Thursday, December 4, 2008

Green Rooftop Art

Santa Maria Catrina Market employs colour and pattern to describe its function. Its roof is made from Spanish mosaic tiles which relate to the markets cultural context, and whose vivid colours represent the food that market vendors sell. The part I find most important about this structure though is the way that the roof enhances the esthetic of the community. The neighbours views are enhanced by the market's rooftop. This example was shown by Vaike during her lecture on colour, by Jae during our studio input, and I am showing it again here! But I think this example is important and I wanted to post it because I see a strong correlation between this fresh, exciting rooftop/art piece, and the potential for green roofs to achieve the same esthetic in a more sustainable way. In our last lecture the speaker's green roofs were so beautiful that they should be incorporated into future market designs, perhaps growing some of the food the market would sell.

Last Class Reflection

The past semester has challenged, enlightened, worked, and inspired me. When I saw Judith's heading of "Reflections from our last class" I honestly felt quite sad! I'm not sure that this blog is a forum for discussing feelings though, so on that note, and in a more intellectual manner, I would like to reflect briefly the last class lecture, and then I would like to touch on the class as a whole.

The presentation of green roofs during the last class gave me further insight into the possibility of integrating non-traditional landscapes into the urban context. What is it about Germany? The last lecturer originates in this design hot bed and her presentation reflected the innovative values that seem to inform many German designs. I believe that to create these innovative designs, narratives are critical. The speaker's presentation demonstrated how narratives informed, shaped, and strengthened her garden designs.

Although Jae mentioned that he did not want us to blog on his installment of our last Natural and Human Systems lecture, I am compelled to. His presentation intrigued me because it outlined the kind of alternative projects that can be explored in architecture. When Jae presented some of his projects I understood more clearly what he reiterated throughout the class, he has advised us to become deeply involved in the culture of design. His photographs of late night meetings and collaborations with artists and designers reflect the kind of experiences I hope to have. His projects were innovative and conceptually strong, and this is the kind of design I want to participate in in the future.

As this class has shifted Judith's appreciation of natural systems, my perceptions have also changed. I am starting to experience the pull and the culture of design. This class has made me realize the relevance of everything, especially in an era of sustainability. Designs that succeed, that count, consider and account for as many factors as possible. We have learned that these factors are cultural, economic, social, sustainable, esthetic, sensory, and the list goes on and on and on...

Reflections for Last Class

Our last lecture for the semester was given to us by Anna, a professor from the landscape department. Originally from Germany, Anna brought to the class a huge knowledge base of green roof's and a variety of different practices. The green roofs that were shown as examples from Germany were outstanding. Some places looked as if you wouldn't even know you had neighbours because the buildings and its rooftops were completely outfitted with greenery. The main difference in the number of green roof's here in Winnipeg versus Germany was not due to climatic factors, but instead the difference in our laws. In Germany, developers must compensate to add more green space if they are to build something. This is a concept that Winnipeg should definitely start looking into. 

The different layers that are needed to create a green roof and different soil levels to accommodate certain plants were explained to us. We also learned the difference between a Green Roof and a Roof Garden, the latter being accessible to the public and the prior only used for ecological purposes. Some may say green roof's are "tarting up  a building", but I believe green roofs are an excellent way of integrating the built form and nature. The roofs provides us with heating and cooling services and water retention, at the same time putting green landscapes back into the city.

Jae ended the semester with an anecdotal experience in his architecture career involving, 14 cats, a dying woman, and a grow op. My views about design have definitely changed and expanded as a result of Natural and Human Systems. My human-centric thoughts that design is for people first has definitely changed with the realization that architects design for everyone and everything (including cats). I must say overall I really enjoyed the variety of people who lectured in our class. I found the blog to be extremely effective in getting students to explore all the innovative types of designs and technologies out already in development or practice.

Living, Breathing Architecture

What I love about this design is that it reads life and breath and looks like it was brought directly from nature. The expansive green roof is designed to mimic the function of low-lying ground cover vegetation. What particularly attracted me to this design is the way it takes on complete life, in it’s movement of form and the way it sort of looks like it could inhale and exhale, as if the structure as a whole was a living organism, not only the green roof. The idea of living, breathing structures is an element that I am considering with my final studio project. Creating an installation that incorporates movement of life into a space with its actual built form. Architecture does not have to be static, nor a place that solely houses life, it can become a part of the living realm as well.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Class Reflection: Last Class!

It is incredible to think that we are almost through an entire semester. It was a long time, that seemed some how to fly by all at the same time. I feel as though everyone around me has learned so much, and already come such a long was as designers. This class did exactly what Jae intended it to: stimulate out minds and support our design process and understanding. I am happy to say that I have learned alot from this class and have developed a strong appreciation for the importance of the systems that weave everything we interact with together. This has also scared and even overwhelmed me in that the considerations that should be addressed as designers are endless.

The term came to a close with a lecture from a German green roof expert (who is the wife of the German landscape architect who presented in a previous class). I was not aware of the specifications that came with green roofs. This just goes to show how far ahead Germany is. It is so amazing that they have legislation that forces people to compensate for any destruction of nature! If only we could follow in their footsteps. The only way for major change to take place is through the government. We saw this in the comparison of areas on either side of the American border, along the Alberta area. I enjoyed seeing the projects that she had done, they made me even more interested in landscape as a focus. I love the idea of picking out specific trees to fit in a certain space. It really must feel good to be a part of bringing nature into a space.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green Walls Patrick Blanc

Our last class lecture on green roof's inspired me to search for other ways of integrating the natural world onto our buildings. It didn't take me long before I came across the work of Patrick Blanc. A botanist and designer, Patrick Blanc has created the most stunning vertical gardens I have ever seen. Inspired by plants that grew on surfaces such as rock and needing little soil, he used the same principles of these plants and applied them to our wall surfaces. His vertical gardens turn the city from an urban jungle to an actual jungle. This is another great example of learning from nature and how we can use observed ecological principles to better the overall quality of life aesthetically and environmentally. An aspect which makes vertical gardens more appealing to me than a green roof is that it isn't hidden up on top of a building. Gardens on walls allows for more direct and interactive design.