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Landscape Design

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2018

There are many components of exterior and landscape design for buildings. One such component is the retaining wall with the basic purpose of holding back earth. In addition to functionality, they also expand the usable surface area. Aesthetics of these walls is also an important aspect. There are mainly two things to be kept in mind while designing retaining walls. One is the type of material to be used and the other is the use of the land. Traditional materials used were railroad ties, found stone and treated landscape timber. But nowadays bricks, concrete blocks, poured concrete and steel are added to the list. Environmental friendliness is also important while choosing materials. Aesthetics and functionality should go hand in hand. Design of the front of the wall should be in line with the overall exterior design of the building and land should be effectively and beautifully used with each element appropriately fitted. Garden wall, also called screen wall, is a type of retaining wall used to enclose a garden. It is often used to created a tiered or terraced garden. There are multipe ways in which a garden wall can be designed to provide an elegant addition to home design - wall of flowers and shrubbery, next to a pool or patio, outside a home's garden window etc. Read on...

myAJC: Choosing the right retaining wall for your landscape
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 mar 2018

Architecture and design of living spaces has to adapt to the changing behaviors and lifestyles of people, changing climate and environmental patterns, evolving social and cultural landscape etc. Following are architectural trends for 2018 - (1) Understanding how millennials occupy and use space (Piedad Rojas): Behavior and habits of millennials point to their inclinations for minimal spaces that are highly flexible. They seek small, modern, multifunctional and minimalist apartments. (2) Architects facing the construction of their own work - the urgency of being on site (José Tomás Franco): To attain knowledge, understanding and training about materials and construction processes is a growing trend. To reconnect with the materialization of projects and work in multidsciplinary collaboration with others is key to better architecture. (3) The challenge of current architecture to approach the rural context (Fernanda Amaro): Rem Koolhaas said in 2016, 'The current challenge of architecture is to understand the rural world'. He appeals to architects that the future is in intervening in 'bare, semi-abandoned, sparsely populated, sometimes badly connected spaces', since this is where architects are seeing accelerated processes of change, and must take the lead. The trend is now emerging that understands the need to go to these areas and get to know these communities in order to incorporate, from a contemporary perspective, their ways of living, materials, traditional techniques and vernacular forms to guide the architect to make friendlier, more respectful and harmonious decisions with the natural and social environment in which they are inserted. (4) Social architecture faces the return of the pendulum (Nicolás Valencia): The trend visualizes and values informal architecture, vernacular techniques and commitment to those who have been left behind in society. The selection of Alejandro Aravena as the Director of the XV Biennial of Architecture of Venice and winner of the Pritzker Prize in 2016, signifies this trend. (5) The post-digital era enters the graphic representation timeline in architecture (Karina Zatarain): By merging the available digital tools with the representative intention of collage, some contemporary architecture firms have chosen to move away from the dominant hyperrealism, instead creating a new trend - post-digital representation. This is just the beginning of a new stage of negotiation between the cold precision of technology and the expressive quality inherent in architecture. (6) Political Architecture - creativity faces the regulations and the future of cities (Fabián Dejtiar): Spanish architect Andrés Jaque mentioned in the XX Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism of Chile 2017, by default 'all architects are politicians' and the real question is what forms of policy architects are willing to defend. In this regard, political action is a tool to enhance, incorporate or transform creativity. The process of balancing creativity in the framework of regulations will influence the future of cities. (7) The revenge of women in architecture (Camila Marín, Pola Mora): This year, the Venice Biennial of Architecture will be directed by two women architects - Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara - and the list of curators in charge of the national pavilions already has a much higher female participation than in previous years. Architectural discipline will see concrete actions taken to empower women and bring them in more powerful and prominent position. (8) Learning from Bamboo to reinforce our sensitivity and efficiency (José Tomás Franco): Bamboo is a multifaceted material and has more than 1500 documented uses. In construction, its current use is related to resistance, versatility and efficiency, and is linked to the beauty of the organic and innate respect for the environment. (9) A glimpse of the direction of post-earthquake architecture (Karina Zatarain): Architecture plays an important role in response to the reconstruction needs after different types of natural disasters. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban received the Pritzker Prize in 2014 and is known for his experimental and innovative use of materials such as paper and cardboard in buildings, and for his efforts to help homeless people after natural disasters or in refugee situations. Team of architects from Hong Kong was awarded in World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Berlin for their post-earthquake reconstruction project. They developed a new and economical compacted earth construction technique that will be more resistant to seismic activity. Topics like seismic resistance of different local materials and self-construction are part of architectural discussions. Read on...

ArchDaily: The 9 Architecture Topics You Need To Know About in 2018
Authors: Marina Gosselin, Piedad Rojas, José Tomás Franco, Fernanda Amaro, Nicolás Valencia, Karina Zatarain, Fabián Dejtiar, Camila Marín, Pola Mora


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2017

Richard J. Weller, professor of landscape architecture at University of Pennsylvania, and team of academics have created an online project called 'Atlas for the End of the World', a collection of maps and graphics to help viewers see where and how urbanization is in conflict with biodiversity. According to Prof. Weller, 'We mapped that interface between urban growth and the world's most valuable diversity...That conflict is bloody, it's disastrous, it's happening all over the world.' The project is an answer to Ortelius's 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' (Theatre of the World), printed in 1570 and thought to be the first modern atlas. Prof. Weller hopes that by 'mapping the intricacies of ecological conflict...architects, designers, and others can help create more ecologically sustainable relations between people and the planet.' Read on...

Nonprofit Quarterly: Data Activists Map the World's Ecological Conflict
Author: Cyndi Suarez


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2016

Local climate conditions and natural environment defines the efficiency, effectiveness and aesthetics of landscape design. Arizona's (USA) climate is charecterized by abundance of sunlight throughout the year with warm days, refreshing night and dry air. Therefore, outdoor living spaces are given extra importance by residents. To cater to this requirement, and provide comfort and functionality, architects and landscape designers are giving special emphasis to trends observed by CreativeEnvironments.com - (1) Sustainability: Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) considers sustainability as one of the leading trends of 2016; Water-starved state like Arizona, with twenty year of draught, has more relevance; Xeriscaping; Use of native, draught-tolerant, desert-adaptive plants; Grouping plants based on their water consumption; Rainwater harvesting; Use of rain barrels to capture water flowing off the roof; Designs can include contours like depressions, berms, or basins that collect rainwater; Edible gardens with native plants. (2) Indoor Comforts: Extending the comforts of indoors to backyards; Outdoor living spaces like kitchens, seating areas, fireplaces etc; Use of technology like WiFi, TV sets, irrigation controlling advanced systems; Energy-efficient LED lighting. (3) Modern Design: Modern landscape design includes a minimalist approach to planting, as well as geometric pools and patios that are defined by straight lines and right angles. These are a natural match for desert environment that is generally admired for stark beauty, simplicity, and clean lines. The austerity of modern design allows nature to take center stage, accentuating rather than distracting from the beauty of the surroundings. Read on...

AZ Big Media: Top landscape design trends harness the beauty of Arizona
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2016

A number of studies have strengthened the common belief that being around trees and close to nature improves one's mental and physical well-being. Research by Prof. Bin Jiang of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (now at University of Hong Kong) and his team, further emboldens the belief regarding the soothing aspects of green environment on stress levels and blood pressure. The study was undertaken to determine the dose-response curve between tree cover density and stress recovery. It included 158 volunteers in mildly stressful situations. The experiment utilized virtual reality headset to view 360-degree videos of an urban space with varying amounts of tree canopy visible. Results obtained from the tests showed a positive linear association between the density of trees and the self reported recovery from stress. Prof. Jiang comments, 'These finding suggest that viewing a tree canopy in communities can aid stress recovery and that every tree matters.' Researchers found that regardless of age, gender, and baseline stress levels the greater the exposure to trees, the less stress the subject felt. Read on...

Total Landscape Care: University study - Stress falls as exposure to trees increases
Author: Jill Odom


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 mar 2016

According to American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) survey of 803 US-based landscape architects, people are overwhelmingly concerned with water conservation. Some of the highlights of the survey include the following top 5 trends - (1) 88% reported that clients seemed most interested in rainwater or graywater harvesting elements. (2) Native plants. (3) Native or adaptive drought tolerant plants. (4) Low-maintenance landscapes. (5) Permeable landscapes. Nancy Somerville, CEO of ASLA, says, 'It does reflect a much greater awareness from the population as a whole, about critical issues like water conservation and energy efficiency, as well as water efficiency, and stormwater issues.' James Brown, Governor of California, considering the expected 5th consecutive year of drought, in addition to other measures also ordered that 50-million square feet of state-owned lawns be replaced with drought tolerant landscaping. According to Prof. Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland, 'People are starting to think about how their house and property fits into the broader urban landscape context, and how they might contribute to more sustainable built environments than we've had in the past.' The survey also observed that the creative shift towards water conservation is already visible. Lush, maximalist gardens and fountains, are being replaced by cool, sculptured minimalism. Prof. Pavao-Zuckerman adds, 'There are non-profits springing up devoted to teaching homeowners how to install water-saving elements themselves.' Read on...

WIRED: Saving Water Is So Hot Right Now in Landscape Design
Author: Margaret Rhodes


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 feb 2016

There is an established relationship between built environment and human health. It is important to understand how architectural design, interior design, building technologies and materials etc, interact with external natural environment. Health-centric design approaches are now being utilized for built environments like hospitals, schools, office spaces, homes etc. Urbanization is another aspect that has public health related consequences. According to the study, 'Walls talk: Microbial biogeography of homes spanning urbanization' (by Jean F. Ruiz-Calderon, Humberto Cavallin, Se Jin Song, Atila Novoselac, Luis R. Pericchi, Jean N. Hernandez, Rafael Rios, Oralee H. Branch, Henrique Pereira, Luciana C. Paulino, Martin J. Blaser, Rob Knight, and Maria G. Dominguez-Bello) published in journal Science, certain aspects of a house's design could have an influence on the types of microbes found inside, with more urban homes separating humans from the outdoors and keeping out the environmental microbes we once evolved to coexist with. Researchers speculate that these changes may be having impact on public health. The study focused on four communities of Amazon Basin with similar climates and outside environment, but with different levels of urbanization. Prof. Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello of NYU School of Medicine, 'We humans build the environments we live in and spend most of our time (in), and these may be very different to the natural environments. Very little is known about microbes of the built environment.' According to Prof. Graham Rook of University College London, who was not part of the study, 'There is increasing evidence that exposure to microbial biodiversity from the natural environment is important for health.' Prof. Humberto Cavallin of University of Puerto Rico's School of Architecture, comments, 'As we move from rural to urban...houses become more isolated from the outside environment and also become more internally compartmentalized according to the function of the spaces.' Prof. Jean Ruiz-Calderon, a biologist at University of Puerto Rico and lead author of the study, says, 'The results of the study reveal that microbes from house walls and floors differ across habitations. With increasing urbanization, houses contain a higher proportion of human-associated bacteria...and decreasing proportions of environmental bacteria...walls become reservoirs of bacteria that come from different sources depending on the use of the spaces.' Prof. Dominguez-Bello adds, 'We are in environments that are highly humanized, and therefore a lack of ventilation and high concentrations of human bacteria may...facilitate human-to-human transmission of microbes.' Prof. Ruiz-Calderon warns, 'As we alter our built environments in ways that diverge from the natural exposures we evolve with, we need to be aware of the possible consequences.' Read on...

The Washington Post: The hidden health consequences of how we design our homes
Author: Chelsea Harvey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 dec 2015

Design education promises to inculcate and enhance creativity within students and equip them with skills to build and develop products, services, spaces and environments in diverse industries. Given below is the select list of America's top design academics and educators from the disciplines of architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture, that was created with inputs from design professionals, academic department heads and students - Amale Andraos (Architecture, Planning & Preservation at Columbia University); Alan DeFrees (Architecture at University of Notre Dame); Dawn Finley (Architecture at Rice University); Steve French (Architecture at Georgia Tech); Geraldine Forbes Isais (Architecture & Planning at University of New Mexico); Charles Graham (Architecture at University of Oklahoma); Aki Ishida (Architecture & Design at Virginia Tech); Kent Kleinman (Architecture & Interior Design at Cornell University); Sharon Kuska (Architecture & Civil Engineering at University of Nebraska); Alison Kwok (Architecture at University of Oregon); Mohsen Mostafavi (Architecture & Design at Harvard University); Daniel Nadenicek (Planning & Landscape at University of Georgia); Guy Nordenson (Architecture & Structural Engineering at Princeton University); Juhani Pallasmaa (Architect & Lecturer from Helsinki. Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis & University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); James Rose (Architecture & Design at University of Tennessee); Hashim Sarkis (Architecture & Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Jeff Shannon (Architecture at University of Arkansas); Robert Shibley (Architecture & Planning at SUNY Buffalo); Christine Theodoropoulos (Architecture & Environment Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo); James Timberlake (Architecture at University of Pennsylvania); Ada Tremonte (Architecture & Interior Design at Drexel University); Rod Underwood (Architecture &' Planning at Ball State University); Adam Wells (Architecture at University of Houston); Jim West (Architecture, Art, & Design at Mississippi State University); Keith Wiley (Architecture & Environmental Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo). Read on...

DesignIntelligence: 25 Most Admired Educators for 2016
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 dec 2015

Healthcare systems in US are taking initiatives to achieve sustainable designs in their buildings. They are targeting high levels of energy efficiency as part of their new facility design. They are trying to balance both sustainability and bottom line and seek to positively impact their communities. They consider sustainability design as a continuously evolving process so that they can adjust, tweak, and redesign, and achieve higher standards. Alan Eber of Gundersen Health System, one of the industry's green leaders, says 'Our goal was to achieve 115 kBtu per square foot per year. The average for hospitals in our region is about 250 kBtu so it was well below half of what the average hospital uses.' Mr. Eber adds, 'One of the biggest design lessons on the project was the potential to reduce energy use with the geothermal heat pump. The system takes excess heat in the hospital and puts it back into the system so burning fossil fuels isn't required to heat the hospital, resulting in a huge energy savings.' Another health organization, Ascension Health, adopted new design standards and achieved an Energy Star rating of 97 for its new facility, through a combination of technologies such as energy recovery air handling units and a variable air volume turndown in non-critical spaces to minimize fan, cooling, and reheat energy. According to Gerry Kaiser of Ascension Health, 'We use a lifecycle approach to justify what might be a slight upfront premium to put in the kind of systems and equipment that it does. Once the hospital is open, it's very difficult to get money spent on upgrading equipment, whether it's five or 20 years old. We try to design our hospitals to last and to perform knowing that no one wants to spend money on the unglamorous things in the future.' Palomar Medical Center (PMC), for which the work started in 2002 and got completed in 2012, utilized the latest concepts, best practices and technologies available at that time. Building Information Management (BIM), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and sustainable design were at the initial stages of their development. Thomas Chessum of CO Architects says, 'PMC took advantage of the technology of the time, such as passive shading systems, heat-load reduction, and daylighting, to reduce its energy consumption, since LED lighting was still cost-prohibitive and active building programs like chilled beam systems weren't yet mainstream.' PMC had two main directives in their design process - (1) Create an environment that promotes health and healing. (2) Reduce the impact on the natural environment in construction and operations. Healthcare systems around the world have to effectively merge sustainability into their design processes and collaboratively work with the architects, engineers, designers, and their stakeholders like health staff and patients, and community at large, to provide better health solutions with reduced ecological footprint. Read on...

Healthcare Design: Hitting The Mark In Sustainable Design
Author: Anne DiNardo


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 sep 2015

Architects often espouse some philosophical concepts while designing and creating their projects apart from imbibing what their clients want. Architect Mona Doctor Pingel of Studio Naqshbandi in Auroville (Tamil Nadu, India), considers building as not merely a functional structure but a space that effectively addresses the five senses. She is influenced by writer-philosopher-artist Hugo Kukelhaus who considered various aspects of modern architecture as 'inhuman'. Ms. Pingel focuses on creating healthy living and work spaces. She thoroughly studies the impact of built environment on human health before embarking on projects. According to her, 'Starting from location and climate to the materials selected, and the interiors, all add up to prevent the sick building syndrome. A building should bring into perspective all the five senses, thereby giving a three-dimensional angle to the structure. Like the sight of greenery, sound of water, feel of natural stone under the feet, the smell of trees, flowers, and fresh mud, the taste of a charming yet sensitive design, all the five senses need to be addressed by a building.' She uses natural materials in her projects like stone, terracotta blocks, bricks alongwith seamlessly blending greenery into the environment. She believes that architects have to be envoronmentally responsible in their designs and advocates practices of resource efficiency and recycling. She says, 'The scale in which cities are growing is not sustainable. Villages need revival through awareness, education and commitment brought into design.' Read on...

The Hindu: Architecture of the senses
Author: Nandhini Sundar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 sep 2014

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture & Construction defines 'Minimalist Architecture' as, "Architecture that follows the doctrine that the use of all decorative elements, including ornamentation and color, should be held to an absolute minimum. This tenet considers all such architectural features to be nonessential and of negative aesthetic value, thus promoting the concept attributed to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe that 'less is more'." According to Wikipedia, minimalist architecture became popular in the late 1980s in London and New York, where fashion designers worked together in the boutiques to achieve simplicity, using white elements, cold lighting, large space with minimum objects and furniture. Moreover it is also considered to be highly inspired from the Japanese traditional design and the concept of Zen philosophy. View the homes designed by architects utilizing architectural minimalism in their work, ranging from sleek facade to perfect blending with the natural environment. Read on...

Huffington Post: Architectural Minimalism: 7 Stunning Homes
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2014

Bringing customers or users into the design process is a practice that architects and designers often adhere to. But when users are children like for example in a design process for a school or playground, it might be considered as a difficult and challenging task. Not so, if the ongoing research by Dr. Maria Patsarika and her team at Sheffield University, is taken into account. More and more architects and landscape designers are bringing younger generation into the design process. The practice of having participation from children in the design process is not new and has been mentioned in research studies conducted in 1960s & 1970s. Kevin Lynch, an urban planner, launched the UNESCO project 'Growing Up in Cities' in 1977 that utilized children's creative capacities. Dr. Patsarika's research has looked at the way architects and children communicate with each other. Architects interviewed for the research acknowledged that children brought fresh perspectives and uninhibited curiosity, leading them to explore alternative scenarios. Although children can be disruptive and unpredictable to work with but their overall impact on the design process is considered to be positive by most architects. Read on...

The Conversation: What architects can learn from designing with children
Author: Maria Patsarika


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 may 2013

According to recent data from United Nations, by 2050 about 70% of the world's population will recide in cities and to make these cities as healthy and beautiful places to live, importance should be given to development of open spaces and town squares in our urban planning strategies. Open spaces like gardens, parks etc provide gathering points for residents and humanizes and brings life to the city environment. One of the design firm is advocating just that by creating examples in currently existing larger cities that can be replicated in other cities in different parts of the world. Research also suggests that the price of property in cities is directly proportional to the proximity to the open spaces, meaning that people will pay a premium to live closer to the open spaces. Read on...

Fast Company: Designing A New Town Square For Our Crowded Urban Future
Author: David Gensler


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 apr 2013

Over the years 'Garden Design' has evolved and according to an expert there are three things that have influenced its development most- ever changing architectural design, climate change and lifestyle changes. Garden designers have to consider various elements for designing gardens of the future. Over the last century the changes in gardening methods include- biodegradable materials for pots, electricity and biofuels for glasshouses, return to organic fertilizers, availability of more materials for construction, wider range of plant varieties due to advancement in breeding and selection methods, availability of better technologies in garden machinery and equipment and growing of food plants at home as a hobby. Low maintenance, need for neatness, disease free, easy to grow and simplicity would be important in gardens of the future. Read on...

Wales Online: Gardening past and present - How garden design has changed in the past 100 years
Author: Lorna Doran


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 apr 2013

What is 'Millenial Generation' and what are their sensibilities, habits and values? What are the things that appeal to them when it comes to searching for their living spaces and environment in big cities? They are the young 20 something, well educated and well travelled, seeking work-life balance, highly independent and environmentally conscious. They look for well designed urban housing and green environment with expanded sidewalks, cafe's and informal interactive spaces. They appreciate art and culture that is not confined within the bounds of museums and institutions. Understanding them and incorporating their aspirations in the planning and design of urban and suburban spaces would be important for better future of the cities. As the 'Millenials' start to earn and spend, their influence would increase. Read on...

The Global and Mail: Why the cities of the future belong to the millennial generation
Author: Lisa Rochon

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