Design through understanding the environment

An approach to the third landscape

The basic principles when designing from the architectural perspective, as well as the landscape, evolve according to the avant-garde ideas and own contemporary needs of the growth and evolution of human beings.

Central park, NY
Photography: Greips- Pixabay 

Turning to history, it is the great authors of the twentieth century who establish a new order within landscaping, exposing the need to work together with nature when intervening on any space and/or territory. Thus, the main line of design through which a project is proposed, is based on the guidelines established by nature itself. Frederik Law Olmsted, founder of Central Park and Pioneer in the modern landscaping, starts from a premise in which the project has to be linked to the intervention space, that is; before settling on the idea, the project has to go through an analysis phase, in which the landscape characteristics (topography, weather, ground, vegetation, fauna, social activity) and their relationship with the existing landscape are evaluated, in the same way that it is possible to respond to its difficulties and needs, in order to achieve a coherent projection related to the existing space.

Family of colonizers Species: Erigeron strigosus
Photography: Daniel Maya 

Ian Macharg author of the book “Design with Nature” emphasizes on the other hand, the need to understand the space or the project site to find the best way to collaborate with the existing and intervene in it. Where it is nature itself that establishes the patterns and guidelines by which a project has to be based to achieve a successful outcome.

From an European perspective, Gilles Clément, through a sequence of 3 books, emphasizes on understanding the processes of nature at different scales, from how the colonization processes and life cycle of plants are on a global scale, to the established order that already exists in degraded urban spaces. Understanding how it is through observation and time, we can better understand our environment.

Colonizing plants
Photography: Andrea Rojas 

In “The Third Landscape” he makes a strong statement about how nature comes to life in spaces that are no longer places for human beings. Where it is clear that it is the life cycles and forms of plants that expose the biological recovery of a space, as well as recovering the sense of identity.

Nowadays, the uncontrolled use that humans exert on the territory is evident. The growth of cities pushes populations to continue developing within an urbanized system that is not very sustainable, in which, for obvious reasons, it prevails over the need to capitalize the space rather than looking for the best alternative to enhance it.

The consequences that we are experiencing due to climate change are an alert call towards intervention methods in natural spaces such as in urban and rural environments, which are harmful to the planet. The interesting thing about being aware of our actions, is to find a way to coexist and enhance what exists with the environment that surrounds us, and for this same reason, to understand that the design of outdoor spaces is a set of conclusions that are based on a previous analysis of the site.

It is important to emphasize the criteria and principles that we must adopt for the projection of an idea that, through a process of analysis and understanding of the work environment, a project that manages to blend in and coexist in harmony with the existent space can be built.

When a space acquires an identity due to certain circumstances, be they physical, cultural, social, political or natural, this gives rise to the existence of a so-called “Landscape”. A place together with an activity and an intention, creates an environment, and an environment influences when it comes to perceiving a surrounding.

“Let’s create projects rich in identity, so that with them we can define the places we want to inhabit”.

“The design of outdoor spaces, is a set of conclusions that are based on a previous analysis of the site.”

Tree in recovery stage. In a degraded space, trees are the last to establised
Photography: Andrea Rojas