Second Glance – what landscape architecture can do
Jacqueline Osty: Urban Poetry
Only rarely do we find sole women leading decidedly urbanism-centred landscape offices among those designers who gained momentum and recognition during the 1980s-90s in Europe. Jacqueline Osty stands out among them, and she was just awarded the French Grand Prix d’Urbanisme (2020). Trained by Michel Corajoud, the figure who ‘urbanised’ landscape architecture in France under a new regime of the landscape school in Versailles, Osty decided to create her office by herself, while her fellows, often men, worked in couples or teamed up to build their professional careers (Desvigne-Dalnoky, Bruel Delmar, Agence Ter, HYL, Ilex, etc). Osty made water the distinguishing feature of her urban landscapes, using its functional and poetic qualities, and directing important urban projects from the outset. Early realisations comprise Boulevard Richard Lenoir in Paris (designed above a subterranean canal) and the large Parc St Pierre in Amiens (traversed by subtle water courses). Recent work contains the Parc Martin Luther King in Paris (a transformed railyard, comprising a distinguished water recycling system), the Rollet Peninsula in Rouen (an urban district on a former port area on river Seine), and the large-scale long-term urban transformation of the Ile de Nantes (in collaboration with urbanist Claire Schorter, a former ship building site in the meanders of river Loire). Portrait by ANAIS LÉGER-SMITH (landscape architect and engineer, design researcher at the Architecture School of Toulouse).
Metropolitan Trails: ‘A New Way of Being on Earth’
At its essence, walking is about being mobile on the face of the planet. Yet, it is also about knowing and understanding your environment so you can navigate within it. When you meander through the streets of neighbourhoods that were formerly foreign to you, you develop a new relationship with your city. When you wander around in a landscape at your own pace and measure the surface of the Earth one step at a time, you start noticing things that you could not have seen from the car. Walking allows you to get to know your territory from a different perspective. Therefore, it is also projective. This is the philosophy of Metropolitan Trails, an interdisciplinary network of public and private actors focusing on creating public trails in metropolises across Europe. Portrait by NAZLI TÜMERDEM (architect and initiator of Istanbul Walkabouts, researcher at ETH Zurich).
THINKING ABOUT HOW DESIGNERS THINK ABOUT SITE
Being together on-site has become difficult during the current pandemic while at the same time people were connecting ever easier over digital media among their various sites of being. This observation only strengthens the need for discussing among professionals why and how site matters, for designers. What is it – a place or location, the activity of situating, positioning, establishing something? How do we think about it – in physical, material and conceptual terms? Why is it important to consider site matters – how do they set the stage for design actions? This essay dives into some principles of site thinking, distinguishing the relational condition of site as a fruitful concept for designers. It also highlights how actors from different disciplinary backgrounds develop their various modes of site thinking when engaging in (or with) landscape-related projects, touching as well on how thinking about design sites as reaching beyond individual design projects can be of help in facing the complex landscape challenges at hand in the 21st century. Essay by ANDREA KAHN (principal of designCONTENT based in New York, design scholar at Princeton, Yale, Columbia, RISD, SLU).
PUBLICNESS BEYOND CRITICAL CARE: A GREEN NEW DEAL
Healthcare systems in many countries around the world have been on the brink of collapse these past months because of a shortage of intensive care beds for all the people in critical conditions. The reason for the inadequacy of public healthcare systems even in many wealthy countries in Europe is that they have been increasingly privatised and chronically under-funded. This commodification reflects the extension of market rules to domains so far considered standing outside of them, as they would sustain a common good, such as health, education, the arts – including the design of public spaces at any scale as the physical expression of publicness, a prime task for landscape architects in Europe. This essay looks into the machinery of an economic system that thrives on exploitation of the public domain, for the sake of maximizing financial gains (for firms) and economic progress (for governments). To landscape architects and other designers, it illustrates the neoliberal playbook that has produced the economic straitjacket they had to adopt since the early years of the 21st century. Taking the current pandemic to realise that markets won’t save the day prompts a call to transition away from an unhealthy economic system and ask for imagining publicness, including public spaces, beyond critical care. Essay by RICCARDO MASTINI (researcher in political ecology and ecological economics at the Autonomous University in Barcelona).