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Landshift: mindfulness through noticing in the landscape

A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Design in Landscape Architecture in the Department of Landscape Architecture of the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island

by Samuel K. Basta 2012

Approved by Master’s Examination Committee:

Scheri Fultineer, Interim Department Head, Landscape Architecture, Primary Thesis Advisor

Kaki Martin, Adjunct Professor of Landscape Architecture, Secondary Thesis Advisor

Eric Kramer, Adjunct Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, Secondary Thesis Advisor


Department of Landscape Architecture Copyright Š Samuel K. Basta 2012 All Rights Reserved

Thesis

Samuel K. Basta


For my Mom and Dad whose love, support and generosity have made this all possible. Thank you, I love you.

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Thanks to:

My Advisors - for keeping me on track

A garden should feel like a walk in the woods. -Daniel Urban Kiley

My Friends - for keeping me sane(ish)

and most of all

My Family - for supporting me through the whole process

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table of contents thesis statement abstract

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list of illustrations Figure 1 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................26 Figure 2 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................29 Figure 3 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................34 Figure 4 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................36 Figure 5 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................38

introduction

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Figure 6 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................41 Figure 7 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................43 Figure 8 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................45

glossary

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Figure 9 - ..........................................................................................................................................................................................46 Figure 10 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................47

theoretical precedents simon bell yi-fu tuan elizabeth meyer

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................................................24 existing precedents venustas et utilitas - paolo burgi ................................................26 100 acre park - edward blake, jr. ................................................28 site precedent site analysis synthesis from site

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Figure 11 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................49 Figure 12 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................48 Figure 13 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................49 Figure 14 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................50 Figure 15 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................51 Figure 16 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................51 Figure 17 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................53 Figure 18 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................57 Figure 19 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................60 Figure 20 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................62 Figure 21 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................65 Figure 22 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................67 Figure 23 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................70 Figure 24 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................71 Figure 25 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................71 Figure 26 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................73 Figure 27 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................73

testing site site analysis: brown university existing conditions interventions

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Figure 28 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................73 Figure 29 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................75 Figure 30 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................75 Figure 31 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................75 Figure 32 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................76 Figure 33 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................78

conclusion bibliography

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Figure 34 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................80 Figure 35 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................82 Figure 36 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................85 Figure 37 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................87 Figure 38 - ........................................................................................................................................................................................89


Source: hƩp://seb098.blogspot.com/2011/01/gabriel-orozco.html

abstract thesis statement Source: Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue

Periodic shifts in the landscape encourage noticing which calls the embodied experience to the fore and fosters mindfulness.

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The world we live in is one in which we are constantly on the go, experiencing chaos and stress daily. One place in which we can all (the city dweller, the suburbanite, the rural folk) re-center is in the landscape. This centering comes in the form of mindfulness. Mindfulness comes out of the Buddhist tradition and is used today in clinical psychology. Simply put, it is defined as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis,” (Baer, 125). Mindfulness, however, is something

that is difficult to achieve, especially for those who are not trained in the some of the required tools (such as meditation). The landscape architect possesses the ability and wherewithal to design for mindfulness. Through an understanding of how the user senses and perceives the landscape, the designer can manipulate the experience in such a way that the user is brought to a place of noticing. The variables which the designer can manipulate are many, but this thesis will focus on those that are

experienced through the duality of the mind and body. That is, shifting in one experience (for example: a certain slope or change of slope, bodily) results in a shift in the where the user’s attention lies (mind). It is through this noticing that the user is taken out of the day-to-day hustle and bustle and brought, for a moment, into a place of pause. The pause in turn, allows for mindfulness.

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introduction

the how:

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Sensation and perception are well studied in the field of landscape architecture. Understanding how to affect the reception of stimuli (sensation) and the recognition of said stimuli (perception) is important for knowing how a given user will experience the landscape. However, not all of the things which are sensed or perceived are brought forward into conscious thought. The brain is a remarkable tool which is able to filter certain sensations and perceptions and keep them in the background. Therefore, as a designer, it becomes important to understand how to step through this “stimulus threshold” to get the user to notice in the landscape (J. Jakle, 22). Noticing in the landscape is a moment of pause where the user is mentally present. Since the “stimulus threshold” is a critical barrier to noticing, ascertaining what allows for effective bridging of that threshold

becomes necessary. The more the mind is able to become used to a landscape the more it tends to filter out (Jakle, 18-19). Hence, repetition and lack of diversity causes filtering. The gut reaction of the designer may be to create landscapes which are ever changing and devoid of repetition. This can have the opposite of the desired effect, for if the brain is subject to constantly changing stimulus, it can “wash out” the senses, dulling them and causing less noticing (Jakle, 22). What this tells us is that controlled shifts, used in moderation in the landscape, are most effective at ushering the mind over the stimulus threshold into noticing. The next task is to parse out which senses are most influenced by these shifts and what type and degree of shift snaps the mind into conscious thought.

the why: As stated before, stress and chaos are givens in our daily lives in unhealthy quantities. In a globalized and ever-connected world we seldom have a true moment of pause in the day – even leisure activities and times in which we are “relaxing” we are often just distracting ourselves with things like the television or the internet. These distractions clutter our minds and do not allow us to be present. This stress and mental clutter are all pushed aside by being completely attentive to the moment. Designing landscapes which force the user to notice pulls them into the present and makes them become spatially aware of their environment. At the very instant

in which the user’s attention shifts from the other to the present they achieve mindfulness. Though one such moment may make a person fleetingly mindful, it is not enough to mitigate stress. A series of such moments, at intervals which do not overwhelm and wash out the senses, is critical in prolonging the connection to the present and easing stress. Complete mindfulness is something that takes years of practice and is hard to achieve, but injecting it into day to day life works towards the providing true pause and centering.

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embodied experience – 1) all experience registers in the body, brain, and mind. We know we are having an experience because our sensory organ systems immediately send signals to the brain informing it of every minute change. The brain and the mind interpret the signals in order to organize an appropriate body-wide response. (http://maureenabivinsphd.com/2011/10/24/embodied-experience-defined/) 2) more than just knowledge of something, but a physical understanding of an experience – i.e. playing an instrument takes more than just the knowledge of how, but the muscle memory, appropriate breathing, etc.

glossary

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notice –

attention and observation

mindfulness -

bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis

sensation/perception –

the reception and recognition of stimuli

stimulus threshold –

point at which the conscious mind is stimulated

“wash out” –

constant changing or shifting overloads the senses dulling them, a cognitive filter

mind/body – experience

duality of experiencing the landscape, some sensations (sight, sound) are experienced mentally while some (balance, work, touch) are experienced with the body

balance –

a “body” sensation dictated by factors such as path width (and what the path is situated on top of, how precarious the sense of danger), slope and cross slope

work –

increasing stress on the body or relieving it to get a physiological response (hard breathing, etc.), dictated largely by slope, but can also be affected shifting the horizontal (i.e., making paths longer)

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theoretical precedents

hĆŠp://www.enelpaisdelashadas.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/teardrop_park_piedras.jpg 16

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continuity

recognition = relation

similarity

interval

Simon Bell Through Elements of Visual Design and Landscape: Pattern Perception and Process Simon Bell lays out an extensive list of design principles and guidelines based on a scientific understanding of human perception with a clear focus on the visual. From these bodies of work, the terms continuity, rhythm, similarity, density, texture, interval, orientation, time and color are those terms from which this thesis will borrow from and build upon. These points are central to understanding patterns in the landscape and therefore being able to shift them. At the moment of shift, the user takes notice of something in the landscape that before had just been another piece of the whole. By stepping outside the whole, the user will be better able to understand it, seeing it both as a composed, unified composition of landscape process and human intervention and as the individual components which come together to create the sum. There is a very strong sense of the systemic in Bell’s work that shall be important moving forward in this work. A primary tenant to this thesis is that we experience the environment around us in a dualistic way, with the mind and body. Bell hints at this in his work, using terms which imply a body in space (orientation and interval chief among them) but never directly states it. This is a critical distinction to make and understand moving forward as it is the very embodied experience which will lead us towards mindfulness in the landscape. Lacking clarity in that tenant could cause it to become lost in the thesis process and undermine the results. 18

density texture

orientation

time

color

sensory data based

rhythm hĆŠp://mollysbox.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/3105/ 19


expectations based

binary opposition segment

Yi-Fu Tuan

informative to connected

20 hƩp://www.free-background-wallpaper.com/images/wallpapers/1680x1050/beach/sand-background.jpg

Like Bell, Yi-Fu Tuan also explores the human perception of the landscape in Topophilia. Though, while Bell’s principles are built on the fact that perception is based on sensory data, Tuan’s take is that perception is much more based in culture and learned expectations. Because of our lives as social animals, our perceptions are tinted by our culture. While Tuan delves into individual cultures to make his points, the general view on the perception of humans is that almost all of us have learned to segment our perceptions and these segmentations are mostly binary that is to say, black versus white or warm versus cool colors. These oppositions are critical to this thesis because the provide and alleviate tension. The moment in which tension is created and the moment in which it is resolved are both opportunities to get the user to notice and engage the landscape critically, to become connected. The discussion of human perception of scale is another tool which will be used in the process of this thesis. According to Tuan, human perception has developed so that people will see the tree rather than the leaves or the beach rather than the grains of sand. In exploring and exploiting this sense of proportional scale, if a designer can get you to notice the grains, then he or she has gotten you to notice.

hƩp://fitnesshealthandfood.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/I-love-newburyport-Im-neverleaving-plum-island-beach.jpg

scale

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distillation juxtaposition

hƩp://www.catskillsnyrealestate.com/images/waterfall2.jpg

Elizabeth Meyer

transposition

In the 2008 article “Sustaining Beauty. The Performance of Appearance: A Manifesto”, Elizabeth Meyer defends and promotes the usefulness of beauty (or the visual) in the landscape. Through this manifesto, Meyer makes it clear that aesthetics are critical because people like, desire and care for beautiful. We take note of beauty and we need it to step outside of ourselves and reconnect with the world around us.

“densification of elements, juxtaposition of materials, intentional discontinuities, formal incongruities are deployed to make a park capable of appearing, of being noticed”

22 hƩp://lafoundaƟon.org/research/landscape-performance-series/case-studies/case-study/391/

-manifesto tenant #5: hypernature: the recognition of art

hƩp://www.trazzler.com/trips/keoneloa-bay-in-poipu-hi

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existing precedents

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hĆŠp://leisuregrouptravel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/2010_in-an-lo07991.jpg 25


Venustas et Utilitas Paolo Burgi

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Figure 1 - A live traced plan view of Burgi’s Venustas, with high color contrast to emphasize the manmade quality.

Upon Mechtenberg in Essen, Germany sits Paolo Burgi’s Venustas et Utilitas, a 92 acre working agricultural plot and landscape experiment. The Latin translates to “attractive yet useful”. Looking at the plan drawings done by Burgi, one would be unable to understand the true character of the intervention, but when experienced on site, the effect is remarkable. The project has multiple layers, from linear strips of flowers to planned pathways and mown strips which strike the user as odd, but ultimately leave them unsure and questioning whether the strips winding up and down the hills are in fact the planned routes of a designer or the utilitarian routes of the farmer. In the early stages of the project, when the strips of flowers are defined by clear lines, this concept may not read, but as time passes that the flowers naturally begin to break these clearly defined borders, the viewer is again left to wonder whether there was intent in the plantings or if natural processes had been at work. The moment of questioning is a moment of mindfulness. Being unsure of something causes a person to think about it so that they can understand it and make a decision about how to categorize it or use it. This idea of uncertainty can be very useful moving forward.

hƩp://www.burgi.ch

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hƩp://mandycrandell.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html

100 Acre Park hƩp://insitustudio.squarespace.com/indianapolis-museum-of-art-art/

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Edward Blake, Jr.

Figure 2 - An exploded axonometric plan shows the different layers of circulation. The dark red indicates the paved circulation and the red indicates the unpaved

At the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 100 Acre Park, landscape architect Edward Blake was very concerned with making people notice. He understood deeply the history of the place, how it was formed geologically, how it was disturbed and changed by humans and how natural forces were beginning to act on it again. Both Blake and the artists believed that their job on site was to reveal, through isolated interventions throughout the 100 acres, “the genesis and evolution of this place,” (Placing Nature as Art Park: Genesis of a Landscape’s Architecture, Blake). The goal was accomplished in part by creating a layered system of

pathways through different parts of the site, some larger, primary pathways with direct routes to each art installation and smaller, secondary, unpaved paths seemingly worn into the landscape to provide a different perspective on nature. All of this is occurring in an urban setting, adding another layer of complexity onto the site. As in Burgi’s work, the uncertainty of whether these secondary paths were planned or made through use makes the user conscious of the place and questioning of whether or not they are supposed to use the secondary paths or not. 29


baker’s and west parish meadows + indian ridge

site precedent

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31 Plan from : A.V.I.S. Andover Trails Guide


site analysis

Satellite images courtesy of Google Maps

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town of andover

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Figure 3 - The outline of the Town of Andover, Massachusetts.

Andover, MA 32.1 square mi. settled 1642 incorporated 1642 33,201 residents wikipedia.org

Maps generated in ArcGIS Data from: http://www.mass.gov/mgis/laylist.htm 34

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Figure 4 - A diagram of the water bodies major streams are the darkest blue and the standing bodies of water are the lightest.

Andover is bordered by the Merrimack River to the northwest and bisected by the Shawsheen River. The town draws its water from Haggett’s Pond in the eastern portion of the town, bounded by two major highways. Waterways and bodies provide ample variables which draw a person into the present – be it the sound of water, the flora and fauna that live in and around them or through a windy path next to a meandering river or stream.

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Figure 5 - A plan view of the surďŹ cial geology in the town of Andover, with various glacial landforms.

Andover, like the rest of the northeast United States, was glaciated during the last ice age, leaving many glacial features such as kames, eskers and kettleholes, among others. Also along the Shawsheen River, areas of wetland and lacustrian deposits can be found. This diversity in the landscape can be used to get people to notice by augmenting changes in topography and plant communities.

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Figure 6 - A plan diagram of the aquifers in Andover.

Along the Shawsheen River sit aquifers, which provide well water for some of the residents of the town. These areas must be treated with a delicate touch to keep the aquifers safe and productive for these residents.

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open space

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Figure 7 - A plan diagram of the designated open spaces in Andover

Andover is home to the oldest land conservation network in the U.S. The Andover Village Improvement Society (A.V.I.S.) owns 22 parcels of land totaling near 1,100 acres. The town is already in touch with its natural assets and has a user group primed to notice, interact and care for the landscape.

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protected habitat

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Figure 8 - A plan diagram of the areas of protected habitat - concentrated along the Shawsheen River.

A great deal of wildlife lives along the Shawsheen River corridor. Naturally, these creatures leave behind traces of their existence. By getting people to notice this life and understand its beauty, one goal of this thesis is to build and foster care for the environment, catalyzed by our noticing and understanding it.

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Figure 9 - A plan view of Indian Ridge, West Parish and Baker’s Meadow, with the dashed line denoting the path through the preserves

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Figure 10 - A series of sections. The top section cuts on the ridgeline, showing the changes in the 10 ftpath slope. The three smaller ones show the changing of the path width along the ridge line.

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While walking through a site in Andover, Massachusetts, I recorded, through photography, different elements which made me stop and notice. Inherent in these recordings was a set of clues as to exactly what made me pay attention. Through a series of analytical diagrams, it became clear to me that a few different senses were being stimulated and that these senses could be classified into two categories. 0%

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First, the senses experienced by the mind: sight and sound. These are the senses which do not require a physical connection to the body. The second category is those experienced through the body: touch, balance and “work” (increasing or relieving bodily stress to elicit a physiological response). After further analysis, it was noted that these two subsets of sensation were largely being controlled by two factors on site: changes in the vertical plane 3%

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(elevation, slope) and shifts in the horizontal plane (orientation, path width, ground texture). A parallel feature to both of these factors is context. How might a 5 foot path feel differently in an open meadow as opposed to a steep ridge? What degree of manipulation is required in each of these factors to create a moment of pause? How many ways can they be combined together and what are the outcomes of these combinations?

The site which was the basis for the analysis is part of a larger land conservation system in Andover. The Andover Village Improvement Society (A.V.I.S.) privately owns 22 sites of about 1,100 acres. West Parish Meadow, Indian Ridge Reservation 4 ft and Baker’s Meadow have paths which form a continuous circuit. The three reservations have a total acreage of previous path affects about 110. how wide the current feels Glaciation formed path these places and each of the reservations has its

own history and character. West Parish Meadow, being one of the few meadows remaining in Andover, has grassy knolls and small bird ponds which dominate the view, bounded by woods on three sides. Indian 2 ftrises8out 2 fton the other hand, ft Ridge, of the ground sharply, an esker in the woods. Finally, at Baker’s Meadow sits an artificial pond which was created in order to make habitat for muskrats, so they could be trapped and traded.

The pond was then maintained as bird and beaver habitat (Andover Trails Guide). How do these places begin to enable mindfulness? Is it merely the aesthetically pleasing natural setting? Are there other factors overlaid on site which can be analyzed and begin to form a set of design principles with which one can use at other sites?

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avg. slope: 7%

avg. slope: 10%

avg. slope: 5%

avg. slope: 14%

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Figure 11 - A section stress / work showing observed changes in “work” (bodily) while walking along the ridge.

Figure 1 -

By analyzing different on site conditions at West Parish Meadow, Indian Ridge Reservation and Baker’s Meadow, a set of critical sensations began to emerge: sight, sound, balance, work and touch. Of these, the first two are concerned with the mind and the last three have to do with the body. The above section cuts through the ridge which gives Indian Ridge its name. The slope varies as one walks along the path causing changes in the workload on the body. These changes manifest in harder breathing or a need to rest when the slope becomes steeper or the relief of stress from the body if the slope becomes less steep. This stimulus can be the catalyst for noticing. To the left, a boardwalk through the wetlands undulates and varies in slope and cross slope. These variations draw the user’s focus to the boardwalk and its shifting condition. In the context of the woods, the five foot path feels just wide enough, were as in the image on the right, a desire line path of about the same width seems quite ample.

Figure 12 Diagrammatic example of changes in cross slope along a two boardwalks. 48

Figure 13 - A photograph of a path in a field made through repetitive use. The color contrast has been amplified. 49


Figure 15 - Another photograph examining path width and context.

The very same undulating boardwalk (from above) takes on a very different character when photographed from a higher perspective. The variation in the horizontal plane causes a constant refocusing of the user’s orientation. This re-orientation makes the walkway more interesting and the user take notice of more things around him or her. When a similar five foot path to those on the previous page sits in the context of being on top of the ridge line, it becomes just wide enough, as it was on the boardwalk, as demonstrated through the top two images and the three sections. This sense is experienced through the body.

Figure 14 - The larger diagram shows shifting orientation on a boardwalk and, when taken in tandem with the above right, shows how a path of the same width can appear very different depending on context. 50

Figure 16- Cross sections of the ridge. When read with the photograph at the top of the page, the sections begin to show how narrow an 8’ path can be.

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orientation shift

cross slope shift

synthesis from site

slope shift

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Figure 17 - The Three Principles which were derived from the extended site study. 53


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The fact that the experience of landscape is a dual experience between the mind and the body became clear during the analysis of the site. Changes in the bodily often result in changes in the mind, causing a moment of pause and noticing. It is also clear that the context (specifically what preceded) deeply affects how the body and mind experience the landscape. The above diagram shows the effects of path width on what the user notices. Again, context is clearly an important piece of this - the width of the path the user is coming from, whether or not the path is raised over water. While a 4 ft path may seem narrow on its own, it seems spacious if the user is coming off of a 2ft path. In the top right diagram,

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the cross slope is examined. When walking on a path with a low cross slope (0-2%), the attention of the user is broad, they feel comfortable looking out and getting longer views, rather than looking down at the path. However, once the cross slope becomes slanted enough to perceive the user immediately looks down, now noticing the path instead of the surroundings. When moving from a 5% cross slope to a 3% cross slope, however, the user might feel comfortable looking out rather than down, demonstrating the importance of context. The bottom right diagram explores the idea of the context, two identical paths over varied terrain results in a shift in noticing. The identification of these

shifts is critical, but how they are implemented is just as important. The final diagram (below) demonstrates the idea of a “stimulus threshold� (Jakle, 22). If the shifting is either too constant or too sparse, then the user will cease to pay attention to the changes, which inhibits noticing, pause and mindfulness. Therefore an appropriate interval must be established on site. This interval may depend on the size of the site and the time a given user spends on it.

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east providence courtyards

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Figure 18 - Site analysis diagram indicating the extents of Brown University’s campus, site extents and the sites relationship to the Beyard Ewing Building of the Rhode Island School of Design 57


site analysis:

Brown University

Figure 1 -

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MacMillan Hall Geo. and Env. Science

Kassar House Mathematics

Meiklejohn House Portuguese and Spanish Studies

Sharpe Refectory

Starr Plaza

Figure 19 - A plan view with important Brown University buildings identiďŹ ed and their program

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Watson Institute International Studies

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Figure 20 - Two site analysis drawings. To the left, a drawing showing the threshold conditions. At each red line is a threshold, either from narrow to wide or vice versa. To the right, a compression diagram indicating where the buildings seem very close and sight lines short and where they are far away and the sight lines long. 62

The site for testing the principles of noticing is in Providence, RI on the Brown University campus. It is located between Brook and Thayer Streets (east and west) and George and Charlesfield Streets (north and south). It is a small site consisting of three courtyards linked by narrow paths. If walking directly through the site, it would take 2-3 minutes. Topographically, the site is flat, so to speak, with only 10 feet of change over about 1/10 of a mile. The site has many thresholds and places of compression and release. The previously discussed principles will have to adjust to such site pressures as well as to the smaller scale of the site. These restrictions may only allow for the testing of some of the principles in which case conclusions will be drawn from the experiment and a second test site will be selected. The small scale of the site and the urban context are both important, to my mind, in testing the simplest forms of the principles parsed out earlier, as grand gestures cannot be afforded on such a small site.

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Figure 21 - A plan and series of diagrams examining the current site conditions.

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A series of sections shows the different conditions of compression and release. Many of the sections were taken at the thresholds which switched from compression and short sightlines to release and longer site lines.

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Brown University, like most college campuses, has periods of very heavy pedestrian traffic. A study prepared by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. for Brown’s Master Plan shows that the pedestrian activity near the test site is quite high at times, especially at the intersection of George Street and Thayer Street. The traffic here is so high because of the surrounding buildings - Sharpe Refectory (a dining facility) and MacMillan Hall which is a geosciences building. The intersection does not feed the courtyards. This positions it as a place of importance to the redesigning of the them. The intersection is quite clearly a threshold which is critical in bringing traffic into the system and must be examined in the design process. The students which use the geo-sciences building and the Watson Institute (International Studies) are likely to be thinking about what they just learned in class or about the knowledge on the test which they are going to take. They are the ideal user group on which I want to test my driving principles.

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Figure 22 - A diagram examining the peak pedestrian uses of the intersections around the site.

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interventions

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Through the analysis from above, as well as a study of the door locations, desire lines and circulation patterns existing on site, a design scheme began to take shape. Also, in an urban area like Providence, the grid is often a driving organizer. On site there already exists a grid which can be viewed at different resolutions. There is the larger street grid, the architectural grid and its inverse, the courtyard grid. Working with this context, a six by six foot grid was overlaid on the site. A grid is something easily recognized and seemingly rigid. It serves as a background to the user, it is not something which they notice immediately as they come on site. However, when this grid begins to shift, it is easily noticeable and clear to all. In the southern courtyard, the major grain is from the Watson Institute across the courtyard and to the northeast. For this reason, the movement of the grid is set perpendicular to the circulation pattern. By “sliding” these sections of the grid, a series of openings and ramps are made. The openings serve as planting areas, planted with dense, vertically striking bamboo. These planters cause deflections in the circulation routes. The shifts in the users orientation is a moment which causes noticing and moving the user towards mindfulness. The sliding also results in a series of ramps, with varying slopes, that run across the main circulation direction. These slopes are intended for people to walk on, though at the very least they cause another horizontal shift. As in both the earlier precedents from Burgi and Blake, there is a moment of questioning about the ramps. The user thinks “can I walk on them? Do I want to?” If the user does decide to use these as part of their path through the site, they will experience a bodily sense: “work”. In those moments when they are working to climb a steep slope or

Figure 24 - A desire lines diagram desire lines from the existing conditions are laid over the interventions.

the moment when they reach the top of it, they will notice. By linking a series of these reorientations and slope changes, the user comes to a place of mindfulness. This occurs through the awareness of the body and its orientation in space on the site. Of the three major driving principles, the northern courtyard focuses on all three. The faceted landform allows for many different slopes and cross - slopes as one walks across the courtyards. It is through these periodic shifts in orientation (sight shift, a “mind” sensation) and the body’s relation to the ground which causes noticing in this courtyard. The correlation to the grid is much less obvious in this intervention, though all of the facet points are positioned on an intersection in the grid. The paths that cut into the landform originated from points of egress around the site, either from street crossings (the southern cut), doors (the western and northern cuts) or other paths that lead to the site (the eastern cut). In addition to this, since there is no direct route straight across the site, the third principle, orientation shift, comes into play as well. Variation of the horizontal plane in the form of ground texture occurs in the transitional spaces (street crossings and the intersection of Thayer and George streets). Bamboo is used for speed bumps but they also create an uneven ground plane which the user will not want to walk on, causing an orientation shift. What normally would be a short two minute walk across the site becomes much less direct. The deflections and re-orientations make this walk longer. This lengthening allows for more opportunity for a moment of mindfulness.

Figure 23 - An Illustrated plan diagram of the interventions.

Figure 25 - A circulation diagram of the patterns which result from the intervention.

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Figures 26, 27, 28 - A series of diagrams showing where the three principles occur on site.

By muting certain parts of the plan and accentuating others, it becomes easier to see which of the three driving principles occur in each area. To the far left, the area highlighted is the one in which cross slope occurs. It is clear from the diagram that the north courtyard is the only area in which cross slope is heavily manipulated. In the center, the elements which cause orientation shifts are highlighted. These are either vertical bamboo elements to dense to walk through or ignore, or bamboo used as a groundplane material which is not level and would make it harder to walk in these areas. It could also be argued that the ramps and resultant walls could be considered orientation changers, but the intention is for the user to walk on the ramps rather than avoid them. The nearest diagram shows the areas in which slope change is the main noticing principle. This principle occurs across the site and helps unify the experience of the two courtyards. Taken in sum, the common elements of bamboo, concrete paving and slope change should cause people to notice that the spaces are designed to complement each other. 72

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Figure 29 - A cross section of the faceted intervention in the northern courtyard.

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Figure 31 - Plan view locating the sections the sections from the northern courtyard are labeled with letters, the southern courtyard sections are labeled with numbers.

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Figure 30 - A long section of the faceted intervention in the northern courtyard.

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Figure 32 - A series of sections through the central set of ramps in the southern courtyard.

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A series of studies in section show a few different things on site. First, they give the interventions a human scale and allow us to understand how we might use the site. In section a-a’ we also begin to see how seating might begin to come into the courtyards, allowing for more than just a person passing through. It also shows that there is not a straight path through the courtyard, as does section b-b’.

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The series of sections from the southern courtyard shows how sliding the grid creates a great diversity of spaces. Some of the spaces are wide and allow for high foot traffic and some of them are narrow, allowing for only one person to traverse them at a time. They also begin to indicate that some of the ramps and resultant platforms can be used for something other than walking on - in places allowing for seating and other activities.

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Figure 33 - A perspective from the Thayer side of the Watson Institute for International Studies. The bamboo hedge and change in pavement are signiďŹ cant enough to catch the attention of the passerby.

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Figure 34 - A view from inside the foyer of the Watson Institute facing Starr Plaza. Again, the pavement is carried from the outside to the inside. Bamboo is used in two ways here, both to change orientation (the sculpture) and as wainscotting. At ďŹ rst glance, the user may not notice this, but upon further examination and use this becomes clear. 80

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This perspective drawing helps us to understand not only what this space feels like at human scale (like the sections) but also to understand how it appears three dimensionally. It shows how different masses of plants will cause different deflections, or have the user think ahead and plan a route which avoids coming up against the bamboo entirely. Both of these examples show the user noticing and being present on site being forced to make decisions at numerous points along the way. Beginning to inject

different ground plane materials breaks up the monotony of the concrete and also causes the user to question why the wood has been used. At places like the ramps, the wood can be used as an aid to help people walk up the steeper ramps. If a single strip of wood is attached to the face of a ramp (not set flush) it can act like a step for the user to gain leverage. By noticing these strips and their contrast against the concrete, the user re-imagines how to use the space. When the bamboo begins to get too large or become

unmanageable, it can be harvested and used in other capacities on site, such as replacing any worn out bamboo speed bumps, as wainscoting or for art installations.

Figure 35 - A perspective of Starr Plaza. Two of the three driving principles set forth occur in this space. The vertical elements of bamboo and the risen groundplane result in orientation shift and the ramps put stress on the body with slope change.

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Figure 36 - A perspective of the Benevolent Street crossing. Bamboo is used as a ground plane material which both causes an orientation shift and a safe crossing for pedestrians. When ďŹ rst installed, the bamboo will still be green and its color will change over time, something noticed by people who use the space regularly. 84

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The subtle manipulations of cross slope are perhaps the strongest argument that the embodied experience of the landscape deeply affects the user’s perception of it. Some changes in cross slope can be subtle enough that seeing them is difficult, but it only takes one step onto a different slope for a person to recognize a change. This perspective begins to illustrate this, as even though it is an accurate three dimensional model, the changes in the cross slope are difficult to read in some places. In this drawing, COR TEN steel is inlaid into the ground showing exactly where each facet changes pitch. In some places, to make a legible datum, the COR TEN extends out parallel to the ground to show how much slope is being traversed. This also serves to either redirect the user (orientation shift) or cause them to step or jump over the COR TEN, immediately bringing their mind onto site. This series of interventions will certainly foster mindfulness.

Figure 37 - An eye-level perspective of the northern courtyard showing the different facets which make up the landform.

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Figure 38 - A perspective of the interesction of Thayer Street and George Street. Since this is such a busy intersection, bamboo is again used as speed bumps on the horizontal plane and then in the vertical plane that runs along the sidewalk towards the other interventions. 88

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conclusion

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“What is noticing?” It is a concise and simply stated question. The complicated part of it was in seeking the answer. Finding that answer required study in the fields of anatomy, physiology and psychology. Armed with the scientific knowledge of sensation and perception, the next step was discovering exactly what we noticed, especially with regard to the landscape. This investigation led to the analysis of landscape theory from Simon Bell, Yi-Fu Tuan, John Jackle and Elizabeth Meyer. Key terms began to become clear from these theorists’ works. At that time, it became apparent that a first hand, onsite analysis needed to be done to understand exactly how these terms existed in the landscape. I chose to conduct my field study in the woods – and this is the exact moment in which this thesis found its footing. “The Woods” have always been a spiritual place for me. As a child, I spent as much time in the woods as I did in a classroom. As I grew older, “The Woods” became the basis for my undergraduate education (in environmental studies). When I came to RISD to study landscape architecture, I always knew that it would at some point come back to them. Getting out into the natural environment had always helped me stay sane and happy and I have always wanted to impart that feeling on others. After spending time on site, I came to realize that “The Woods” affected me so because it was a place in which I noticed my surroundings and myself. I began understanding the woods with both my mind and my body. This duality of landscape experience drove my investigations into noticing, sensation and perception. Eventually, I came across the term “embodied experience” in one of my elective classes (“Listening Critique” with David Gersten). His metaphor for embodied experience was that you cannot learn to play a violin just by a technical, mental knowledge of it. You would need to know how to hold it, how it feels against your chin, the friction of the bow on the strings and the pressure of the strings on your fingers. You need to understand how to breathe when playing, how to stand. “The Woods” were my violin. This discovery added to the foundation on which I was building my thesis. The next watershed moment in the process was discovering what it meant to understand the landscape through the embodied experience. I revisited my site and my analysis of it. There were certain places where I had stopped to take photographs. Looking at some of these photographs, I was able to discern what “mind” sense (sight) caused me to stop and take a picture. For others, I had to rely on what my body was telling me when I was on site. It was from this that I figured out which “body” sensations caused me to notice the most: “work” and balance. By focusing in on sight, “work” and balance I found my driving principles: orientation shift, slope shift and cross-slope shift. These three factors enable a user to have an embodied experience of the landscape. Why did the embodied experience make me feel centered in “The Woods”? What was it about the intersection of the mind and body which relieved stress? The answer to these questions was the fourth major discovery for me. I felt this way because I was entirely present in the woods. I did not spend time thinking of what drawings I

needed for my next critique or the midterm quiz in one of my other classes. This was my realization of a concept that I would later come to understand as “mindfulness”. Mindfulness is the way in which I could convey my sense of “The Woods”. This idea is translatable and adaptable. I didn’t need to bring the woods to the city, I needed to bring mindfulness. It was at this point which I began to design. The design proposal shows that creating mindfulness is possible in the urban context. Mindfulness doesn’t have a scale which is why it can be implemented in the urban condition. It can occur instantaneously. That being said, momentary mindfulness is only so useful at centering a person. Inherent in mindfulness as a tool to relieve stress is some form of continuity. For this reason, there are also limitations to mindfulness in the urban context. If mindfulness is designed for in too compact a space two things could end up happening: 1) the senses could be overwhelmed and washed out (too many shifts) or 2) the feeling of mindfulness may lack the necessary duration to achieve any real effect. The series of courtyards which I chose as a design site is not too compact. While it may be a short walk from end to end, the number and interval of shifts provide ample opportunity to maintain a state of mindfulness. There is also enough room to allow for a return back to a normal datum so as not to overwhelm the senses. The overall state of mindfulness reflects but does not duplicate the sense found in “The Woods”. As described above, the continuity of feeling completely present on site is inextricably tied to the scale of the site. It would be difficult to experience hours of mindfulness on end in a space which extends only a tenth of a mile, whereas in over one hundred acres one could be enveloped in mindfulness for a whole day. Another tenet of achieving mindfulness is a willing user. The limitation is not in the landscape but in the person. If one is not willing to engage in a design, no amount of shifting will force them to do so – or at least not with any regularity. They may visit the site once and become annoyed with it and make a point of avoiding it in the future. Through the process of my thesis work I have become more convinced that designing for mindfulness is beneficial. I also firmly believe that it can be implemented in a wide variety of contexts – from the urban park to the suburban back yard to the rural condition. The manipulation of the user’s mind and body senses through my three driving principles will make them notice and become present on site. Mindfulness is the essence of “The Woods”.

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bibliography Arnheim, Rudolf. Art and visual perception: a psychology of the creative eye. New version, expanded and rev. ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974. Print. Baer, Ruth. “Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: A Conceptual and Empirical Review.” Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 10.2 (2003): 125-143. Print.

Trungpa, Chögyam. The heart of the Buddha. Boston: Shambhala ;, 1991. Print. Tuan, Yi-Fu. Topophilia: a study of environmental perception, attitudes, and values. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974. Print. Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.. “Transportation Component: Brown University Master Plan.” n/a N/A (2011): 2-23. Print.

Bell, Simon. Landscape pattern, perception, and process. London: E & FN Spon ;, 1999. Print. Bell, Simon. Elements of visual design in the landscape. 2nd ed. London: Spon Press, 2004. Print.

All photographs were generated by the author unless otherwise noted.

Blake, Edward. “Placing Nature as Art Park: Genesis of a Landscape’s Architecture.” Landscape Journeys. Indianapolis Museum of Art, n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2012. <www. imamuseum.org/sites/default/files/Blake-Article-Public-Garden.pdf>. Gevers, Theo, and Arnold W.M. Smeulders. “Color-based object recognition.” Pattern Recognition 32 (1999): 453-464. Print. Goldstein, E. Bruce. Sensation and perception. 3rd ed. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1989. Print. Grilz, Andrew. Andover. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2009. Print. Gunaratana, Henepola. Mindfulness in plain English. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2002. Print. Jakle, John A.. The visual elements of landscape. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987. Print. Johansson, Gunnar. “Visual perception of biological motion and a model for its analysis.” Perception & Psychophysics 14.2 (1973): 201-211. Print. LaFleur, William R.. Buddhism: a cultural perspective. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1988. Print. Livingstone, Margaret, and David Hubel. “Segregation of Form, Color, Movement, and Depth: Anatomy, Physiology, and Perception.” Science 240.4853 (1988): 740749. Print. Lotto, Beau. “Beau Lotto: Optical illusion shows how we see.” TED: Ideas worth spreading. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. <http://www.ted.com>. Meinig, D. W.. “The Beholding Eye: Ten Versions of the Same Scene.” The Interpretation of ordinary landscapes: geographical essays. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. 33-50. Print. Meyer, Elizabeth. “lunch The University of Virginia School of Architecture.” Home | University of Virginia: School of Architecture. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <http:// www.arch.virginia.edu/lunch/print/territory/sustaining.html>. “PAOLO BURGI.” PAOLO BURGI. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2012. <http://www.burgi.ch>. Tilley, Christopher Y.. A phenomenology of landscape: places, paths, and monuments. Oxford, UK: Berg, 1994. Print. 92

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Landshift  

My MLA thesis from RISD. Please read with the "one page up" icon selected

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