I want to start my talk with a short discussion about landscape architecture. In particular the way I see our role as shapers of the environment. I believe that the biggest challenge facing landscape architects today is providing design and planning solutions to both old and new problems. This in turn should lead to creating a rich and varied environment that is not a construct of design whim and ideology, but rather a reaction to the true needs of the community and the environment.
This, I believe should stem from the way we view the world around us, how we formulate our ideas about the world, thoughts that inspire us, things that provoke us, and ideas that make us examine our own knowledge.
The problems we face are ubiquitous. Traffic jams for example occur everywhere from Los Angeles,
to Tel Aviv
Nairobi, other issues include urban sprawl, water and air pollution and a myriad of other problems.
We all live in cities thatmore often than not look like this (6.1), with severe episodes of air and water pollution (6.2) (Los Angeles River, Yarkon River Tel Aviv, and Ngong River Nairobi), but we all strive to live in cities that look like this (6.3) clean, comfortable and modern.
These problems are neither new nor cultural specific and include issues of gender, governess, resource management and space. So, what does all this have to do with landscape architecture?
I believe that it is our role as professionals to improve the places in which we live in by looking first at what is out there and find new solutions to old problems.
Old problems include issues of public open space, transportation and flood control. Solutions that were appropriate 30 years ago begin to break down due to increased pressure by a growing population and rise in the standard of living.
New solutions (at may be problems by themselves) include ways in which the available public space is used to include alternative modes of transportation making our cities more user-friendly. (For example bike sharing. More than18 thousand people commute to work on bikes on a daily basis in Tel Aviv and the number of users has increased by 15% per year since 2008. National and City wide plans help encourage the use of bikes for daily commuting and bike lanes are a part of every new project.) The implementation of new solutions includes alternative modes of transportation often mixing incompatible uses mixing bikes with cars. This in turn creates impossible situations that make urban life extremely chaotic.
These solutions often mix incompatible uses such as pedestrians with bikes or mixing bikes with cars.
This in turn creates impossible situations that make urban life extremely chaotic.
It also leads to the blurring of the traditional boundary between uses that has recently become the arena where people voice their grievances against the government (in Israel in 2011, but also in the USA with the occupy Wall Street movement in 2012).
These are the primary places where people voiced their grievances against the government during the social protest movement that swept Israel in 2011.
Occupying public spaces and blocking major thoroughfares has immediate impact on daily activities which forces the government to act swiftly in most cases. In israel this lead to social and tax reform.
There is, however, also a positive side to the blurring of the traditional boundaries between different land-uses. These spaces also become places for recreation and sport’s activities such as mass sports and cultural events. In Tel Aviv there are at least four major events: the Nike 10k Night Run, the Tel Aviv Marathon, the Round Tel Aviv Annual Bike Tour, and the annual Gay Pride Parade. These events attract tens of thousands of people and became hallmarks of the city attracting participants from around the world.
Understanding all this helps us create our own unique world view that is constantly evolving to face new challenges; yet, it is apparent in any aspect of our work. It serves as the ideological foundation of our work and can be traced from one project to the next. So how do we do it in my office?
Let me begin by saying that landscape architecture design is a collaborative multi-disciplinary process. It requires collaboration both in-house and across disciplines. So even though we are a small firm, we are involved with large and complex projects. Most of our work is in the public realm where budget, efficiency, social needs and wants as well as the need for caring for the environmental shape the way in which we approach our projects.
We work throughout Israel and overseas at different scales, climates, social and environmental conditions.
Bell garden Beer Sheva in an arid climate where flash floods are common. 4.3 Hecters
In contrast this is a small neighborhood garden inHerzelia on the coastal plane. 3,500 sq. m.
A 1200 dwelling unit subdivision where the site plan is based on providing solutions for surface runoff and recharge of ground water.
A 2100 dwelling unit subdivision in Netanya, along the coastal plane at the edge of the city where the site plan is based a planting scheme that encourages the development of habitat within the urban environment.
A 15000 sq. m. youth center in Netanya
A high-school yard in Herzeliya
A birding site on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee
Our proposal for the reclamation of Israel’s largest landfill.Of all the work we have done over the past few years I will be showing four different projects that represent different aspects of our portfolio and the way we deal with the challenges they present. And one project in landscape planning conducted as a design studio at the Technion where I teach Landscape Architecture.
Linear infrastructure projects have great impact on the landscape simply because they extend over great distances and construction operations severely impact the landscape.
The northern Natural Gas Pipe Line is 60 kilometers long and passes through different landscapes, forests
and natural habitat.
And while it is important for economic development, construction of linear infrastructure is extremely destructive to the landscape
So, how do you deal with it?
First we conducted a comprehensive landscape survey to create a baseline against which restoration will be measured.We literally walked the whole length of the project several time until we had a good understanding of the landscape.
We than divided the project into restoration unites with specific instructions for each section point along the line.
As well as composing written guidelines that describe the area and nature of the work to be done before, during and after construction.
The guidelines were accompanied with a series of plans and maps detailing what work should be done at each location
And detailed drawing describing specific conditions for the construction phase and restoration phase.
And this is what it look like!
The next project is a design competition for the restoration and rehabilitation of a 1.8 hectare neighborhood park in the City of Herzeliya for which we have won the first Prize.
So how do you approach such a project where all you have is a brief provided by the city? We started by analyzing the existing garden, its layout, the relationship between spaces and the overall compatibility of the park to contemporary uses
This lead to the conceptual landscape plan that lays out a way for rehabilitating the garden, adapting it to contemporary uses, while at the same time keeping its original sense of human scale.
Analyzing different layer of the existing garden helped us identify which areas should be developed and in which way and formed the base line for understanding the garden’s development.
Once the concept was laid out we described the design objectives and developed a preliminary landscape plan that formed the base for construction documents.
This was done at the same layers as the analysis so we were sure that our design stays on tract and in sync with the design objectives
The difference between the two plans is apparent yet the character of the garden remains the same mainly since a conscious decision was made to protect the majority of the existing trees on site.
And this is what it look like.
The challenge in designing the Nazareth Industrial Park was creating a contemporary landscape that is deeply rooted in the historic setting of the old city of Nazareth with its holy places and unique character while at the same time creating a contemporary setting for a High Tech industrial park.
The 1.8 hectare site is located on top of a hill at the southern outskirts of the city of Nazareth. In 2011 the site was converted to an enormous helipad in honor of Pope Benedict the 16th who gave a sermon for nearly 100 thousand people on mount Precipice that flanks the site on the east.
And this is what it looks like..
We find that urban plazas tend to be the most challenging of all projects regardless of scale. This is because they tend to incorporate into them multiple uses that are more often than not incompatible.
That is because they tend to be the places where conflicting uses collide and activities interact.
So in this case the first order of business was to identify obstacles that hinder access from the street.
And identify potentials for interaction between uses.
Another challenge is to allow business to continue operating during construction and make sure it is done in a timely fashion.
And some work is extremely complicated and requires special care and expertise.
And there is a time in every project, I call it the concrete phase, where you get the feeling that you got it all wrong and that the project is a total failure.
But once its complete, and people begin to use the space, some time in unexpected ways, you know that your instincts were right. This is a sign announcing an arts fair every Monday and Wednesday between 5 to 10pm.
And his is what it looks like!
Finally I want to talk about a series of Landscape Planning Studios I taught at the Technion’s department of Landscape Architecture with my colleague Amir Hefets between 2006 and 2008.
While small and medium scale problems can be solved using both design based methods as well as planning based methods, large scale problems, covering an area of several square kilometers, can only be solved using a prescribed methodology that is designed to guide the process and produce mutually exclusive objective Future alternatives.
There are several Contemporary approaches to Landscape Planning which are implemented in different regional plans each with its own shortcomings.
Therefore,the most important challenge in Landscape Planning is planning for objectivity. That is creating Future Alternative that focus on socio-economic issues which are region specific.
The main advantage of this methodology is that it requires some basic data that can be easily found in most public records and develops solutions that correspond to local needs and wants.
This method ensures a tight connection between site specific existing conditions analysis, plan objectives, boundary definition and developing regional specific Future Alternatives.
Thank you very much. I will be happy to answer some questions.
What i talk about when i talk about landscape
Amir Mueller Landscape Architects Ltd.
Landscape Architecture Environmental Planning Urban Design
What I Talk About When I Talk About Landscape
“The concept of “another”, man-made nature, thus
seems a fusion of two elements: the design inherent
in nature and the improvements of nature which are
interpreted as the effects brought about by human
art in fulfillment of the design. ”
John Rennie Short: Imagined Country: Society, Culture and Environment 1991.
“The wilderness is ... at one extreme, the place of
God’s creation; … on the other, a place whose
transformation by human actions allows the
possibilities of redemption.”
Clarence J. Glacken: “Changing Ideas of the Habitable World”
Man’s Role in Changing the Face of the Earth. 1956
Garrett Hardin: “The Tragedy of the commons”. Science 1968
“A technical solution may be defined as one that
requires a change only in the techniques of the
natural sciences, demanding little or no change in
human values or ideas of morality.”
William E. Odum: “Environmental Degradation and the Tyranny of Small Decisions”
BioScience 1982 .
“Much of the current confusion and distress
surrounding environmental issues can be traced to
decisions that were never consciously made, but
simply resulted from a series of small decisions..”
Simon Schama: Landscape and Memory 1995.
“… a way of looking; of rediscovering what we have,
but which somehow eludes our recognition and our
appreciation. Instead of being yet another
explanation of what we have lost, it is an
explanation of what we may yet find”
William Haddon Jr.: “On the Escape of Tigres, an Ecologic Note”
American Journal of Public Health 1970
“(some people view) harmful interactions between
man and his environment as problems requiring
reforming imperfect man rather than suitably
modifying his environment.”
Henry Louis Mancken
“For every complex problem, there is a solution that
is simple, neat and wrong”.
Robert J. Bennett. “Administrative Systems and Economic Spaces”.
Journal of Regional Studies 1997
“… increased emphasis on environmental responses
and sustainability at a local level, create a major need
to manage spillovers and environmental interactions
across several different administrative units.”
Gillian Rose. Feminism and Geography:
The limits of geographical Knowledge. 1993
“ . . . Spatial structure was seen not merely as an
arena in which social life unfolds but as a medium
through which social life is produced and
There is urgency in mitigating between cultural and
technological advancement and serving the need for an
undefiled environment. Therefore, incorporating
environmental, social, and economic responsibility into the
design process is vital to viable landscape architecture
Our designs reflect the belief that successful landscape
architecture is founded on the understanding of the ways in
which people interact with the environment.
We work at the interface between culture and environment
in order to create durable and expansive landscapes.
We specialize in integrating ecological thinking and
understanding of natural processes into the design process.
Considerable effort is put to understand the ways in which
people interact with the environment. That understanding
is then used as the main input for the design work.
Landscape Restoration of the Northern Gas line 2009
• Restoring the garden for public use
• Preserving the garden’s character
• Creating a contemporary Garden
for Changing uses
• Allow for multiple uses and age
Preliminary Landscape Plan
Positivistic Analysis for Progressive Landscape Planning:
A Methodology for Generating Socially-Based Future Alternatives
Landscape planning Studio – 2006-2008
Faculty Of Architecture and Town Planning
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
Most landscapes exist at the
interface between the social
pressure for conservation and the
demand for development due to
The landscape we experience is a
product of planning and decision
making that shape it over time.
Therefore, separating human from
natural influences is arbitrary.
The Spatial Dilemma focuses on
identifying key processes in the
region that can form the base for
While the spatial distribution of
land uses shapes the landscape
and influences the way in which
we experience it, decisions about
which areas to conserve and
which areas to develop are the
most important process in
All of these solutions result in short term plans that focus on
minor issues that are in agreement
Most contemporary landscape planning is aimed at
balancing conflicting regional interests in order to foster
development based on the specific needs of
communities in the region.
Planers, who are consumed by the demand to identify
needs and wants in the region, are expected to develop
a plan that is sensitive to social process.
Data based planning separates the community from the
Community based planning provides social sensitivity
and increases community awareness to its needs.
Planning for Objectivity
It is important to generate objective and viable future
alternatives in order to foster region specific
development while conserving valuable – both natural
and cultural – resources.
Regional future alternatives require some basic spatial
statistic and physical data which can be found at most
planning agencies and can easily be converted to GIS.
Other socio-economic knowledge about the region can
be gleaned from round-table discussions with major
Plan objectives should be formulated as a response to
regional indicators that reflect failure in the way in which
a region functions.
Progressive Landscape Planning responds to planning and market
failure and leads to the development of socially-based
Focuses strictly on regional issues to formulate future
alternatives that are region specific
Existing Condition Analysis:
Positivistic analysis of the study area
Define the environmental and socio-economic
principles by which the region functions
Defining the Plan’s Objectives:
Establishes a regional ethic
Defines the ethic roles under which the
regional strategy is formulated.
Describes a specific area with a specific
Defines the regional principles under which
future alternatives are developed
Analyze the relationship and the
degree in which regional issues
municipal, district, and other
Boundaries serve to define
unique and site specific solutions
to universal issues
By comparing the degree in which
the plan’s objectives are
achieved, it is possible to
compare future alternatives with
This leads to spatially different but core-issue similar future
alternatives that are site specific
Evaluation Analysis – Strengthening existing towns
At the landscape plan, boundaries have a cardinal impact
on the scale and scope of different future alternatives.
Statutory boundaries are formulated due to administrative
decisions that do not adequately represent regional
Planning areas are commonly defined by administrative
decisions that do not reflect statutory boundaries.
The study area is defined by existing condition analysis (as
defined in the spatial dilemma above) and represents
regional processes well.
Future alternatives, therefore, are defined by their specific
boundaries and represent regional solutions.
Variability in Regional Definition
The following slides illustrate the process of Progressive
Landscape Planning for generating of socially-based future
Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area:
Landscape Planning Studio 2007
Existing Conditions Analysis
Emphasis on Open Space and Development Pressure
• Urban Sprawl and lack of
• Increased pressure on
remaining open space
• Open space is not available
to the public.
Construction and Open Space
Problem: Vulnerable to development
Problem: Spatial inequality in
Problem: Strong centers vs.
• Tel Aviv as main
• Increased commuting into
• Lack in public
• High variability in Socio-
economic level among
entities in the region
Density – Western edge of region
is densely built. Need to increase
density and strengthen population
along eastern edge
Employment – Due to the high
concentration of business in Tel
Aviv there is Untapped potential
for economic development at
Open Space - Develop open space
for sports and recreation based on
location and accessibility
Accessibility – improve accessibility
within plan boundary to improve
access to different centers
Existing Conditions Analysis
Emphasis on Transportation and accessibility
• Understanding the region’s importance at the national level
• Distinguish between core and periphery
• Relationship to Tel Aviv metropolitan Area
Alternative I – acceptance of most national
master plans with locally specific solutions
Alternative II – reaction to existing national
and regional master plans. Increased
development as a means of controlling the
allocation of resources
Alternative III –
centralization with hyper-
Alternative II –
decentralization with local
Alternative I –
local adaptation with
affiliation to the
Hierarchy of systems (Solutions for accessibility and transportation)
• Regional super structures, regional transportation
• Regional systems of infrastructure, transportation and open space
• Local systems of public open spaces and public services
Planning within a set of fixed objectives
and programmatic constraints limits local
The spatial difference between
alternatives reflects local needs and
Spatial variability emphasizes divergence
Core areas provide a spatial anchor that
adequately represent spatial issues
Despite common core areas, variability
stems form the difference in boundary
Future alternatives arise from a highly
localized methodology as an integral part
of the planning process
Sensitivity Analysis – Attracting new populations to
the region while empowering existing communities
Most landscape plans are implemented
over time. Therefore, there is a large
degree of uncertainty at the time they
By providing localized and socially
relevant solutions, Progressive Planning
minimizes uncertainty while maximizes
This methodology is scalable and can
be applied to small scale, limited scope
projects as well as to large landscape
Amir Mueller Landscape Architects Ltd.
Landscape Architecture Environmental Planning Urban Design
What I Talk About When I Talk About Landscape