Landscapes of Flux and Demand: Anticipating Change at Hong Kong’s Soko Islands

Landscapes change. Their internal dynamics, usage and roles, and relationship to, and impacts from, external contexts are all in a constant state of flux. Landscape designers and planners are inserted into this mix of processes, called upon to recognize functions, and anticipate future effects, all while helping craft a vision for how discrete actions can help create desirable results. These forces are present within even the smallest of sites, but are of even greater importance when operating within larger landscapes composed of distinct layers of ecology, geology, culture, and even economic potential. This studio explored design strategies that were responsive to anticipated environmental and societal change, making use of Hong Kong’s remote Soko Islands as a study site. Students related in-person observations with more conventional research findings to build determinate representations of dynamic systems. They investigated strategies for how design has engaged with biophysical systems in case study sites, mapped spatial consequences of competing land use goals, and ultimately developed design propositions that drew from preceding analysis and projection to take the form of specific site-scaled interventions.

Landscapes of Flux and Demand

The dynamism of landscape is often relegated to considerations of vegetative growth and decay, human uses, seasonal change and so on, but every site of terra firma is built on geological conditions that are themselves in flux, albeit the timescales may be long and very difficult to observe. In certain conditions, where the land is vulnerable to erosive weathering, these timescales can be short and visible to the observer. This studio focused on exploring the consequences of landscapes being simultaneously places of flux and also demand. The students were able to relate personal experience and observations with more conventual research findings to build representations of the dynamic systems in operations; investigate strategies for engaging design with biophysical systems; map spatial consequences of competing land use goals and ultimately develop design propositions building on the previous analysis and projection. Working in groups and individually, this studio enabled students to practice and improve computer drafting and design representation skills with emphasis on accurately scaled drawings and models.

Landscapes of Flux and Demand

The dynamism of landscape may conventionally be relegated to considerations of vegetative growth and decay, human uses, seasonal change and the like, but every site of terra firma is built upon geological conditions that are themselves in flux. With the logarithmic distancing of geologic- and human-timescales, such change can remain largely invisible to most observers. In unique conditions where grounds are vulnerable to erosive weathering, however, such change can have a desirable legibility that draws in users and creates a self-feeding loop of erosion and attraction. This studio focuses on exploring the consequences of landscapes being simultaneously places of flux and yet also in demand. During the course of the semester students: relate in-person observations with more conventional research findings to build determinate representations of dynamic systems; investigate strategies for how design has engaged with biophysical systems in case study sites; map spatial consequences of competing land use goals and, ultimately, develop design propositions that draw from preceding analysis and projection and take the form of specific site-scaled interventions. As the third landscape design studio for BA(LS) students, this class advances individual’s skills in computer drafting and design representation, with a particular emphasis on the development of accurately scaled drawings.