June 20 2013

A New Vocabulary in Design: A Book Review of Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture

Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture Cover

How should we expand and design our growing cities to adapt to our changing global community? In Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture, authors Diana Balmori, renowned landscape and urban planner, as well as architect Joel Sanders set out to derive a new vocabulary in sustainable design to answer this very question. In doing so, they explain designing for an efficient environment in the twenty first century by combing technological forms and pragmatic innovation to not only build, but even heal the environment.

This new vocabulary consists of three main terms, that when combined in a homogenous manner can combine nature and structure seamlessly.

  • Topography;
  • Ecology;
  • Biocomputation.

Each term described in depth through project examples, all utilizing concepts that design environments in respect to their respective landscapes, creating discrete structures amongst nature’s landscape. Each section emphasizes the importance of creating a new vocabulary to reflect new, creative, and innovative design concepts to derive a new mindset in the development of our modern day urban landscapes and architecture. Such projects range from the Seattle Art Museum: Olympic sculpture park built on a former brownfield site, to a Parisian house buried among 1,200 hydroponic ferns, to convective apartments, to anti-desertification architecture in Africa. Each term builds on each other eventually creating a whole concept in this evolving mindset of smart urban planning developments.

Project Examples from Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture

This book is mostly comprised of examples of this new vocabulary within our current and future cityscapes, seamlessly utilizing vivid imagery, enhancing key terms. By doing so, they have made this new vocabulary understandable and appealing to a wide range of readers. The book not only appeals to the intellect, but the creative mind as well, creating a concept appealing to a large audience. Groundwork truly provides a glimpse into what I believe the future holds, exemplifying how sustainable design and progressive mindsets can lead to an efficient, environmentally sustained future.

Do you believe that this new vocabulary is the key to sustainable design in the twenty first century?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Lisa Gran

Lisa Gran is an undergraduate student in her final semester of studying Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As an aspiring engineer, Lisa is especially interested in the utilization and development of environmentally sound materials in sustainable planning and design. As she nears the end of her undergraduate studies, she plans on gearing a career in sustainable urban design and engineering principles, drawing inspiration from cities around the globe.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2013 at 9:41 am and is filed under Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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