Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 58

CRITIQUE

OPERATING ON OuR APPROACH TO

DESIGNING uRBAN OPEN SPACE
READ BY | LU PAR DANIELLE DAVIS

book info:
OPERATIVE LANDSCAPES:
BuILDING COMMuNITIES
THROuGH PuBLIC SPACE
BY ALISSA NORTH
2013, Birkhäuser Verlag GmbH,
Basel, Switzerland
ISBN 978-3-0346-0821-3

Bio | DANIELLE DAvIS, BLA, MPlan,
works at Corban and Goode Landscape
Architecture and urbanism in Toronto.
In her spare time she manages the
Cities Alive Podcast: Bringing the City to
Life with Stories.
d.davis.landart@gmail.com
58 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES

EN_
WHAT, PRECISELY, IS an "operative"
landscape? Landscape that is "operating"
is not static. The landscape design
has not prescribed an end form and
function. Rather, the design approach
emphasizes process: it will change over
time. The landscape works towards what
James Corner describes as "a cumulative
directionality towards becoming."
The resulting operative landscape
is inherently dynamic and continually
evolving. The open-ended framework
induces community formation and
ecological interaction, and malleability
that gives operative landscapes the
unique ability to stay relevant and sustain
themselves into the future.
North contends that public spaces
and particularly urban community open
spaces should be designed as operative
landscapes as they "are the ideal medium
for positive environmental and community
transformation." She champions and
challenges landscape architects, as authors
of public spaces, to take the lead in building
these operational landscapes.
Following an introduction, the book is
organized into a five-phase design process:
Conceptualize, Plan, Develop, Construct and
Evolve. "Conceptualize" the phase in which
an overriding idea builds off the existing
narrative of the site to consolidate its
complexities and steer the design process.
"Plan" is the design phase; here, community
involvement can have the most effect.
With each round of public consultation, a
schematic design evolves and is eventually
consolidated into the easily interpreted
master plan that neatly ties together
complex ideas and processes.
"Development" includes the setting of
boundaries and refining of details to bring
the master plan into a buildable reality.
"Construction" is generally characterized
by a two-way dialogue between consultant
and client involving preparation of the
on-site supervision and approvals.

However, North asserts that this phase
increasingly involves the public. Only once
the infrastructural framework of a place is
established can the design "Evolve", that is,
"come to life through its use and operation."
The evolution will involve maintenance,
management and design adaptation,
and ideally, the designer will continue to
contribute. By emphasizing adaptability and
process, all stages contribute to a framework
that allows a space to evolve and remain
socially and ecologically relevant.
THEORY IN PRACTICE
The description of each phase includes an
historical overview that explains how we
got to where we are today. The concepts in
each section are further explored through
37 illustrated case studies from around the
world, which make up the bulk of the book.
Each project takes an operative approach
to landscape design, but vary greatly. The
studies range from micro gardens to town
master plans, from gorilla gardening to
top-down planning, and from conceptual
ideas to fully constructed projects. While the
case studies are interesting, clearly described
and attractively presented, I would have
liked to know more about the process behind
each project, and also to learn how the site
evolved post-project, to follow the theme of
the book of landscape as process.
Overall, North delivers a comprehensive
and thorough review of some of the world's
leading landscape architecture works,
and weaves them neatly together with
theory to make a compelling case for an
operative landscape approach. The book is
an informative, evocative and inspiring read.
It makes us reconsider our role as landscape
architects not as mere controllers of space,
but as conductors, orchestrating complex
interactions over time with the hope that
"landscape can again serve as the public
medium in which urban functions are linked
and a sense of community and purpose
is regained."



Landscapes - Spring 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Spring 2015

To Being With | Pour Commencer
The New Small | Le Microcosme Réinventé
Paula Meijerink, Guest Editor | Rédactrice invitée
EN_LP+ | Small Matters: Backgrounder
FR_LP+ | Prodigieuse Petitesse
Writers | Collaboratuers
Je Vois Montreal
Upfront | Prologue
Forêt urbaine
Urban Braille
Find Your Pebble
Folly Forest
Parklet Experiment
Klynstra Scholarship
Prix 2014 Schwabenbauer
The Common Sense Curb Cut
Essay | Essai
Doggy Style
Projects in Place: The LA Flash Mob
Tiny Taxonomy
Lying Down in Public
Kelowna asks, "What if,,"
A Non-Urban Approach X3
New Directions | Nouvelles Avenues
Opinion
Critique
The Last Word | Le Mot de la Fin
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - cover1
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - cover2
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 3
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 4
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 5
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 6
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 7
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - FR_LP+ | Prodigieuse Petitesse
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 9
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Writers | Collaboratuers
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Je Vois Montreal
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - The Common Sense Curb Cut
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 13
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 14
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 15
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 16
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 17
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 18
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 19
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Essay | Essai
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 21
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 22
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 23
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Doggy Style
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 25
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 26
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 27
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 28
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 29
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Projects in Place: The LA Flash Mob
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 31
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Tiny Taxonomy
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 33
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 34
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 35
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 36
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 37
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 38
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Lying Down in Public
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 40
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 41
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Kelowna asks, "What if,,"
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 43
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 44
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 45
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - A Non-Urban Approach X3
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 47
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 48
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 49
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - New Directions | Nouvelles Avenues
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 51
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 52
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 53
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Opinion
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 55
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 56
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 57
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Critique
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 59
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 60
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 61
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 62
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 63
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 64
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 65
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - The Last Word | Le Mot de la Fin
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - cover3
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - cover4
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