Landscape Intensive

The PDLA Landscape Architecture Intensive is a three-week summer course developed to introduce students to concepts of landscape architecture within the context of Hong Kong. Daily sessions included lectures and workshops built upon basic drawing and representation techniques along with seminars introducing concepts related to scale, climate, materials and landscape design elements. Discovery walks provided an outline to Hong Kong’s typical spaces and framed understanding of physical, social and economic issues influencing the urban development as well as introduction to key information related to planting, technology and history. During the three weeks students were guided through an intensive design exploration that introduced them to representation technics, landscape architecture concepts and elements found within the small urban spaces of Hong Kong. For the first two weeks, students explored standard and non-standard units of measurement to survey and map a tree taken from the Register of Old and Valuable Trees list. They created a set of accurate measured documents of the tree using both plan and section/ elevation and a series of illustrative diagrams that reveal information concerning the specific characteristics of the species, habitat and natural form. Using multimedia collage, they then explored the environmental context of the tree as it related to time, place and landscape systems. During the third week of the course, students explored fundamental conventions of landscape design through a series of incremental exercises that included essential skills of photographic mapping, collage, interpretation of image into drawing, and then drawing into model.

Landscape Media 2

This course introduced students to essential digital and manual tools of design and representation in landscape architecture. Students explored techniques in material testing and digital fabrication as an iterative part of the design process with digital platforms and procedural tools as key elements of a cross-media approach to digital production. Shifting from material analysis to visual programming and 1 to 1 fabrication, the course covered a variety of scales and modes. Three projects transformed the products of material observations into design methodologies and created an understanding of abstraction, rigor, and transformation through experimentation. The first project, ‘Material Diaries’ focused on material experimentations. Students analyzed and compared materials theoretically and physically. The hands-on testing gave students a sensitivity for designing with a range of materials and relevant production processes. The second project ‘Shaping Material & Terrain’ focused on parametric 3D modelling and digital fabrication technologies. It created familiarity with technologies of computational design and handle a range of tools for digital fabrication available within the faculty. Drawing inspiration from these two assignments, students developed in the final project a one-person seat or shelter. Material testing and tools of digital site analysis were ongoingly explored to help shape the device. Students worked with a combination of digital and analogue fabrication techniques; drawings, mock-ups, and a 1:1 prototype to communicate and test their design.

Landscape Media 1

Robin Evans once claimed that architects don’t make buildings but representations of it. This course aimed to critically introduce and explore the media of landscape and representation skills like drawing and fabrication. We do not simply treat drawing forms as the media of landscape imagination, but carefully examine the media of landscape, the media of drawing, and the intervals between them. The drawing in landscape architecture, as James Corner described, can be “a plot, necessarily strategic, maplike, and acted upon in essence.” We think of drawing landscape as a process which let us to experience and express what we see and conceive, and moreover, to speculate and construct in the physical space. The course focused on forms of drawing as an essential set of techniques for documenting, analyzing, and generating ideas. We introduced a series of techniques weekly based on the categorized media of drawing and fabrication, to communicate the media of landscape. The course works required engagement with drawing grammar (perspective, orthographic projection), denotative interpretation (notation, diagram), material expression (collage, mapping), and narrative construction (montage, animation). Particular attention was paid to understanding the complex mechanism in the dynamic, projective, and dialectical constructed network of design, media, and imagination.

Landscape Technologies and Techniques

This course combines the two primary technologies employed by landscape architects to shape space and function in the landscape: landform and planting design. The three-dimensional literacy and observation skills required to articulate these elements are introduced through various landscape representation techniques. The relationship between planting, topography, and human intervention and behavior in the landscape was explored during a field trip to Yuen Long Town Park. Other field trips included a Soil Workshop with David St Maur Sheil where students were introduced to the fundamental importance of soils in landscape. During a visit to ArkEden on Lantau students watered and applied fertilizer to tree seedlings planted on eroded slopes, sketched the landscape from life, experienced the reality of topography and how it corresponds with contour maps, and observed children’s nature-based education in action. At the end of the course, students reflected on their experience of the course and demonstrated that they had gained invaluable skills and insights into the basics of the technologies and techniques required for landscape design.

Landscape Systems

The ARCH7151 Landscape Systems course frames ‘landscape’ as an assembly of natural systems (geological, hydrological, climatic, and ecology) in continuous dynamic interaction with human systems (building development, urban infrastructure, materials / waste). Through multiple landscape case-studies, readings, and technical exercises, the class examined some of the theories that underpin our ideas of landscape, and explored the relationships between the built and the natural, at site, district and territorial scales. The course also focused on foundational skills in ‘reading’ landscapes and assessing specific qualities and functions of landscapes. In addition to developing our landscape architectural language, we reflected critically on terms commonly used (and abused) in practice today such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘resilience’, ‘performance’, and ‘productivity. We centred our landscape mapping and description studies on Shek O, the historic village set on the exposed southeast corner of Hong Kong Island, where both the landscape and the village are very much he project of the environment.

Terrained Open Space

This project took Sheung Wan as a study ground in order to explore its formal and informal open spaces. Sheung Wan is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Hong Kong. The area south of Queen’s Road Central is terrain, and early developments were characterized by terraces and staircases to accommodate the topographic differences in the neighborhood. This is rather unique, and the challenge in this studio project is to find ways to create open space in this terrained neighbourhood. This studio started with an initial exercise to study open spaces in Sheung Wan in order for students to learn about their history, user patterns, modes of development/ operation, and space networks. This exercise also aimed to give students some contextual understanding of Sheung Wan and prepare them for their upcoming assignments. After a precedent study that looked at how other landscape projects design open space on topographic sites, the second exercise of the studio introduced the design task and its site. At this stage, students learnt how to do site analysis, and how findings in the analysis can inform design directions. Students developed a conceptual site plan in the third exercise, demonstrating their understanding of the site’s context, topographic challenges, and access connection network. They incorporated open space programs reflecting the neighborhood’s social dynamics. Toward the end of the project, students were guided to focus on key areas to further their design.

Uncovering Site and Process in the Landscape: Assemblies, Gradients and Frameworks

This foundation studio explores the act of revealing the dynamic landscape as an essential skill of the landscape architect. Through drawing, rigorous observation, and design experimentation, students documented ephemeral or hidden processes in the natural landscape and illuminated the impacts of urban standards and constraints on the public realm. In representing landscape in this way, students were challenged to consider alternatives to more traditional drawing methods–favouring ‘gradient’ over ‘boundary’, ‘networks’ over ‘objects’, and ‘parameters’ over ‘dimensions’. In the first project ‘Sample/Code/Diverge’, students examined the essential components that negotiate Hong Kong’s steep topography: stairs, ramps, and reinforced slopes. From their selected case studies, students extracted and then drew an ‘essential code’ for their element. This project explored the generation of specificity and the limits of the ‘typical’ in the landscape. These ‘essential codes’ were then used as the basis for a series of iterative design explorations that generated new and hybrid landscape conditions. The second project took on the design of a landscape intervention on Lung Fu Shan’s Pinewood Batter. Students produced a set of generative maps that traced the dynamics of water and sunlight in combination with soil, slope, aspect, and vegetation. These drawings, together with their expanded toolkit of walls, steps, and ramps from project 1 became the basis for a design intervention that aimed to reveal and engage in the dynamic natural processes on the site.

Landscape Intensive

The newly introduced two-week intensive course was developed to give freshly arriving students an orientation to both the department facilities and the learning processes, as well as providing a general understanding of the urban landscapes of Hong Kong. Daily sessions included lectures and workshops built upon basic drawing and visual communication techniques, along with seminars introducing concepts of the curriculum focused on mapping and scale; landscape elements and terminology; climate and microclimate; and materials and textures. Discovery walks provided an outline to many of Hong Kong’s typical spaces and framed understanding of physical, social, and economic issues influencing the urban development form, along with facilitating an introduction to key information related to planting, technology, history, and theory. Students were then guided through a continuous ‘design studio’ to explore the introduced concepts and landscape elements found within the small urban spaces of Hong Kong while adopting immersive presentation techniques that demonstrated understanding and facilitated further discussion on ‘landscape’ from their own particular perspectives. Throughout the course, students familiarized themselves with the broad scope of the study area and basic terminology used in the field of landscape design while beginning to understand how to identify, measure, record, and analyze landscape elements and spaces.

Landscape Media 2

The course explored the core practices of landscape representation, from analysis to fabrication, focusing on the understanding of representation and production. Shifting from site observation in an urban context to detail representation and digital and manual fabrication, the course covered a variety of scales and modes. Throughout three succeeding projects, students transformed products of a site observation into design methodologies while creating an understanding of abstraction, rigor, transformation, and experimentation. In Project 1, ‘Measuring terrain,’ students focused on representing a given site and interpreting its conditions and constraints. Site analysis and site representation were pursued through two-dimensional digital and manual output looking at registered reinforced slopes in Hong Kong. In Project 2, ‘Transforming Ground,’ students focused on the transition from drawing to object. The project explored rigorous methodologies to transform an in-depth site observation into a material- and site-inspired device. Students worked on an iterative process between material experimentations and constructive drawings leading to a comprehensive understanding of testing, fabricating, and detailing. Project 3, ‘Materializing Landscape,’ then introduced key concepts of material research and working with manual fabrication, and enhanced the organizational aspects of the design process.

Landscape Media 1

This course introduced and explored the media of landscape and representation skills. It did not simply treat drawing forms as the medium of landscape imagination, but carefully examined the medium of landscape drawing and the intervals that exist between it and the landscape itself. Drawing in landscape architecture can be ‘a plot, necessarily strategic, maplike, and acted upon in essence’ (James Corner). In the course, drawing was thought of as a process that leads us to experience and express what we see and conceive, and to speculate and construct in physical space. The course focused on non-digital forms of drafting as an essential set of techniques for documenting, analyzing, and generating ideas. A series of techniques were introduced on a weekly basis, categorized in drawing and fabrication (projection, notation and representation), and communication of landscape media (spatiality, temporality and experience). The works required engagement with drawing grammar (perspective, orthographic projection), denotative interpretation (notation, diagram), material expression (physical model, collage, mapping), and narrative construction (montage, animation). Particular attention was paid to understanding the complex mechanism in the dynamic, projective, and dialectically constructed network of design, media, and imagination. Assignments aimed to familiarize students with new graphics skills that they obtained from the lectures. Three assignment projects were built one upon another to form a learning process that required students to develop their own methodologies for communication and design.