Two gorgeous full-color hardback books just crossed the desk of Landscape Urbanism and we can’t wait to share them with you. The first, Landprints: The Landscape Designs of Bernard Trainor celebrates the work of Australian-born landscape designer Bernard Trainor, whose large-scale gardens, airy hilltops and gorgeous hillsides focus on “simple, understated frames to rugged natural panoramas.” While a book only captures the visual aesthetic of the landscape (and as with any photograph, can’t fully capture the sensory essence of being within a landscape) –the photographic work by Jason Liske captures the raw aesthetic beauty of the space and the timeless nature of the designs. The book makes us want to jump in a car and take a slow road trip just to experience each of these places.
Are architects really the last people who should shape our cities?
The following is in response to an article published by Jonathan Meades in The Guardian on September 18, 2012, “Jonathan Meades: Architects are the last people who should shape our cities.”
I will start out this commentary by disclosing that I am a designer with a Masters in Architecture who has several years experience working in the field. I currently work as a communications consultant for the design profession, and consider it my life’s work and an enormous task to bridge the gap between designers and the users of the places we create. While I am biased towards the necessity of talented, inspired designers and architects, I will be as objective as possible in my response to Mr. Meade’s article.
I often hear complaints that architects do not explain their work well enough – think doctor, lawyer, electrician, or any other specialized field speak. It’s frustrating not only for the person trying to understand what we do, but for the architect who listens to assumptions that the product is a singular entity that was plopped down in its location with a wish and a prayer and an egotistical smirk. I would argue that what architecture needs is better communication. Publishing photographs and articles does not mean architecture will ‘seep into the collective’, it means that designers now have a forum within which to explain what they do and why they do it. It’s a delight to be able to Google images of L’Unite, and read simultaneously the theory and philosophy behind the design, and how successful it remains today. This would not be possible without communication. It is the glue that holds the profession together.
Le Corbusier’s ‘Unite d’Habitation’
There is a universal truth that all architects know, but is generally a very challenging thought to express: that architecture is actually a sum of parts. A building is not ‘an autonomous discipline which is an end in itself’, as Meade boldly states. It is the connection point between multiple disciplines that is the starting block for future transformation and morphology, which the architect actually has little control over. The best architects understand this and use their projects as ways to test theory, understand material, and/or achieve certain agendas based on a myriad of fields. This could mean understanding the effects of spatial arrangements on prison inmates, or environments that aid hospital patients in healing more quickly and getting back home. Designing for the unknown future is an enormous challenge, and one that architects toil over completely. Continue reading