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Landscape Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News

Azócar Catrón: "It's Not the Scale of the Project, But Rather the Scale of the Landscape"

Chilean architects Ricardo Azócar and Carolina Catrón founded their architectural and urban planning firm in Concepción, Chile in 2015. In a short time afterward, their project “Two Towers and a Trail” was awarded the Obra Revelación del CA-CCP Prize in 2016 and was recognized in the Young Architects of Latin America Collateral Event at the Bienal of Venice in 2018; their monographic text “Catalejo” won first place out of the Publications category at the 2018 Biennale of Costa Rica. In November 2020, ArchDaily recognized them among the best emerging architectural practices of the year.

We sat down with Azócar and Catrón to discuss their current interests and motivations, their collaborative processes, their career trajectory, their upcoming projects, and their predictions about the future of architecture in their native Chile. 

The Miasma Theory Was Wrong but Led to Smart Sanitation

American 19th-century sanitation engineer George E. Waring, Jr. was a miasmaist. He believed in the miasma theory, which holds that toxic vapors traveled through damp soil, rotted vegetation, and pools of standing water. These toxic vapors were understood to emanate from the Earth and interact with the atmosphere and cause disease in American cities.

According to Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, ASLA, a professor of landscape architecture at the Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York, Waring was a “marginal figure,” but he had interesting ideas about how to “modify the climate to improve health.” In a virtual lecture hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Seavitt Nordenson said Waring was incorrect about the mechanisms for spreading disease —he didn’t understand the concept of vectors, like mosquitoes— but his drainage and sanitation solutions were “surprisingly successful.” A year into the coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth revisiting Waring’s ideas about the connections between the Earth, atmosphere, disease — and the maintenance of public spaces.

Pamela Conrad on Climate Positive Design, Landscape Architecture, and Carbon Sequestration

In 2019 CMG Landscape Architecture principal Pamela Conrad launched Climate Positive Design in an effort to help landscape architects design and build projects that can become climate positive. In this interview originally published on The Dirt, Jared Green talks with Conrad about how this approach can make a big difference.

"It’s my hope that things like this can give the next generation hope that there are solutions out there," states Conrad, a recipient of the 2018 Landscape Architecture Foundation Fellowship for the development of the award-winning Pathfinder landscape carbon calculator app and the Climate Positive Design Challenge.

Why Landscapes Designed to Flood Are Environmentally Sound

A “floodscape” could be seen as a contradiction in terms: Flood spreads wherever gravity leads it, covering the familiar topography with a dark, gray, and uniform blanket. In that regard, flood is amorphous, as it can distort and temporarily erase forms and features from the visible landscape—nothing that could be described as a “scape” in the sense of articulated and meaningful scenery.

But when the boundaries of a flood are not just defined by the quantity or the velocity of water but also by landforms and structures carefully designed and placed to influence and shape the “disaster,” the result can be considered as a landscape, physically and culturally defined by flood.

Courtyards in Peruvian Houses: 10 Projects and their Floor Plans

Casa Gato / Martin Dulanto. Image M+L House / Domenack Arquitectos. Image Cachalotes House / Oscar Gonzalez Moix. Image Casa Patios / Riofrio+Rodrigo Arquitectos. Image + 21

With the exception of some areas, within the three principal regions of Peru--coastal, mountain, and rainforest--the climate is characterized as tropical or subtropical and the differences in summer and winter temperatures is minimal, rarely reaching beyond 15 °C and 27 °C. This mild climate has thinned the line between exterior and interior spaces, a fact evident in the region's architecture. 

Winning Designs Announced for Friendship Park Competition in Armenia

The Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) Foundation has announced the winners of the Friendship Park competition for Gyumri, Armenia. Based on results of the second round, the jury selected 19 finalists in three categories. Located in the northern part of the city, the renovated park aims to become the first modern green area for locals and tourists alike through a series of design interventions.

Courtesy of IND ArchitectsCourtesy of IND ArchitectsCourtesy of SULIMAN, RAKOVSKAYA & SOFOYANCourtesy of IND Architects+ 5

Remote Doctor of Design Degree for Practicing Professionals Now Accepting Applications

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As a mid-career design-professional, what avenues exist for investigating questions and problems that arise from being embedded in practice? What opportunity is there for exploring or articulating an idea for a type of project or organizational structure that could improve professional practice?

It's Time for Designers to Embrace Fire as the Ecological and Cultural Force That It Is

Spurred by disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, cities across the United States have, over the past 15 years, learned to “live with water.” After more than a century of filling wetlands, damming rivers, and diverting streams and stormwater flows into concrete channels, public officials, influenced by a coterie of landscape architects and planners, have embraced the opposite strategy, investing in open space networks that use dynamic natural systems to slow, store, and absorb floodwaters.

Landscape Architects of Color on How to Combat Erasure

Over two days, approximately 500 online participants together set the agenda, formed and dissolved discussion groups, and shared knowledge and resources. With the assistance of an “open space” facilitator, this is how Cut|Fill, a virtual "unconference” on landscape architecture, unfolded.

Organized by the Urban Studio and Ink Landscape Architects, Cut|Fill was meant to “raise questions we all want to discuss,” explained Andrew Sargeant, ASLA, a founder of Urban Studio. One of those important questions: “how can landscape architects design with empathy and end dismissive behavior towards people of color?”

The Pandemic Offers an Opportunity to Re-Wild Our Communities

As the pandemic has worn on, the American public has adopted parks and neighborhood streets as safe spaces. This will not be a short-lived phenomenon –bikes have been repaired, running shoes purchased, and puppies adopted. People are growing accustomed to spending time in the outdoors to exercise, spend time with family, enjoy nature –and take that growing puppy for walks.

James Lord on Storytelling in Design and the Homogeneity of the Public Spaces

James Lord. Image Courtesy of The Midnight Charette
James Lord. Image Courtesy of The Midnight Charette

The Midnight Charette is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by architectural designers David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features a variety of creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful takes and personal discussions. A wide array of subjects are covered with honesty and humor: some episodes provide useful tips for designers, while others are project reviews, interviews, or explorations of everyday life and design. The Midnight Charette is also available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

This week David and Marina are joined by James Lord, Landscape Architect & Founder of Surfacedesign, to discuss the homogeneity of our streets and public spaces, his transition from architecture to landscape architecture, stories about Pierre Koenig and saving endangered frogs, the most common struggle Landscape Architects face in projects, storytelling in design, and much more. Enjoy!

Suburban Sprawl Increases the Risk of Future Pandemics

The export of American culture is one of the most influential forces in our interconnected world. From Dakar to Delhi, American pop music, movies, and artery-clogging cuisine are ubiquitous. However, one of the most damaging exports is the American suburb. When the 20th century model for housing the swelling populations of Long Island and Los Angeles translates to 21st century Kinshasa and Kuala Lumpur, the American way of life may very well be our downfall.

After COVID-19, What’s Next for Landscape Architecture?

The urban crisis brings many challenges, but also presents opportunities for landscape architects to help build more equitable green spaces and cities.

As a Los Angeles resident who doesn’t drive, navigating the city on foot and bike has always made me feel like I have the whole place to myself.

But over the last two months, Angelenos have been freckling the streets—it’s like they’ve all discovered for the first time that they’re capable of exploring this city without a car. While most beaches and trails in the city were shuttered (they have since re-opened), I noticed the LA River becoming the city’s new “it spot” for socially distant hangouts. And in a city that lacks adequate public parks, people are turning any patch of grass or sidewalk—whether it’s an elementary school yard, a traffic median, or a bit of concrete next to a parking lot—into a bit of respite from the madness.