Tag: landscape


Anam City

Anam City is a new town along the Niger River Delta under construction in Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria: a community-funded rurban prototype for a population of 30,000 over the next twenty-five years. It was designed between 2009 and 2012 by an interdisciplinary team of architects, urban planners, engineers together with community stakeholders using digital and participatory tools for sustainable development.   Anam City appeared at the Clinton Global Initiative, launching a commitment to advance a novel model for sustainable development in Africa, and has additionally featured at the Smart City Expo (Barcelona) with World Economic Forum case studies, at Archi Afrika in Casablanca and the Harvard University African Development Conference.     Anam City proposes a rurban perspective — urban density combined with rural productive landscape — that considers sustainable development as a coupled problem of hardware and software. Through design we can make better components (hardware) for human settlement with improved integration to landscape systems in Africa. However, optimized performance is equally contingent on developing operating systems (software) in the image of indigenous users, coded to virally exploit extant cultural modalities to modify behavior within networked social ecologies. Such a model of hybridized rural/urban design/build can spread most powerfully as an open-source platform.   The ANAM model defines sustainability according to a treble schema (S-E-T) whereby Sociological, Ecological and Technological parameters form the logic circuit that mediates hardware and software in the rurban context. The Anam City project is the coordinated effort of a single African community to transform by means of available tools both its community hardware (into a new town conceived as an urban-scaled landscape of green infrastructure) and its operating system (into an open-source platform tuned via culturally-embedded social technology). Sustainability thus becomes the pure mandate of viability: similar to the cultural act of survival enacted daily across the continent, and concomitant imperative of affordability, Anam City seeks — experimentally — to sustain a collective initiative that radically changes outcomes by reprocessing existing conditions.    HARDWARE: Derived from traditional landscape practices and induced by environmental constraints, the land use and urban design of Anam City utilize green infrastructure to regulate urban systems and to buffer ecological ones. Infrastructure systems such as solar energy, biological wastewater treatment, biogas generation, and food production are decentralized throughout the city to allow for incremental growth. These systems are progressively networked and scaled for maximum resource efficiency, while techniques of construction utilize local materials, low-carbon install and passive strategies for control of microclimate.     SOFTWARE: Given that the last half-century of advances in intermediate and appropriate technology are largely absent from everyday life in Nigeria, Anam City prioritizes technology transfer first, local capacity-building via social programming second and targeted indigenous innovation third. The goal of the Anam City project is not to reinvent the wheel, but to leverage accessible technology toolkits to help accelerate the Anam community's natural rate of development. The method is to install open technology streams into the community's operating system (social relations and kinship networks, customary governance structures, traditional value register and web of cultural belief systems). Once established, such channels can be shared community-wide and updated or upgraded iteratively. Coding social technologies into the existing ways that people live and work allows for user-driven adoption of new sustainability practices.     The Anam City Master Plan is freely available online; print copies can be ordered on demand. Full project team includes: DK Osseo-Asare, Stacy Passmore, Abena Sackey, Belgin Gulmrü, Ayodeji Akintunde, Dr. John Onyeka, Ismaila Adoke, Cashmond Baker, Samuel Coffie, Isabel Carreras-Baquer, Nuzrat Gyamah-Poku, Sara Jacobs, Quardean Lewis-Allen, Orlena Scoville, Andrew Smith, Julia Strickler, Eric Ansanelli, Jay In, Alex Antobre Seinuah, Ena Sivcevic, Kwame Akoto-Danso, Anthony Nnualue, Donatus Nwanegbo, Anthonia Ngozi Morba, Barthlomew Okonkwo, Michael Nwakonuche, Chioma Obi Ndive, Fidelis Chife, Linus Nnekwe Ifeanyi, Nkiru Onyekwelu, Francis Obiano, Udenna Onyekwelu, Maria Chife, Charles Okoye, Valentine Onyekwelu and Ifeoma Chukwudedelu with Quilian Riano (DSGN AGNC), and Ryan Bollom and Ashley Heeren (LOWDO).

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Concept design in Dripping Springs

We've got a number of projects on the boards right now-- this is a guest house and main house in Dripping Springs, TX all connectected under one roof. We are considering a variety of facade concepts.




Berekuso Hill Station

Berekuso Hill Station is an anticipatory development that seeks to remake landscape as institution. As the city of Accra --like all Africa-- urbanizes its environment, the hill station on a summit opposite Ashesi University in the peri-urban village of Berekuso, is an experiment in ecology: a project to grow a 20-acre park as counterpoint to the unchecked ecological pressure of rapid urbanization in the Greater Accra environ.

As a landscape like the Berekuso context --still natural enough to support bush hunting-- urbanizes, what sort of impact on the emerging community can a dedicated ecological sink have? Building an open-source productive landscape can encourage active lifestyles and active architectures simultaneous with a new social force promoting sustainability.

Berekuso Hill Station promotes sustainable lifestyle and interaction between public and nature in support of biodiversity.

Landscape design was derived from GPS-enabled site analysis in order to optimize water catchment systems, existing vegetation and view corridors. (Process sample at Google Map generated by My Tracks Android app).







Hill Country Bakery Addition

Rolling in Thyme and Dough began as an organic produce vendor in 2006 and has transformed into a Dripping Springs hot spot -- a place where people can relax, work, and enjoy a wide assortment of food. It has done so by preserving the existing home it operates out of (originally built in the 1890's), building on the town's historic fabric in a manner which enhances the ambience of the community. 

The business, however, has consequently outgrown the old house. In order to alleviate congestion and enhance the great social atmosphere it provides, the owner decided to add a new dining room, EI bar, kitchen, storage and outdoor deck.

The design strategy strives to pay homage to the existing house by lightly connecting to it with a series of simple buildings that open to the surrounding nursery. It also applies minimal stress to the existing structure while allowing the business to continue functioning during the majority of construction.

The surrounding nursery provides a great opportunity to integrate the spaces and porches in a beautiful garden setting. A deck will extend from the new dining area, conneced by a series of windows.

"Green" screens provide protection from a harsh sun, integrate the new and old facades, and redirect existing circulation paths.





Shiner Guesthouse

The farmhouse has long served as an iconic link between human society and the earth. Located in the expansive rural landscape of southeast Texas, this project connects "home" with outside landscape at varying depths through moments of everyday use.

While a house in a more urban setting must obscure its contents--protect those within it--a farmhouse removed from urban contexts, standing alone on acres of land, can celebrate transparency and the proliferation of uninterrupted visual corridors.

Rather than feeling carefully guarded when opening a screen, inhabitants in the farmhouse enjoy the freedom of feeling that their surroundings lay open before them at all times.


The master plan thus situates two pieces, main house and guest house, such that a shared landscape emerges that moves not only from house to landscape but also from house to house.

The buildings are positioned to best take advantage of sweeping views toward the rolling hills and town of Moulton, as well as to best control wind and sun exposure in the hot Texas climate.


DC Public School


This thesis formulates design methods for creating strong relations between the school and public spaces. Download the complete research publication: Rethinking the Contemporary Urban School.

This is a critical notion in an age where students increasingly depend on digital devices that allow them to avoid conflict and confrontation in the physical urban environment, while their desire to be seen and validated by ‘others’ through mediated connections increases. The significance of the public institution as a center for information exchange and civic engagement has diminished in favor of new media, which has become a staple at home and is trending increasingly mobile.

While the potential of digital media to proliferate information, construct knowledge, and connect diverse publics is tremendouse, we must still critically conisder its technologies and how they are deployed in contemporary society. The internet allows for diverse information flows and creates opportunities to gather information that is otherwise difficult to obtain. Digital applications, however, leverage user profiles and patterns to help individuals navigate towards similar types of information, which can have the effect of narrowing the field of interest and desire.

While the influence of the civic institution in society, especially the pubic library, has diminished, the school remains a crucial site for the development and maturation of personal and collective identity; although, in the United States, in many instances its design is still based on the agrarian values from which it originated.

Connecting the school to public space creates an opportunity to empower students to take ownership and provide a voice to that space, effectively connecting them to a large collective where they can watch the consequences of that voice physically unfold.

The MacArthur Foundation’s report Living and Learning with New Media: The Digital Youth Project finds that new media allows young people to develop skills for jobs and careers in a way that teachers cannot, suggesting that teachers should not necessarily focus on developing skills, but guiding youth’s participation in public life more generally, which includes social, recreational, and civic engagement. Schools must become interdiscipllinary not only in their curricula, but also in how they engage the community at large. Therefore, the secondary school might be rethought as a new civic insitution which connects to the public more broadly, directs civic engagement, and links the potential public sphere of digital networks to physical space.

Design proposal for a contemporary urban school: student controlled dynamic facade which serves as a voice for the community:

This prototype design for a contemporary urban high school is located on H-Street in Washington DC and attempt to integrate the school with both it local community and the world beyond.


Herradura Ranch Residence

The client desired an economic barn-style house for a 7,000 acre ranch. He is a major league baseball pitcher who will only live and train at the location during the off-season; therefore, minimal investment for the living quarters was demanded—the value lay in the land.

In order to achieve the space and program requirements for this ranch-style training facility and house, a pre-fabricated metal building package was ordered which included 11 standard sized windows and two garage doors. The prefab building, typically used for industrial warehouses and sheds provides enclosure for living, barn, and training spaces at minimum expense. Two additional garage doors were added: when opened they provide expansive views out to the landscape, embracing the expansive Southeast Texas landscape—they bring light and long views throughout the building's simple yet dynamic spaces.. When closed they protect against the hot texas sun and provide security to the building when unoccupied.

The metal building is transformed from its traditional industrial typology to an intertwined living/training space which sits in the landscape as an art object.

The stairs and patios become the playful connective tissue which weave through the building and bind the spaces together.

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Garden St Landscape

The landscape finished a while back, but we haven't had much time to blog. we also recently finished the cascading porch in the back.

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Connecting the inside to the outside

The Shiner guesthouse is coming along well with a few bumps along the way, including the loss of our camera which had a lot of the framing images. Its almost completely dried in now.

Great thing about a farmhouse on lots of land: you don't have to worry about privacy all that much. So, we tried to create cross views through the interior to connect the inside and out while framing shots of the beautiful landscape.

The double height living space spans across the barn-style volume from east to west so it should get a great cross breeze (its always windy in Shiner).

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Landscape Begins (finally)

We took a little bit of a break after finishing the house to decompress and figure out what exactly to do with the landscape. Now things are going strong again and the yard will get finished up very quickly with the help of American Trees Landscaping and some great designers. We'd like to thank Jennifer Orr and Megumi Aihara for all of their great design advice and suggestions and especially Gena Wirth for taking our design concept to another level and designing a great landscape for this house.

The great thing is we are re-using almost all of the landscape materials we harvested from the site when we originally cleared it.

We had a lot... check out our first post in January to see what the site previously looked like. First steps: we re-used the pavers to create a patio in the backyard.

We built our own custom gabions using metal panel fencing and then started to fill them with the concrete cylinders and general debris. (we'll reorganize the contents a bit later). The gabions are great because they will help slow down water runoff and soil erosion on the sloping site and serve as benches.

In addition to re-using all of the site materials, creating a landscape that was low maintenance and durable in the austin environment is of critical importance to us. So, we are using a lot of low maintenance native plants, only a small planted area of low maintenance grass, and lots of gravel.

More to come in the next few days.

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