There are superbly designed fashion ensembles that encourage, and so deserve careful thought for accessorising. We purchase a hat, tie, or special jewellery just to compliment and reward the design. “Ah,” we say. “Perfect!”
In reflecting that mind-set, there are buildings or structures, designed in such a way that deserve considerable thought toward accessorising in addition to the usual provision for enhancements. Particularly in an urban environment, buildings and structures with precious little room at the ground level need “landscaping” or “naturalising”.
When and Where (OF WHAT?)
The “When” will most likely be dictated by the structure’s strength and complexity to sustain the original design intent. Whatever is done will sublimate and compliment, adding enough contrast to make it worth more than a glance, yet seeming to be a natural outgrowth and completion of the design.
“Where” is a two-fold decision
- A site setting that will benefit from a strong landscape installation and
- A design that finds a fit with the structure, geometry, ease of maintenance, and exposure opportunities.
Having agreement with the architect, plans should be presented to the owner for design and maintenance approval.
Obtaining owner approval will rely on several selling points:
- Breaking new ground in the location
- Being on the cutting edge of design
- Giving the building added prestige
- Presenting a friendly face to the public, especially if it’s a government facility
Emphasizing the way the building addresses the street is the basis for opportunities to design for the pedestrian that experiences the building for the first time.
Being generous with scale, massing and repetition is the key to designing with an impact that stays with the observer and gives the owner something to feel positive about with respect to the budget. If the design has a positive effect on the observer, the owner will feel that the budget was worth the end result. Timid does not pay off in these circumstances. As they say in the US: “Go Big or Go Home!”
Think, too, about how physically close to the structure you need to be before the design begins to make an impression. Recalling we’re in the canyons of large cities where scale, of necessity, is horizontal to be sure, but where verticality takes precedence. As various ideas come to mind, consideration must be given as to how the landscaping can be most cost-effectively and conveniently maintained.
Taking advantage of the structural design occasionally promotes some interesting installation patterns. Conversely, it can present problems when an attempt is made to coincide with structure. It may be best to overlay an independent grid that works for the materials rather than the structure.
With so much of the continent composed of arid lands and cities that like their vertical buildings, doesn’t it make sense to do as much building/structural landscaping as possible? Particularly when urban land values are at a premium and few developers have the means to put a campus around a building that’s already sitting on land that sells by the square meter.
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