Landscape architecture is often described as one part art, one part science. On the science side, contemporary landscape architects are challenged to become knowledgeable beyond the traditional context of landscape architecture, versed in subjects as varied as hydrology, energy, and biology. The art side of the profession seems more intuitive to the way many of us think as designers. However, this creative side is no less complex, since we are designing environments which must account for human activity and experience.
As landscape designers we use public art, video, and other creative media as avenues of exploring concepts about design and environment. An example: for the public art installation Ojama AHBE Landscape Architects used straw wattles to explore the idea of urban interruption within Downtown Los Angeles’ Noguchi Plaza. Later, Calvin Abe co-curated the art and music festival, LA Bloom, collaborating with artist Hirokazu Kosaka, transforming this same plaza into a temporary Zen garden and performance space.
We also explore through the work of other artists and designers. Examples include London artist Ben Eine, who used street art as a way of engaging a community in Philadelphia. Or artist Pipilotti Rist and collaborator Carlos Martínez Architekten, who worked together on City Lounge, transforming an entire section of St. Gallen, Switzerland into a temporary intervention — covering everything boldly in red! — in order to alter how people interact within a public space.
As landscape architects we are curious about what moves people emotionally and also what connects them to a physical space. We are also curious about people living in urban environments and their awareness of natural habitats within this context. We explore our own individual perceptions about open space and beauty in order to clear any preconceptions, while also opening up possibilities for how we approach our work.
Our next series will focus on our inquiries about the art of our practice.