Sustainable urban design

As designers, finding solutions is our calling.  As Landscape designers, we do this, among other adaptable media, with plants.  Plants solve LOTS of problems.  Situation after situation will arise that calls for an extensive amount of problem-solving and the joys of seeing harmony where once thrived chaos is more than just a little rewarding.  Its straight-up cool.

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Often in urban landscapes, the mere complications of buildings and layers of infrastructure create their own set of challenges.  Wind, water, reflected heat, over exposure, high pedestrian and automobile traffic (just to name a few) make if feel like man vs. plant at times.  Wisely chosen plants will win.  Time and again.  Still, we take risks and roll the dice on occasion.  Its nice to mix it up and let the plants duke it out now and then.  This is a natural thing.  Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom doesn’t dead-head, fertilize, install drip-irrigation systems or flip through plant lists to choose her favorites.  Plants grow, compete, and the ones best suited to the site will ultimately thrive.  Easy.

Bailey Hill Plaza is our little battleground at present, and it is fun to see Mother Nature at work here, even in the midst of a bustling intersection in West Eugene.  With the installation of a green wall grid for vines on the western side of the building, the question surfaces:  what vines will actually grow best?  Key word here:  west.  This is a notoriously challenging location for plants nestled against a wall which will become flooded with direct afternoon sun, in an instant, after having relaxed in full shade all morning.  Ouch!  Even the toughest plants can struggle with this one.

As if that wasn’t enough, any passer-by would be hard-pressed to spot much green at this bustling intersection.  What there is plenty of, is traffic, pollution, and hardscapes galore.  Not the most amiable space for a living thing to call home.  And yet, they do.   More often than we may realize.

Some, as you can see, are quite content with regular, consistent baking each afternoon.

Let’s meet our contenders, shall we?

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Planted only a year ago, climbers such as clematis (C. armandii and C. montana var. rubens), passionflower vine (Passiflora caerulea), jasmine (Trachelospernum jasminoides), and purple-leafed grape (Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’) are clammering (literally) for the chance to beautify this commercial blank slate.  As seen below, the jasmine is the least happy the bunch, but the blue passionflower is not complaining whatsoever.  How often does this lovely darling grace the sides of buildings in this town?  Not often enough.

Between the clematis, the deciduous pink climber is out-performing her evergreen cousin, but both are pleased to have their feet shaded by the thriving lavender– arms outstretched in the sun.

Lastly, our purple-leafed grape is quite the colorful show-stopper this time of year.  Although not growing as quickly as its neighbors, the contrast the foliage color against the purple lavender and green vines makes a dramatic presence against the pale cinder block background.  Together, they play nicely.

So often, control is the name of the game in the world of design.  How about designing an element of surprise, freedom, and unpredictability into our traditional recipes for success?

(LZ)

 

EcoDistricts in Europe 2015 Program: Webinar Friday December 5, 11:00 am PST/2:00 EST

by Anita Van Asperdt December 2, 2014 Ecodistricts

RSVP dianep@uoregon.edu   Would you like to study EcoDistricts in Europe?  The University of Oregon is offering an extensive fieldtrip and research program this summer through the study abroad department. The program will be led by Dr. Deni Ruggeri (Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture) and Anita Van Asperdt (principal landscape architect at LandCurrent and adjunct […]

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University of Oregon Panel on Eco-Villages and Eco-Districts

by Anita Van Asperdt January 7, 2014 Sustainable urban design

Anita Van Asperdt (principal landscape architect at LandCurrent and adjunct instructor in Landscape Architecture) and Dr. Deni Ruggeri (Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture) will provide an overview of lessons learned during the 2013 study-abroad class on Eco-Districts in Europe.

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EcoDistricts in Europe

by Anita Van Asperdt February 1, 2013 Sustainable urban design
Thumbnail image for EcoDistricts in Europe

Would you like to study EcoDistricts in Europe?  The University of Oregon is offering an extensive fieldtrip and research program this summer through the study abroad department. The program will be led by Dr. Deni Ruggeri (Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture) and Anita Van Asperdt (principal landscape architect at LandCurrent and adjunct instructor in Landscape […]

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Designing a complete, sustainable community in the Netherlands.

by Anita Van Asperdt September 6, 2012 Places for All Ages
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This summer twenty-three students from the University of British Columbia created seven urban design solutions for a site in Amsterdam-North in the Netherlands. Students were asked to design a complete, sustainable community and address urban design strategies within current economic and environmental uncertain times. LandCurrent’s principal landscape architect Anita Van Asperdt  and professor Cynthia Girling led the […]

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