Modular sustainability within the landscape

Derbyshire, Alan (2009) Modular sustainability within the landscape. Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, 3 (2). pp. 227-248. ISSN 1833-1874

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This study will examine the ecological and creative potential of sustainable traditional and contemporary hard landscaping materials within the corporate, civic and domestic environment. It will focus on the commonalities and shared design issues which link the architect, landscape architect and the enthusiastic amateur, and how their collective response to sustainability are fundamentally interdependent. Satellite and aerial imagery of the earth reveal patterns of humanity in the form of structural fingerprints on the earth’s surface. At the click of a mouse one is able to zoom in on cities, intersecting highways, parks and factories etc and identify one’s own particular module in the global matrix. This is an unambiguous identifiable visual reference of our significance to the greater blueprint. The sustainability of materials is an intrinsic issue in the process of designing and planning urban landscapes and environments. Embodied energy and remanufactured materials are as significant to the design brief as aesthetic and commercial considerations.

There is an array of inevitable practical and procedural concerns that affect both complicated and banal construction and design processes when sustainable materials are recognized and utilized. Car parking for example is an issue that connects the public in more ways than just the obvious. The effect of carpeting of the landscape with asphalt and the direct association with drainage and flooding have an impact on developments ranging from commercial complexes to domestic driveways. These common motifs are applicable to architects, designers and planners, in short, most constituents of property owning societies. The option of turning green to grey on the global blueprint is no longer credible. Complacency is the enemy of creativity.

Through a selection of comparative case studies, examples of innovative initiatives and analysis of the role of education and community, the creative potential of restrictive and (paradoxically) liberating sustainable landscaping practices are recognized and discussed.

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