When I think of landscape infrastructure, I think of ways in which utility corridors could be maximized. Historically they have been these single use corridors, but now that infrastructure is kind of crumbling and many agencies, both locally and federally, are looking to reinvest, but also let it do more than what it has done in the past.
I had a great discussion with Nam Henderson about Landscape Infrastructure and the role of design and ecology in building urban infrastructures. Here is an excerpt from the article:
“What is the value of a park? Is it just a question of real estate value, or green leisure space? Is a green, sustainable city, literally a green city, full of parks? Should a park be more than a park? SWA landscape architects and urban designers have been at the forefront amongst firms working on this recent wave of such urban park-lands.”
In our discussion, we touched on the question of defining a park and what investments are made in infrastructure – and how parks, landscape architecture, and infrastructure thinking can be combined.
“When asked “What is a park?” most people don’t have a quick response. They think it is a) a trick question or b) that I am crazy. At USC, the landscape architecture and architecture students are all asking ourselves that question. What is a park? Does a park have to be green? Is a park, Central Park in NYC? You can look at Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, and it’s basically a ramp. Parks have started to become this ambiguous thing, a cure-all for what ails the city. I think it is a bit more than that.
I think architects, landscape architects and planners are going to have to figure out what are the issues. And you brought up the per-capita issue of access to open space. Here in Los Angles, there is such a place. I think it has the lowest per-capita ratio in all of California. Just East of Hollywood.”
Towards the end of the article, Nam Henderson reflects on how parks – and design – become tools for dealing with the urban condition:
Gerdo, at one point in our conversation, noted “Landscape urbanism is also about focusing on a specific kind of urban condition and dealing with all these associated problems”. In such a case, a park becomes little more than a tool through which much larger and more systemic problems are addressed. In my view, his belief in the community process is a real statement about the possibilities for landscape infrastructure in this country. Specifically, because it points the way forward for those interested in concepts like social design, the ‘right to the city’ or infrastructural ecologies.
To read the full article, check it out on Archinect.