Birmingham School of Architecture announces its 2012 lecture series


Birmingham School of Architecture has announced its 2012 lecture series, part of the Critical Design and International Studio Modules, supported by BIAD Research, Birmingham School of Architecture, the Trust Fund and MADE.

The lectures are open to all staff and students of Birmingham City University and professionals in the region. Places are limited, and there is no charge. Please contact MADE to book a seat.

All lectures start at 5.45pm in the Emma Jesse Phipps Lecture Theature, BIAD, Birmingham City University, Gosta Green and are followed by wine and nibbles in the café.


1 February: Andrew Grant, From Safe European Homes to Wild Asian Landscapes.

8 February: Carl Steinitz, Public Participation in Landscape Planning: a Prognosis for the Future

15 February: Noël van Dooren, On Landscape, Time and Drawing

22 February: Andrew Wilson, And the planting……? The loss of design rigour in our planting.

29 February: Neil Porter, World Cities - Liveable Landscapes

7 March: Fruzsina Zelenák, Landscape Design in Hungary (1pm, Room 217, Gosta Green)

7 March: Peter Neal, Masterplanning big landscapes

14 March: Paul Shepheard, Infrastructure

21 March: Ruth Morrow, Title tbc.

25 April: Sue Anne Ware (tbc)

2 May: Jeppe Aagard Anderson, Cities are for people - urban form

9 May: Richard Weston, Transformations: designs from nature

16 May: (tbc)

1 February: Andrew Grant, From Safe European Homes to Wild Asian Landscapes

The potential of landscape architecture to connect people with the natural world explored through recent work of Grant Associates. We are interested in the relationship between the tamed urban landscapes of modern cities and the wildness of unspoilt landscapes. Our practice is very fortunate to be working on all scales of project from the design of the intimate domestic housing spaces such as the Stirlng prize winning Accordia in Cambridge through to the regional planning of a 100,000hectare national park in Malaysia, one of the last refuges for wild Tigers in mainland Asia.

The focus of the talk will be to describe the design process behind the Gardens By the Bay project in Singapore. Due for completion this year, this is a 54 hectare urban park that includes 2 hectares of air conditioned glasshouses, a collection of landmark landscape structures, the ‘Supertrees’ and a matrix of themed interpretation gardens exploring the ethnobotany and ecology of Singapore. The project has been identified as one of the top 5 projects of 2012 by Building magazine and will be featured as one of the National Geographic Megastructure documentaries.

Andrew formed Grant Associates in 1997 to explore the emerging frontiers of landscape architecture within sustainable development. His approach is driven by a fascination with creative ecology and the promotion of quality and innovation in project work. He has built up experience in all scales and types of projects from subregional planning to the detailing of the smallest piece of new landscapes.

In 2011 Andrew was made an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA reflecting the strong relationships he has developed with many of the leading architects in the UK and abroad and his work on key architectural projects such as the 2008 Stirling Prize winning Accordia.. Andrew is currently leading a number of high profile multi disciplinary projects in the UK and abroad including the £500million Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Having studied Landscape Architecture at Heriot Watt University/ Edinburgh College of Art 1977-1982, he is a member of Cabe Space, the South West Region Design Panel and Bath’s Public Realm and Movement Design Panel, an External Examiner for landscape courses and regularly presents the work of Grant Associates at International Conferences.

8 February: Carl Steinitz, Public Participation in Landscape Planning: a Prognosis for the Future

Landscape planning, in common with all physical design activities, requires answers to six questions:

1. How should the landscape context be described in content, space and time?

2. How does the landscape context function?

3. Is the current context working well?

4. How might the landscape context be changed in the future?

5. What difference might the changes cause?

6. How should the landscape context be changed?

There is a commonly held expectation that the answers to these questions and their coordination into a landscape plan for an area will be undertaken by a team of professionally and scientifically trained persons, guided by a client committee which is frequently a branch of government. My talk will show examples of how each of these questions has been answered directly through public participation. It will raise an awkward question: what will the future professional roles be when today’s developing technologies are ubiquitous and enable direct public participation in all aspects of planning and design?

15 February: Noël van Dooren, On Landscape, Time and Drawing

Noël van Dooren, a Dutch landscape architect, writer and researcher, is currently working on a PhD about ‘Drawing Time’ and his talk will focus on his fascination for drawing. Initially discussing drawing as separate topic from landscape architecture, he will consider topics such as what it means to speak about a section as section, and will suggest that to think about drawing is to think about history, design processes and design cultures. He will address the taxonomy of drawings, the position of specific drawing types like ‘the map’ or ‘the visualization’, and the role of the drawing as piece of art and as representation of reality.

Since his research is also about time, in the second section of his talk, he will ask what exactly is time in landscape architecture and how might it be represented? In a richly illustrated talk, Noël van Dooren, will, in a relaxed and informal manner, offer many diverse topics for discussion, in particular, asking whether we should reconsider contemporary ways of visualizing and shouldn’t we be more aware of time; if so, should we draw it and how?

Noël van Dooren (1967) worked at H+N+ 1992-1997 and as independent landscape architect 1997-2012. His projects are mainly related to water (dike reinforcement; reconstructions of river plains and rainwater catchment areas). He was member of the board of the Dutch professional magazine Blauwe Kamer and he wrote books and articles on landscape architecture. He was head of the landscape architecture department at the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam 2004-2009. The Academy offered him the opportunity to pursue the ‘Drawing Time’ research as a PhD. Erik de Jong (University of Amsterdam) and Udo Weilacher (TU Munich) are supervising the research

22 February: Andrew Wilson, And the planting……? The loss of design rigour in our planting

Trained originally in landscape architecture Andrew Wilson is a garden designer and a director of the Wilson McWilliam Studio, an award winning garden and landscape design practice in London. Commissions include the recently opened Rose Garden at the Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park.

He is also Director of Garden Design Studies at The London College of Garden Design and lectures regularly both nationally and internationally. In addition to his teaching at many garden design colleges he has also taught at University of Sheffield, The University of Greenwich, BCU and Falmouth College in garden design and landscape architecture. As a writer and author, his most recent publications are The Gardens Of Luciano Giubbilei (Merrell) and Contemporary Colour in the Garden (Timber Press). Andrew is a show garden judge for the RHS, a former Chairman of The Society of Garden Designers and a regular contributor to Gardens Illustrated and The Garden. He is the founding editor of The Garden Design Journal.

29 February: Neil Porter, World Cities - Liveable Landscapes

Neil Porter, Joint Director and Designer, Gustafson Porter, will talk about Gustafson Porter’s past and present work, creating contemporary parks that respond to the unique cultural, climatic and physical contexts that surround them, but also take on special challenges relevant to all cities in transformation - Amsterdam, Beirut, Singapore, Milan, Valencia, Beijing.

7 March: Peter Neal, From Grey to Green: Masterplanning big landscapes

Current practice in landscape masterplanning is increasingly looking to establish a richer, more dynamic and diverse green infrastructure that harnesses the power of natural processes and systems. The challenge is to progressively depart from a heavily engineered grey infrastructure to one that is more flexible, more attractive, more connected and far more cost effective to deliver. Such practice has an interesting back catalogue that includes Olmstead’s proposals for park and parkway systems, Howard’s vision of Garden Cities, our post-war planning of the New Towns to more recent design competitions for post-industrial urban parks and parklands. This lecture reflects on the lessons from the recent masterplanning of big landscapes drawn across the scales - from region, to city, district and site. Green infrastructure frameworks, open space strategies and landscape masterplans are increasingly being used as vehicles to lead and coordinate a more integrated approach to the sustainable regeneration of urban districts and wider city regions. This includes work across the Mersey Basin for the Atlantic Gateway, through greening strategies for the cities of Liverpool and Leeds to work throughout the Thames Gateway culminating with the near complete Olympic Park for London 2012 – arguably one of the most sophisticated and ambitious urban landscapes our country has ever built.

Peter Neal is a landscape architect and environmental planner. Formerly Head of Public Space at CABE, he ran a national planning and design enabling programme that championed the value of urban parks and green spaces and helped develop national environmental policy. As an independent consultant he now works across public, private and charity sectors, acting as a design advisor for the Olympic Delivery Authority, which he has done for over five years and serving on a number of expert advisory networks and panels.

14 March: Paul Shepheard, Infrastructure

The working title of this talk was 'Infrastructure: default/actual'. It is part of Paul's continuing enquiries into the structures of the material world.

A 'default' is an orthodox position, and Paul starts with the idea that the infrastructure defaults we assume are usually either profit or history, though we talk about utility most of the time. When Paul suggests 'actual', he is trying to show that something else lies beneath these rationalisations: because infrastructure means 'the structure that lies beneath'.

The lecture proceeds by a series of landscape parables that explore this interpretation of infrastructure. A study of Europe as a single entity leads to a simple geometrical analogy of space depicted as points (cathedrals), lines (rivers) and field (Germany): A study of the edge of the continent reveals the horizon as a phenomenon of the curved earth, which leads to the trope of the bowl of the horizon, addressing problems of individual perception, and then on to speculations about the deep nature of the actual world and the solar system, the problem of current one world theories, the nature of the spherical surface of the planet and the coincidence of gravity with the third dimension: point, line and field is renovated as line, field and volume, and cathedrals appear again in this context as infrastructural buildings.

The study of gravity leads on to speculations about the structure of the biomass as an evolving infrastructural phenomenon and to enquiries into the nature of mimetic landscapes illustrated by the cities of Silbury, Jerusalem and Houston.The mimetic is further pursued in examinations of the sites of Lascaux, Delphi and Geku as manifestations of mimetic process and the mechanics of DNA transmission are looked at as an analogy for form, both of which subjects illuminate the problem of sustainability, with the township of Soweto and of the northern European cathedrals, again, as examples.

For more information visit Paul Shepheard's website.

9 May: Richard Weston,Transformations: designs from nature

Working with digital data captured from natural materials such as minerals, shells and rocks, Richard Weston Studio designs a wide range of products from scarves to hand-bound journals, iPad covers to jewellery, available in leading stores and on Net-a-Porter. The lecture will present this work alongside new projects for a new house and studio and travelling exhibitions, and explore the wider potential of returning to nature as a source of inspiration for design and architecture that are being opened by digital technologies.

Image © Phil Jones, Grant Associates

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