Seen/Unseen in an analysis of five plants commonly referred to today as weeds but each, in their own right, a botanical time capsule of shifting perceptions. Using the written and visual record, a biography of each plant’s fluctuating place through history was established, revealing that the devaluation from an asset to a weed and subsequent rise to an asset again is cyclical. Referring to a plant as a weed is more a commentary on the spatial qualities of where it tends to grow rather than a statement of ecological usefulness. Weeds often grow in unmaintained spaces marked by a lack of control and because the plants in these spaces grow without the care of a gardener, they have (unfairly) come to embody this notion of uncivilized nature which is incompatible with the built environment. A critical assessment of landscape architecture’s role in reinforcing the perceptions of what is a weed and what is not is essential to begin building a less dismissive vocabulary for plant evaluation and diversifying the flora used in the designed landscape.
Urban Morphogenesis and Manufactured Landscapes
Urban Morphogenesis and Manufactured Landscapes is a project that challenges the current stagnant use of vertical spaces in urban environments and explores possibilities for novel upright systems that address ecological, environmental, structural, and aesthetic concerns. Additionally, this research confronts current developmental trends, that compartmentalize people and nature and proposes an alternative that blurs the line between the landscape and built forms. Morphogenesis is the biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape. Nature has an incredible ability to design complex integrated systems and forms that are both functional and pleasing to the eye. With access to contemporary computing software, modern building technologies, and a diverse material palette, why can’t we develop cities in the same way?
Our natural and built systems are in a constant state of change, mutating in form, proportion and process. The dynamism of our contemporary landscape forces designers rethink traditional approaches to site design and evolve our design process to respond to novel realities. It has become more common within the discipline of landscape architecture to investigate novelty as a generative design tool. Models of chance, process, and variation are being adopted to address contemporary spatial challenges. This project is informed by the notion of novelty, as it reconsiders the role of organic material and strict maintenance regimes in future landscape design. It aims to embrace the dynamic processes of grow, decay and succession of nature through a design strategy that treats the ground plane as the medium of design. Conventional landscape design tends to neutralize or overlook the precondition of the ground plane, betraying or subverting the ground’s capacity to naturally direct ecological behavior. This proposal offers a new method of site development that engages with the ground plane by embracing novelty and change over time.