It may seem a little unusual to address the idea of aerial landscape design; we usually associate landscaping with topography. Considering design from several points of view reinforces the concept when designing atrium space for sites such as hotels, convention centers, department stores, public buildings and airports, where the design can be seen from above. It may also seem a bit odd in view of the fact that the design is laid out in plan view. Nevertheless, time is well spent in considering opportunities that exist.
Natural design in these settings is always enjoyed and valued by the public. The opportunity for enjoyment is doubled when they can view the design again from escalators, glass elevators, the next level or several above. It’s altogether delightful when the architect plans for these occasions and creates a transformative design that can be appreciated in new ways as subtle designs become more obvious to reveal themselves in higher views.
Atrium space is a lovely opportunity to make connections with sequential levels. Using materials that reach to the second level or repeating other materials on subsequent levels, amplifies accessible and transparent design as a dividend. Making these connections has the advantage of relating the floors above to each other and the first level. The ambience is enriched and the value is immeasurable.
Owners need to be made aware of the effect, created by a display of water-less plant materials, with respect to their ability to do a spectacular job of air freshening in areas where crowds gather. They also generate a serenity factor or, put another way, they enhance the mood of a space. More plants—better mood, evidenced by people who choose to make relaxing visits to arboretums, parks, conservatories and gardens.
In responding to these highly dimensional spaces, the suggestion is to first consider salient points of view that reveal areas of the design that might not be noticed at ground level. A change in hue across an area of eye-level shrubs, for instance, with lighter values in patterns across the mass.
Arranging trees, an Australian Tree Fern for example, in an area close to escalators or at the perimeter of the open area of the atrium, gives an opportunity for a closer look at the fascinating fronds. The same idea can be applied with palms. After all, they’re usually fifteen or 20 feet in the air by the time they get really interesting. Reaching their fronds—almost—to the railing could be very appealing.
Statuesque stone, concrete or slate containers should keep the atrium scale to accommodate second-level plants that relate to those seen in the atrium. Perhaps close enough to see the details of, for instance, a Gymea lily that stands proud and tall, with its single stem—normally reaching a height of up to 5 meters (well-suited for the atrium space) could be paired with triffids in pots on another level.
The choices are endless, and the opportunities many, to create aerial views that surrender the secrets of an atrium charmed with plants, being offered another way to reveal their beauty.
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