All photos by Calvin Abe.
All photos by Calvin Abe.
In addition to chronicling my recent circumnavigation of the Icelandic landscape via the production of a feature film, we also took plenty of still images – digital and analog. At each stop for camera adjustment, file backup, or leg-stretch, we whipped out our trusty Polaroid OneStep 600 Express instant film camera – because is there really a better format to capture the subtlety of this jaw-droppingly dynamic landscape of geysers, glaciers, and gas stations?
One issue: where to get film? I got puzzled looks from the Walgreens downstairs from the office; apparently sold out. By chance, I overheard a conversation on the Red Line – two patrons talking about a place on the internets called “the Amazon”. I rushed home and fired up my Hayes Smartmodem 300, logged onto CompuServe, and eureka – my dream of shooting Polaroids in Iceland would come true – and at only $2.81 a pop!
Upon our return these archival quality prints were scanned and cleaned up a bit in Photoshop – a painstaking process documented in the accompanying video below.
Once you have absorbed these prints in all their high resolution glory, you will probably feel as if you have also experienced the dreamlike Icelandic landscape itself.
Groundwater and the Drought: How the West Is Miscounting Water Supplies: Years into a historic drought, Western states like California are wrestling with an inconvenient truth: there’s likely even less water than people think. This animation illustrates why the more water is extracted from underground, the harder it becomes to restore the region’s rivers and reservoirs…
Expandable “Origami” Pot Grows Along With Plants to Cut Waste: “GROWTH, a new design concept by London-based Studio Ayaskan, offers a dynamic take on the standard flower pot—one which not only saves gardening time and effort, but also promotes sustainability and cuts down on unnecessary waste.”
7 Takeaways from the So-Cal Lawn + Landscaping Dilemma: “Some landscape designers argue that there are consequences for the ecosystem to getting rid of lawn. So what can and should Angelenos do to cut back on lawns responsibly? The advice can be conflicting and overwhelming…”
Federal Buildings In SoCal Caught Wasting Water Amid Drought: An undercover news investigation records government workers breaking the City of L.A.’s Emergency Water Conservation Plan, watering government facilities for over two hours…
Los Angeles Sanitation Composting Workshops & Compost Bin Sales: This Saturday at the Griffith Park Composting Education Facility the Department Of Public Works and LA Sanitation is offering a composting workshop, alongside heavily discounted compost bins for LA city residents.
Newly constructed landscapes need time to mature. With some exceptions, landscape projects typically have budgets that do not allow for the installation of many, if any, large-sized trees or specimen plants and, hence, younger nursery stock is used. Landscape architects are challenged to design with consideration of a project’s aesthetic and functional value immediately upon construction and the long term consequences of time and maintenance practices.
After an appropriate time, we often return to our completed projects to see for ourselves how they have held up. As landscape architects we’re pleased when a design achieves its intended goals, but equally pleased when we discover the landscape re-invented, functioning in a somewhat different way to better serve the needs of the people who use it.
I am a regular user of a public park which our firm designed. The Santa Monica Airport Park opened in 2008, and at that time it was the first new park the city had built in nearly three decades, drawing the attention of several divergent special interest groups. From my perch at Airport Park’s dog park, I have observed the park’s maturity beyond its plant palette – which, by the way, has had some modifications. As a community space the park has held up to the original design intent and much more, becoming a popular destination for soccer matches, family celebrations, community group gatherings, picnics, children’s play and, of course, dog play.
Among the park’s unexpected surprises for me are the establishment of new friendships which would not have occurred without the creation of this public space. The park also has a wider reach than we originally anticipated. For example, owners of specific dog breeds hold monthly meet-ups at the park which are announced through social media, a technology emerging since the park’s inception.
On a recent visit to the park I heard a group of people complaining about the lack of parking on weekends and how far they had to walk to get to the park. I smiled. This landscape has become a social routine for people, one worth an extra effort.
The word is ubiquitous, yet has layers of meaning. Said out loud in isolation, landscape will trigger images of remembered places, moods, or emotions based on our own histories. My landscape memories are defined by an urban upbringing and a life spent within the urban core of major cities. The word does not conjure visions of agriculture fields, river deltas, or forests. I respond instead with everyday scenes of bustling sidewalks and “pocket” spaces tucked between high-rise buildings.
Our relationship with outdoor spaces, whether natural or designed, is based not on our past experiences alone but evolves over time with us. In the transformation of a site to “place,” we must start by listening to the people in the communities we serve because their stories will reveal their inherent connections to a particular site. Through this process, we hope to “find the gold” in design that meets their deepest needs for belonging and identity.