If you’re like me – and I figure most people in 2017 are – you listen to music while walking, running, ride sharing, or driving through the landscape. Music has the power to express complex emotional and spiritual concepts, teleporting the mind to a certain time and place, or even bring about an altered state.

Beyond its role in audio-visual bias in spatial perception, your earbuds and track 13 on Anderson .Paak’s Malibu album can heavily influence experience and emotions, or even spiritually connect to your surroundings.
This augmented experience becomes landscape around you.

When I think of the tie between music and landscape, or music and nature, I think of a few examples of music augmenting the landscape. An artist can teleport you to a certain setting. An artist can reify a natural landscape’s unpredictability or ominous scale. Music can explain concepts within nature that are too broad for our consumption. Music can mimic nature. An artist can capture and isolate parts of nature.

That is a lot to think about!

Before we get into it let’s get some definitions out of the way:

  • Landscape n. – in a broad sense, the features of an area of land and its landforms; how these features interact with the broader nature and man-made features. This includes features both physical and cultural, natural and anthropological. Landscape can also be described as setting, a geographical location at a moment of time.
  • Music n. – sounds combined to produce a beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.
  • Nature n. – the physical world and its organisms; features and products of the earth as opposed to humans and human creations.

When I think about a song that can teleport the listener to a discreet place and time, I think of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day”. The song vividly describes a series of scenes as Ice Cube through the urban landscape of South Central Los Angeles. The scenes and experiences he describes have direct references to the city, teleporting listeners to South Central on the alleged date of January 20, 1992.

The song also teleports me to that warm August night in 1996 when my sister first played the song for me. I remember listening to it at a low volume, so my mother didn’t hear us listening to “grown-up” music.

Bjork is one of the greatest examples of an artist who seeks and finds inspiration in nature, one who utilizes landscape as a sonic experience.

I’m specifically thinking about Bjork’s album, Biophillia. Inspired by the hypothesis linking humans with nature, Bjork explores the nexus where nature, technology and human experience all intersect. She used nature as an inspiration for musical structure, theme, and metaphor for human experience. Bjork taps into our intrinsic and primal connection to what is beyond human invention.

In the song Crystalline, Bjork uses the growth and facet structure of a crystal in designing her changing time signature and concept for the song. This creates an uneasy beauty that only feels complete because of its tie to nature.

More Connections to Nature
Many songs sample nature, including Blackbird and the Storm, who use samples of bird songs and calls to add to the theme of the bird wing metaphor, while adding to its serene atmosphere.

In 1970, Beaver and Krause released an album abstracting nature themes into a hybrid of sample, tape loop, and synthesizer electronic music. This album samples the broader landscape, things both natural and man-made.

Using Nature as metaphor
Ok, so this is a stretch. Not because it isn’t accurate, but because the music isn’t a metaphor using nature. Rather the following is a sonic adaptation or literary metaphor using nature/ animals. (I’m really including this because it is one of my favorite concept albums).

Based loosely on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Pink Floyd’s Animals album describes the capitalist conservatism in the 1970’s England.

This is a very brief exploration of concepts and songs. Think about songs you like. How do they make you feel? Is there a connection between any of your favorite songs and the nearby landscape?

When it comes to styles, Lidija Grozdanic from Architizer, recently published a post identifying seven mainstream rendering styles used in the architectural visualization market. We conclude our three part series (part one and part two) about the field of virtual representation looking at these styles, alongside four additional styles I’ve noted common in the professional vernacular.

Image: Samaranch Memorial Museum by HAO Holm Architecture Office.

Rendering Styles (by fashion):

  • The Mad Max: A fantasy-oriented style of rendering in which context and lighting plays a major role to furnish the architectural object. Often used for aerial shots, this style works best when applied to large-scale project interventions to communicate an idea of innovation and state-of-the-art technology: skyscrapers, stadiums, arenas, large shopping centers, theatres, opera houses, etc.
  • The Whodunit: A cold-toned, conceptual-like render ideal for showcasing parametric design, materials, and shapes. Mostly used for medium to large scale interventions, like multiple-story buildings. Better suitable for projects which incorporate a lot of white-colored surfaces.
  • The David: This photorealistic style is very intimate for showcasing a project’s angles and composition, since it focuses primarily upon details and the quality of execution. Photographic techniques like depth of field and a combination of exposures supplement the effect. The architecture and the landscape play an equal secondary role, best suited to showcase details, furniture, and individual features.
  • Paranormal Activity: The use of transparencies and the emphasis in vegetated areas make this style a good candidate for projects requiring a ‘green’ factor in their imagery. This conceptual style is fuzzy and it is great for those projects which incorporate a lot of vegetation.
  • The Gondry: Named after the filmmaker, The Gondry is a challenging approach to traditional architectural compositions. Artistic, geometric, and intentioned, this technique uses mixed elements using photographs, cutouts, and/or 3D models. It is a great asset for representing art-oriented projects, and by its nature, it offers an extra ability that the other styles lack: the clear communication of private goals into the project, whether it be political, social, or philosophical.
  • The Theodore: A glamourous photorealistic project style often rendered in warm tones where natural light and diffuse materials play a major role in the composition. Works better in interiors, being proficient at promoting comfort and inhabitability of the space; i.e. healthcare, workplace, and institutional projects.
  • The Katherine Heigl: A style named after the actress that focuses upon two things primarily: to show how the design solution adapts to its context, and to highlight the given ‘social acceptance’ of design. The landscape plays a major role as well, serving as a judge for the architectural elements. The composition, as Grozdanic mentioned, seems to play upon nostalgic memories and emotions of the audience.

I would also add the following four additional styles I’ve identified as common within the architecture and landscape architecture industry:

  • Real-estate: Perhaps the most traditional of all, it relies on saturated colors, communicating clear ideas of vegetation areas, materials, and shapes. The simplistic 2-point perspective shots have been the favorite of real-estate companies in the past decades, showing ‘enough’ to sell the product and to communicate the design intent and program. Usually these are exterior façade shots of residential, commercial, and institutional projects. [Example 1, Example 2]
  • Layered: A poetic style chosen to portray specific features and programs in the composition. It plays in such a way that some elements receive a special focus of attention by incorporating more level of detail  (i.e. photorealistic textures, while some other remains more conceptual). It has clear edges that define where one space ends and where the next one begins. It is basically a render-diagram that highlights the functionality of the space. Works better when using one-point perspective or bird’s eye views. [Example 1, Example 2, Example 3]
  • Fragmented: White space, desaturation, photomontages, and diffuse edges define this style. It incorporates a great balance of minimalism, communication, and graphic skill set, and is best applicable for adapting other elements like text, key maps, and signage into the composition, all arbitrarily sectioned by geometric shapes. It usually uses one-point perspective compositions. [Example 1, Example 2, Example 3]
  • Nature Walk: Perhaps the style best suited for landscape architects, the Nature Walk incorporates a great level of detail in plant species and trees, using cutout elements to populate the scenery. A template generated by a 3D model often serves as a guide for mapping textures with Photoshop or other editing software. Most of the heavy production tasks are done here through photomontages, producing a characteristic look recognized by diffuse soft edges and brushes. Somewhat like the Katherine Heigl technique, it is oriented towards the landscape. [Example 1, Example 2]
  • Crowd-oriented: If the program allows it, this style places a strong focus upon 2D people cutouts to give life to a place. This style makes the place play a secondary role to its imagined inhabitants. [Examples, Example 2]

There are many other authors out there that have compiled similar visualization techniques lists to offer professionals a wide variety of options to add to their repertoire. Be sure to take a look at the following works:

Welcome to our last in a series of Cal Poly Pomona Coastal Resiliency posts, featuring the observations of 4th year undergraduate students in the Landscape Architecture program.

With today’s post we mark the conclusion of our collaboration with the Cal Poly fourth-year undergraduate studio.  In the course of 11 weeks, the students explored both natural and manmade strategies for adaptations and mitigation for coastal resiliency in Long Beach. Almost as important, as practicing professionals we’ve noted we too learned so much from these “bravely curious” landscape architecture students instructed by Professor Barry Lehrman.

The students presented strategies in proposal of applications to their areas of focus in Long Beach during their final presentation at AHBE. We wanted to share with you some of their amazing strategic diagrams, inventory, and analysis these students have been working on during this quarter.

Ecological hotspots in Long Beach Estevan C. and Amanda F.

“Mapping out observed bird sightings in the City of Long Beach, a pattern was shown that not only does the rich ecology try to follow bodies of water, lakes and the ocean, but the areas with the highest density were places with the highest density of people.” – Estevan C.

Zoning and Logistics of the Port of Long Beach by Jorge C.

“Our research considered of analyzing several factors and conditions such as sea level rise, ecology, mitigation strategies, demographics, all of which determine what type of intervention is the most effective in addressing the issues of a particular area. I created this map to better understand the land-use of the Port of Long Beach, which is adjacent to my team’s project site in West Long Beach.” – Jorge C.

Strategies to dissipate wave energy by Andres R.

“Our team developed strategies that attempt to dissipate wave energy which is a significant contributor to Sea Level Rise (SLR), while also supporting public use and ecological communities. The coastal resilience strategy strives to provide a space that can adapt to SLR, while also providing habitat niches for the fauna of Long Beach. The channeling concept refers to slowing down the wave energy and dispersing the water towards branching canals where the water can generate a new zone for human interaction with flourishing ecosystems. The groin and breakwater concept strives to provide an accessible space for pedestrian’s off-shore, while also accumulating SLR to generate a tide pool where fauna can congregate and be exposed to the public.” – 
Andres R.

Adaptation Strategies for Amphibious Neighborhoods by Illiana

“Amphibious Neighborhood is a design strategy that can work along areas with high concentration of sea level rise as well as near residential zones. In the process of creating typologies for amphibious strategies, the urban human habitat and the emergence of biodiversity are highly important. Therefore, a recognition of existing conditions but also of future scenarios that Long Beach will be adapting to.” – Illiana V.

Marine Terracing / Saltwater Tolerant Plants by Amanda F.

“Sea level rise will inevitably cause drastic changes within the urban ecosystem. As the ocean rises, the shoreline is brought in closer to the city, shifting the margins in which plants are able to thrive in various salt-inundated microclimates.

Large, open areas would be ideal for marine terracing strategies to create socially and ecologically adaptable wetlands as the water level continues to rise. Color is used in the plant diagram to highlight the variety of potential plant growth that can be installed to adapt to these new conditions, and across various scales, including the marine terracing scenario.” – Amanda F.

Re-using Shipping Containers to create dunes by Tong X.

“By burying shipping containers we can create a large displacement of sand that can be used to cover, create a series of dunes to protect against sea level rise, and will still function as a public beach” – Tong X.

Ecological Armoring Strategies with recycled concrete by Tong X.

“Enhanced seawalls take advantage of recycled concrete to provide armoring along with a surface that encourages the growth of marine life and broadens the marine ecosystem, support growth of various marine plants and animals. These surfaces provide shelves, notches, overhangs, and shade that replicates the natural formations seen along rocky coastlines. They can be tailored to induce growth of specific species of conservational value. This developing marine ecology provides an educational location for local school and facilities.” – Tong X.

Stepped Pools for wave attenuation by Tong X. & E_Esquier

“In our project, we designed terracing walls that account for high and low tides allow for the creation of artificial tidal pools that creates an interactive zone between the community and marine life. This developing marine ecology provides an educational location for local school and facilities.” – Tong X.

The question now is how we can start implementing these tactics and strategies to prepare and minimize the effects of sea level rise in our coastal communities.

Westweek 2017
Pacific Design Center’s WESTWEEK 2017 Spring Market theme … ICONS+INNOVATORS … celebrates today’s seminal standard bearers and groundbreaking influencers leading the design industry ever-forward, with presentations featuring top talent who both embody and deliberate on what it means to be iconic and innovative in the design world now.
When: March 22-23, 2017, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Where: Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069

UCLA’s Landscape Architecture Program 40th Anniversary Celebration
“2017 is the 40th year the Landscape Architecture Program has been offering courses here at UCLA Extension. As part of that celebration, we are putting on two celebratory events. Both events will take place on Saturday March 25th.”
When: March 25, 2017; Luncheon: 1pm – 2pm
Presentations: 2pm – 4pm
Where: 1145 Gayley Ave.

Building Change LA
Building Change LA is the new initiative that the Office of Mayor Eric Garrett is launching in partnership with local and national organizations to refresh and futurist policies and processes that inform how we design and build the city sustainably and resiliently. Join us for a knowledge exchange to kick-off this initiative.
When: March 23, 2017, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Where: 900 E 4th Street, Los Angeles 90013

TOMATOMANIA! @ Descanso Gardens
“Back by popular demand, TOMATOMANIA!, the world’s largest tomato seedling sale, returns to Descanso Gardens. Activities free with admission unless otherwise noted.”
When: March 25, 2017, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Where: Descanso Garden, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

Creative Placemaking: Economic Development for the Next Generation
“Join the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design for a free webinar tracing creative placemaking’s economic development outcomes. The webinar will feature Zachary Mannheimer of Des Moines, IA, and his approach to economic development in small towns with a focus on retaining young people and creative professionals. The webinar will provide landscape architects and other design professionals with an overview of the way creative placemaking enhances livability and economic opportunity for small towns and rural communities.”
When: March 23, 2017, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Where: ASLA Webinar

The Quest To Grow Cities From Scratch: “The prospect of building cities out of materials that can grow, self-heal, and adapt to changing circumstances on their own is near the point of becoming a reality, according to some working in the field. Eben Bayer, founder of the biomaterials startup Ecovative, predicts it will happen before 2050.”

City infrastructure could turn Los Angeles into a pedestrian paradise: “If Los Angeles wants to get serious about the street safety of Angelenos, it needs to rework the walkability of its streets. Right now, streets in Los Angeles are clearly utilized with the driver in mind. For example, the majority of space on almost every street is allocated to cars, while pedestrians are confined to small slivers of sidewalk space. While this is how we are conditioned to think of streets, this does not have to be the case.”

For Urban Transit, a Hostile Budget: “The budget proposes “funding to projects with existing full funding grant agreements only.” That means Boston’s Green Line extension and the Portland-Milwaukee light rail project in Oregon would be safe, among others. But some of the most “shovel-ready projects” in the country, to use a Trump team-favored phrase, don’t have a full agreement in place, including Caltrain’s electrification project. Dozens of projects would be in limbo, among them several metros that passed major transit referenda in November, including Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Seattle. ”

I’m 35 and I love gardening. Deal with it: “Gardening is many things: beautiful, meditative, healthy, exciting, rewarding and creative. However, I often feel as if gardening is not particularly popular among my peers. It seems to come down to one thing: age. I’m 35 years old and I’m passionate about gardening.”

The Crushing Defeat of Measure S Is a Defining Moment for L.A.: “The election this week revolved, in so many ways, around development. There was Measure S, the controversial anti-development ballot measure, but also the mayor and City Council races, in which the incumbents were attacked, time and again, for allowing density in L.A. It’s no exaggeration to say the election was a referendum on development, on density, on urbanization. And density won.”