Call For Submissions: Scenario 4, Building the Urban Forest

Building the Urban Forest

Scenario 4: Building the Urban Forest

The forest carries deep cultural significance. Within the urban landscape, this ecologically complex, spatially layered, dynamic system is also understood to perform a wide range of essential ecosystem services, from increasing property values to mitigating climate change. Reforesting cities is one of the defining trends of twenty first century urbanism, but there is little agreement about how our urban forests are to be designed, planned and managed.

As arborists, parks departments, landscape architects, planners and community groups engage in the reforesting of cities, how are they collectively shaping the urban landscape? How do we quantify the benefits of urban forests? Where should we focus our attention and effort — streetscapes, backyards, vacant lots, woodlots, parks, highway medians or large remnant tracts? What hybrid ecosystems are yet to be designed? How many trees are enough? A million? What makes a forest urban?

Scenario Journal welcomes the submission of critical essays, provocations, and design projects that explore the topic of building the urban forest.

 

Submission Requirements:

  • We accept pieces in a range of formats including academic essays, op-eds and built or unbuilt projects.
  • Article-based submissions should range in length from 2500 to 4000 words and be formatted in the Chicago Manual of Style with all sources clearly documented.
  • Design projects should have a clear and focused text no longer than 1000 words, accompanied by 6-10 images.
  • Send submissions to mail@scenariojournal.com, with ‘ISSUE 4′ in the subject line. Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • DEADLINE: Submissions are due November 1, 2013. All submissions after that date will be accepted on a rolling basis. If you have an idea or project in process, please submit your intention or outline as early as possible.

 

Exploring Philadelphia’s New “Penn Park”

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to stop by Philadelphia and the University of Pennsvylania’s new Penn Park, a 23-acre waterfront park woven in between more than five different infrastructural systems and multiple-level land locks. Previously the site of the   post offices’ land, the site stood as unused acreage between Penn’s campus and the Schuylkill waterfront. Surrounded on all sides by Amtrak, light rail, local rail, the highway, and the upper and lower decks of local Walnut Street, the site was not an easy place to access.

While a student at Penn, the site looked like this image (from the Penn Connects website, 2008):

In just a couple of years, the University has transformed the waterfront area into a set of public and private fields, complete with several ramps and bridges that connect the multiple levels together. An overview of the project (via Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s website):

The rest of the photographs are from a walking tour through the project–I walked through it from the Walnut Street entrance (adjacent to the freeway on ramp). The following photographs are all from my camera, December 2012.

Walking onto the site from above, a view from the Walnut Street Bridge: Continue reading

Valencia’s Green River: Landscape Infrastructure and the Transformation of a City’s Identity

“Bold ideas are easy, implementing them is hard. This is particularly true as cities around the world want to use their landscapes as infrastructure to address current urban issues.”

Valencia’s Green River, Photography by Brian Phelps.

Bold Visions For Valencia

Bold ideas are easy, implementing them is hard. This is particularly true as cities around
the world want to use their landscape infrastructure to address the issues they face. How can interventions be woven into the existing urban fabric? Beyond simply mustering the financial resources or political will, one must seek opportunities to carefully insert or adapt landscape systems to the constraints of established urban communities. New York’s High Line, Atlanta’s Beltline, and Madrid’s RIO project all relied on abandoned or superseded rail or highway infrastructure to thread linear landscapes through the hearts of old cities. Valencia, on the other hand, relied on a crisis, and in the words of Rahm Emanuel, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Continue reading

The Call For A Post-Informal Landscape Urbanism

“There are an estimated 200,000 informal settlements around the world. Moreover, one of every three urban dwellers currently lives in informal settlements, otherwise (and wrongly) known as ‘slums.’ What is the future of the city after the influx of informal settlements?”

There are an estimated 200,000 informal settlements around the world similar–and sometimes much worse–than La Moran, in Caracas Venezuela (pictured above).

“Post-Industrial” is widely regarded as the primary condition that appears throughout much of Landscape Urbanism literature in its attempt to reformulate contemporary city-making following the industrial booms of the past centuries. While it is important to recycle, re-use and reconsider sites of this nature, it is also important to consider other “post” conditions and projects.

Landscape Urbanism has to move on from defining what it is to what it can do; from theory to praxis, from book to built. Instead of being limited to the endless task of defining and arguing for the relevance of its initial conceptualizations, it is the job of designers to find new areas onto which this new approximation can have a successful implementation. Through this thinking, we can find other “post-” conditions, one of which has an immense sense of urgency and potential in today’s world: “Post-Informal”.

Population Growth and City Projections

Four years ago, the world reached a significant milestone: 3.3 billion human beings live in cities, making this planet’s human population predominantly urban. Yet, the importance of this milestone is not just that an ever-growing population lives in cities, but how they live in cities. One of every three urban dwellers currently lives in informal settlements, otherwise (and wrongly) known as “slums”. Informal settlements are usually characterized as poor areas that come about outside the margins of any legal urban planning, usually constructed by means of self-help housing that tap into the existing services and infrastructures of the city. This urban phenomenon should be regarded as one of the most important characteristics of modern urban development because of the impact it has on landscape, environment, social components, existing cities and infrastructure. Continue reading