I recently posted a post on WLA (my landscape architecture blog) which aim to raise awareness of cities heading towards Day Zero such as Cape Town in South Africa who may have to progressively turn off taps in July throughout the city.
The city of Cape Town known as the hosting of the 2010 World Cup and known for its amazing landscape including Table Mountain has been in drought for 3 years and is heading towards Day Zeroy when dam levels reach 13.5% and the taps will be turned off in a phased approach. The government has set water restrictions at Level 6b which restricts water to 50 Litres per person as the original Day Zero date was April 12, but through the efforts of city and residents to save water has delayed Day Zero several times and is now predicted to be 15 July 2018. The city has provided guides, calculators and a Day Zero dashboard to educate residents on how to reduce water use including:
I recently published Pop ups – the fast food of landscape architecture or the catalyst for regeneration? on WLA about popups with my main point that popups are a simple idea that has been co-opted by designers, cities, and organisations as a fashionable easy fix for bigger problems and also a “look we are doing something about it” moment. Popups have become a highly orchestrated, overly designed and highly detailed in construction, whereas they are most successful when they are testing an idea that is simple in nature and execution.
“Over the last two decades, we have seen the popularity of pop-ups grow within cities from retail stores to parklets. Pop-ups fall into various typologies from the short event (1-3 days) such as Parking Day, seasonal installation, semi-permanent installation such as pilot study for possible retrofitting a street. Are these pop-ups transforming cities and attitudes towards public space or are they little more than brightly coloured interventions that are becoming the “fast-food” of landscape architecture?”
Sometimes, we get off track and you realise that where you are is not where you want to be. You had a dream, ideas, and a plan to get there, you visualise what you think the dream will be like and what you want. Once you reach that point where you thought was the point of happiness you realise it is not what you thought it was going to be, it is not living up to the expectation and the dream. Maybe it was the process of getting there or only part of the dream that you wanted. You have stray from the core idea that drove your dream. You chasing something that wasn’t what you were looking for.
With WLA and other parts of my life, I have realised that what I thought the dream that I wanted is in actual fact far away from where I ended up. I have strayed from the core of WLA and what it meant to me and landscape architecture. Two things triggered this realisation; one was a book review I did that was trying to not be too hard on a poor quality book, however, I should have called it out for what it was. I received some criticism for the book review being harsh and ignoring the books intent, but in fact, I was being kind in my review. I have since taken down the review from WLA. The review strayed from the idea I had of WLA. The second trigger was a video from Casey Neistat posted below. The video is currently how I feel about WLA and landscape architecture.
It is time to reassess what WLA is and the core principles of WLA and also what landscape architecture means in my life. Time for change for the better.
My landscape architecture blog – WLA has been a labour of love for 10 years and has luckily had supporters for about 6 out of the 10 years. It has always been hard to get financial supporters for WLA as it seems even now in the prosperous time’s people don’t see the value. WLA is not the only landscape architecture blog or writing that struggles to get funding. I am not complaining and understand the pressures of running businesses. However, it is troubling when the industry doesn’t back its own in promoting the industry, especially when every month I am paying out $$$ and not getting a salary or stipend for promoting the landscape architecture industry.
Many ask why don’t get more suppliers support WLA due to the high traffic on the website (50K visitors/month and 235,000 ranking in the world) and often my response is a mix of “suppliers don’t understand the value of blogs, digital media and are still into buying print and going to expos” or “they do their own blogs, social media and marketing so allocate the budget inhouse”. It is challenging and frustrating at times, usually at the end or the start of each year I think it is worth continuing for another year? What am I gaining? What are the benefits? Many think that WLA is some large team with a large budget when the truth is it is a one-man show using my own funds to keep it going. Many landscape blogs and sites have come and gone over the years, there are four (some old and some recent) that remain on different platforms (some with institute funding), 2018 will be interesting to see the changes.
I hope that 2018 is a good year and that I can get some more sponsors and partners. Currently, I have a few for this year and are thankful for their support.
I recently posted on WLA my blog predicting the future landscape architecture trends of 2018 and beyond. It is always an interesting blog to post as there are numerous topics to cover, but it sometimes it feels like I am doing a laundry list. I look to make the post an inspiration post whilst trying to balance out the doomsday side with more exciting tech and ideas. It is always interesting to see the reactions of people to the post – it either wows them or I get the “you don’t know what you’re talking about” comments. Either way, I enjoy writing and posting the predictions to promote discussion within the industry.
Over the 10 years of the WLA blog and this blog, I have written many op-eds and posts that people have commented and appreciated. One comment I often receive is that my writing could be at a higher level or more complex. However, I have consciously made the effort to write more simply.
I believe that most professions do themselves a disservice by writing long complex articles laden with jargon and even more so by academics. The general public and allied professionals often have little understanding of what it professions do and by using jargon you increase the gap for them to learn about your profession.
Many people who read WLA and this blog are not native English speakers or readers and often use translators to gain a full understanding of content. By writing in a complex or verbose manner you increase the chance that the translation is either a total misinterpreted or a mix of their language with a mix of English words. I know this from spending time living in China and also being married to a Chinese national who uses translators on a daily basis.
These are the main two reasons that I write more simply, I hope to make the general public have a greater understanding of landscape architecture and that those who aren’t native English readers can have a full understanding of my posts.
2018 has arrived and its another year with which we all hope is better than the last and we plan for work, holidays, events, and more. Some people have resolutions around an action like losing weight or similar, but as I posted at the start of 2017, I am more of a person who sets goals and breaks them into mini-goals (typical project manager style).
For 2018, I have once again set some goals around work, WLA, life, family and health – not in the order of course ;-).
I wish you and your family a great 2018 and hope that the year brings whatever you hoped for.
Recently the Victorian Government announced that the Yarra Building in Federation Square which currently accommodates the Koorie Heritage Trust is set to be demolished to make way for an Apple Global Flagship Store. The public backlash from the community was swift as there was no public consultation or Expression of Interest or due process. The main concern from the public is two-fold, the use of cultural public space that celebrates Australian Federation is set to house a global commercial enterprise and secondly that the proposed building has little reference to existing iconic architecture.