Posts from the Friday Five Category

This Biodegradable Paper Donut Could Let Us Reforest The Planet: “Called the Cocoon, this simple invention protects seedlings from harsh arid climates and reduces the amount of water they need to thrive–and boosts their survival rate by as much as 80%.”

A Green Infrastructure Guidebook for City Planners: “This new online resource developed by the Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the American Planning Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, National Association of Counties, and the Association of State Floodplain Managers showcases how communities across the country have successfully mitigated the effects of extreme weather by relying on green infrastructure.”

My Garden Answers: Ever asked, “I wonder which plant this is?” With over 1,250,000+ Users and counting, Garden Answers App is the most trusted gardening app available for the iOS / Android and will help identification, help with pest problems, and offer expert advice in growing and tending plants.

L.A.’s Tap Water Is Officially As Clean As Bottled Water: “Save your money. Your water coming out of your tap is just as good or if not, better” than bottled water or water treated with various devices. What’s more, at half a cent per gallon, it’s a whole lot cheaper, too.

To Build a Great Public Space, You Need More Than Good Design: “A pitfall is thinking that design can solve all the problems. As architects and planners, we like to think that our skills cover a lot of different disciplines, and that’s true. But design alone is never going to be enough.”

Superblocks: How Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars: “Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians.” Could Los Angeles ever integrate this type of city planning solution to turn the tide against cars and parking infrastructure defining the city?

A Guide to Watering Native Plants: “A new Tree of Life Nursery publication, Watering Native Plants, by nursery co-owner Mike Evans, covers important factors to keep in mind while planning – particularly for rain capture, and for decisions about irrigation methods.”

New urban parks and public spaces to see in 2017: “As spring weather begins to sweep the country, it seems like a good time to look at some of the parks and public spaces that have recently opened or will open later this year. Here’s a list of some of the projects—community gathering spaces, new examples of engineered nature, or important reflections of cultural heritage—that will continue to redefine the role of parks.”

How not to create traffic jams, pollution and urban sprawl: “Many cities try to make themselves more appealing by building cycle paths and tram lines or by erecting swaggering buildings by famous architects. If they do not also change their parking policies, such efforts amount to little more than window-dressing. There is a one-word answer to why the streets of Los Angeles look so different from those of London, and why neither city resembles Tokyo: parking.”

New Metro employer bike-share discount could boost ridership: “Los Angeles County Metro has launched a new discount program to encourage employers to offer bike-share passes to their employees. The short-term bike rental system, intended to bridge small gaps between destinations or transit stops, has lagged behind similar big city systems in ridership numbers.”

Image: Farrells and WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

Our streets may be clogged with self-driving cars: “In fact the roads might still be crowded, because the VMT, or vehicle miles traveled, will not necessarily go down; there will just be fewer cars on the road longer. Dr. Kara Kockelman of the University of Texas, thinks that in fact they may add to congestion, telling a South by Southwest crowd: “I don’t think these cars are going to help us with congestion. I think they’re going to make it worse.”

An Overhead “Sky Garden” Comes To Seoul: “A Skygarden will be comprised of path of 24,000 plants and trees organized in alphabetical order and arranged into different “neighborhoods” based on their names in the Korean alphabet. And there’s an educational aspect to the project as well: each plant will be labeled, and ideally, pedestrians will be able to learn about the different types of plants from South Korea on their walk across the pathway.”

PlantSnap: PlantSnap is a mobile app that helps you identify plants, flowers and trees. Simply snap a photo of the plant, and PlantSnap tells you what it is! Currently in beta, this app plans to launch this spring.

“The great bee bumble: Cheerios wanted to help. Its plan went terribly wrong: Cheerios, owned by General Mills, stuck 1.5 billion packaged wildflower seeds in boxes so that patrons could plant them. It was part of the company’s Bring Back the Bees campaign, complete with its own hashtag, which sought to create habitat that bees are losing to development, farms and insecticides. But some of the seeds on the list are invasive species that kill native plants and take over the places where they grow.”

“Fountain Valley adopts a plan, with color-coded threat level, for dealing with coyotes: Fountain Valley now has a road map for dealing with coyotes. The Coyote Management Plan acknowledges that the animals are California natives that have long roamed the area and are an important part of the natural balance, but that they are also clever and adaptable and can cause problems in the human world.”

World Landscape Architecture Month kicks off next week
“April is World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), an international celebration of landscape architecture. WLAM introduces the profession to the public by highlighting landscape architect-designed spaces around the world.”

In Defense of Renders and Trees On Top of Skyscrapers
Where do you stand in the great render debate? “This criticism – of renders in general and MVRDV‘s renders specifically – is a returning point of critique: on ArchDaily in 2013, Tim De Chant begged in an opinion piece “Can We Please Stop Drawing Trees on Top of Skyscrapers?” Though that article did not mention MVRDV in the text, our Peruri88 project in Jakarta was given the dubious distinction of being the article’s most prominent image.”

This low-tech gravity-fed watering system is based on an ancient irrigation technique
“The Clayola self-watering system, which comes in a set of 6 clay pots that are unglazed on the bottom to let water seep through, yet have a glazed top to minimize evaporation, is designed to be connected to a water reservoir in series, which then keeps the pots full of water for up to a month at a time. This makes the Clayola system a great option for a hands-off house and garden plant irrigation setup that could help make weekend trips or vacation time a bit easier, as it can keep plants watered automatically, with no expensive sensors or hardware required.”

An ‘Indoor Park’ to Battle Stockholm’s Brutal Winters
“In Stockholm’s long, sometimes brutal winters, greenery, daylight, and outdoor time are hard to come by. This “indoor park,” thought up by Utopia Architects, would bring all of that to a busy intersection just north of the city center, enticing locals out of their homes to socialize during the cold months.”

Six Freeway Removals That Changed Their Cities Forever
“It turns out that when you take out a high-occupancy freeway it doesn’t turn the surface streets into the equivalent of the Autobahn. A theory called “induced demand” proves that if you make streets bigger, more people will use them. When you make them smaller, drivers discover and use other routes, and traffic turns out to be about the same. Don’t believe it? Check out these freeway removals in cities all over the world and see for yourself.”

The winner of the Competition to Design a House Under the Hollywood Sign: Ambivalent House, experimental residential design. Image: Hirsuta (Jason Payne, Michael Zimmerman, Joseph Giampietro, Ryosuke Imaeda); Los Angeles, California, USA

Hollywood: The Last House on Mulholland Winners Announced: “Arch Out Loud has partnered with Last House on Mulholland (LHOM) to host the HOLLYWOOD design competition. The competition asks participants to design a house of the future which demonstrates the use of innovative technology, integrative environmental strategies, and capitalizes on the iconic prominence of its site beneath the famed Hollywood sign. The competition serves as a design charette generating ideas about the potential for what the site could become and how it can inspire the future of residential design.” And the winners are…

LADWP to Begin Refilling Silver Lake Reservoir: “Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) officials confirmed today that surplus water from the above average snowpack runoff water from the Eastern Sierra region will be made available to refill Silver Lake Reservoir ahead of schedule. Utilizing this water source, the refill of Silver Lake Reservoir will begin in mid-April and take approximately two months. This option replaces the originally planned -May refill of the reservoir using local water resources that would have taken approximately 12 months.”

Another reservoir overflows as Northern California receives more rain: The milestones marking California’s wettest year in decades continued to pile up Thursday, as state water officials said a reservoir high up in the Sierra Nevada has exceeded capacity for the first time in 21 years.

Cornfield Park in Chinatown reopening in April after $20M renovation: “It’s finally happening: An official date for the reopening of Los Angeles State Historic Park has been set. The park, nicknamed Cornfield Park, has been closed for about three years for a transformative, $20-million renovation project to expand the grounds and add a host of new amenities.”

Architecture Enters the Age of Post-Digital Drawing: “The return of the architectural drawing in the digital age is a reinvigoration of the tradition of drawing, but its techniques, tools, and media make it fundamentally new, too. A screen is not only technically different from a page but conceptually different as well.”