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Book Review of "Groundwork: Between Landscape and Archit...

Book Review of "Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture" by Diana Balmori & Joel Sanders

How should we expand and design our growing cities to adapt to our changing global community? In “Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture,” authors Diana Balmori, renowned landscape and urban planner, as well as architect Joel Sanders set out to derive a new vocabulary in sustainable design to answer this very question. In doing so, they explain designing for

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How should we expand and design our growing cities to adapt to our changing global community? In "Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture," authors Diana Balmori, renowned landscape and urban planner, as well as architect Joel Sanders set out to derive a new vocabulary in sustainable design to answer this very question. In doing so, they explain designing for an efficient environment in the twenty-first century by combing technological forms and pragmatic innovation to not only build, but even heal the environment.

This new vocabulary consists of three main terms, that when combined in a homogenous manner can combine nature and structure seamlessly.

  • Topography
  • Ecology
  • Biocomputation

Each term described in-depth through project examples, all utilizing concepts that design environments with respect to their unique landscapes, creating discrete structures amongst nature’s landscape. Each section emphasizes the importance of creating a new vocabulary to reflect new, creative, and innovative design concepts to derive a new mindset in the development of our modern day urban landscapes and architecture. Such projects range from Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park built on a former brownfield site to a Parisian house buried among 1,200 hydroponic ferns, convective apartments, and anti-desertification architecture in Africa. Each term builds upon one another, eventually creating a whole concept in this evolving mindset of smart urban planning developments.

"Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture" by Diana Balmori & Joel Sanders

This book is primarily comprised of examples of this new vocabulary within current and future cityscapes, seamlessly utilizing vivid imagery, enhancing one's understanding and interrelationship of the key terms. By doing so, they have made this new vocabulary understandable and appealing to a wide range of readers. The book not only appeals to the intellect but the creative mind as well, creating a concept appealing to a large audience. "Groundwork" provides a glimpse into what the future holds, exemplifying how sustainable design and progressive mindsets can lead to an efficient, environmentally sustained future.

Do you believe that together, topography, ecology, and biocomputation are part of the answer to sustainable design? What are some exemplary examples of sustainable landscape or architectural design in your community? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.

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Credits: Creative Commons images courtesy of FWStudio and M.O. Stevens. Updated December 7, 2017.

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Lisa Gran is an undergraduate student in her final semester of studying Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As an aspiring engineer, Lisa is especially interested in the utilization and development of environmentall...

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