BIM Academy
Email: nahim.iqbal@bimacademy.ac.uk
Tel: 0191 227 4533

The BIM Academy are leading the field in developing research, courses and guidance to support the construction industry in adopting BIM. For further details about the BIM Academy and their work, visit the website: www.bimacademy.ac.uk

Getting it right: water management and landscape design

05/12/2011

Guest post: Claire Thirlwall is the director of landscape architecture practice Thirlwall Associates. She specialises in river restoration and water management, and also works on more traditional landscape architecture projects. Here, Claire outlines the pitfalls and opportunities presented by water in landscape design and construction schemes.

Water, and more precisely how you manage that water, can be make or break on a construction project. From the water falling on the roof of each building to flood water rising up through the drainage network, dealing with water within your site can be a real challenge.

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“Designing out crime”, street furniture and soft landscaping

17/10/2011

Urban designers have the tricky task of balancing security with civic life. Creative product design can help. In the right hands, innovative products make public spaces safer by weighting them against antisocial behaviour and more serious crime. And they can do so without creating bristling, draconian, fortress towns.

Security versus liberty

In the process of reconciling urban planning theory with urban planning practice, “events” have a knack of interfering – a point made in our post looking at this summer’s riots in the UK.

Similarly, Vancouver’s Director of City Planning, Brett Toderian, recently explained how the events of 9/11 led at the time to a familiar urban planning dilemma, writ large:

(more…)

On urban trees moving, climbing and tidying up

06/01/2011

There’s a thaw on in Central Scotland and it’s a relief to see a bit of greenery. Bring on the green shoots, literal and otherwise.

UrbanTick reviews a few books and articles that look at the ‘mobility’ of trees in urban design and landscape architecture. They test assumptions about trees’ rootedness, reporting on things like seed vaults, the international migration of plant species, and the industrialisation of tree production.

They include Dominique Ghiggi’s Tree Nurseries – Cultivating the Urban Jungle: Plant Production Worldwide:

(more…)

Stirling: walkability and civic tourism

22/06/2010

A week and a half into my walkability lifestyle experiment, and so far so good. If nothing else, injecting the mystique of psychogeography into the daily commute sugars the pill, even if I’m still having to get from A to B fairly directly.

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