Thursday, 28 April 2011

Monty Don's Italian Gardens-BBC 2

I saw this series advertised on BBC recently and thought I'd give it a watch. Of course I don't have much (more like any!) time for TV these days but I recorded the 4 part series to watch at my own' leisure'. It's on every Friday evening on BBC 2. Monty's begins in the capital, Rome, then Florence in Tuscany, and finally works his way south for the last 2 episodes.

Whether you're a fan of Monty Don or not, and for me it doesn't matter who the host is as Italy as a country is very interesting, both culturally and historically. Along with it's well established garden design it should be an engrossing series for those that are moved by visiting gardens. I guess I owe Monty Don some gratitude as in a BBC programme some years ago as he visited gardens of the world and introduced me to some of my now favourite landscape architects, Roberto Burle Marx and Juan Grimm. I got deeper into those designers some time later in my studies so it was made easier for me to make a decision to watch this new series by Monty.

I also like picking up little bits of history along the way of a a good story being told. Watching these programs allow my creative juices to flow, give ideas, inspirations and wonderful insight into the background of some of the gardens visited. I also like documentaries like this as I may never get to visit some of these gardens so it's great to be able to visit on screen and get some type of moving experience, along with narration, rather than just still pictures.

Enjoy it - like me you can watch during dinner!

The Telegraph - article

BBC iPlayer link

Monday, 25 April 2011

Nick Robinson - Chapters 10 & 11

Thought I'd sing the praises of Nick Robinson's 'The Planting Design Handbook' (light orange cover-2nd edition). Maybe you are too and you're covered this already but for those that haven't, his book is a must have and I'm so glad that I purchased this book some years ago - it's such a great resource and easy to absorb and read. That certainly helps as at times I've just picked it up for general reading/knowledge and other times really went searching for design ideas, best practices, etc. In this case our planting and setting out plans. If you're looking for some guidance check Chapters 10 & 11. I've inserted images of the chapter contents below in case you want to see what's actually covered before delving in.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Joan Miro at the Tate Modern!

For those of you with some spare time over the Easter break Joan Miro, the surrealist Catalan artist, will be showcased at the Tate Modern. It started Thursday 14th April and will run until 11th September. 

I would love to go so badly but my time is really messed up at the moment with working full time and a lot of school work to do. We're moving offices at the end of the week too so spare time is just non-existent for me at the moment. Realistically I may not be able to attend until summer time -that may not be such a bad thing!  Enough of my woes - if you do attend let me know how it was!

I had a look at some of Miro's work online and in a few of his pieces I was reminded of the poster from World Cup 1982 in Spain. From memory I really found the Espana '82 design looked like his work - alas it was! Miro designed it for the hosting of the footballing event. Check the two images below to see the comparison - the Espana 1982 poster is below...surrealism (even though not admitted by the artist himself) but with a recognizable style. I honestly didn't know much of his work but it was uncanny how I recognized his somewhat symbolic style in the '82 poster.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Biomimicry in Design: Learning from Nature

I thought this talk by Michael Pawlyn was really interesting and thought provoking. It's one of my favourite video presentations on His architecture firm Exploration, mainly focuses on environmentally sustainable projects that take their inspiration from nature so after our recent Green Engineering block course this presentation might make you sit back and ponder on the way ahead for humanity in how we use our finite resources. ‘’If ants can make zero waste, solar powered, sustainable architecture; how can we apply their ‘intelligence’ and 3.5 billion years of research and development to human focused, sustainable design?’’ 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Primrose Hill's 'ring of stone'

I saw this in the Evening Standard newspaper while on my way home on Monday. Consideration and context is so essential when designing, and in this case, designing of hard landscaping. It was also relevant to me as two years ago for our Site Design course, Primrose Hill was part of my scheme in the 'Line in the Landscape' module. Reading about it took me back because a lot of us had grand schemes for the summit. They wouldn't have stood a chance at being completed!

See article here

It just goes to show how important it is to conduct comprehensive surveys and consultations with the relevant user groups. What designers may think as a good scheme may not be everyone's cup of tea. For a successful scheme I really believe you need buy in from the users. You may not please everyone, and not everyone drinks tea but at least you could get an important buy in from the significant groups.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Nobel Prize of Architecture - The Pritzker Architecture Prize

I came across this bit of architecture news recently and looked into it a more to see what was type of work was being honoured. 

'The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually by the Hyatt Foundation to honour "a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture" Founded in 1979 by Jay A. Pritzker and his wife Cindy, the award is funded by the Pritzker family and is considered to be one of the world's premier architecture prizes; it is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture.'

This year’s laureate was the 58 year old Portuguese architect, Eduardo Souto de Moura. The prize was awarded for his work including Estádio Municipal de Braga, the Burgo Tower in Porto and the Paula Rego Museum in Cascais. The work that really struck me was the Estádio Municipal de Braga. 

The football stadium in Braga, Portugal, home to Sporting Clube de Braga was built in 2003 with a  full seating capacity of 30,154. '‘The UEFA 4 * stadium was carved from a quarry (Monte Castro) that overlooks the city of Braga. Stands run only along both sides of the pitch. Behind the goal at one end are the rock walls of the quarry and at the other is an open view over the city sprawling in the distance. Each stand is covered with a canopy-style roof, and both are connected to each other across the pitch by dozens of steel strings, a design inspired by ancient South American Inca bridges. Once inside the stadium, moving from one stand to the other is done through a 5,000 sq.m plaza under the pitch.’

It is known as A Padreira (The Quarry), as it is carved into the face of the adjacent Monte Castro quarry. Designs like this in such a brutal context really blow me away. It is not too dissimilar to my other post of the Siena stadium where the design really embraces it's surroundings and does not try to disassociate itself from it. Have a look at some of the photos below. Well done Eduardo...absolutely fantastic stadium, hopefully I'll get to visit one day and cheer on Braga!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Rooftop Rainforest - Sky

This documentary aired on Monday and Tuesday 4/5th April on Sky TV. That's the 2 days that we had our block course for Green Engineering. I haven't been watching much TV lately just too busy with work and school so wasn't even aware of this programme. The good thing is that you can watch it on-line on Sky Player or if you have Sky it's still on Sky Anytime. 

Interestingly enough this is perfect for me with my use of some tropical hardy plants used in my design scheme. I just selected it and will have a viewing sometime. Here's the programme synopsis taken from Sky’s website...

'The programme follows urban ecologist, wildlife expert and eccentric visionary Dusty Gedge in his ambitious effort to build an indoor rainforest on top of Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush. Gedge will face countless obstacles as he attempts to construct a structure to house tropical trees, plants, animals and insects. Not only will he be faced with the logistical and planning challenges of completing the structure on top of a major public building, but he’s also working to an extremely tight schedule as the rainforest must be complete in time for WWF’s Earth Hour.’

South Downs National Park

Great news for England’s National Parks!
‘The South Downs National Park is England's newest National Park, having become fully operational on 1 April 2011. The park, covering an area of 1,627 square kilometres (628 sq mi) in southern England, stretches for 140 kilometres (87 mi) from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east through the counties of HampshireWest Sussex and East Sussex. The national park covers not only the chalk ridge of the South Downs, with its celebrated chalk downland landscape that culminates in the iconic chalky white cliffs of Beachy Head, but also a substantial part of a separate physiographic region, the western Weald, with its heavily wooded sandstone and clay hills and vales. The South Downs Way spans the entire length of the park and is the only National Trail that lies wholly within a national park...on 31 March 2009 the result of the inquiry was published. The Secretary of StateHilary Benn, announced that the South Downs would be designated a national park, and on 12 November 2009 he signed the order confirming the designation. Importantly, he confirmed that a number of hotly disputed areas, including the western Weald, the town of Lewes and the village of Ditchling, would be included within the national park. The new national park came into full operation on 1 April 2011 when the new South Downs National Park Authority assumed statutory responsibility for it.’
For more information visit: