Reading older books and texts

In 2019 I am focusing on reading recently published books but also including old books and texts including books from the pre-1900 about cities and design. I am hoping to read these book to gain some knowledge and understanding of past issues and topics to see if there are trends and ideas that could provide me with some ideas or inspiration for 2019.

Why would I want to read past text? My theory is that many technologies and ideas are coming full circle including the electric car (first practical electric car was 1859) which have reappeared numerous times in history over the past 160 years, therefore there many issues that cities and people faced in the 1800-early 1960’s (density, pollution, etc that we could further understand and utilise).

I had decided this a new year goal for 2019 but was thought about broadening it to futurists of 1980’s after recently reading the Isaac Asimov piece from 1983 predicting what 2019 would hold for the world from a 1983 perspective and it was interesting to read that he was not far off on many of his predictions about Computerization, Jobs and Pollution, however sadly his prediction about Education did not eventuate.

” The growing complexity of society will make it impossible to do without them, except by courting chaos; and those parts of the world that fall behind in this respect will suffer so obviously as a result that their ruling bodies will clamour for computerization as they now clamour for weapons. “

“The jobs that will disappear will tend to be just those routine clerical and assembly-line jobs that are simple enough, repetitive enough, and stultifying enough to destroy the finely balanced minds of those human beings unfortunate enough to have been forced to spend years doing them in order to earn a living, and yet complicated enough to rest above the capacity of any machine that is neither a computer nor computerized.”

” The consequences of human irresponsibility in terms of waste and pollution will become more apparent and unbearable with time and again, attempts to deal with this will become more strenuous. It is to be hoped that by 2019, advances in technology will place tools in our hands that will help accelerate the process whereby the deterioration of the environment will be reversed. “

“Education, which must be revolutionized in the new world, will be revolutionized by the very agency that requires the revolution — the computer.
Schools will undoubtedly still exist, but a good schoolteacher can do no better than to inspire curiosity which an interested student can then satisfy at home at the console of his computer outlet.
There will be an opportunity finally for every youngster, and indeed, every person, to learn what he or she wants to learn. in his or her own time, at his or her own speed, in his or her own way.
Education will become fun because it will bubble up from within and not be forced in from without. “

ISAAC ASIMOV, 1983
Read more at https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/12/27/35-years-ago-isaac-asimov-was-asked-by-the-star-to-predict-the-world-of-2019-here-is-what-he-wrote.html

Starting off 2019

I have great hopes for 2019 and today is the first day of 2019 and I am planning ahead for World Landscape Architecture and also some other side projects this year.

The first month will be busy with organising the WLA Awards which is starting to receive entries with a deadline of March 1. This is the third year and I am proud to say that the jury is once again is full of highly experienced jurors.

I am also involved with some ASLA events this year and looking to partner with a few other landscape architecture organisations this year.

Be one the look out for more from me and also WLA in 2019. I wish you all the best for your family and friends and feel free to contact me through email and social media.

Will drones make deliveries or a transportation alternative?

Over the past 5 years there has great interest in drones for two main reasons – first as a transportation alternative and secondly for delivering goods. 

When it comes to transportation, the flying car or now a personal drone has been envisioned as the utopia for many to avoid traffic, however, I think that there are too many factors that will make this not a reality in the near future. 

For delivering packages the drones have also been seen as an easy solution and Amazon and other services have showcased and announced drone services for deliveries.

Drones have common problems that make them unviable for delivery and transport in the current environment.

1 Noise 
The amount of noise that drones create from the motor and the turbines is about 75-85db about some level as an alarm clock, snow or leaf blower. Imagine in a dense area with 5-10 drones making deliveries in the space of an hour, you would tire of the noise quickly.

2 Regulations 
The current regulations in many countries create restrictions such as no built-up area, not within 25m of people, not with a flight zone (including helipads), stay at a low height. These regulations are due to concerns about safety and people. 

3 Weather Conditions
Delivery services and transportation are required to be on time and now. Imagine many cities in the world and their weather, if you have ever watched some vlogs of helicopter pilots or read the disclaimers on heli sightseeing tour you will soon learn that they are grounded for extended periods due to weather including dense fog or low clouds, lightning, extremely gusty winds, or heavy rain or snow. For many cities, this would include many days per year and that is for a heavy helicopter with an expert trained pilot. For a drone that has less power and lighter weight I could see that there could be issues

4 Safety
There are many issues with drones especially used as transport and what always springs to mind is the building helipads that were dotted across cities such as New York and how one incident in 1977 when the helicopter accident killed 5 people including someone on the street. I think this will be the main reason that many cities will be cautious in allowing drones to land in the city. They may alternatively land on the helipads or designated places near rivers or open areas with safety arrangements and instant emergency equipment.

I think that there is a place for drones and their current uses including surveillance for wild fires,  landmine detetion, police and rescue efforts, farming (livestock and crops), urban planning, construction, property management,  however, the days of getting an share or personal drone ride are still in the future and will require a great deal of planning and regulation to ensure that residents don’t have to worry about drone noise and safety. 

WordPress 5.0 – what I think so far

WordPress 5.0 

WordPress 5.0 is officially out. WordPress is the editor and backend system that I use for all my websites that I build and maintain. The latest was released on December 6 with many new features including a new editor and blocks(parts of the posts/articles). 

New tools in WordPress 5.0 for adding blocks to a post

I have trialed the new WordPress by using the Gutenberg plugin in the previous version of WordPress, so I knew what the new version would bring. I am impressed that the interface is clean but it will take some time to become acquainted with the ins and outs of the new editor. I quickly adapted to the Editor as it felt similar to the UI and workflow of Medium and a Email Service (Aweber/MailChimp) 

New tools in the Editor includes the ability to insert blocks and move them up and down the post (similar to Medium/Aweber/MailChimp) which is great as previously, it was tedious importing/uploading the images, inserting and then moving the images around then formatting the which sometimes never quite working. The new editor is easy to use with the adding blocks or just tapping enter twice for new block/paragraph. 

***TIP – Recently learnt that the best way to insert multiple images in WordPress 5 is to insert a gallery through media library and then convert to images using the block configuration menu (3 dots in top right of a block)

For some of my sites, I will stick to the old editor and that is for one reason, the themes that I use are based and customised to the previous version so when you create a new post/article in the new editor it sometimes has issues with sizing images and text. I think that many bloggers will wait until there are themes that have been tested and optimised for WordPress 5 before fully utilising the functions of the update tools and blocks. I am going to trail and test WordPress 5 on this blog to see how I best utilise the new functions/tools and editing style, I am hoping that it will actually speed up my workflows.  

Overall the layout and the way that the UI works is very reminiscent of Medium and a Email Service (Aweber/MailChimp) in terms of the adding a cover image, title and then clicking a plus to add elements and also moving around blocks(similar to Email Service). 

There is also the new Twenty-Nineteen theme from what I can see (I made it active for this website) doesn’t have a sidebar only a footer, so it pushes all the sidebar widgets into the footer. 

Not every project is a landmark competition winning project

Recently, I have been surveying World Landscape Architecture readers for their feedback on the design, content and user experience. I looked at some of the responses today and overall the feedback was good with some great insights on how to improve WLA. However, I think there are a couple of readers who miss the point of World Landscape Architecture with some reader comments about the level of design and build quality and also less projects from unknown designers.

When I set out to publish projects from across the globe the intention was to publish as many different projects from across the world – varying scales, qualities, and from different types of firms (landscape, urbanist, engineering, mega-firms to single designer shops). I feel that whether a small garden or large regional park or a urban masterplan that there is a need for landscape projects especially conceptual designs to published rather than linger on a shelf or hard drive somewhere never to see the light of day. Of course, there are some submissions that are of very poor quality and they are rejected, however I feel that we all need to see projects from across the globe to understand the profession and see how it is developing. Developing countries and design firms often don’t have the same finish as projects in developed countries(this is due to the skills of the builders) however, sometimes the designs and finished project give an insight into the culture and landscape of that place and nation.

Publishing work of various qualities allows the public and profession to see landscape architecture at it best and worst. I don’t make editorial comment or critique on projects as I feel that the text should be written by the designer or design firm. Should there be more project critique…of course, but there also needs to be a platform for work to be published by the designer unhindered by journalists, and editors. Although, I have made mistakes in the past by publishing text that was not of high-quality, often this was due to the text being written by the designer in their second or third language. I have also published text that was too much like a PR announcement, I am endeavouring to curtail these types of posts.

World Landscape Architecture will continue to publish projects that are not to everyone’s liking and expectations, but that is the beauty of the web and my publication; not all the projects are beautifully photographed places, some are raw places that we all experience on a daily basis.

Landscape architecture needs a voice that shows projects from not just the well-known design firms but also designers who are creating places across the world of varying scale and quality.

Thankyou to the readers who have given feedback for our annual World Landscape Architecture survey. If you would like to give feedback please fill out the survey or send me an email damian@worldlandscapearchitect.com with your suggestions.