Thursday, 30 December 2010

Big Jelly Babies

They may look sweet but just don't bite it! In case you saw this around central London your eyes weren't deceiving you. The Italian pop artist, Mauro Perucchetti, has an installation of a Jelly Baby Family sculptures at Marble Arch with some figures at almost 3m in height. 

These help me with a sense of scale as I'll be implementing something similar, but related to Carnival and costumes, for my 'educational' theme for Jubilee Gardens. Being translucent and colorful they also make a good night installation with the right lighting.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Potters Fields Park-9/11 Memorial

What an uncanny timing for this to come up this week in the news just after my recent interest and visit to Potters Fields Park. This is another common element with regard to memorials and Jubilee Gardens. Also, it  represents a 'visual symbol for peace and tolerance...which also looks to the future' along with being used in an educational sense (which is my chosen focus area).

London will commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by erecting steel girders from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Sections of the ruined skyscrapers will be transformed into a permanent tribute on Potters Fields Park, beside City Hall, to honour the attack’s 2,977 victims. The girders have been given by the Port Authority of New York which is sending others to cities around the world for similar projects. The idea is the work of the 9/11 London Project Foundation, a charity which will also launch a major educational programme in September to teach schoolchildren about the terrorist attack. The programme is being drawn up by Professor Geoff Whitty, director of the Institute of Education.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Potters Fields Park photos

As promised, here are some photos of Potters Fields Park to accompany my earlier post. The weather last week was awful and it was near dusk so many of my photos were poor. They just didn't do justice to the place. I've included some photos that I found online along with some of mine to convey the Park properly. The similarities to Jubilee Gardens are so clear...(see earlier post - buildings, tourist attractions, footfall, expanse, nearby car park, etc).

View from avenue walkway towards City Hall

City Hall building in background

View showing multi use of paving to provide enclosure and seating

View towards Tower Bridge with an event taking place in SE corner

Paving detail with trees framing City Hall

View across turf with popular tourist attraction, Tower Bridge, in the background

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Potters Fields Park

Jamie (our lecturer) recommended that we visit this park next to the City Hall building near Tower Bridge in London. In 2007, the site was redesigned by landscape architects Gross Max with a herbaceous garden by Piet Oudolf. This was all part of regeneration throughout the borough by Southwark Council. 

It was an interesting piece of public space at a riverside location and has quite a few similarities to Jubilee Gardens. Namely, there was significant footfall throughout the site as people pass through it; situated on the south bank of the River Thames; has sweeping vistas of the River; located very close to iconic tourist attractions such as the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London; situated near to commercial buildings such as the 'Gherkin'; and had a similar history with its wharf background. There's even an adjacent car park. In size I guess if you were to join the 2 pieces together it will still be a little smaller in area than Jubilee Gardens.

All of this is very similar to Jubilee Gardens with its views of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, proximity to the London Eye, County Hall and the Shell Center. It appears linear in its design with a wide path running almost parallel to the River's bank completing a triangular shape of the path. It is high on connectivity between the City Hall, London Bridge and a sinuous path connects you to Tooley Street. What I found really intriguing in the design was the integration of seating along the paths allowing for rest stops, relaxing and captivating views. I paid particular attention to this and imagined what it would be like in summer with very high usage.

It was also a good example in observing how a regenerated public realm development scheme worked with a  riverside location. At a more pleasant time of the year I would have spent a lot more time 'surveying' the scene. I'll post some pics in my next blog.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Terrariums - Miniature Models

This reminds me of when we make scale models for our coursework. Once photographs are taken it really removes the scale of it and can be 'pictured' in the real sense. Terrariums (tiny gardens grown in glass containers) were popular back in the 1970's and they seem to be making a comeback in the US. See website

This might give some inspiration for your next model making exercise! 

Monday, 6 December 2010

Enchanted Parks - Tyne and Wear

To those up north or to those that can travel to the Newcastle/Gateshead area there is a cool event happening in December that might interest you. Saltwell Park seems like the place to be between Dec 8-12 if you can get past the snow.

'Under the cover of darkness, 11 artists are taking over Gateshead's biggest park for 1 week only, installing weird and wonderful creations for five nights. From light installations to atmospheric performances and shows...'

Might give you some cool ideas for the use of our sites - think 24hrs/365 days of the year!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Horizontal Plane

Architecture has largely shaped the topography of the site but with the site stripped to bare 'skin & bones' in these photos I noticed that with the land being flat (under 6-7m in height) that it could be deemed as 1 horizontal plane. Simple enough, but here is where the cool part comes in - that horizontal plane is then split into 2 by the River Thames creating the north bank and the south bank. Let's call it 'the power of the River'.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Genius Loci - Jubilee Gardens

Some personal thoughts on the Genius Loci of Jubilee Gardens after pondering the history, current development and future developments proposed for the site. 

'Through the centuries, as time passes, the one constant...the one constant spirit is the spirit of the River Thames on the site. That spirit will transcend all of man's impact and development - the spirit may alter, but its essence and core will stay true to the River. If all else changes, the spirit that still remains; is the spirit of the River Thames.' 

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Jubilee Gardens - Place & Culture

Since our presentation on Monday I've taken a good few moments to meditate on the constructive criticism received. I can't disagree with any of the points raised. Throughout the process of reflection I think I went into the site in more depth and uncovered the answers of what the site is all about. It was waiting right there, ready to be revealed. I knew it too, but it somehow didn't come out. What resulted was simple but I got caught in the complexity of the site. I now have some clarity which gives me the freedom to move ahead. I went to work in my sketchbook too and this is what came out.

I took some different colour post-its and just overlapped them-where they all intersected I cut a hole and named it 'Jubilee Gardens' as its where they all meet and intersect. Colours used to represent the area being 'full of contrasts'; and used post-its layers to represent 'the many over lapping cultures of the site'.

The result:
Jubilee Gardens is a site combining: one of London's leading business districts; a world class cultural quarter; a major transport hub; deprived residential areas; all set on the south bank of the River Thames. That is Jubilee Gardens.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Just 14 words

I came across this while reading. There is so much power in this statement! I will attempt to make this will be one of my cornerstones.
"We need to avoid making everywhere like everywhere else, rather than more like itself.''
Lee Sparks, CABE Commissioner

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

'There is Unrest in the Forest'

'The Trees' - I've been listening to this song for years, not when it was made as I was too young, but many years later. It's called 'The Trees' from one of my favourite bands - Canadian 3 person rock band RUSH. It is from their 1978 album, Hemispheres. The acoustic introduction to the song makes it one of my favourites, along with the poignant lyrics. It is great from a metaphorical and social point of view, with regard to the human race, and also if one were to take the literal  lyrics on trees. I saw them live at their 30th year anniversary in 2004 and they played this track...I was on a musical high! Check the youtube link below to the song as well as the lyrics. Rock on!

"The Trees"

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'Oppression!'
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
'The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light'
Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw 

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The End of the Streetlight?

This is really interesting; an enlightening discovery (pun intended). For landscape architects this can offer so much to the design palette with substantial benefits to the environment. Great news for urban planning and councils too where costs could be saved on streetlight installations, maintenance, etc Might even be the end of Christmas lights as we know it too. Have a read of the following link.

A post-doctor researcher from Taiwan, Dr. Yen-Hsun Su has made an amazing discovery about the potential of using plants, especially roadside trees as streetlights! Yen-Hsun Su, which is a researcher at Research Center for Applied Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan was experimenting with gold nano particles and discovered the amazing bioluminescence efficiency for greener means of lighting technologies.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Geometric Graffiti?

I noticed this piece of 'graffiti' (is it really graffiti?) artwork on a wall that I passed by recently and just had to take a photo. I passed by this wall many times before as it is on a pathway near to where I live in Barnet and there are the usual types of graffiti - name tags, bright colours, jagged and organic shapes...but this one stood out. What took me aback was it's detail in sticking to the concrete brick outline in stretcher's geometric form and rectangular's's texture from the's simplicity...and it's grey colour. Amidst its context it stood out. I guess it's subjective but I found that it gripped me. I walked past it while glancing at it, and then, no, no...this has to be documented. So there seems to be an enlightened mind amongst the graffiti crew out there-a different type. If you're reading this I like your style.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Does campus get you down? Have a walk around!

I know campus could be a bit of a drag sometimes compared to Greenwich but every year I tend to make the effort to walk around the Avery Hill Park during the autumn-especially when the weather is good (not raining). The autumn colour of the oak, lime and maple trees are simply fascinating along with great evergreen structure coming from the conifers. Sometimes I'd get out a bus stop early or even go during our lunch break (which seems to vanish in half the time). What is interesting too is that the topography seems very similar to that of Jubilee Gardens at our Waterloo site-low lying land, gentle undulations. Get beyond those four walls of a lecture room and explore the aesthetics of the landscape...our habitat! Here are some pics to entice you-and yes, it is our very own campus at Avery Hill! 

The Symbolism of Habitat

The last couple of weeks I've been reading Jay Appleton's The Symbolism of Habitat, a few pages here-a few pages there. There were some enlightening observation by the geography professor in his book, some that you don't really take note of. I'll include a bit of synopsis from the book and maybe you can have a read some day. There are also some great illustrations in it. For those of you who don't like reading much-this is your kind of book, loads of illustrations and pictures. Have a read of the images below. A last good point is that it's a small book, just 23 x 15 cms so it can be carried around easily.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Hierarchy: Francis D. K. Ching

This is what F. D. K. Ching had to say in his book, Architecture: Form, Space & Order.

On page 333 he states, on Hierarchy...
''The articulation of the importance or significance of a from or space by its size, shape, or placement, relative to the other forms and spaces of the organization.''

Subsequent pages 350, 351 & 353 have been scanned in with good textual and diagrammatic explanations.

Hierarchy, an exploration

This is an interesting term with many meanings and applications. There are some definitions with particular significance to our study site, Jubilee Gardens, London, SE1. 

Source -

hi·er·ar·chy  [hahy-uh-rahr-kee, hahy-rahr-] 
1. any system of persons or things ranked one above another. 
2. government by ecclesiastical rulers.

3. the power or dominion of a hierarch.
4. an organized body of ecclesiastical officials in successive ranks or orders: the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

Source -

hierarchy (Greek: hierarchia (ἱεραρχία), from hierarches, "leader of sacred rites") is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another. Abstractly, a hierarchy is simply an ordered set or an acyclic graph. A hierarchy, can link entities either directly or indirectly, and either vertically or horizontally.
We can even look to Maslow's hierarchy of needs's_hierarchy_of_needs
File:Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.svg
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid, with the largest and most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualization at the top. The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain what Maslow called "deficiency needs" or "d-needs": esteem, friendship and love, security, and physical needs. With the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) needs, if these "deficiency needs" are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious and tense. Maslow's theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.

In my view some important hierarchical elements to the Jubilee Gardens website includes the River Thames, London Waterloo, the London Eye, Hungerford Bridge, Royal Festival Hall, The County Hall, Shell Centre Building, and Lambeth's Unitary Development Plan (for an intangible example).

Interesting stuff!

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Is this a depiction of 'harmony'; of colours, sizes, space? The photo below shows 3 coloured pieces of different sized paper placed on an A4 sized white piece of paper. This is my depiction of 'harmony'. There is a reason why we place things in certain we like things orderly? based on a grid? do we like abstract forms? Yes it's very subjective but based on a conscious decision for everyone. This exercise was meant to help us understand ourselves...why we do the thing we do. That sounds like the title from a Michael Bolton song :) The journey will continue for those of us that aren't sure.

Photoshop image from sketch outline

Another good practice exercise in Photoshop from our lecturer Jamie. From a 2 minute sketch a few weeks ago of Jamie around the University campus we had to make an outline trace of it. This was then scanned and built up in Photoshop to produce a composite image. For those experienced at Photoshop this would have been a simple exercise - for me it was a good learning experience again. The practice continues...see the result below.

                                                                 From this: Sketch outline
                                                                 To this: Photoshop image

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Inspirational-simple sketches - so important

I came across this architectural work from Zaha Hadid recently in the ES magazine. Her work in the field of architecture is fascinating but what really struck me was the relationship between some of her simple sketches, models and the finished product. The concept and initial idea of the sketch can really be developed into something meaningful and tangible. I scanned the page in my sketch book with clippings from the article.

Lesson 1: Don't doubt the power of the sketch

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Model development & Photoshop

Gratification! I spent several hours...about 4-5 hrs on Saturday working at Photoshop and Adobe InDesign - both of them applications that I hadn't previously used. I felt like I had conquered the world when I completed it as I had never created a digital image in A1 before without scanning my personal A1 drawing. Though simple for some, those two new skills learnt really gave me a lift. I hope to practice and learn even more. I'm excitedly looking fwd to the next Photoshop exercise. 

Check out the results below...1st the photographed model and then the resulting Photoshop'ed' photos; then the image as it got printed in A1. I march on!

Model making

In our lecture on 04/10/10 we made some models in class in mere minutes and later photographed are the results. Luckily they look a lot better when photographed :) There were some good models on display that afternoon however for me there is always room for improvement. 

My next blog will show another model; a chosen one taken to develop further - examining human and real life scale and its application in Photoshop. I haven't really used Photoshop before so it'll be good to improve this skill set. Let the creativity flow!

Thursday, 7 October 2010


The walk to the tube station in my neighbourhood is always a pleasure at this time of the year. On the main path is a crimson coloured woody vine, the Thicket Creeper or False Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus vitacea). Similar, and related to the Virginia Creeper, the main difference lies in the fact that there are no sticky pads like those found on the tendrils of the Virginia Creeper, but tendrils that twine itself. Leaves have already starting falling which proves that it really is one of the earliest to change colour in autumn. I’ll enjoy the brilliant red on the walk while it lasts.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

The C-Curve!

Interesting art installation at Kensington Gardens by Anish Kapoor. His mirror sculpture is a very creative way of melding art and nature into the landscape. You just have to look at it another way...where you stand on sky and your head is in the grass. I hope to visit this sometime - it'll be around for 6 months. get a preview here

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Enlightened reading!

I've read this book already; Francis D.K. Ching's Architecture: Form, Space, and Order, and even tried some sketches from it before but we were reminded of it in our last lecture. It really is good to pick it up every so often as a refresher or to refer to when looking for answers. I just love his drawing style so much; great clarity, proportion and his teachings are easily understood. He is a master in form. We were discussing 'Planar' (Vertical, Horizontal Ground and Overhead Planes) in our lecture yesterday and below states what Mr Ching had to say on the topic. These excerpts were from his book listed above.

"The floor plane is the horizontal element that sustains the force of gravity as we move around and place objects for our use on it." "…the texture and density of the flooring material influences both the acoustical quality of a space and how we feel as we walk across its surface." "…an important element of architectural design, its shape, color, and pattern determine to what degree it defines spatial boundaries or serves as a unifying element for the different parts of a space." 

Monday, 27 September 2010

1st Day

So this is it! Got a very good opening lecture from Jamie on our final year. Good detail of what to expect and how we'll be going about our programme. At times it was daunting but we're in good hands. I've been in good hands the last few years and it'll be no different now. We all got a good pep talk from was inspiring. Some sketches are planned for this afternoon in the design studio - looking fwd to it! Let's get down to business!