“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! 🙂

After a long break I’m returning to blogging. To make a good start, I will begin with a competition – design post 😀 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 Wrocław. 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 🙂

Have a nice evening and so long! 😀

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

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My new website

Hello 🙂 I would like to show you my new website, where I present my works related to landscape architecture. You will find there my portfolio with my projects and drawings, information about my scientific activity, my photographies and my references and certificates. I will be writing both in Polish and in English. I hope you like it.

I will be very happy if you drop by! 🙂

CLICK!

Have a great weekend 😀

My proposition for a narrow garden

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I created a few zones in the garden.

The first zone is situated in front of the house, and I suggest some junipers (Juniperus squamata) along with roses (Rosa sp.) to grow there.

The following zones are located behind the house. They are separated from each other by a winding path (gravel or stone), which will visually widen a narrow space of the garden. The path will be broken in two points so it is possible to walk from one zone to another. The distinction of the zones will make the garden space more attractive.

The recreational zone is situated near the terrace, and here the landlords together with their family and friends can spend their time meeting, eating, drinking, etc. Apart from a couple of furniture elements (eg. chairs, armchairs, table) you can arrange here a few big pots with Astilbe sp. (eg. Astilbe arendsii) and Echinacea sp. Near the tterrace, on a lawn, there is a place for a small paddling pool, for a summertime.

Another two zones are for relaxation purposes.

I suggest to plant some species along the path to colour it a bit – eg. 60-100 cm high grasses (Fescue Festuca cinerea, panic grass Panicum virgatum), Japanese spirea (Spiraea japonica) shrubs and a few perennial species – eg. peach-leaved bellflower (Campanula persicifolia) or triangle pink (Dianthus deltoides).

The shrubs growing at the end of the garden (the same species as in the front zone – junipers and roses) are an extension of the path. The shrubs refer to the plants growing in front of the house and  compose a nice closing of the relaxation zone.

The plant species chosen for this garden create a mild, green and violet colour compositions, without excess of hues (we have to be very careful while picking colours for such a small space).

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” (“Zieleń 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 🙂

The chosen site

For this work we chose a fragment of the Różanka housing developement in the north of Wrocław, 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 – water 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 – children, 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 – 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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Urban space for stressed people

Actually I can’t talk about my studying in Copenhagen without mentioning my biggest project I worked on there – a design I prepared for Health Design classes (I wrote about Health Design a bit in the previous post here).

The purpose of my work is to show how a potential restorative urban environment, where stressed and mentally fatigued people may find peace and restore their minds, could look like.

I selected people suffering from stress and mental fatigue as a group of users, because I think stress is a serious problem nowadays. Most of the people is influenced by it. Without doing necessary physical exercises, one cannot easily release from stress and that leads to considerable health complications. In addition, people being overloaded with unnecessary information, promptly become mentally fatigued, which unables them to work efficiently.

One of methods to help people deal with stress
and mental fatigue is to provide them properly designed environments, where they could spend their time and recover.

As for the area, my choice was the existing square at the Pomorska Street in the centre of Wrocław, Poland. The square is 290 m long and 38 m wide, 1,1 ha big. Its surroundings are noisy streets, residential building and several stores. At present the setting is an empty boring place, which does not show any coherency.

I used five theories, discussed during Health Design course:

1. ART – Attention-Restoration Theory (Kaplan&Kaplan, 1989)

Natural environment, containing little information to be transformed, enables people
to recover from mental fatigue. Kaplan&Kaplan (1998) specified following features of a good restorative setting:

– being away (recovering from mental fatigue requires that one be in some place other than the source of fatigue);
– extent (being a whole different world, that has its own rules and properties);
– fascination (deriving either from interesting places or processes like thinking and doing, eg. watching elements of nature).

2. Perceived sensory dimensions – PSD (Stigsdotter, 2009)
There are eight perceived sensory dimensions in green urban spaces:

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The results of the research show, that the most preferred dimensions are: Serene, Space, Nature and Rich in Species, ranked in order (Grahn&Stigsdotter, 2009). I applied all of them.

3. Mental Strenght Pyramid (Grahn, 1991; Ottonson&Grahn, 1998)
People, depending on their life situation and mainly on how strong their mental power is, perceive nature very differently.Image

People coming to a healing garden represent different levels of the pyramid, therefore, we planners should design a setting in a way to please all visitors.

4. The Prospect-Refuge Theory – PRT (J. Appleton, 1975)

The locations most preferred by humans are found at interfaces between prospect-dominant and refuge-dominant – meaning a landscape containing isolated trees.

5. Selected guidelines for designing restorative environments (Kaplan&Kaplan)
– quiet fascinations – features of the site permitting reflection; coming from the setting itself – eg. sound patterns, play of light or intensity of forms and colours, and from activities – eg. watching nature and gardening.
– mystery: enhancing the desire to explore a place by applying such elements as a crooked path or vegetation partially obscuring what lies behind.

6. Soundscapes – application of sound in the landscape.

The base of the project was to establish an area offering variety of rooms, where all people could feel better, being as close to nature as possible in the centre of Wrocław.

The overall design achieved by applying crooked lines : the violet for a path and a complementary yellow-green for Miscanthus grasses and shrubs (Buddleja and Carpinus betulus)

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Main division of the square and the theories implemented in the project

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Rooms 1 and 2: birch grove and marshy areaImage

Rooms 3 and 4: meadow and cafeteriaImage

Room 5 and 6: playscapes and prospect-refuge space

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 Masterplan

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Would you feel relaxed in this place? 😀 Have a nice weekend! 😀

Nacadia

I travelled to Denmark to study landscape architecture at the University of Copenhagen 2 years ago at the end of August, that’s why some posts this month will refer to this trip. I spent there only one semester, but I’ve learnt a lot and found out new areas of interest. Nature-based therapy and how to design space for the people – so they feel better, are some of them.

My Italian friend Lucia and me – Health Design classes excercise 🙂

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I heard about it while participating in Health Design classes. Each of the students chose a group of users, which suffered from a specific disease or disorder (stress, old age, cancer..) and designed an area for those people, using theories from the classes. Before we started working on our projects, we visited some places in Copenhagen and out of it, and The Healing Forest Garden of Nacadia was very special among them.

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The Garden is located in the Hørsholm Arboretum, 30 kms north of Copenhagen and it was constructed on a one hectare parcel. The design of Nacadia and the nature-based treatment (NBT) concept was developed from 2007 to 2009 by an interdisciplinary group at the University of Copenhagen (including landscape architects, medical doctors, psychologists and therapists), led by Ulrika Stigsdotter (our Health Design teacher :)).

Nacadia was created for people suffering from stress-related illnesses. It provides treatment for them, based on NBT. The Garden is located in the North America and Europe parts of the Arboretum, where you can find mature, tall trees and lush vegetation. There is also a spacious greenhouse, an important setting for a therapy. Most of the treatment takes place outdoors.

The pictures presenting the greenhouse

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Group of students participating in Health Design classes 🙂Image

One of the most interesting aspects of Nacadia, is, in my opinion, the use of colours in the Garden. It is well known, that people with high level of anxiety and stress feel more nervous among contrastive and bright colours. They prefer calm and natural colours, like green and blue, so they can relax and feel better. When they are ready, they can visit areas, which offer greater diversity of hues.

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The Nacadia Garden is intended for people suffering from stress and stress-related diseases, but I think anybody who enters this place and spends some time there, feels much better. By the way, what do you think about the name of the Garden? The first idea that came to my mind was Arcadia, but then I thought also about Narnia. In fact, it is a combination of these two names 🙂

The most interesting buildings of Wrocław – part 3

I have some pictures presenting the oldest part of my city for you. I took the photos a few days ago, when the temperatures were extraoridinary high (36,6!), but I managed somehow to take a stroll on the Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski).

Let’s begin with the Grunwaldzki bridge 🙂

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The National Museum, covered with thick grape ivy (Parthenocissus)

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The Boats’ Bay (Zatoka Gondoli), where you can rent a boat or a canoe 🙂

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The Peace Bridge and the buildings of The Wrocław University Library and the Wrocław University Faculty of Chemistry

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The Old Town Promenade with vantage point

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Wrocław Cathedral

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The Cathedral Island – Ostrów Tumski

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The fountain by the Wrocław University Faculty of Philology

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The Ossolineum – one of the largest scientific libraries in Poland

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