e-lecture ‘how to design a landscape machine’

Here is the complete video of the e-lecture on landscape machines.

It contains some minor technical failures, as were part of the original e-lecture,

https://webconf.vc.dfn.de/p4wiyzxiwdn/

Yours, Paul R.

open e-lecture: how to design a landscape machine

OPEN eLECTURE –

Teaching Landscape Architecture series – teachers for teachers

Monday evening  27.4.2015

18:00-19:30 CET Moderation by Elke MERTENS & Nilgul KARADENIZ Lecturer: Paul Roncken

eLecture Room

https://webconf.vc.dfn.de/r6vrx3id9z3/

Title: How to design a landscape machine This lecture is about the design of productive landscapes. If designed well, landscapes can purify the air, detoxify the soil and raise the water quality of both surface water and underground water reserves. Well-designed landscapes also supply the necessary terrain for plants, mammals, birds and insects to find nurture and shelter and use migration routes. At the same time, these thriving natural landscapes can provide food and other resources that are in daily demand. The intricate performance of landscapes is not merely beautiful and a general commodity, it entails a sublime ambition and is in need of design. By the design concept of the Landscape Machine a provocative and somewhat paradoxical idea is introduced. The central idea is to offer a practical but nonetheless visionary answer to the growing concern of large scale landscape development. The increasing trend of urbanisation will not cease being dependent upon a range of services provided by the performance of landscapes. At the same time the often idealized urban-rural duality is in need of a serious update. While many designers and urban developers focus on building innovation and smaller production cycles, the landscape machine design laboratory (www.landscapemachines.com) claims that such developments will be only marginally effective. The majority of the earths landmass will not be urbanized and remain landscape or inhabitable wilderness. There is an improved idea needed to combine ecological thinking and systemic technology to develop landscapes that can be both productive and natural reserves. By a combined intellec tual and artistic effort, the concept of the landscape machine includes decades of ecological understanding, challenging aesthetic experiences, practical environmental concerns and replenishable technological advancements.

– the concept of the landscape machine will be explained

– a few design examples will be explained

– the method to design such a complex and large scale intervention is discussed (interactive)

Paul Roncken (1972) is an assistant professor at the landscape architecture department, Wageningen University, the Netherlands. You can read more of his ideas and work at http://www.paulroncken.com and http://www.landscapemachines.com via LE:NOTRE – Calendar.

First price Archiprix competition won by a landscape machine!

The project ‘Ems, Full Hybrid’ by my former students Remco van der Togt and Jonas Papenborg (co-supervised by Harro de Jong)

won the prestigious Archiprix first price 2014.

For the project description see here

and for the jury report see below:

Each year the Dutch institutions offering Master’s programmes in architecture, urban design and landscape architecture select their best graduation projects and submit them to Archiprix.

Of the 27 submitted projects 21 are by students graduating in architecture. Two entries have urban design as the major subject and six have landscape architecture. Thirteen of the graduation projects are located abroad.

Armed with an ingenious strategy, this graduation project presents more than just an all-in solution to the serious and complex economic and ecological problems afflicting the Ems estuary. It adds a convincing long-term perspective for developing this area on the border between the Netherlands and Germany. The approach is professional in the extreme and scientifically underpinned where possible and clearly documented. The designers correctly acknowledge that this is a so-called wicked problem. There is a margin of uncertainty to be considered, since the effects of the proposed interventions are not entirely predictable. This explains the manoeuvrability of the strategy to be followed. The project makes a credible impression, illustrating that designing can combine well with scientific research. The design has appealing spatial qualities and is presented in a way that is transparent to all involved. The compelling tale is clearly told and beautifully portrayed. The project unfolds a series of related proposals that are technically well underpinned. The proposed measures are targeted at benefitting the processes in the area. These are not just natural processes such as the flow of the river and the effects of the tide, but also the displacement of water by the cruise ships passing by. The long disused polder system to either side of the river is exploited in a new way, in which discarded North Sea oil rigs get a new duty to perform. Besides generating an attractive landscape in which nature and production join forces, the project provides economic opportunities while putting an end to the expensive business of constant dredging. The designers make a convincing proposal, one that gives shape to their intention of taking the vitality of the Ems region to a higher level. It is a project that provides valuable insight to a wide audience, from scientists to inhabitants, from harbour barons to nature lovers. A project that impresses and delights.

Why a landscape machine?

Designers should design landscapes that challenge human beings and human collectives to allow them to redefine nature within and beyond themselves.

We are well aware that the two words ‘landscape’ and ‘machine’ are dissonant in many ways; something technocratic versus something pristine? The dissonance is on the other hand exactly right, if you consider an important pragmatism in the field of large scale landscape interventions: (1) landscapes are mostly created by (generic) professionals, only dimly including local people. (2) Landscapes, for a large part, serve a purpose, in most cases as agricultural production area, as natural reserve or as urban/infrastructure territory. These two pragmatic elements make it more feasible to consider the machine part of the landscape. Being an optimised production facility for desired outcomes. Any dissonance with local people and out of radar ecological developments, is what interests us, as part of the landscape machine concept.

The (welcome) dissonant to any fixed machinery thinking is provided by the rather slow and gradual development of landscapes. People can change, as landscapes change and thereby initial negative experiences can change. This is what is magical and unique in landscape development and this is what needs to be taken into account when considering the machine-aspect in a developing landscape. The machine may be static for a while, but will change and so will the opinions, aesthetic references and social inclusions. This is a fact that has been recognised by many designers for years, but has not yet been included and explored academically.

Landscapes need not be designed at all if they are to reflect the potential of wildernesses. Despite the autonomy of natural landscapes, we consider human imagination central and essential in the development of new types of productivity. We are worried about the increasing absence of landscapes as future places other than for parkish delight or arcadian wildernesses. Biodiversity can be increased by allowing landscapes to be productive, according to their ecological potentials. Yet, as the attention for urban centres and urban farming increases, the notion of the vast amounts of landscapes are left barren and desolate. In an average country, over 70% percent is landscape and only 8% is urbanised, this means that a future vision on the productivity of such large stretches of land is needed, to maintain a growing urban population. Urban life produces waste and dirt that can be cleaned and processed by landscape machines, if they are big enough, flexible enough and self-sustaining enough. This is the aim of every designed landscape machine. Landscapes are thus not only places to comfort and satisfy human needs, they are places that are proof of human inventiveness, natural self regulation and intricate technical competences. Additionally, designed landscapes are contemporary sublime environments to enhance dormant potentials of the abundance of energy that is present on an everyday basis.

Landscape Machines are technically complex designs that serve to clean and produce all that humans use and need for themselves and simultaneously adhere to the abundance principle of living systems. The composition of landscape machines is dynamic because of the continuous interchange of expansion and diminishment of living system components. A landscape machine is deliberately kept on the verge of imbalance because of the continuous yield of food, energy and resources that put stress on natural resilience. The design effort to create the appropriate type of imbalance is the main challenge when designing a landscape machine.

Community Supported Landscape Regeneration

Msc. thesis project Flore Bijker and Lian Kasper

whole report can be viewed here

Is there social support for the implementation of large-scale landscape machines in populated regions? What is the role of (local) people within the landscape machine concept? What allowances does the re-design of landscapes offer for the creation of (local) maintenance structures and appreciation?

These are the type of questions that came to mind when we first encountered the landscape machine concept. We were of the opinion that the concept would benefit from an increased attention to social aspects of landscapes and landscape change, especially if a large-scale landscape machine is intended to reach implementation in a societal context. In our thesis project we investigated the issue of social support for large-scale landscape regeneration projects, which could include landscape machine designs of the ‘system repair type’.

social feedback model_17_06

In the thesis project, we introduce the ‘Social Feedback Model’,  which enables analysis of complex social-ecological systems. The phenomenon of ‘social feedback’ between landscape appreciation and consequent attitudes and behavior towards the landscape proved particularly helpful in understanding social mechanisms that either disable or support landscape change and large-scale regeneration efforts.

Through the use of the Social Feedback Model in a multidisciplinary literature review, three case studies of regeneration projects and an analysis of the existing socio-spatial situation of the Vechtplassen region in the Netherlands we increased our understanding of social mechanisms. We were subsequently able to introduce conditions that underlie critical support for landscape regeneration, based on the need for empowerment of local people in the landscape on input (governance), output (use and accessibility) and social feedback level (knowledge and awareness). These conditions imply the need for new social contracts for responsibility-sharing between governments and local parties, the creation of local capacity through communal networking and agreements, and prospects of (new) direct relationships between local people and the natural environment.

social feedback model_10_09

The conditions are applied in a strategy for socially supported landscape regeneration as well as in a spatial design for the Vechtplassen region. In this way we show the possibility to deliberately plan and design for landscape regeneration that is supported by local communities. Application in design also leads us to our final suggestion towards the landscape architectural discipline: to increase  focus on the facilitation of social processes, the exchange and accessibility of knowledge and the shaping of new ways for local people to be directly connected with the natural system.

This project shows the concerns that may come up when large-scale spatial plans like landscape machines are proposed to local people in their social/spatial reality. Concepts like the landscape machine will need strategies in order to  avoid local resistance to change. We therefore propose that designers do not only occupy themselves with the design of the technical landscape machine, but that they also use their expertise to tackle social issues and build social support, and that they think of ways to embed (roles for) local people within the machine landscape. This will greatly affect the ability of these types of large-scale plans to leave the drawing board and become reality.

image7_program1

Program 1: an enlarged scope of focus for the landscape architect: enticing large parties in the area to open up land, resources and knowledge for initiative by local communities. Creating prospects for local people in the landscape in terms of use and enjoyment of ecosystem services.

image8_program2

Program 2: an interactive platform on which knowledge and information about the area can be shared, lowering the threshold for people to be well informed, gain awareness and connect to each other.

image9_program3

Program 3: facing (sometimes drastic) changes, communities are encouraged to get together and form local agreements and responsibility structures. Local visions get institutionalized by the municipality.

image10_houseofnowhere

Example of an initiative: the ‘houses of nowhere’ (inspired by the concept of ‘huisje van niks’, WTS architecten) form an example of new entrepreneurial initiatives that can take place in a changed (partially inundated) landscape. People can ‘sail’ with the floating, autarkic houses through the landscape, and stay overnight at a quiet place.

image11_fish and duckweed

Another example of an initiative: the ‘water machine’ landscape can be seen as both a ‘productive’ and a ‘system repair’ landscape machine,  triggered by the need for inundation of a deep reclamation. The plan of combining fish and duckweed farming with recreational initiatives in an accessible landscape resulted from the wishes of the local community and is carried by a local cooperative in which (most) local people own shares.