Microplastic pollution in soils is out of control

We have recently seen an increasing number of news stories about plastic pollution, an ocean full of plastic bags, scenes of a diver in Bali surrounded by floating plastic, however, a recent study [1] has found that terrestrial microplastics could be between 4 and 23 times greater than that found in the ocean and it may be that agricultural soils alone might store more microplastics than oceanic basins. The study cites research that finds that most plastics are prone to disintegrate rather than decompose especially those that are biodegradable and these are found as microplastics (less than 5mm) and these, in turn, continue to disintegrate into nano plastics (less than 0.1 μm). The problem is growing and microplastic pollution could be so widespread that it could create a baseline shift of physiological and ecosystem processes of terrestrial species.

Read the full post at World Landscape Architecture

Creating a BIM Project Plan or a BIM Execution Plan

BIM (Building Information Modelling) gives designers the ability to share data-rich designs in a 2D or 3D format with clients, consultants, contractors, facilities managers and more. The recent trend of government mandating BIM to be used on projects, this has occurred in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, UAE, Singapore and possibly Australia to improve efficiency, productivity and reduce waste. This trend of mandating BIM usage combined with market forces pushing for BIM, it seems that landscape architects will be increasingly be required to use BIM to deliver projects.

When starting a project we often create project plans, task plans, and responsibilities and often we will also determine the workflow in terms of software and how design outcomes will be represented. A BIM project is no different requiring a BIM Project Plan (also known as BIM Management Plan or BIM Execution Plan) that sets out various parameters including project team, deadlines, etc but there are also other management and technical parameters that need to be defined…..

Read the full post at World Landscape Architecture

 

Why are countries creating their own cryptocurrencies?

Over the last few months, we have seen countries creating or preparing to make cryptocurrencies including China, Ecuador, Senegal, Estonia, Russia. The reason that countries are looking at cryptocurrencies(Cryptocurrency) is they see it as a way to efficiently and cheaply move forward in many areas including

  • digital payments – if you have been in Asia especially China in the last two years you would have seen the vast number of people using digital payments to pay for nearly every transaction.
  • productivity – reducing the time and actions required for transactions
  • tracking illegal activity – there some people using Cryptocurrency for illegal activities, if countries start to limit the currency exchange to their countries Cryptocurrency then they can track transactions more easily
  • control – central banks like to control currency, they will most likely declare their Cryptocurrency to be legal tender (fiat) in their country.
  • reduce volatility – by being able to control the currency they will try to reduce volatility and rein in runaway markets and use levers to manipulate their market. This is most likely why some countries have shut down ICO and currency exchanges so they can start their own Cryptocurrency.
  • generate revenue from transaction fees
  • reduce fraud
  • ease of exchange – currently every time you go to another country you either have to used credit cards or exchange for cash. If you can exchange on your phone from one country’s Cryptocurrency to another you will be able to move more freely between countries.

There are still some issues with countries creating Cryptocurrency and that includes public acceptance, security, exchanges. The future will be interesting and how the world will change in the coming ten years around cryptocurrency. We will most likely see several countries with their own currency such as estcoin, DAD, and more.

 

World Landscape Architecture – 10 years on and the end of WLA Magazine

In October 2007, I was browsing architecture sites like Archdaily and found myself wondering why do landscape architects not have an independent blog for information and news. That day I registered the domain worldlandscapearchitect.com and put up a “Coming Soon” page and then went on published my first posts in November 2007.

At first, I was posting news articles and this then moved on to competitions and announcements along with the odd project. I was working as an Associate Landscape Architect in Shenzhen, China.

The initial idea was to create sites for each country and I started uaelandscapearchitect.com and chinalandscapearchitect.com. However, due to my day job and the world economy on the verge of collapsing I shifted my focus back to one blog.

Over the coming years, it evolved from World Landscape Architect to World Landscape Architecture to WLA moving away from solely about publishing news and adding more projects, reviews, and competitions. It has always been about publishing work of landscape architects as a source of information and not a typical blog where one person states their opinion or idea on a project or subject.

The most interesting part of publishing is the readers, contributors and their feedback and excitement and joy from being published on WLA. I think that has been one of the greatest rewards of publishing WLA for the last 10 years. Also, it has been an honour to meet readers and contributors in real life at conferences and events and hear their stories about their projects.

Most people think that there is a team of people behind WLA, but many are amazed to hear that there is only one person publishing WLA (including the magazine). I have never sort the limelight and always wanted to make WLA about sharing and promoting landscape architecture.

Due to time commitments, and the changing way we absorb and research information, this will be the last edition of WLA Magazine. The website blog will continue to publish work and the WLA Awards will still seek to honour the work of landscape architects every year across the world.

I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me (and understanding the numerous excuses for working weekends on WLA). I would also like to thank all the sponsors, readers and the designers and firms who have contributed work over the years as they are what truly made this fun and exciting to curate and publish.

I have published the final edition of WLA Magazine but look forward to continuing to publish the WLA blog and run the WLA Awards. It is not the end but allowing time to work on the blog and promote landscape architecture.

Launching the WLA Awards

I recently just launched the WLA Awards, in its second year. The first year was a learning curve and I hope that the coming awards will be as successful as the 2017 Awards. I am lucky that I have again have jurors who willing to volunteer to spend hours pouring over pdf files to score, comment.

I had a conversation with a few people at ASLA in Los Angeles recently and it was interesting that many said that their needed to be more awards to acknowledge the work of landscape architects. It reinforced my resolve to continue the WLA Awards as long as I can and promote the profession of landscape architecture to a broader audience.

I created the awards to allow for landscape architects across the world be honoured by their peers. I always hope to get jurors from different nations, backgrounds and experience. It allows for different views to be expressed and also for not one country or type of landscape project to win.

I also changed the award categories this year to include two scales for Built Award category – Small and Large. This change allows for the smaller projects to get recognition, I have had interesting conversations that big projects always seem to win the awards, so this year I set out to try and balance that problem.

Also I removed the Research & Communication category as it  received about quarter the entries of other categories and seem to be not acknowledged by academia(this is a common problem which I may write about at another time) and organisations as most entries were from design firms or individuals.

The next few months will be slightly stressful, seeing if firms will enter and organising the submissions for jurors, the chasing up and then the final announcement and ordering the awards. I feel for those who are in ASLA, AILA, Landscape Institute, who organise numerous categories and entries and then the final ceremony. I have thought of having a ceremony but it is hard to find a venue that would encourage winners to attend as they are spread across the world, let alone the cost of hold a ceremony.

I am looking forward to judging the Editor’s Award. It is always fun to look at the submissions and shortlist my own and then select one at the end. It could be seen as arrogant but after 10 years of curating this blog, I thought that I could have one indulgence. Hope you enter. Find out more at WLA Awards.

New media requires respect like old media

I am finding it more interesting that design firms who wish to have articles published on my blog – World Landscape Architecture think because it is new media and it is digital blog that they can ask and sometimes demand a change to the post title or the way the images are laid out. Often, I think they forget that although this is new media that old media rules still apply. That is, the editor or blogger decides on what to publish with what title and how it is laid out and how they promote it on social media. Don’t get me wrong I like working with firms and have been publishing their work for the last 10 years, however, I think sometimes designers and their ego think that they can control the way it is published, although they wouldn’t have the gall to make the same demands of established print magazine 5 or 10 years ago.

My advice is to be respectful to bloggers and publishers. You can make requests but don’t get pushy and aggressive if you don’t like fact that they won’t change the title, feature image or layout.

Design regulations against terrorism – a catalyst for change

Over the last year there have been several terrorist incidents that have seen the loss of life in our cities and due to this acts we have seen governments have turned to security experts, police departments and intelligence experts to offer advice on how to make cities safer. This is a continuation of the ever increasing change in the way we live our lives over the last few decades as we have secured airports, train stations, bus stations, border crossings and tourist attractions.

Due to recent events the Australian government has sort advice from security experts and recently, the Prime Minister of Australia launched the Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism. A document which seeks to “…assist owners and operators to increase the safety, protection and resilience of crowded places across Australia.”. This strategy is similar to the Crowded Places Guidance recently published by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office(UK) and the FEMA – Site and Urban Design for Security.

 

Read the full post at World Landscape Architecture

Deep Learning is set to help herbariums identify more plant species

Herbariums around the world have large collections of sample sheets with dried plants pressed ready for  taxonomists to annotate, classify. This process often takes time and many herbariums don’t have the resources to catalogue the sample sheets, however researchers at Costa Rica Institute of Technology recently undertook a study using deep learning to analyze a big dataset with thousands of species from herbaria to see if they could setup a full autonomous to help identify the thousands of plants in collections around the world.

By using convolutional neural network(CNN) and various datasets from the iDigBio portal and other sources (Costa Rica & France) they trained the CNN to learn discriminant visual features of the plants from thousands of herbarium sample sheets. They found that they”….could potentially lead to the creation of a semi, or even fully, automatic system to help taxonomists and experts do their annotation, classification, and revision work at herbarium.”[1]. The researchers also found that the learning could be transferred between regions when they tested a dataset from Costa Rica against another dataset from France. Also that to improve the learning and classification it would be best to remove the handwritten tags, barcodes, logos and other markings on the sample sheets. During the research they also found that the learning does not transfer across to field images of trees, leaves, flowers, but it is best used for herbarium sample sheets.

Read the full article at WLA – http://worldlandscapearchitect.com/five-fields-play-structure-a-landscape-for-childish-exploration/