P O R T F O L I O
ACADEMIC PORTFOLIO by David Rohr
Introduction through drawing As freshmen, our very first task was to measure and draw. Our tutor took us to 4 open spaces with nothing more than paper and pencils. These places were located in an urban context but all had a completely different way of dealing with the surrounding. Having a background in landscape construction works, I thought it was a rather plane first exercise, but I was mistaken. Measuring the place in footsteps was time consuming but it is this specific time spent in those places that allowed me to slowly feel the genuis loci, the spirit of the place. This would turn out to be a first step to change my perception and my relationship to the open realm. HUNTER SQUARE : L-shaped plaza wrapped around a 17th century church, positioned on the royal mile, Edinburgh’s main historic artery. Its touristic character, the various pubs of it’s surrounding and its key position at an important junction keep this place busy at any time. Trying to measure things with steps got me a couple of funny looks.
D U N B A R ' S
C L O S E 14
D Y N A M I C
H E A R T H
IMPL E ME NTATI ON
Fitting sculptures in a former estate It was a sunny afternoon when we visited the park of Cammo estate. We had to take the bus from the city center to the outskirts of Edinburgh. We could not quite remember where exactly we had to stop and asked the driver for directions. These details may seem irrelevant, but I am convinced that the journey is part of the experience of a place. The brief consisted into picking a sculptor and fitting his work in a semi agricultural context. The entrance of the park opens into the suburb and the site shares 2 edges
with fields. Walking through the park, I was struck by its unexpected rustic beauty, and by itâ€™s lack in human presence. These where the premises of what was going to be my project. I wanted to contrast with the feeling of emptiness and contemplation of this place, therefor I based my work on the relationship between the body and the space surrounding it. I chose the creations of Anthony Gormley. His sculptural work on the human figure in the landscape is an ongoing source of inspiration to me and succeed to express what words struggle too.
Another way to represent a place A lot of our work in first year was based on observation and experimenting with visual ways to represent them. The serial vision project consisted in using the technique described by Gordon Cullen in The Concise Landscape, in which a space is represented by a series of perspective drawings placed along a defined route. My group was composed of Anna, Chris,
Jonathan and me. We wandered a bit around town, map in hand, trying to figure out an appropriate path long enough to provide a series of 60 pictures. Afterwards, we would just print and trace them in the studio. Thanks to this exercise, my perception of urban spaces shifted a little more: I realized that there are many ways to represent space and therefor that space is rather a concept than a tangible reality.
IMPL E ME NTATI ON
From implanting to designing We already altered an outside space with someone elseâ€™s work, it was now time to create our own structures. We went on a tour around Edinburgh and visited a couple of medium sized sites from the the cost line to the suburbans.
Back at the college, we were to pick one place to design a built feature small enough to allow us to push the design to the detailing stage. I chose Blackford Hill because its vegetation and waters felt like an urban oasis which turned out to be more of a green island: When I climbed up its steep slopes I discovered that the site was bigger than the eye could see at first sight.
Arriving on top of the hill, I finally turned around and was rewarded by a 360Â° view of the town, the sea, and the Highland foothills. It was the most nature I had felt in Scotland since I arrived and that would reflect in my work.
S T R U C T U R E 29
Just a timber frame The top of the hill offered these amazing views in all directions but was exposed to quite strong winds, rendering the whole experience not as appreciable as it could be. My idea was simple enough: letâ€™s build a couple of sheltered benches up there so that people donâ€™t feel the need to go back down after 10 minutes. Considering the natural feel of the place, I decided to work as much as possible with natural materials, and designed this timber frame out of oak. Now it does not seem to protect much from the wind and looks like a bit of a tripping hazard, but this is only the frame supporting the main material, and is supposed to be just a temporary built...
DIMENSIONS & GROWTH
A self- constructing structure The frame is actually just a support for vegetation which is meant to be planted in between the timber planks which act as both surface an support. The costs of this design would be ongoing hence it would neede biannual tree care to get them to the desired shape. This cost was to be balanced out in some proportion by the fact that when the trees gradually grow into their position, the planks are to be removed to avoid phloem vessels compression and strangling. When the whole structure has been taken apart, the cycle can start again some place else, to take advantage of one of the siteâ€™s many views.
A R T
G A L L E R Y
First contact with earthworks The Notthingham art gallery project was the first one without site visiting. The whole design process was realized remotely. Having been told since day one that good practice is designing from the outside in, I felt a bit destabilized by the inability of making physical contact with that outside we were suppose to design from. It seems now that being able to adapt is a landscape architectâ€™s key quality. In parallel to this project, I was following a course on contours and the mathematical exercise of cutting and filling. I used this knowledge to create a design with underground parking, and used that same soil to elevate the building at the adjacent woodlandâ€™s canopy top. This provides the art gallery with whole day natural lighting, and allows underground levels to be built without any need of digging. The costs of the retaining walls supporting the massive earth works would be partially compensated by the fact that the design has virtually exactly as much cut than fill, and by the considerable benefits of having a car-free park designed as the galleryâ€™s outside extension.
G R O W I N G
D E T A I L S
Q U A T E R M I L E
P L A Z A
More than residual space The Quatermile development project is one of Foster and Partners architectsâ€™s numerous award winning development, and is conveniently located 5 minutes away from our campus. Designing in an enclosed yet well connected space was something new and a form of introduction to high profile plaza creation. The eminently strong architecture forming the four edges of the site had to be addressed
with special attention and the small size of the site made it prone to quick cluttering. The glass omnipresence made this place quite cold and the relatively narrow accesses rendered it almost private-like. My concept was to try to attract people into the plaza with circular shapes and vegetation in contrast with rectangles of glass, while trying to harmonize the design by anchoring buildingâ€™s lines and corners in the ground through change in materials.
I N G L O P
K I R K N E W T O W N
How housing can structure open space This time we went on a completely rural site for a project in housing development. The site was over 10 miles away from the city center and located on what used to be agricultural infrastructure. The strip shaped field was about 3 hectares big, and the brief asked to fit in 50 units. With a density as low as 16.6 units/ha, the main question seemed to be how do I make this relatively vast open space lost in the fields, as welcoming and attractive as possible? Private gardens Front gardens Public spaces Courtyards Houses Existing contours Proposed contours
Public, semi-public and private But this is not quite how this projected started. We first went on a sort of housing development tour and tried not to be too loud doing so because believe it or not, residents may not appreciate a bus of students walking around their houses, camera in hand. I found myself quite interested in the Boâ€™ness - phase 2 and the
Princess garden developments, because they got me thinking about the feel of privateness of a place in contrast with itâ€™s actual status , and the idea of a grey area in between public and private. In matter of houses, I have always liked the ancient roman style with its patio acting as a secured open space in the middle of the building, and the feeling of security seems like a key value in housing strategies. I replicated that square shape in a fractal fashion
in this design: The house rows surround 2 main open spaces. On the right hand side plan, the upper, longer square is allocated to playgrounds both for younger and older children, whereas the bottom, smaller one is more of a terraced quiet place. On a smaller scale the houseâ€™s lay out is an alternation of fenced private gardens and semi-public courtyards offering parking spaces and hopefully, less of the anonymous feel you get in too repetitive housing schemes.
HOUSING D E V E L O P M E N T
SECTIONS & CONTOURS
B E T W E E N
F O R T H S Changing focus The last project I would like to write about, is the Stirlingshire one. It practically consisted in a day trip around the county and a quite open brief asking to take into account both the current state of the landscape and it’s potential for change. In doing so we where to take a position on what we felt was the right choice for the future. That would allow us to develop a strategy proposal on a large scale. This map shows Glasgow’s Clyde forth to the west and Edinburgh’s Firth of forth to the east. In other words, this is the place where we could expect one day to see the development of Scotland’s main Metropolis. I worked together with Monika on the idea of revealing where the best places for tomorrow’s development might be and how to take full advantage of what lies in the landscape. To add a little more edge to our project, we wanted to create a new status for developments to come: something in between the hard-to-get national park title and your common large scale development strategy, taking advantages of both.
â—„ This conceptual drawing
of the current state of the resources and developments represents the central position of the topographic prominence and the resources wrapped around it.
â—„ This is what our strategy aims to achieve: Interconnection and symbiotic activities in a place fit to create an example of long-term and large-scale sustainable planning project.
S T R A T E G Y
M O D E L
From digital to real To help us building a mental map of such a massive â€œsiteâ€?, we decided to build a model composed of layers representing the density and connectivity of a specific characteristic of the landscape. We decided to group them under 5 families: Agricultural, Woodland, Hydrology, Urban settlements and Recreational poles. For each of these group a abstract map would be drawn to help focusing on one strategic part of the landscape at a time. By doing so I mapped existing features with full circles and paths and potential development sites with outlined ones. The model was designed as both a conceptual representation and an analytical tool hence the layers where loose and anyone was free to stack them together in whichever order chosen, allowing to view and work out specific places and developments.
M I S C E L L A N E O U S
C O P P E R
W I R E S
M O D E L S
A B S T R A C T I O N S
E A R L Y DRAWINGS
L A S E R C U T I
L A S E R C U T II
Work collected during my BA(Hons) MSc at the Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland.
My BA's work collection