BIODIVERSITY AND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
IN THE 21ST CENTURY continued . . .
In 1993 E.O.Wilson a much respected scientist published the ‘Biophilia Hypothesis’, which suggests, there is a biologically based, instinctive bond between humans and their environment. In short, the longing for nature is built into our genes. Contributions to the more recent publication, “Biophilic Design: the Theory, Science, and Practice or Bringing Buildings to Life” (Kellert, 2008) stresses the need for an approach to architectural and landscape design which is based upon positive experiences of natural systems and processes.
These and other writings definitely changed our profession. We are currently challenged, regarding urban growth, sustainable development, climate change, harnessing resources, especially water, as well as social and political pressures. Therefore, if we want to keep the biodiversity around us and keep the world green with healthy cities and healthy people there is no time to lose. .We must continue to collaborate to solve these pressing issues.
What we need today are multidisciplinary landscape architects who think conceptually and perceptually to keep pace with present changing social needs which challenge us daily. If we want landscape architecture to become the ‘art of the possible’ we must discover new aesthetically pleasing solutions, ecologically and technically sound ones, while satisfying social and economic goals. We need what I call VIM, namely vision imagination and motivation to accomplish these goals. Furthermore we need three new R;s for every project.
1. Responsibility 2. Willingness to take Risks 3. Research – analysis and synthesis
Today landscape architects, architects, engineers, biologists and other scientists have a critical role to play in mitigating the impact of environmental degradation of our planet earth. Ozone depletion, global warming, resource reduction, indoor and outdoor air pollution are harsh realities that can no longer be ignored or seen as problems too vast for individual influence. As designers we can become leaders to develop site specific solutions on each of our projects.
This illustrated lecture will examine several environmentally responsible projects that encourage the use of re-cycled material, resource conservation, eg water and energy, and limiting footprints. Each project described is the result of collaboration between architects, landscape architects and other professionals from the outset of the design process. Each project brings to the discussion the concept of total integration of building and site, based on the approach of ‘least intervention’. This approach promotes the conservation of biological diversity, the utilization of ecosystems and populations of plants and animals at sustainable levels, and the maintenance of vital ecological processes. By dealing with these key precepts of conservation and development in a systematic and holistic way, a new set of priorities emerges in the designs, thereby developing a new aesthetic which I call ‘invisible mending’.
As a landscape architect I dream of a green city and strive to achieve meaningful fractions of the global garden by respecting biodiversity, bringing nature into the city. Such a dream can only be realized by teamwork with other disciplines, together with politicians and an aware, participating public of all ages. At UBC the Schools of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning have joined forces to expose the students to a multidisciplinary education and to prepare them for the tasks ahead.
The present environmental crises must be turned into opportunities. Let us not forget to include in the landscape, elements of surprise and beauty for human delight, such as Roxy Paine’s “100 foot Line” sculpture recently installed at the National Gallery of Canada. This steel column reflects Parliament, the city and the river and reminds us of a spar in the forest, left over from logging operations.
I will conclude with the words of David Suzuki: “Recognize that we live in a world where everything is connected to everything else and so whatever we do has repercussions. There is a tomorrow and what we do now will influence what tomorrow we arrive at. We owe it to future generations to think about them before leaping ahead. . “