Landscapes - Summer 2013 - (Page 66)

THE LAST WORD | LE MOT DE LA FIN Everything is connected...Pink balls or retention ponds, they were all part of a glorious struggle to make life worth living. CHRISTOPHER HUME, EXTERNAL JUROR OUTSIDE – LOOKING IN THE CANADIAN LANDSCAPE may not be as healthy as we’d like, but not so Canadian landscape architecture. Judging from the projects submitted to the 2013 CSLA Awards of Excellence, the profession has never been in better shape. Given that this is a nation that defines itself largely in terms of its geography, perhaps that’s not surprising. On the other hand, in our headlong rush to remake the country in our own image, we tend not just to take the geography for granted, but also to run roughshod over it whenever necessary. There’s so much of it, we reason, there will always be room to start again and do things properly. Landscape architects know better. And at a time of peak suburbia, a moment when Canadians are returning downtown in unprecedented numbers often to inhabit tiny apartments in giant condo towers, the need to focus on the spaces between buildings is greater than ever. The Great Outdoors has been replaced by the expanding metropolis. DORCHESTER SQUARE (FORMERLY DOMINION SQUARE), REGIONAL HONOUR 2013. A RECONNECTION THAT REVIVES THE SPLENDOUR PHOTO CLAUDE CORMIER + ASSOCIÉS (SEE P 45) 66 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES WHAT THE PROFESSION IS UP TO Certainly, the two-day adjudication session gave jurors a thorough look at what the profession is up to in an age of climate crisis and urban degradation. Not surprisingly, much effort goes into remediation of natural environments and processes long since spoiled by human intervention. Today that devastation extends beyond forests and rivers to include the man-made world, especially the city. Some of the most impressive projects examined ways to revive and revitalize urban landscapes buried beneath successive layers of “progress”. Among the most sensitive and subtle schemes was one that meticulously uncovered Montreal’s Dorchester Square and sought to acknowledge its history. As that prize-winning project made clear, the contemporary landscape is cultural as well as natural; it involves an element of archeology whether the objective is to restore watersheds or to reveal the past. Speaking of the past, Canadian practitioners had ample opportunities to be creative with abandoned industrial sites located in and around various cities. As manufacturing is outsourced to India and Asia, cities in Europe and North America face the question of what to do with these vacant industrial places. Some, like Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto, have been transformed into culinary, artistic and intellectual hubs. LIVEABILITY Smaller towns from Yellowknife to ChannelPort aux Basques in Newfoundland are also looking at how they can resuscitate historic precincts, attract investment and improve their residents’ quality of life. This is no insignificant matter; after all, livability is what makes Canada a destination for the countless thousands of immigrants who will move the country forward. ALMOST SILLY… AND TOTALLY BRILLIANT In this regard, landscape architects proved themselves unexpectedly capable. Perhaps the most engaging project was one that lined a major street in downtown Montreal with 170,000 pink resin balls. The installation, which will rise again this summer, was fun, frivolous, almost silly and totally brilliant. Locals say it helped bring new life and energy to an area that had seen better days. The point is an important one; while landscape architects will always be concerned with the basics such as soil quality, drainage, plantings and appropriate choice of materials, there is another dimension to the discipline. Importantly, landscape architecture approaches things as a continuum, a series of interconnected environments that range from wilderness to high-rise urbanism. It seeks to understand the relationship between environment and human well-being, not simply as issues of fresh air and clean water, but also – dare one say it? – of happiness. That’s not a question of adding greenery to the urban context (even though that does improve our mood), or running trails through parks. The submissions reminded us that we can no longer continue to see ourselves and our environment as separate and distinct entities. Everything is connected; the two are inextricable. Pink balls or retention ponds, they were all part of a glorious struggle to make life worth living. VIDEO: Chris Hume on Underpass Park. See LP+. chume@thestar.ca FR_ INEXTRICABLEMENT LIÉS LP+

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Summer 2013

My NEW Favourite Places
Mes NOUVEAUX coups de coeur
Thompson Plus...
Planning Excellence
WLAM
Uplifiting
From Terrain VAGUE to Terrain VIEW
Folly Forest
L'Initiative de charte canadienne du paysage
What is Don Hill Listening to Now?
LACF FAPC: Rewarding Curious Minds / Curiosité primée
The Nature of Design
National Honour Awards
National Merit Awards
National Citation Awards
Reading Landscapes
Meet the Jury
B2B : Thanks for Asking!
The Last Word
LP +

Landscapes - Summer 2013

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