“Spatial Inspirations” competition, safe and friendly backyards – part 1

First of all, I would like to greet you in the New Year 2014 and wish you all the best! ūüôā

After a long break I’m returning to blogging. To make a good start, I will begin with a competition – design post ūüėÄ I and my friend are taking part in the new edition of ¬†Polish “Spatial Inspirations” competition. This time it is about friendly and safe backyards.

You can find plenty of neglected, ugly and dingy backyards in my hometown WrocŇāaw. We chose one of them, and in this post I will show you how it looks at present. After closing of the competition I will present our solutions for this backyard and you will see how a space can change ūüôā

Have a nice evening and so long! ūüėÄ

PS. You’re welcome to visit my new website¬†CLICK!

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Ecological housing developement – project for “Spatial Inspirations” competition

A year ago I and my friend took part in “Spatial Inspirations” (“Inspiracje w Przestrzeni”) competition, organized by Polish magazine “Urban Greenery” (“ZieleŇĄ miejska”). Participants had to present their proposal for ecological housing developement and were free to choose the plot. See the description, masterplan and visualisations of our project below. I will be grateful for your comments – what you like and don’t like about our ideas, anything that comes to your head after reading and seeing it ūüôā

The chosen site

For this work we chose a fragment of the R√≥Ňľanka housing developement in the north of WrocŇāaw, Poland. The area is surrounded by six residential buildings (16 and 30 ms high) and at present is an empty, boring place, without any coherency. Most of its surface is covered with neglected grass. There is an artificial hill and some trees (most of all poplars and birches) in this setting.

Our proposals for ecological solutions

1. Stormwater management

Three dry bed streams collect water from one of the buildings’ gutters and lead it to some temporary water reservoirs. There grow water plants (eg. Typha latifolia, Phragmites communis, Sagittaria sagittifolia, Juncus sp., Carex sp., Acorus calamus, Iris pseudoacorus, Sparganium sp., Equisetum fluviatile) at the sides of the reservoirs, simoultaneously purifying their water.

2. Temperature reduction

The setting is exposed to the strong sun operation throughout the most of the day, and the temperature during summer reaches very high levels, therefore an attempt to reduce it is a need. Introduction of water elements and more greenery (trees, shrubs, grasses and creepers growing on the buildings elevation) could chill the air and change microclimate of this place to far more comfortable.

3. Biodiversity increase

We decided to increase the number of plant species by creating different habitats Рwater and meadow zones. You can find examples of plants suitable for water habitats above; for a meadow we suggest: Centaurea jacea, Cerastium holosteoides, Euphrasia rostkoviana, Plantago sp., Prunella sp., Achillea sp., Trifolium sp., Cirsium sp., Vicia sp., Phleum pratense, Poa sp., Festuca pratensis, Hypericum sp., Geranium sp., etc.

These new habitats will prove attractive for several animal species as well.

4. Ecological choice in illummination and small architecture objects

We chose LED Generation luminaires, because they allow ecological light emission.

The small architecture objects that we suggest in the project (benches, seats, dustbins) are made of natural materials (like wood).

Surfaces proposed by us (paths, recreational zone and relaxation zone surfaces) are water permeable. We decided only to leave asphalt surface on the street leading along the buildings, where residents drive and park.

Conception charasteristic – the shape

The shape of the conception, with its geometrical elements, refers to the way the buildings are arranged. The geometry is broken by the circular lines of the paths and dry stream beds, together with the greenery scheme.

Zones

The site was designed for residents of the surrounding buildings Рchildren, young people, adults and the elderly. Because of a very diverse group of users, we proposed several zones offering varied possibilities for spending time outdoors.

1. Playscapes

This zone is covered with water permeable, ecological surface. Besides made of natural materials devices for children to play and develop their fitness, benches for parents and grandparents, you can find water reservoirs here, so the kids may have the possibility to learn to know, love and respect nature.

Playscapes are isolated from other zones and from the street with abundant greenery (shrubs and tufty grasses, like Physocarpus opulifolius, Spiraea sp., Sorbaria sorbifolia, Cornus alba, Symphoricarpos albus, Pyracantha coccinea, Miscanthus sp.).

2. Recreational zone

It is also covered with ecological, water permeable surface. There is an outdoor gym with equipment for training located in this zone.

3. Relaxation zone

This zone consists of benches and seats situated in the shadow under the crowns of the bigger trees and in niches among the shrubs. We used some elements of soundscapes to make this place more comfortable and pleasant for the people spending their time there ‚Äď the sounds of water in reservoirs and rustle of wind in Miscanthus grasses will let them relax well for sure.

The criteria for choosing plant species for the area is first of all resistance to tough urban conditions (air pollution, drought) and photophilia.

             MASTERPLAN

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             VISUALISATIONS (the whole area, playscapes, relaxation zone and recreational zone)

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              A MODEL WE PREPARED FOR VISUALISATION

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SLANT FEST shortlisted projects

All the shortlisted projects are now available in full on SLANT website click¬†and on SLANT Facebook page click. You can view mine as well here¬†and here, but, anyway, I’m presenting my work here as well! ūüôā

The competition theme is “Evoking Memories” and everybody was free to interpret it. Here is a description of my project:

Interpretation of theme
When I look back into the times of my childhood, I remember spending time outdoors mostly. Running up and down a big courtyard, climbing trees, looking for snails and grasshoppers in the weeds, eating mulberries and hazel nuts while sitting on a branch, and playing in an old orchard. Many people I have asked have very similar memories from their
childhood. When I watch children today, I come to a sad conclusion that they were not given¬†this opportunity we had ‚Äď to spend their early years outdoors in natural environment. They¬†play on streets, among buildings and cars. Also adults have too few possibilities to experience¬†nature in the city and they tend to forget how they were spending their time when they were¬†kids.

The main idea of the present work is to design a space between apartment houses in a¬†way that will enable adults to evoke memories of their childhood spent in a close contact with¬†nature, and, simultaneously, give their own children a wonderful opportunity to learn from¬†their early years to discover and respect nature by spending time in it. Thus, the created area¬†provides a room, encouraging adults and children to occupy themselves with various¬†activities.¬†During the designing process I added to the concept several elements reminding me¬†my own childhood ‚Äď a mulberry tree, hazel shrubs and fruit trees referring to the orchard.¬†Therefore, my interpretation of the competition theme combines childhood memories¬†of different people on one hand and, on the other, my personal ones.

Plot location
The chosen plot is located in the south-west of WrocŇāaw, one of the biggest cities in¬†Poland. Its area is 695 m2 of irregular shape. It is not designed currently. The space is¬†enclosed by four-floor apartment houses, inhabited mainly by families with little children.

Design description

Boundary and entrances
The plot is enclosed by beech and common ninebark hedge from north, east and south side; west side is screened by a wooden fence. The boundaries are 2m high, giving feeling of privacy. The area can be entered by two entrances Рeach is as wide as the main path leading through the plot (150 and 120cm, respectively).

Use of hard materials
The design provides natural materials, like wood (benches, logs, stormwater container, swings), stone (stone path) and gravel (main path), but also a metal element can be found (a tower).

Use of plants
Only native plant species were selected. Another criteria for choosing the species was ability to grow in average soil and full sun, as these are the plot conditions. As the size of the plot is rather small, a limited number of taxas was proposed. You can find the plant species list in the project presentation. Meadow species were not included as they grow on their own and their number varies from season to season; species planted in the gardening area were not included to the list either, because it is people who decide which taxas grow there.

Zones
The designed plot is divided into three zones: recreational (I), wildlife (II) and gardening zone (III).

The majority of the recreational zone is covered with lawn, provided for leisure¬†activities (playing a ball or badminton, picnicking, sitting on the grass, etc). There are spaced¬†fruit trees, blossoming in spring and bearing fruits in autumn. People can admire them and eat¬†their fruit. The cherry tree is provided with a swing attached to its branches.¬†The recreational zone is separated from the outside space with a wooden fence,¬†covered with several varieties of clematis creepers, blooming during spring and summer.¬†Alongside the fence there are placed benches made from wood. They can be used, for¬†instance, by adults to sit and watch their children playing. Between the benches there grow¬†flowering plants (lavender, ornamental garlic, snake ‚Äď root, violet sage) and some neutral-hue,¬†soothing the colourful species, plants (hoary mugwort, acutiflorous reed grass, fescue).

There is also a small, about 2m high, hill designed here. It was created particularly for small kids to run up and down and roll about in summer or sledge in winter. Along the hill there weaves a stone path, continuing in through the trees to the next zone.

The wildlife zone is meant to provide abundance of flora and fauna species, as diverse as possible in the area limited in size and situated in the middle of the housing development. Its northern part was designed with trees and shrubs (birches, rowans, snowballs). It offers attractive opportunities for fans of hiding and climbing. Similarly as in the first zone, there are swings fixed to the branches of bigger trees. You will find also a mulberry tree in this part. Southern part of this zone is a meadow covered with wild plants. Here one can watch a great deal of butterflies and other insects accompanying the plants. The meadow is separated from the main path by elder shrubs. The stone path leads throughout the whole zone.

The gardening zone is created above all for horticultural purposes. Here children can¬†learn how to grow plants and take care of them. There are sectors for particular plants¬†prepared in this part of the zone, but no plant species are proposed. This is not designed, but¬†left for people to shape it. Next to the gardening area there is a metal tower, 2m high,¬†provided for people to climb it and watch gardens they have prepared, and the rest of the plot.¬†In the corner of this zone there is a wooden container to collect stormwater to be used¬†to water the plants.¬†There are several trees and shrubs belonging to the gardening zone ‚Äď hazel bushes¬†with branches for kids to sit on and pick up nuts, already existing Douglas fir, providing¬†opportunity to play hide-and-seek under its thick boughs, and some fruit trees.

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SLANT Open International Landscape Design Competition 2013 – short listed projects available on the SLANT website!

About an hour ago short-listed projects were uploaded on the SLANT website here¬†and among them¬†my work¬†!!! ūüėÄ I am very happy! I encourage you to visit SLANT website and admire all these amazing projects, because they represent really high level! And, if you like my work, I would be delighted if you voted ūüôā the theme of my project is “Memories of Childhood Spent in Nature”.

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