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The World of Landscape Architecture 20 Years of Topos









Cover: The Wadden Works Project, Afsluitdijk, The Netherlands Design: Consortium DHV, Imares, Hosper Plan: Hosper


The “Autonomous City” by Fadi Masoud, Daniel

J ane A midon

Topos j ubilee Award 2 0 1 2

Ibañez, Drew Adams and Rodrigo Rubio is established

16 Two Shifts and Four Threads

in response to the physiology, hydrology and ecology

Economic and ecologic challenges for

Robert Sch ä fer

of its context, and imagines enclaves of self-reliance

landscape architecture and urbanism

72 Topos Jubilee Awards for Abalimi Bezekhaya, Cape Town, South Africa, and the National Tourist Routes, Norway

and resilience.

Fadi Masoud, Daniel Ibañez, Drew Adams, Rodrigo Rubio

Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter


An observation platform by Reiulf Ramstad

J u tta kehrer

25 Smart – Stylish – Sensual Contemporary Asian landscape design

R eiulf R amstad

74 Notes on Architecture and Landscape

Thorbjö rn andersson

32 Landscape Architecture in Transit

Referring to the landscape’s character: the viewpoint Trollstigplatået at the Norwegian Tourist Route Geiranger

– Trollstigen

20 years of Topos: six tendencies in landscape

Arkitekter provides majestic views along the Nor­

architecture in the past 20 years

Rob Small

81 Grassroots Urban Farming Initiative

wegian National Tourist Route Geiranger – Trollstigen.

No ë l van D ooren

43 Speaking about Drawing

The project Abalimi Bezekhaya (Farmers of Home) at Cape Town, South Africa

An exploration of representation in recent landscape architecture

Topos Landscape Award 2 0 1 2

R egine K eller

55 Democratic Green

85 Portrait of the Award Winners Taktyk

The design principles of the German landscape

Operative tactics between site and strategy, process and

architect Günther Grzimek and his influence on

implementation based on frameworks and toolboxes

contemporary landscape architecture


Bernard Tschumi’s Parc de la Villette in Paris, France, introduced a program that pionee­

Designing across many lands and cultures

Currents 6 News, Projects 107 Reflection

outskirts of Cape Town in South Africa helps to

110 Bibliography/Authors

empower local communities.

66 Topographical Architecture


red the reinvention of the park as an urban commodity.


Neil P orter

61 Past, Present, Future

A grassroots urban farming initiative on the C arme F iol- C osta

Design emerging from genius loci –

111 Credits/Imprint

Jutta Kehrer

examples from Spain


The Media Art Fountain by CTOPOS at West

Seoul Lake Park, South Korea, presents a playful Taktyk

interactive intervention of contemporary garden art,

Robert Schäfer

uniting smart technologies with park relaxation.



Topos Landscape Award 2012 winners Taktyk

reflect on their work and the use of collage as a creative technique and design tool.


At Governors Island, the landscape architects at West 8 reuse material from demolished parking lots and buildings to introduce rolling, pervious landforms on the park’s southern tip.


­ overnors Island, both under development in New York City. These G sustainably designed landscapes use performative hydrology as an ­underlay for activated ground planes that in turn are inhabited by ­diverse recreation and leisure program. Long after initial design development – deep into promoting a public image – both projects go to lengths to construct and project arguments for a new kind of public park that simultaneously engages human and environmental infrastructures. For example, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 is an urban runoff collection system that lowers rates of combined sewage overflow ­into the East River. Its “robust new site topography” also provides “an ideal prospect for enjoying the breathtaking panorama of the Manhattan skyline and the New York Harbor:” one part public utility, one part tourist brochure. Similarly Governors Island seeks to promote a “carefree” atmosphere of island oasis, reusing material from demolished parking lots and buildings to introduce rolling, pervious landforms on the park’s southern tip. A Disneyesque array of entertainments occupy environmentally pro-active meadows, plantings and the water’s edge. Wisely both these projects realize parks must today compete for consumer attention – and state, tax payer and private support – at the same time they mitigate the environmental impacts of development. Moving forward in the era of sustainability, landscape will continue to emerge as an engine for economic, ecologic and social vitalization. Clientand consumer-driven priorities such as efficiency, affordability, multifunctionality and resiliency will be balanced within the design and planning of meaningful places. Landscape and urbanism will serve as a laboratory for applied models of economic and ecologic change in an energetic return to their deep, tangled roots in the fusion of art, environmental ­infrastructure and social staging.

Jutta Kehrer

Smart – Stylish – Sensual A new generation of Asian landscape practices are reconciling tradition with innovation, embracing smart technology and sustainability research.


At the new Central Government Building in downtown Tokyo three artworks

MHCP, Medical Herbman Café Project, is a program based upon the self-sus­

by EARTHSCAPE, the Chronological Steps (previous page), the Earth Thermo­

tainable “Herbman” – a person-shaped herb garden and traveler resembling a

meter and the Memory Chair, work to poetically enrich the public realm.

sculptural herb dictionary to be “read” by visitors to the project.

Asia, the cradle of ancient high culture courtesy of century old art and craft and building techniques has re-emerged in the last quarter century due to early adoption of smart technologies and visionary policies resulting in the region being characterized as the poster boy for global economic growth and development. Change is so rapid in Asia it presents a challenge for landscape professionals to resolve; having to reconcile staggering economic growth with ancient belief systems, environmental responsibility and above all design integrity. Most landscape specialists would argue correctly that there is no single panacea to reconciling tradition with innovation, with environmental protection to economic growth as each country in the region possesses a distinct history and current milieu. Nevertheless a new generation of Asian landscape design practices including EARTH­ SCAPE, CTOPOS and T.R.O.P. are confronting this challenge. Embracing smart technologies and sustainability research combined with a profound sense of craftsmanship and materiality provide an elegant visionary lightness to their respective design solutions.


ARTHSCAPE is a Tokyo based design studio, founded by Eiki Danzuka in 1999. Their work spans landscape design to landscape art, interior and exhibition design. Their projects are characterized by a strong sense of detailing and materiality as seen in ­exquisite engraved stone works, a signature of their design language. In their projects the ­designers address and transform the unique spirit of the site as much as they create a platform for urban discovery. The recently realized R7 art project is a fine example of EARTHSCAPE’s work and design philosophy. At the new Central Government Building in downtown Tokyo the designers ­poetically enriched the public realm with three


artworks, taking sun and shade as a medium to reflect upon memory and change. Significantly, the personal experience prevails as one arrives at the plaza to encounter the Chronological Steps. The stairs are composed of black polished-finished risers engraved with sequences of Japan’s cultural and scientific accomplishments to date. Standing below the stairs, the risers turn into a canvas for the visitors’ eye, uniting the flight of stairs into a single chronological chart of Japan’s cultural history. Depending on the time of day, the surrounding cityscape is reflected upon the polished surface of the Chronological Steps, revealing an ever-changing portrait of the city in which history and modernity ­intersects under the choreography of the sun. At the plaza, the Earth Thermometer awaits the visitor. Constructed from minimalist cubes of different shades of grey, the Earth Thermo­ meter is a bench as much as a symbol of the sun’s energy and heat, depicting the effect of global warming in a simple scale bar of reflexivity and absorption. The Memory Chair is the last intervention of the three. The new development of the Central Government Building ­replaced the old Ministry of Education Building. In remembrance of the original site EARTHSCAPE engraved onto the future Memory Chair the shadow of the buildings and plants from July 11th, 2003, 1:47 PM and 15 seconds, the exact time of the original site’s demolition. Today this engraved shadow overlaps with the shadow of the current buildings and plants and brings to mind memories of the location within the flow of time. Memory and presence, physical existence and ephemeral change, the art interventions of EARTHSCAPE create sublime narratives of time and transformation, addressing the senses and experience of visitors as a source of cognitive awareness. Besides project work EARTHSCAPE has initiated the MHCP, Medical Herbman Café


ThorbjĂśrn Andersson

Landscape Architecture in

Transit The attitude to urban space and landscape has undergone a virtual revolution in the last 20 years. Six major tendencies can be derived from this period to assist in navigating the evolution of landscape architecture over the past two decades, from the postindustrial to the supernatural.

With the International Building Exhibition Emscher Park from 1990 to 2000, the attitude towards industrial relicts changed. Their special charm became part of landscape design. Photo: Duisburg-Nord Landscape Park, Germany, 1990 – 2002, Latz + Partner



The beginning of a design always consists in getting to know a place. The project evolves from the place itself, which is not merely a backdrop that limits and hinders the design. Examining the process of design of the various projects that have become successful in establishing a new place, it is possible to discover topographic processes, and to identify meaningful moves in becoming topographical.

All illustrations show projects by Andreu Arriola & Carme Fiol, published in their book “Topographical Architecture. Barcelona 1987 – 2012”, ActarD, Barcelona 2012. Page 66: El Mercadal de Girona. To rehabilitate the lower half of Girona’s mediaeval town, the relationship with the high town at the other side of the river has been strengthened. A north-south grid underlines the bridge connections.

Inventing the site

Carme Fiol-Costa

Topographical Architecture Topographical architecture deals with creating genius loci. In order to achieve this it is necessary to be aware of the position of the place in relation to the surroundings, and to integrate the needs of the users into the broader context.

In the analysis of a place, referring here to the site and the people, the guidelines that determine the design will be uncovered. The first visit to a place is very significant in order to experience its atmosphere with all the senses. Not only the architecture but also other distinguishing features become clear: how it is used, the points, lines and levels that evolve from its uses, traffic, pedestrian routes, open-air events and meeting places. Especially important is noticing what addresses the senses: background noise, sunlight, wind and vegetation. The topography, the layout of streets, the height of the buildings, the density, history and lifestyles of the neighborhoods are observed. After making these observations, it is essential to decide which features will be emphasized in the design and which will be toned down to give the place character. Through the collection of historical information, city maps, photographs, and anecdotal newspaper and literary descriptions, how and why the city of today developed as the result of many different interventions in the course of time is discovered. The project adds one more layer, further turning the wheel of history. The site in the present-day metropolis is a plot always associated with conflict. Therefore the contemporary project has to address difficult problems that the traditional design is unable to solve. In most cases, the process involves a preliminary act of inventing the site. The site is reinvented through rediscovering its underlying identity, by interpreting its presence and its traces.

Plaça del Virrei Amat, Barcelona. The shape of the different terraces establish a fluid itinerary between the two main adjacent zones of the plaza and their dimensions are similar to the surrounding built fabric.

Establishing an overall surface The primary move in the design is to unite the differences of level of the site in order to give continuity to the public space, as the different topographic levels often create barriers and marginal spaces in the city. A marginal cut-off space reconnected with city flows can be transformed into a safe yet dynamic place. The city is a place of relationship and trade – in short, a place of ­human encounter. Urban life takes place mainly in the public realm. Open spaces are seen as outdoor rooms. The notion of the outdoor room



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