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The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

middle east

july 2016

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Eid Mubarak Landscape Design Hard Landscape Soft Landscape Sports Fields Irrigation Systems Water Features Landscape Lighting Landscape Maintenance

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The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

Editor’s Note

In this issue, Emirati architect, Hamad Khoory represents a new generation of designers and urban planners. Khoory is a partner at Loci design studio in Dubai, which has build its reputation on a passion for respecting the culture of the region through its designs and recycling indigenous materials to incorporate into their work. This is in sharp contrast to the many imported designs that we see propping up the Dubai skyline, which may be modern glass masterpieces but are not energy efficient or reflective of the desert that they inhabit. Landscape Middle East speaks to Khoory about a Jumeirah garden project that he worked on which he says ‘bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary’. (page 22) Keeping with the theme of respecting our sense of place, RNL architects showcase their awardwinning project in Colorado in the US, for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Support Facility, which as the clients’ name implies had to be a large-scale net zero energy prototype. (pg 28) In Azerbaijan, this theme continues with a private waterfront project that had to capture the essence of the sea into the overall site, which encompassed a beachfront home and mooring area. This was achieved at first glance through its curvilinear walkways the wind through the space and are symbolic of the waves of the sea. Find out more on page 44 Enjoy the issue!

John Hampton

Managing Partner: Ziad Maarouf Amine Copy Editor: John Hampton Sales Manager: Boushra Dinnawi Administrative Assistance: Sarry Gan Art Director: Ramon Andaya Contributors: Dr. Lerzan Y. Erdinc, Duncan Denley, Hamza Al-Omari, Greg Marinelli, Misha Mittal, Mauro Melis, Jimena Martignoni, Akshay Heranjal Printed by: Al Nisr Publishing LLC Webmaster: www.pdinventive.com

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contents July 2016 - Issue 109

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Effective landscapes

16 22 34 40

Blank Canvas India’s famous Gallery G gets a makeover

48

A building in love with the landscape for 65 years

28

Interview with Architect Hamad Khoory Re-thinking landscapes

18

The New Wave in Designing

40 48

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The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

3


I news and events

TerraVerde picks up the prize at this year’s MEIDA Awards

Mr. Nehme Moujaess

Managing Director, TerraVerde

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TerraVerde LLC, who was shortlisted for the Best Residential Landscape Award for their fourth time, recouped the prestigious title for their Luxury Villa Project located at Arabian Ranches in Dubai. This is the second time TerraVerde has won the award for this category and it was announced at this year’s Middle East Interior Design and Architecture Awards. The ceremony, which was held at the glamorous Cavalli Club, one of Dubai’s most dazzling venues, was attended by some of the most renowned architects and designers from around the region. The MEIDA awards runs in tandem with Dubai’s annual International Design Exhibition and recognises outstanding interior design, architecture and landscaping projects across the Middle East and North Africa. The awards are open to all industry professionals within the MENA region and covers categories from large corporate spaces to retail window displays. This year, only projects that achieved a 70% evaluation were shortlisted for an award. TerraVerde, who have an established reputation across the UAE were one of two companies shortlisted for the Best Residential Landscape award. Mr Nehme Moujaess, Managing Director of TerraVerde explains, “We at TerraVerde are immensely proud to be the recipients of this award yet again. It is achievements like this, which reaffirms professionally that what we do is of the highest standard. To be associated with the MEIDA awards means that we can hold ourselves in high regard along with the rest of the companies shortlisted”. The residential project executed by TerraVerde that was honoured at the MEIDA event, displays a stunning contemporary landscape design, which is sustainable and multi disciplined in terms of its functionality. The landscape design comprises of many key features including a 20m long overflow swimming pool, which was clearly the architectural focal point. Completed last year, the setting of this project was orientated around developing a style, which was exotic, tranquil, and although modern with respect to the layout and finish, also distinctly natural with it’s tailoring. All winning projects from this year’s Middle East Interior Design and Architect Awards were exhibited during INDEX 2016 at Dubai’s World Trade Centre.


The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

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I news and events

Hunter Industries Acquires Hydrawise

Flowpoint Paves the Way in Tallinn Old Town 6

Hunter Industries is pleased to announce the acquisition of Hydrawise, a manufacturer of Wi-Fi based irrigation controllers and web-based software. This acquisition marks a significant step by Hunter into the internet of things space for control, management and optimization of residential and commercial landscape irrigation. Many new and exciting products will evolve from this strategic move, bringing simplicity to irrigation control and information on water savings impact. We believe this an important step as we continue to evolve our products to meet the growing need for water management and resource conservation. This acquisition allows Hunter to enter the Wi-Fi enabled controller market with its new HC irrigation controller. The HC offers contractors internet accessibility enabling them to efficiently manage all of their sites from anywhere they are connected. “We’re excited about bringing this technology to professionals and end users around the world. This fills an important niche and helps our contractor customers efficiently manage all their sites remotely. It also allows their customer, the homeowner, an easy way to operate their own system,” said Greg Hunter, president of Hunter Industries. The HC Controller offers easy configuration using a standard web browser or smart device app. All that’s needed is a wireless password. With the HC Controller, users can select a local weather station and set watering triggers for predictive watering adjustments. These adjustments offer significant water savings since they are made based on the local weather conditions.

Instarmac’s Estonian partner, Roadservice, have secured an 8,000m² paving restoration project of the beautiful Viru Street in Tallinn Old Town. Viru Street is known for its beautiful entrance gates. These iconic gates were built in the 14th century as part of the town’s defence system, with the number of gates increasing to 8 by the 16th century. Over the years, the entrance to Old Town widened and as a consequence many of the gates have since been demolished. However the corner gates are still standing and have become symbolic of Tallinn Old Town. The restoration of this fairytale street required a grout that would withstand the constant footfall of visitors and residents whilst providing a finish that would be aesthetically pleasing and fitting of such a historical area. Flowpoint rapid set flowable paving grout, part of the UltraScape Mortar Paving System, was chosen for this project and will be used to grout 8,000m² of paving in Viru Street. Flowpoint is a flowable grout which allows for large areas of paving to be grouted quickly. It can be used to grout joints from 3-5mm to 50mm and as deep as 200mm in one application. What’s more, Flowpoint can receive foot traffic in 1 hour and vehicular traffic in just 4 hour - ideal for busy towns such as this one. Flowpoint is available in 3 varieties - Regular, ECO and Smooth, and in 2 colours - Natural Grey and Charcoal. Charcoal was chosen for this project. Viru Street is the latest in a long line of prestigious projects in the UltraScape portfolio. Recent projects include Opera House, MBR City and City Walk in Dubai, Roxy Cinema in New Zealand, MediaCity, Savoy Hotel and the Bullring Shopping Centre in the UK.


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I news and events

Photolight equipped Mohammed bin Rashid city with its 74w leds mbr city cycling and jogging track The French company Photolight delivered around 350 solar power led lights to MBR City last December, through its local distribtutor Al Ghandi Electronics. Located next to Meydan Race track, it was developed by Meydan Shoba Inc. and inaugurated by Saeed Humaid Al Tayer, Chairman and CEO of Meydan Group, and P.N.C. Menon, Chairman of the Shoba Group. In the era of researches for the renewable energy sources, the city of Dubai recently builded a 9km cycling and jogging track which contains a wide cycling and a jogging track with special running floor material. To ensure good visibility when cycling or running at night and to minimize energy consumption, the track is illuminated by solar-powered lights, making this an eco-friendly facility. Equipped with 74w LEDs in accordance to RTA lux level standards and vertically mounted photovoltaic panels specially conceived for dusty climate, these lights don’t require any cleaning maintenance which can be very costly. In his opening speech, Al Tayer said: “About 340 of these lights have been imported from France, and unlike the bigger, lumpy solar-powered LED lights, these posts have embedded solar panels, making it sleeker and less space consuming”. “When we started discussing this project with the consultant, they were looking for a 15m spacing light with 4.5m height poles. Then we proposed our 6m pole Straight lights reducing drastically the investment which

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enabled us to create 25m spacing lights fully respecting the lighting level requirements of an average of 10lux”, added Mr. Guillaume Dumont, Photolight MEA Sales Manager. Manufactured in France and distributed by Photo-Me group, the solar streetlights highlight the awareness of environmental issues faced in the region. Photo-Me group has made solar energy a major diversification axis, dedicating a large part of its R&D investments to this project. The Photolight products insure an economical lighting thanks to an innovative concept in line with the new environmental legislation: no need for electricity supply due to solar cells, no CO2 emissions and simple installation (no cables, therefore no trenches necessary). Designed for urban or residential environments and suitable for corporate or private events, the Photolight solar lights are totally autonomous and adapted to all types of locations. They offer intelligent lighting through their light intensity programming and time settings. Equipped with a light & motion detector, programmable via Wi-Fi from a smartphone or computer, the Photolight lights are fitted with lithium batteries integrated in the pole, free of maintenance, and an anodized aluminium body pole treated for anti-corrosion and salt. Today several resting areas have been set up along the track around Mohammed Bin Rachid Al Maktoum City, also called District one. The cyclists and joggers who are already numerous to greet with fervor the new track, can access it for free. The track will be extended to 41km as part of phase 2 of the project in the years to come.


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I news and events

Rain Bird’s He-Van nozzles continue to improve irrigation system efficiency Since 2011, Rain Bird’s HE-VAN High Efficiency Variable Arc Nozzles have become increasingly popular with contractors everywhere. HE-VAN makes it possible for irrigation professionals and their customers to enjoy the convenience and efficiency of a variable arc spray nozzle with more uniform coverage. After HE-VAN won a Best New Product Award at the 2011 Irrigation Association Show, Rain Bird expanded the product line to include 8’, 10’, 12’ and 15’ models. Each of the four HE-VAN models are adjustable from 0 to 360 degrees, making it possible to irrigate landscapes of all shapes and sizes with just four nozzles. HE-VAN’s advantages don’t stop there. Its outstanding water efficiency truly separates it from other spray nozzles. HE-VAN provides a level of distribution uniformity (DU) that few spray nozzles—fixed or variable arc—can match. In independent testing conducted at the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) at California State University in Fresno, HE-VAN delivered a consistently impressive 41 percent increase in DU performance over competing variable arc spray nozzles. HE-VAN’s scheduling coefficient was also stellar at less than 1.4, representing a 37 percent reduction over the competition. However, it’s HE-VAN’s performance outside the laboratory that’s truly groundbreaking. “In addition to the CIT studies, we also commissioned universities to perform independent, third-party studies examining HE-VAN’s performance in real world conditions, like high winds,” says Randy Montgomery, Rain Bird’s manager of advanced new product development. “These studies have shown that HE-VAN’s

thicker water streams and larger droplets help it maintain a high level of efficiency even in windy conditions while the efficiency of competing spray nozzles declined drastically.” During the summer of 2012, researchers at the University of Arizona compared Rain Bird’s HE-VAN models to a competing nozzle that, at first glance, appeared to offer the same performance. The researchers installed each nozzle into four 12’ x 12’ outdoor test plots with a grid of catch cans and a water meter to measure how much water each nozzle applied. For 30 days, a weather station measured key data points for each half-inch irrigation cycle. The researchers took readings on the same nozzles under different, naturally occurring wind speeds, allowing them to prove that the wind’s effect on test results is consistent and statistically relevant. Using the catch cans, they were able to determine the degree to which varying wind speeds disturbed and shifted spray patterns. Under those conditions, the HE-VANs had an application efficiency score of 80 percent, compared to the competitive nozzle’s 63 percent. As wind speeds increased, the competition’s nozzles’ lower quarter DU dropped 13 more percentage points than the HE-VANs’ DU. “The HE-VAN’s larger water droplets were more difficult for the wind to blow off course, keeping the spray pattern more accurate,” Montgomery adds. “That leads to shorter runtimes and more efficient irrigation.” A number of other unique features also contribute to HE-VAN’s outstanding water efficiency. Patent-pending Flow Control Technology provides lower trajectory streams for superior close-in watering and more uniform coverage across the entire spray pattern. When adjusting the nozzle’s arc, Rain Bird’s ExactEdge™ adjustment feature locks the nozzle securely into place for a clean, consistent right edge that resists stress and accidental adjustment in the field. Plus, because of its thicker, stronger deflector that resists cracking, HE-VAN isn’t just more efficient—it’s also more durable than other variable arc spray nozzles.   “HE-VAN has changed the way that irrigation systems are designed, specified and installed,” Montgomery said. “This nozzle gives irrigation and landscape professionals the ability to create the landscapes their clients want with the water efficiency they need.”   

Lush Greens in the UAE Guaranteed by Green-Keeper

Green-Keeper Middle East, a division of FM Solution, dedicated to provide eco-friendly lawn treatments, has officially launched a 100% natural lawn colour solution to keep the rich green colour of the grass. The product that the company uses is made in the United States of America. It is non-toxic, biodegradable and perfectly safe for children, pets and also the environment. Managing Director of The FM Solution, Silvia Contri, said “We are very excited to introduce our service in the region. We understand that maintaining a green vibrant colour of grass in lawns is a difficult task, this is why we have come up with a way to cater to this concern with an all natural solution that represents good value for money and at the same time is environmentfriendly.” The solution is sprayed onto the areas that needed treatment. It works with burnt, dormant, dead or even discoloured grass. With its special formula that provides a vibrant green colour, the grass looks naturally healthy even during the dreary, hot summer. Normally, to keep the grass green and healthy, lawns have to be watered twice a day with an average of 12 liters of water per square foot. Now, homeowners, turf caretakers and alike can conserve water with the GreenKeeper solution as they only have to water their lawns every two to three days. The colour can lasts up to three months. This dramatically helps in the UAE’s water conservation efforts. With a new sound option from Green-Keeper Middle East, maintaining the grass green all year round is not a problem any more.

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The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

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I Landscape planning

Effective landscapes Impact of cultural landscape on landscape planning, design and construction

By: Dr. Lerzan Y. Erdinc

WHAT ARE CULTURAL LANDSCAPES? Cultural landscapes are landscapes that have been “affected, influenced, or shaped by human involvement,” according to the cultural landscape foundation. “A cultural landscape can be associated with a person or event. It can be thousands of acres or a tiny homestead. It can be a grand estate, industrial site, park, garden, cemetery, campus and more. Collectively, cultural landscapes are works of art, narratives of culture, and expressions of regional identity.” Defining the cultural landscape is the most important tool in developing a well-designed landscape. The main goal of this topic is to highlight and differentiate between the social character and the physical character of the environment, in order to create an ideal context for the evaluation, design and execution of the landscape works. WHY EVAULATE CULTURAL LANDSCAPES? Any man-made object is the end result of a series of decisions of all shareholders. Landscape architects have a responsibility to satisfy multiple variables. In this regard, it’s the landscape architect’s job to ensure all shareholders‑ from the end-user to contractor, integrates wellthought out and designed landscapes.

Giza Pyramid, Egypt

The importance of evaluating cultural landscapes early on is to present clear ideas to develop satisfactory design options. A Landscape architect‘s role here is to identify the cultural landscape elements to create pleasant landscapes by evaluating social, geographical, ecological, and economic elements of the project area. SIGNIFICANT ELEMENTS OF THE CULTURE When we talk about elements of the culture, the most influential and memorable elements are iconic urban figures. Each and every city has its own iconic figures, which can be natural, historical artistic, architectural or form a vernacular landscape. Those figures make the place unique and unforgettable while creating cultural identity. Sometimes manmade architectural elements complement a city’s culture for instance, the Burj Khalifa, which is the highest tower in the world, while Istanbul has the historical Maiden’s Tower hailing from medieval times. Other examples are natural Pigeon‘s Rock of Beirut, The Pyramids of Giza, the oldest and only ancient wonder in Egypt and Natural Habitat Oryx of Qatar,

Maiden’s Tower Istanbul

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The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

Onyx, Qatar

Pigeon’s Rock, Beirut Labanon

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I Landscape planning

Zabeel Park, Dubai

Segmenter Park, Turkey

Horsh Tabet, Public Garden, Beirut

Al Azhar Park, Egypt

Natural Instinct V’s Culture It’s natural for people to spend their leisure time outdoors soaking up the environment. This is a human basic need irrespective of culture. A public park with beautifully designed landscapes and plenty of activities are appreciated in any culture. The concept of cultural landscape can help us understand why for most communities it’s a natural instinct to want to be outside when the weather is pleasant regardless of their culture or environment. Let’s look at the images above, its difficult to distinguish by looking at first sight because they are all from different cities even

Istanbul Snowy Days

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different countries. But the common denominator is that regardless of the location or culture, people choose to spend their time outdoors whether in Dubai, Cairo, Turkey or Beirut. WHAT CREATES THE DIFFERENT CULTURAL LANDSCAPES? The climate has a major role in shaping cultural landscapes; it affects human preferences, architectural identity, vegetation pattern and much more. Winter in Dubai is very different to winter in Istanbul or Beirut where there is snow and rain.

Dubai Sunny Days


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I Landscape planning

Date Palm, UAE

Cedar Tree, Lebanon

The climate not only affects human preferences but it also effects vegetation. As a result of climate and other geographical features, countries have unique landscape characters and elements. A METHODOLOGY TO USE CULTURAL LANDSCAPES AS A DESIGN TOOL We designers can attribute our experience and culture to the new landscape areas by using the power of cultural cognition and its effect on the adoption or rejection of forms from another culture. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer for acceptance or rejection of the ideas as the cultural difference mostly defines the preferences. With this theoretical framework, design ideas can be imposed on a culture, however, those that are irrelevant will be rejected. The findings reinforce the primacy of local versus world culture. By identifying cultural relevance or irrelevance, local communities can adopt new design ideas. We can examine and compare different landscape options by respecting the result of our initial evaluation of the cultural landscape. Understanding ‘Cultural Landscape‘ by analyzing below but not limited to which will simplify the context of design and procurement process; What is the socio economic status of my end user? The expectation of the end user? Specific requirement such as; contemporary, high-tech or vernacular design etc. Is there a specific age group or genders that appears dominant? What cultural values do I have? What I learn about the users from this assignment, What are the locally available materials? What are the local plants or adaptive plants to support establishment of my project? What are the local climate and other geographical elements of the site? Influence of existing identical landscape to develop ideas or to avoid repetition There are crucial cultural elements that influence design ideas, such as “soil type, topography, climate, rates of use and social or human behavior”. The behavior of area residents in conjunction with the ecological and physical aspects of the site and put it all together under one design, in a very “sustainable way, financially, socially and ecologically, so that my chances of

failing are less and less”. Landscape designers need to first explain to clients the behaviour of people and nature of the surrounding area and guide them through the expected design and procurement processes. After evaluating all aspects, in the interest of saving time and avoiding potential costly delays, clients should be presented with several options covering the range of possibilities, including high priced, fancy ones. Taking these into consideration should be a priority for any landscape designer aiming to make it easy to procure landscape materials, and easy to build projects for all stakeholders “a unique design from different culture, or the country’s culture, or a good mix of both.”

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Pine Tree, Turkey Historical /cultural value

Influence of  existing   identical  landscape  to   develop  ideas  or  to  avoid   repetition,

Understanding of  L ocal   Landscape   Locally  available  material,   to  support  establishment

Understanding of   geomorphological  heritage   as  an  evidence  of  Man  –   Nature  interactions

Land

Demographical / Economical value

Socio-­‐economic status Results from the combination of geographical factors

Outstandingly Beautiful Sustainable  ( long   lived) Low  Maintenance (Drought  Tolerant   /Water  Conservative) Cost  and  Time  

Specific age  group  or   genders  that  appear   dominant

The expectation  of  the   Site  user

Landscape value Aesthetic  value Realistic  thought  process  of  strategic  planning  and  budget   consideration Sharing  experience  with  recorded  document

In this regard, reference made on the image which show us how a regular land can be transformed to a deliberate landscape area. When we look at this image all we can see is existing vegetation, topography, and natural habitat, however every site is more than this. At the background of any site we have site users, owners, their habits, expectation, socio economic values, which need to be melted with natural elements in one pot. This final image illustrates the combination of analyzed and evaluated all cultural items; for instance we can consider the final landscape output as a city hobby garden or hobby farm. Our vision is to protect existing vegetation, introduce native plants not only as botanical species but also to create an activity for visitors such as tasting date or harvesting the product, to use sustainable materials, to select locally available plants and create a comfort zone for users while integrating and respecting city socio-economic background and user/owner expectations.

Culture changes landscapes and culture is embodied by the landscape In conclusion, the possibility of the evaluation of cultural landscape with the designer experience and talent will shape desired landscape areas. If we fail to understand the existing cultural structure, the result will be an ineffective and nonfunctional project. If we are successful in understanding the cultural landscape it will provide satisfactory outputs for the design and allow for a reasonable procurement period and cost. (Some photos are anonymous)


The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

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I Vertical Garden

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The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

Blank Canvas

India’s famous Gallery G gets a makeover

Design intent The landscape insert is a window-view from an art gallery called Gallery G that initially looked out into a bare 5 meter high wall. The art gallery located in the heart of Bangalore city, India which is also the foundation office for the legendary Indian artist of the eighteenth century who is considered as a protagonist of Modern Indian Art, Raja Ravi Varma. The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation thus demanded a view that would form a subtle backdrop to the interesting art display happening inside the gallery, yet have an identity of its own belonging to the current realm of time. The huge wall became a wide canvas for experimenting with the surface by taking influences from the artist’s reaction to the Western influences leading to a revival in primitivism. The vastness of the canvas was taken as an added advantage to design the surface with use of subtle hues and local materials and presenting them in a modern scenario. The wall is designed with the use of only two prominent materials – concrete and greens. The surface was divided into panels for creating patterns with the use of locally available bamboo mats called ‘chape’. These mats were customized by local bamboo vendors to achieve the desired pattern combinations for alternating horizontal and verticals, keeping the organic structure of the bamboo intact. Creating the effect of the traditional material on the concrete signifies a strong connect between the modern and heritage art works that are encouraged and displayed at the Gallery G and The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation. The bamboo patterned surface is further induced with a Living-wall as a second element with nearly 1000 numbers of plants that form a dense green cover adding a soft yet vibrant layer to the overall visual experience. The use of green as part of design focuses on eternity and continual appreciation of the profound work of art by the legendary artist. The design is taken a step ahead by adding another dimension to the surface being motion and sound. The wall sees the introduction of waterspouts made with local bamboo interspersed within the green wall, which drops into the water pond hosting varieties of water plants. The pond is also lined with a planter at the foreground fill with abundance of green cover giving it a wellbalanced base. The front of the planter is cladded with hand-painted tiles adding a splash of colour and series of geometric patterns to the overall spatial experience. The subtle backdrop to the vibrant gallery space can also double up as outdoor display area on the wall that are lit by downward focus light for exhibiting works of budding or experienced artists alike. The space accommodates works of mixed media as well with the planter floor becoming a stage for the display of 3 dimensional art works.

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I Vertical Garden

THE PURPLE INK STUDIO : The purple ink studio was started by two individuals who strongly believed in their respective design concepts and had nurtured the feeling over the past couple of years. Considering that both Aditi and Akshay came from different architectural backgrounds, one being extremely rational, aesthetic yet responsive and the other that is based on strong responses to nature and inclusion of natural elements in design, the studio has had passionate influences of both and sees a continuous evolution in exploring the best of both worlds. The purple ink studio is an award winning practice which believes in constantly exploring the parameters of design and blurring the boundaries between architecture, landscape and sustainability. The studio works closely on each program and situates its projects within a wider research context.

Project: Gallery G Client: The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation Location: Bengaluru, India Total area: 200 sqm Architecture + Landscape The Purple Ink studio

Design team: Aditi Pai, Akshay Heranjal, Jaikumar Completion: 2015 Photography credits: The Purple

Ink Studio

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We believe in an integrated approach, which is complex, generative and moves beyond the digital techniques. We are constantly engaging in the practices of ‘Regenerative Architecture’ that focuses on conservation and performance through a focused reduction on the environmental impacts of a built structure. The Studio is working on experiments, which are based in the present day scenario (as prototypes) which when multiplied, would breed into a series of ‘Eco-cities’, set in the future. These experiments focus on the ‘Kilometer Zero’ concept, which strives to generate locally everything that is necessary for our living.” The underlying focus is to integrate the ideas of our architectural theories using a series of integrated/hybrid techniques to develop a new breed of regenerative architecture.


The First Specialised Landscape magazine in the Middle East

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I interview

Sustainable projects Landscape Middle East meets Emirati Architect Hamad Khoory who is believes that projects should reflect their surroundings

Hamad Khoory

Designer Architect and Partner at LOCI Where did you study architecture? With a passion for art and sculpture through my earlier years, I completed two visual art programs with distinction after which I completed a Bachelor in architecture (BArch ’08) and Masters in Architecture degree with a concentration in design and research (March ’09) both at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, between Boston, USA and Berlin, Germany. My research and thesis studies focused on the relationship between, social, theological, cultural, environmental factors of a society and it’s corresponding built environment. I strongly believe that space and form are a product of a society’s cultural and anthropological tradition, which should be preserved through meaningful and rational design in order to develop a sustainable locus. When did your company first set up business in the Region? I set up Loci in 2012, where I am a designer Architect and Partner. Briefly describe your studio and design ethos? LOCI has a relatively small design team, but a very well rounded one nonetheless. This keeps the chains of communications quite short and allows us to be agile in direction and decision taking. We try to maintain background diversity within the team. As a direct reflection of Dubai, LOCI is a melting pot of cultures ranging from UAE, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Philippines, India, Spain, France and Korea. The team includes architects, interior designers, digital artists, photographers as well as a product designer that tackle design opportunities in tandem. This has resulted in a strongly meshed team with team member’s crossing over from one project to the next where their support or expertise is needed. At the heart of LOCI’s ethos is the belief that design is not an imported technology but rather one that sprouts from its context. With that in mind, we approach each design opportunity with deep focus on its geographic, climatic cultural, historical as well as its socio-economic context.   Tell us about the garden project you’ve recently work on? The villa is located in Jumeira with a 5500 sqft garden– tucked away in an upscale neighborhood of Dubai. This was designed in partnership with Samjad Kandalit from Plural design studio, a friend and ex-collegue.

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I interview

Can you explain the design, which is geometrically very interesting, especially when seen from above? The garden is an orchestra of geometric compositions that interact together in a playful manner. Bridging the gap between the traditional and contemporary. The geometric design has been developed in a way to serve as seating, circulation paths, planters and material transitions.

Can you tell me about the planting? Is everything planted specific to the desert? A lot of focus was placed on minimum maintenance vegetation to withstand the climate, especially during the long summer months. However, we designated a certain space in front of the feature wall as an area, which we replant according to the plants that suit the season. 

What materials did you use for the platforms, raised beds and steps? Light beige travertine, Triesta limestone for flooring. And for the planters it’s painted white on cement plaster on concrete blockwork. We also used composite wood decking for the main seating area to minimize maintainance due to high sun exposure.

Where did the beautiful pots, vessels and bowls come from? As part of LOCI’s ethos, we placed importance on the idea of reusing materials that otherwise would be discarded. The old door in one of the images is my great grandfathers old house door, which I saved and restored. The other pots were sourced locally from an antique craft market.

Tell me about Zellige (Zillij) Morroccan design? Did you draw up the design and import the craftsmen to make the small coloured tiles? How long did it take for them to complete it? The term Moors refers to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The intricate mosaics are one of the main artistic elements of Morroccan architecture. Consists of glazed terra-cotta tile works composed in a beautiful geometric composition. Craftsmen and artisans had to be flown in from morocco to put the pieces together, which took more than three weeks to complete. Each piece small tile is individually put together by hand after artfully handchiseling the backside.  

Is there water in the garden apart from the small fountain? There is only one water feature in the garden that is essentially the garden’s oasis. Since we are in the desert, we reduced the water features to a minimum as it will cause issues with the dust, as well since water is scarce in the desert it was only smart to limit the water features. The overflowing Moroccan fountain bowl is also custom built from a solid single block of beige bottancino marble with a CNC machine at a local marble factory.

I love the way you frame that tiled wall, suspending it in the top right hand corner without support - everything within this garden is framed, isn’t it? Traditionally zellije heavily relies on symmetry. We tried to beak it a little by stopping the wall short. All view and elements in the garden are framed either in plan or elevation.

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I interview

The lighting is very dramatic. How did you light the garden? We used all LED lights and energy saving fittings. The lighting concentrated on featured elements in the garden and plays with the shadows of the plants against the boundary wall. The trees are also lit from below to accent the foliage in a dramatic way, which can be seen from beyond the house boundary. What are some of the major projects that you have been involved with in the past years? One of our favorite projects would be “Native”, which is a commercial building designed to be implemented in Muscat, Oman. One of the reasons I particularly enjoy this project is the way in which the design took shape by focusing on how traditional Omani architectural elements were reinterpreted for in a modernist sense. Another favorite project is LOCI’s first product “Khatt”. Khatt is a regional valet stand that came about to answer a real need. With function as its main design driver, Khatt took form. Similarly with our other projects, Khatt was designed with minimalism and modernity in mind. In its early stages, we took the conscious decision to avoid falling into the trap that many regional designers fall into making it look “Arabic” by simply plastering on an Islamic pattern, but instead we reimagined global design cues into a product that is for the region by the region. “Native” is a commercial 5000 sqm building in Oman: Project Abstract: Scattered across the Omani landscape, massive forts stand the test of time as a symbol of what once was. Reinterpreting the interlocking volumes of

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a fort to complement the 21st century cityscape allowed the building to divide its spaces while giving off a stance of weight and authority. Traditional Omani architecture, and Islamic architecture in general, has been influenced by the continuous scuffle between the public and private space. Coupled with courtyards and Mashrabiyas, Native is able to seamlessly separate the building’s executive quarters from the rest of its commercial areas. “Khatt” Product design: Project Abstract: Driven by its locus, “Khatt” came into realization to answer a regional need using local design, knowledge, and handcraft. Its minimalist dematerialised design approach allows Khatt to adopt its surrounding seamlessly. With a focus on authentic materials, Khatt generates an exceptional interaction between wood, leather, and stainless steel. www.khatt-loci.ae What projects have you got in the pipeline? We have been approached by a certain client to design and build a Zen garden with a Middle Eastern influence. The project is currently still under development and cannot go into any details about it at this time due to privacy issue, however, it is planned to be unveiled at Dubai Design Week.  As for our other projects, we are working on several large scale and small scale projects that range between a new hand held product, all the way to a retail development and a few medical centres. This is an exciting phase for LOCI because a lot of our projects are now leaving the computer screens and being realised on site.


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Low on Energy Design firm RNL draws on Colorado landscape as inspiration for their award winning master plan and landscape architecture for US renewable energy research facility The state-of-the-art National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Support Facility in Golden, Colorado in the US presented a welcome challenge for RNL, an international architecture, planning, and design firm. It’s not everyday a firm gets the opportunity to design a national showcase project that serves as a prototype for large-scale netzero energy spaces. RNL has a long history of designing spaces and places with a holistic approach that considers the impact of the built environment on inhabitants as well as the surrounding environment. In addition to their work in the US, RNL has completed significant master planning, architecture and

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landscape work in the Middle East, including the Burj Khalifa Downtown Master Plan, The Villages at Dubai South Master Plan, Shams Abu Dhabi Master Plan, and Al Raha Beach Hotel extension. As a result of their expertise, RNL was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to provide site master planning, architecture, interior design, lighting design and landscape architecture for the 222,000 square foot U.S. Department of Research’s NREL Research Support Facility. While this article focuses on the Research Support Facility, the firm also worked on the master planning of the overall campus, an on-campus café as well as the campus-parking garage.


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Background NREL is the premier laboratory in the United States dedicated to the research, development and use of renewable energy, and energy efficient technologies to advance U.S. goals for energy and economic security. NREL’s primary goal was that the buildings and surrounding environment demonstrate the integration of high-performance design features, passive energy strategies and renewable energy. That process started with the approach to the land itself. Landscape Design Approach Inspired by the unique mesa environment and a net zero energy LEED Platinum- certified building, the Research Support Facility landscape ultimately created a new paradigm for site design. RNL started by analyzing the Research Support Facility context at the macro, campus-wide level and at the site-specific scale. Studies were completed to understand sun exposure, wind effects, snow drifting and storage, security and safety requirements, and storm water drainage needs. These findings provided a design framework for program elements.

Colorado’s Natural Habitat Set against the backdrop of South Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado, RNL drew inspiration for the site from the natural environment and featured a shortgrass prairie dotted with more than 200 plant species including native rabbitbrush, wild plum and three-leaf sumac. Focusing on the mesa and local materials, RNL created a unique outdoor environment for NREL employees and visitors that merged sustainability with site-specific landscape solutions and reintroduced native ecologies. The design team created a variety of exterior spaces and courtyards that function as an extension of the typical indoor office space. Two distinct plazas create different landscape experiences and perform different roles within the landscape. The east plaza functions as a main entry area with seating, small garden spaces and an integrated storm water garden used to capture site runoff. The west plaza is a space for relaxation and gatherings with dramatic views to the mountains and direct connections to the prairie landscape.

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I urban design Promoting Wellness Wellness programming was developed to further support the campus population and provide recreation opportunities as well as individual moments of respite. The two plazas support both active wellness and passive mental wellness. The west courtyard includes a basketball court, shaded areas for ping pong and table games, open areas for bocce games, and interpretive signage identifying pedestrian routes throughout campus and the adjacent open space areas. The east courtyard includes tactile and fragrance gardens, access to a secluded meditation path, and plaza seating for game play and music practice.

Facilitating a Secure & Safe Research Environment In addition to providing NREL with landscape design that celebrated the natural surroundings, RNL was also tasked with designing for the security and safety needs of the sensitive research environment. To that end, roads were located at the perimeter of the campus, with a pedestrian/vehicle campus spine connecting the east and west campus development in the middle of the site. Pedestrian-oriented streets keep commuter traffic to the perimeter of the campus, limiting on-campus traffic to pedestrians, bicycles, shuttles, service, and emergency vehicles. Additionally, occupancy sensor-controlled LEDs were used throughout the project to maintain a safe, pedestrian-oriented environment.

Focusing on Pedestrian-Oriented Design Each street and landscaped right of way was specifically designed for pedestrian comfort and convenience, with sustainable elements of storm water management, streetscape amenities, shade, and wayfinding. The landscape and open space framework design incorporated a choice of all-weather pedestrian sidewalks within the road easements, as well as off-road multi-use trails for pedestrians, cyclists and alternative non-motorized transport. RNL also developed an interpretive signage program, including a custom sign template and 18 narratives with graphics to explain the various sustainable systems present within the design. The signs educate employees, visitors and tour groups enjoying the grounds about sustainable design and the initiatives at work in the landscape.

Maximizing Lighting Efficiencies The goal with lighting on the project was to focus light exclusively when and where it was needed to maximize safety as well as energy efficiency. LED lighting was used throughout. Courtyard accents lights are photocell and timeclock controlled. They are on during regularly occupied hours of darkness only. Pathway lighting allows for low, medium and high output levels with independent control. Sensors turn lights up when occupants enter the pathway and dim when no one is around to provide path illumination.

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I urban design

Leveraging Recycled Hard Landscape Materials This project incorporated a number of local, recycled materials. Most of the concrete was made with fly ash from power plants and recycled concrete. Recycled concrete was also used as road base and as a drainage layer under the parking lot, sidewalks, and pavers. Recycled concrete building material was used as the decorative rock skirt surrounding the Research Facility. The FilterPave system was used in the parking lots, which is an eco-friendly porous pavement made from 80% post-consumer recycled glass and 20% stone aggregate. Integrating Storm Water As A Design Component The landscape design integrated storm water into the design by making the runoff a visible design component and designing concrete catch basins, filled with crushed, recycled glass, as an energy dissipater to hold roof runoff for a brief time until the water cascades over a custom steel weir. The water then travels through the plazas in vegetated swales, reducing the dependence on the supplemental irrigation system.

RNL’s work on the NREL project was ultimately awarded DesignBuild Institute of America (National) Project Award, Honor Award for Civic Buildings and was named AIA National Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top 10 Green Project. It also received the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Colorado Chapter Honor Award for Land Stewardship Designation and a Sustainable SITES Initiative - Three Star Certification. The NREL campus is now an iconic, memorable and sustainable setting for the revitalized United States Department of Energy program to research, develop and bring to market new technologies in renewable energy, a key U.S. policy goal.

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I URBANISATION

Re-thinking landscapes By Misha Mittal

nature, and vice-versa or rather their interdependencies, can largely impact the planning structure of a city by altering their supply-demand patterns. This is the era of increasing urbanization and in-hand technology. The challenge in such a scenario is to manage the landscapes, which are a product of several cultural and historical overlaps in that region. We need to make sure that our rationalistic, optimistic and deductive quantitative approach doesn’t lose the essence of the landscapes. Regional holistic synthesis of landscapes should be retained. The Barton chart of health map (Figure-2) places people at

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City planning and landscape dates back to the 19th century’s reformist ideology; which was based on the optimism and faith, that the improvement of social and environmental conditions can be achieved concurrently, through technology. This optimism led to the well-known movement of Garden City in 1898, followed by the development of the compact, lower density, energy efficient urban zones, later in the twentieth century. So, if the need for technology led to such a powerful movement, then why do we need to rethink landscapes? The answer to this question can be broken down into four main points: • Past and present context of the reforms and movements.  • Understanding the issues faced by industry  in their successful delivery of landscapes. • Identifying the tools required for their planning and management. • Identifying the opportunities that can lead to a sustainable future. We need to be very concerned about how the landscapes evolved, because that is also the abstract story of our evolution. Renowned Yale professor, Ellsworth Huntington said that the “impossibility of distinguishing between the work of man and that of nature, because human modes of expression are so variable and the adjacent regions are so diverse” and it is indeed difficult to understand the difference. But, this gives us an opportunity to realize the changes that might happen in the absence of such an understanding. Reflecting on the early stages of the Middle East, the damper conditions would have made it easier to extend cultivation to drier parts of the Middle East region without any need for pastoral nomadism. However, ideally there can be two reasons why cultivation retreated and it went beyond its domain. Firstly, the drought conditions could have forced the people to move out, with some seeking security in the towns and the others becoming pastoral nomads. Secondly, shift in precipitation levels could have been a constraint to hold people from staying. (Refer Figure-1) Such interactions, between human and

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Figure-2: The Health Map

Source Barton & Grant, Shaping Neighbourhoods, 2006

the center, at the same time setting them within a wider ecosystem with a configuration of different complex variables. The management of these variables in a landscape drives the stability of the city as whole. The fragmented planning of landscapes creates a complex system for their effective management. Any deficiency in this chain can lead to destruction or creation of these habitat patches over time. The current models of landscape are effectively intertwined around these principles, but on micro-levels. However, there is a dire necessity for these micro-level projects to be connected at a local, regional, and national level in order to avoid a negative environmental impact in the long-run. On a theoretical level, there can be several constraints that prevent us from doing so.

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Figure-1


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Figure-3: Conditions for Group-Think One of the reasons for this can be ‘Groupthink’. (Figure-3) It means an opinion which is predetermined by maintaining group cohesiveness and solidarity, but in the absence of realistic facts. Landscaping is a natural yet creative process, however, the need for its management arises when the choice of necessity doesn’t overlap. The antecedent conditions can be high level of group cohesiveness, insulation from external input, leadership, lack of clear decision, composition of group or external threat. The combination of these conditions can create a dialogue of information which is restricted in its nature and lacks critical reflection. In order to create the landscapes which are dependent on society and behavioral needs, it is important to develop a vision which stands on the expertise of external participants, brainstormed with the aspiration of the community and avoids prejudice. This can overcome the hierarchical gap which is found in the planning of landscapes. To me there is no hierarchy in landscapes, there are just different landscapes for different people and at the city level, they should tell a story of their interlinkage with others. Sustainability fundamentally changes, the way industry thinks. The best way to find out, what people want to use or what makes them happy, is to ask them. The only way to deliver a succinct plan is by embracing the diversity of people who use it. This ideology of ‘landscapes for the people’ forms a part of larger ecosystem. Rather than defining the management of ecosystems, the landscapes on a regional level must focus more broadly on sustainable systems management, through a collaborative and partnership process.

inductive complex models, which have very different aims. This highlights the evolution of the public land management roles and core beliefs. The isolation of information and practices can change the agencies direction, goals and response patterns and moreover, they can change the vision of the city in the long-term. An effective way to manage groupthink process is by using the available tools and management techniques (Figure-5) from

Figure-4: Comparison of machine and organic models Source: Kennedy, J.J., Dombeck, M.P. and Koch, N.E., Food & Agricultural Organizations of the United Nations, Online

This table from JJ Kennedy’s report for US Forest service(Figure-4) demonstrates how the paradigm shift from the logging services/ machine model to the organic-participatory model of forest ecosystem management, changed the nature of the process and deliverables completely. The machine model has the perspective of world as a simple independent system, whereas, the organic model had a high regard for the other existing systems and their integration as well. This shift in perspective, changes the analysis and management patterns from linear-deductive efficiency-optimization models to multi-faceted

Figure-5: MANAGEMENT TOOLS the conception of a landscape as a project, assisted by technology. The incorporation of these tools and practices, does not only affect the socio-cultural, but also the natural and cultivated capital of a society and its well-being. These tools help the professionals from different fields in the functional analysis at local and regional levels. They identify the conflict in facilitating the process of functional analysis and determine the functional valuation of an area. This can eventually assist in developing an economic plan of action for the governing authorities. For example, the program developed

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I URBANISATION by Nadhi Information Technologies (Figure-6) serves as a tool which is prestructured as per the project requirement and also acts a framework for decision making and planning. It highlights the multidimensional issues, assists in realtime monitoring thus avoiding any gaps that might arise in the planning and management of a landscape. With this understanding of landscape management, the planning process at the ground level becomes much easier to handle. Currently almost 50% of the world’s population resides in the cities. It is estimated that this number will rise to 70% in the next 15 years and cities will diffuse like population bombs. Thus, it’s important to create a sense of place, create places of character and quality and improve the vocabulary, syntaxes and grammar in planning and management to be able to cater to this population. In order to have a smart landscape plan for a city it is important to consider the eradicated open landscapes not worth caring about, because these act as permeable spaces for people. Since this region has an abundance of natural open landscape, it Figure-6: Project Analysis Summary gives an opportunity to create a crossSource: nPulse, Nadhi Information Technologies, 2016, Online border green-space governance plan of action. Understanding the vocabulary and grammar coming from the open spaces, and through the involvement of different stakeholders, the region can be benefitted by an extended We cannot solve the problems by dragging them apart, but by cost-benefit analysis. These opportunities can lead to better habitat, unifying them. enhanced public involvement and participation, more grant programs For instance, Africa has been largely benefitted by managing their and improvised information ecosystem functions. Making the 700 hectares of degraded land, which was restored for cultivation most out of these available opportunities, will not only have direct and mosaic landscape, thereby, enhancing the productivity by 20% and indirect effects on the climate change, but also on the social and yields by 15-30%. The environmental benefits are evident dynamics that can help to combat the health issues of great concern from Figure-7. today. Basically, the remedy for mutated urbanism is ‘nature’.

Figure-7: AFRICA

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I URBANISATION Another example is from China where low vegetative land has been transformed beautifully to steep woodland slopes with improved hydraulic soil properties. (Figure-8)

It is important for a planner to keep in mind the difference in landscape and land-use functions. The functions of landscapes refer to the interdependencies between the landscape characters and the biophysical features of land, whereas, the land-use functions are the independent variables addressing the ‘use’ of specific lands adding value to the society. However both of them are inter-dependent, there still remains a gap in their cohesiveness. The reason being, if one behaves like a software the latter acts as the hardware and both have to be tied together to make the system work efficiently. This chart (Figure-9) for the global agriculture, forestry and green-house gas

Figure-9 Global AFOLU greenhouse gas emissions by sub-sector (2010)

emission clearly indicates the impacts of different landscape functions on the environment. If this continues there will be a backlash resulting in either a start of another development process or in its complete collapse. The sustainability triangle conceptually locates the approach. Landscape functions act as link between the goods and services, and, the social and cultural capital that drives the quality of life. The three spheres of cities: land-use and energy supported by resource efficiency, infrastructure investment and innovation, will deliver landscapes of higher quality, inclusiveness and resilience, for a wider economy and better growth. (Figure-10)

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Figure-8

The landscape is the heart of a city, in a sense that it contains all the necessary information to regulate the life of a city. It is a combination of spaces that are deployed in an integral fashion. As per the European Landscape Convention, it is “an area as perceived by the people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and human factors” and have a sense of belongingness of their regional identity. This region is privileged to have a great leadership and expertise, hence, it is time to ‘Rethink Landscapes’ and deploy the best available expertise, to create highly smart and cohesive regions that can revolutionize the concept of landscape. 

Figure-10 HIGH QUALITY, IINCLUSIVE AND RESILIENT GROWTH=BETTER GROWTH


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I LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

The New Wave in Designing

By: Michael Mascarenhas CEO Desert Group

Every now and then there comes a burst of new ideas that disrupts how things are viewed, presented and offered in the design world. One such unit that is disrupting the old school of landscape design is desert INK. Led by a charismatic individual, and a thinker alike, Duncan Denley and his team are doing just that – disrupting and bringing change. Based in the burgeoning Dubai Design District, desert INK has been challenging the norm and has presented a whole new view point in Landscape architecture. Rather than pressing forward with the same approach as the rest of the crowd, desert INK has seen the budget challenges faced in today’s market as a catalyst for change and a reason to do things differently. Key to this whole new way of thinking is being part of the early “project think team”. An early entry to the project allows desert INK to analyse the big picture to see where the real savings can be made. Denley comments “if we’re brought onto the project team towards the end of the design phase, we can only really deliver superficial cost savings through intelligent material choices. Get us involved from day one however, and we’ll really dig into the project brief, and challenge

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Whether designing interiors or exteriors, desert INK bring genuinely different solution to every project by relying upon creativity rather than high budgets


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Inexpensive construction materials and a recycled table tennis table donated by a client found their way into desert INK’s office in D3

the project fundamentals, such as site location and the configuration of the buildings. Essentially we help to ensure that the allocated budget delivers the best value. Landscape architects have such a broad-based training, that we are often good at seeing the big picture, whereas other construction professionals can often tend to focus only upon their specific discipline” Expanding on this point, Denley gives the example of a recent public park design completed by the desert INK team; “we were given a very tight budget on day one, and a site measuring 800 x 60m. Straight away, we did some basic calculations and advised the client that we should focus this budget on a smaller area,  and leave half of the site for future development. We analysed the brief and saw that all of the client’s requirements could be cateredfor within this reduced area.”  desert INK’s decision was well-received by the client, and as a result the park was able to incorporate climbing walls, a treehouse, an outdoor gym and a skate park. Without desert INK’s involvement, the park’s budget would have been spread so thin over the larger area that it would be limited to an uninteresting and standard park with grass and a few lonely paths.    Intelligent use of site-found and locally-sourced materials is another forte of the team at desert INK. When asked to explain this formula Duncan is keen to emphasise that each project is different; “It’s not the same approach to each project. We walk the site, get a feel for it, note down what its assets are, and then start to dreamup ways to get the best value from them. I think this is where we really differ from our peers; we don’t view our project sites as featureless blank canvasses, ready to receive an imported idea.” Explaining

this principle by way of examples, Denley goes on to describe two particular projects which demonstrate this approach. “At Akoya Oxygen, we noted that there were three key assets; being a desert site, there was an abundance of sand, there was also a lot of loose stone excavated from the site and there were sporadic clumps of mature trees on raised hillocks. We therefore used the sand to create vegetated mounds at either side of the road. They were formed in places using gabion baskets filled with the site-found stone to focus visitor’s views upon views of the mature tree hillocks. This approach was simple but actually delivered the green appearance required by the client without having to treat vast areas of desert with planting.” On a recent canal-side park project, the team discovered 1500 huge concrete keystones measuring up to 3m in length. Denley explains “Finding the keystones was a real jackpot for us. They were stacked 2 or 3 high in long rows semi-burried into the sand. We could sense straight away that these huge blocks could be used for a whole manner of different features and had terrific potential. It was nice and shady between the rows of highly stacked keystones and it reminded us of the narrow ravines in the local wadis. It turns out that they were left over from a shelved plan to extend part of the creek, and the client was actually looking for a way to dispose of them.” The team went on to design an innovative park which utilised the keystones for many different features from artwork to a climbing wall ravine and an outdoor gym.   Clients are surprised at what landscape designers of the caliber of desert INK can do in terms of driving project costs down and yet

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I LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

desert INK designed their office in D3 to incorporate elements of landscape and recycled materials providing a significant positive impact in terms of a value proposition. Combining a deep financial sense in all that they do, desert INK are able to contribute significantly to reducing project budgets by offering smart new solutions which are inherently sustainable. That’s different from the existing norm.  So what’s the norm?  Many a time developers appoint a project landscape architect as the last member to the team, brought in as a last thought to “make a difference” to the project. Often viewed as a luxury, the landscape architect and his construction budget is frequently the first to be sacrificed when costs become an issue. With desert INK a whole new thinking has emerged. Duncan says “all our clients want us early on in the project. That’s where we deliver the real savings” Clearly a change! “Typically, the cost savings we make are also the very things that deliver the unique talking point in the designs we provide; like our keystones used in the park”. “We like working with open-minded clients who permit us to bring in new thinking around their projects that create instant value”. “Further” says Duncan “its about life cycle costs as we look beyond

just the construction and hand over phase”. He does have a point. With TSE water supplies becoming strained, there will inevitably be a reduction in supply and increase in price of irrigation water in coming years. “We should design for this eventuality now” he says. The team is clearly thinking ahead! Known for their amazing designs, desert INK is based in the Dubai Design District and works with some of the leading developers in the region offering a range of design services. Their portfolio of clients include individuals and organisations that want a new thinking around designing. Desert INK is led by Managing Director Duncan Denley. Michael Mascarenhas is the Group CEO. These imposing keystones found stacked at site by desert INK will find a new life as climbing features and retaining walls within their scheme

desert INK employed mounding and gabion baskets filled with local stone to enclose visitors within a green vista at Akoya Oxygen by DAMAC

Huge concrete keystones found by desert INK at this future park site became one of the unique features of the design

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I green spaces

Green Stewarts

A seafront retreat in Azerbaijan Landscape Architects are responsible not only for designing and developing private and public green spaces, but they also are responsible for ensuring that these spaces remain intact and functional for future generations. Landscape architects act as a sort of “green steward” for those future generations, preserving green spaces, making them functional and enjoyable for all to use and enjoy.

By: Mauro Melis – Landscape Architect No two sites are ever the same; they all have a unique location where the challenges presented are unique. The location of the site is everchanging from project to project, bringing with it new weather and climate conditions to be explored and adjusted to when selecting plant materials. The location of the site also brings with it the local intricacies of the area, including the history of the area and the local ecology. These must all be brought into account along with the normal site conditions assessment that is conducted when first reviewing a site prior to embarking on a design.

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In this project, which was completed for a private citizen in the Republic of Azerbaijan, the focus was to blend the seaside with the land. Using strong geometric curves and various foliage textures, replicating the Caspian Sea as it touches the land was successfully achieved. By creating a space next to the water’s edge, it encourages visitors to get up close to the water and enjoy its natural beauty during the warmer seasons. The Republic of Azerbaijan is located in the former Soviet Republic, with Armenia at its border to the north and east and Iran


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at its border to the South and West. Azerbaijan sits on the Caspian Sea. The temperature in Azerbaijan varies from a low of -33 Celsius to a high of +46 Celsius, as such great care must be taken to select the right plant material to survive these extremes. Annual rainfall values fall between 200mm and 1800mm per annum. In additional to a large number of mammal and bird species in the country, there

are over 4500 species of plants currently growing in Azerbaijan. This wide variety of plant life is due to the very unique climate conditions throughout the country, allowing a wide variety of flora to thrive. The goal for the waterfront site, which was home to a beach and a boat mooring area, was to capture the essence of the sea into the overall layout of the site. This is inspired by the way the waves crash

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I green spaces

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upon the sand and the rise and fall of the sea against the sandy beach. The design boasts organic forms throughout, which are representative of the seas movement throughout space. The beach area has a promenade for seating and lounging carved into it to allow visitors to be part of the beach area and look out upon either the sea or the garden area beyond. The first connection of the land and the sea the visitor will see is the connection of the “waves” of the sea captured in the landscape design through its curvilinear walkways that wind through the space. The landscape architect has used these walkways to not only connect the visitor to the various parts of the space; the beach area, the seating areas, the gardens, allowing them to move from the start of the garden to the water’s edge but also to recreate the patterns of the ocean into the design. The materials selected for the walkway have been selected for their shape and texture, which mimic the undulating patterns of the sea. The varying colours of the hard surfaces reflect the varying colours of the sea, the rise and fall of the surf crashing into the beach. Another connection (from the sea to land) is displayed through the use of plant materials. The small berm plantings throughout the

space are planted with grass and brightly coloured plants that will move with the wind as it comes off the sea. As the wind passes over these gardens the resulting appearance will replicate the waves in the sea, making the visitor feel as though they are part of the action. A small shelter was erected, central to the design, as a place for visitors to sit and relax and take in the views. This shelter was built in the shape of a seashell with two large palm trees incorporated into the footprint. The palm trees help to provide shade on a hot summer’s day to visitors enjoying this space, but also play on the soft lines of the design. The shelter’s walls are not solid, but rather open, in a lattice style, allowing the wind to blow through the space bringing the smells of the sea into the space and allowing the visitor a 360 degree view of the area around them. We chose Palms, Ornamental Grasses and Flowering Shrubs for this project based on the sites dramatic conditions. It was important to select plants that will thrive near the sea, where the water has a high salt content and the spray from the waves can cause burn on plants that are not salt tolerant, but also the plants must be able to survive the varying temperature changes that are common in Azerbaijan.

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I hotel

Antumalal Hotel

A building in love with the landscape for 65 years The 65-year-old hotel “El Antumalal” (The Antumalal) is perched on the stunning lake Villarrica outside the city of Pucón in Chile. In the local native language, Antumalal means Corral of the Sun, a name that was chosen to honor the fantastic sunsets that guest can soak up from the rocky site at the foot of Lake Villarrica, which has an active volcano as a backdrop.

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The hotel is considered an architectural gem due to the way it blends in with the natural surroundings of the serene landscape. Built in 1950, the building rests on a steep volcanic terrain covered with beech and coihue forests that meet with the blue waters of the lake, at the bottom. Made with volcanic rock and large glass panels, silent and unperturbed, extending and growing out into the landscape, with no desire of domination or denial, this is how the project was thought out and how it still looks, almost as a cherished secret art piece. The history of the hotel is one of vision and intellect, carried out by two immigrants –Guillermo and Catalina Pollak– husband and wife, hailing from the Czech Republic to Chile (Czechoslovakia at the time they moved), and a young talented Chilean architect –Jorge Elton– whose paths crossed as when the first impact of the modern movement and the Bauhaus resonated in South America.

A7 by Jimena Martignoni

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I hotel

After losing a mountain refuge as a consequence of an eruption of the Villarrica Volcano, Guillermo Pollak started the hotel project. He got a loan from CORFO (Corporación de Fomento de Producción, or Corporation of Production Fostering) and hired the young architect Jorge Elton. The construction process took two years, with the guest rooms being the first to be built and the swimming pool and spa added later. From Prague to Pucón Today, many hotel projects are worthy of being exhibited as distinctive and valuable works of architecture, either because of a flexible design, an innovative design or state of the art constructive techniques. What makes Antumalal Hotel all the more remarkable is the fact that it was originally built between 1945 and 1952, it was the result of extrapolating revolutionary design concepts from a faraway land in an almost immediate way, or in “real-time”. They didn’t have the communication tools and devices we rely on today yet this extrapolation was possible but, really, it was the outlandish dreams and knowledge brought by some of the many immigrants who in the 1930s left Europe to reach the distant American territory. The Pollaks sets parallels between the city of Prague and the town of Pucón: the Alpine landscape and the Andean landscape, the Bauhaus in Europe and its implementation in South America, and even the local cuisine brought from one region to the other. As for architect Jorge Elton, he delivered a great vision and talent for the realization of the enterprise he was called into. Renowned architect Federico Elton, son of Jorge, said: “The project for the hotel started with the search for an architect that knew how to stand in front of the water and of nature, without imposing the architecture but integrating it with them…So the Antumalal, a large bird of strong colors, a large horizontal platform, was leaned on the existing trees barely touching them.”

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I hotel

The building is shaped as an L with the rooms facing north and the public areas directly related with the rocky slopes, benefiting from superb views over the lake. Visitors enter the hotel through a beautiful pathway lined with native flowers and large trees— all respectful of the surrounding landscape; the low glazed volume that houses the guest rooms is the first one to come into view, extending along the same direction as the path. Later, ending the last section of the pathway appears the building’s main body. Here, a restaurant that offers local and international dishes provides spectacular vistas: a large wooden terrace semi-roofed with a cane pergola opening up to nature.

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Inside the main lobby and living areas, the furniture is also shaped by the lines of modernism; also designed by Elton, these pieces strengthen the industrial and art and crafts spirit vibrating at every corner in the hotel. The largest volume, which overlooks the green cliffs, emerges as an overhanging piece partly floating above the natural plane descending towards the lake. The main concrete slab is painted in red and the vertical planes alternate glass and local stone; this dark volcanic rock is the same one that, in crushed pieces, covers the blackish beaches of Pucón. Outside, the gardens and the natural lake and mountains become essential. Some of the paths, marked with flowers beds, look formal and neat: those going down the spa and the relaxing facilities; others, going down to the beach and a rustic pier, are natural trails framed by dense clusters of native trees and shrubs. These trails are a constant reminder of how the site looked in the past. In the beginning, when starting the construction process and site cleaning, all native plants were conserved and several new ones were planted over time. long the way cascades interrupt the paths, sometimes only because of the musical murmur of the water falling. These make part of a water reutilization system. lso, the hotel has its own water supply system, based on the canalization of the runoff from snowmelt and a filtering process before it reaches the building. This same kind of sustainable approach is put into practice by implementing on-site composting and waste management methods. In 2010, Rony Pollak –daughter of Guillermo and Catalina and who runs the hotel since 1985 –decided to add a winter vegetable garden to grow the annual flowers for the park and organic food to provide the hotel’s

kitchen. The glass structure, located at the edge of the canal, is full of fresh lettuces, parsley, watercress, coriander, arugula and other edibles. Surrounding this area, hundreds of flowers appear as the clearest sign of the new garden’s success. Apart from this structure, no other construction has ever been added to the hotel’s compound (which also includes some isolated “chalets” for guests coming in groups), and the preservation of the original architecture and landscape remains as the main objective of the owners. The Antumalal project was modeled in a very different time, 65 years ago, and it is still incorporating ground-breaking methods. It wouldn’t be too much to say that, for a fantastic rocky environment, this is definitely a “rockstar” project.

Location: Pucón, Chile Date of Completion: originally 1950;

last addition 2010

Area of the Site: 5 hectares Architect: Jorge Elton Landscape Designer: Rony Pollak Photography: Antumalal Hotel and Jimena Martignoni

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Landscape Magazine July 2016  
Landscape Magazine July 2016  
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