August 2013

Well, if you’ve visited our facebook page in the last month, you might have noticed that we’re quite excited about an installation we’re working on for Bank City in the Johannesburg CBD. It’s to celebrate FNB’s spring festival, and James and Anton are busily preparing for spring, as you can see from all the photos. In fact, you will note that there are no other posts by these normally prolific posters, so busy are they.  I complained to James about this lack of other things to write about, and he undertook to post some interesting stuff, but – nothing. So maybe this will be a short newsletter. But this spring promises to be more exciting in the Joburg CBD, with a couple of other events planned for the end of this month and in September. These are the Joburg City Festival and the Arts Alive festival – joint the countdown on the Arts Alive’s facebook page.

I posted something about a set of plantable stamps issued to celebrate 50 years of Singapore’s green movement. I’ve seen business cards that can be made to sprout before (a landscape architect’s, of course), but I liked the fact that you could send these and if your letter wasn’t delivered, at least it would might grow along the Braamfontein Spruit. Of course, in Singapore, it would be delivered, in the same way as all the amazing green infrastructure in the last 50 years. Like the Gardens by the Bay.

I also posted a link to an article about a brick system that allows niches for house sparrows to nest in walls. Isn’t that great? At last, built acknowledgement that we share the planet with other animal species! I was more aware of birds’ nests because a week ago I got around to putting up a nesting log that had been knocking around my house for years, and a Crested Barbet has already started modifying it, hopefully with a view to moving in. I just hope it doesn’t drill through the bottom, as they are wont to. And Anton has been chastizing the Masked Weaver trying to nest over our deck here at the office about the mess he is making.

’til next time.

Leonotis at Freedom Park

Leonotis at Freedom Park

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July 2013

Happy July, and welcome to the second half of 2013!

We posted a link to an article on Houzz about a mixed-use development in the UK called BedZED by the Zedfactory, who specialize in carbon-neutral design. It has a forest of brightly-coloured cooling cowls on its rooftops, which shows that responsible can be fun too.

I posted an interesting interview from someone from the US Forestry Service on the effect that the removal of 100 million trees in the eastern and mid-western US had on the health of people living there. The trees were killed by the emerald ash borer, and it seemed like an ideal opportunity to carry out a study on the effect of removing trees from people’s environment since the beetle had taken out the trees for them – a “natural experiment”.

We also posted two renderings that Andrew did for our Two Rivers project in Kenya, one of the activity deck and one of the promenade.

Then there’s a link I posted to the fabulous desk that turns into a bed. Now, our desks here at GREENinc are the right size to sleep under, and, as I said in the post, we’ve often said they could be used for this. We need them to be because of the amount of time that some people around here spend at the office rendering things, for instance. But this new desk looks much better than ours. For one thing, it lacks the deep support beam on our desks that would brain you if you were to wake and sit up before remembering where you where. This has happened to my wife at home when our son has displaced her to his bunk bed. The new desk even has a spot for your monitor at one end. It looks a bit like a pod hotel room. I don’t think we’ll be ordering any soon, though, as I am concerned that we would not be able to convince anyone to use the desk in its workaday confirguration. Especially in winter.

June 2013

A few days after I posted the last newsletter, Anton, Abby and I went to a talk on urbanism at the University of Pretoria by alumnus Kobus Mentz. Anton posted one of his key messages from the lecture hall : “Travel is the enemy in good urbansim.” The most striking of the precedent studies Kobus discussed were of his work in Auckland (he now lives in New Zealand) after the earthquake. I don’t think anyone in the audience had realized quite how devastating that earthquake was. Check out Urbanismplus’s website.

Anton also posted the first concept for the landscape at the hotel to be developed at the Houghton Golf Course. Elize counterbalanced that rather serious post with something a little sillier – well, it was on a Friday, I suppose.

I posted an article called “Some of My Best Friends are Germs” from the New York Times, because it backed up another recent article that I read in Time magazine and also because disinfectant soaps are one of my pet hates. Luckily I’m not a surgeon. The Time article said that we each provide a habitat for microbes that together weigh as much as our brains, about 1.4kg, which far outnumber our human cells, and which we need to be healthy. This was all verified in the NYT article – we are superorganisms! Those soaps ARE useful if you want to change the microbe population on your hands to one that can’t be killed by any known disinfectant, though.

I also posted a link to the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s 100 Urban Trends website. This contains glossaries of “contextualized definitions that apply to the way we understand, design, and live in cities”, looking at New York, Berlin and Mumbai. It’s all very interesting, and there was a photo of them using post-it notes to sort the trends. We’ve also used post-its to sort ideas here at GREENinc, so I thought I’d better post this. Not to be outdone, again, Elize posted a link to a music box made out of a “massive soil compactor”. These things used to be called steam-rollers, didn’t they? Until they stopped running on steam, I suppose. “Steam-roller” was more descriptive than “soil compactor” though, wasn’t it? The new term leaves out the bit about rolling, which I would have thought was quite important. Anyway, I think this news blog is finished now. Thanks to Urban Genesis Management for posting our pigeon pic. James is going to make us famous.

’til next time.

May 2013

Last month I posted a link to an article on a “natural” public swimming pool designed by Herzog and de Meuron being built in Riehen in Switzerland. Also called “swim ponds”, “eco pools” and “bio pools”, they are a niche trend here among people who like to swim with fish, frogs and plants, those who want to spend less on pool chemicals and still others you might expect to find at the organic village market and believe those chemicals might actually be bad for you.Go figure? I remember years ago we found a empty DDT can in the crawl space under the floor in our Emmarentia office. One of the proposed uses listed on the label was to dust one’s underwear with the product to prevent body lice. Presumably dusting oneself with DDT was quite a normal thing to do in the ’40s? Maybe future generations will look back on our lackadaisical attitude to chlorine with amazement similar to ours when we found that can. Either way, a natural swimming pool is a far less visually clinical element in the landscape than a treated one, and we might even come to embrace a little algae too. A local natural pool builder says chemically-treated pools look very strange to him because they don’t have any algae in them. He would like to plant up a pool only with various types of algae. Isn’t acquired taste marvelous? But perhaps that mindset change will take a bit longer for most of us, who grew up with the pristine glare of white marbelite.

James posted an article on travel destinations with stylish green architecture and someone posted a link to a Mr Boom and Ms Dynamite lamp with unfortunate timing. I wonder if it would have seemed in such poor taste if it weren’t for Boston. On the other hand, the cloud that will make you smile couldn’t offend anyone. We also shared some posts by The City Savoy with sketches that Anton did for them and I posted a link to the Urban Farm Unit, an interesting self-contained mobile fresh fish, fruit and veg factory.

’til next time.

April 2013

With the public holidays over the last couple of weeks and many people taking extra leave to maximise their effect – it’s been school holidays too – it seems like it’s been a bit of a mini silly season this last month. Here’s hoping that our Christian and Jewish friends had a wonderful Easter or Pesach this year. April is a beautiful month in so many parts of South Africa, I’m sure we’re going to carry on getting some “out of office” replies in the coming weeks before everyone settles in for the winter. Maybe a bit of extra greenery is what we’ll need to get through the dry winter in this part of the country. How about turning your bathroom into a spa landscape? James posted this interesting planted bathroom. Why hold back on your planted walls? It even has under-floor planting! Also on the Facebook page are four renderings of our project at UNISA, one of which is our new cover photo. And a photo that shows how a creative team can transform something that we have all come to accept as looking the way it looks. It is architects Choi+Shine’s take on the everyday power line pylon – check it out. After seeing this, I think the old kind should be outlawed for being inhuman!

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A recent visitor to GREENinc’s office

 

March 2013

What did the GREENinckers find beautiful or funky this month? The beautiful : Annamari posted an animated artwork created in Tokyo for Finnish TV – it was screened on TV in 5 second slots, but you can gorge yourself on the whole 200 seconds in one go! The funky : Elize found this inflatable bridge with built-in trampolines. It has apparently been built, but I couldn’t find out whether its users are quite as acrobatic as those shown in the graphic. And then there’s an article from Archpaper about Parklets in LA, they’re beautiful AND funky. I posted a link to the Ball-Nogues Studio’s website – they do all sorts : mostly hanging stuff, some shiny stuff and a Janet Jackson video set.

We got published by Taschen – Freedom Park made it into Landscape Architecture Now! Actually, it seems like that came out last year, but they forgot to send us our copy, so we came accross it in Exclusive books looking for student book prizes. UP held their annual student prize-giving early last month, and James handed over the GREENinc prize for the best overall student in the landscape architecture programme in 2011 and 2012 to Dayle Shand. We also got published on Landezine – always an honour – they featured our work at Forum Homini boutique hotel in the Cradle of Humankind.  Coming up on the 27th of this month, Anton will be at Conversations on Architecture at Melrose Arch, get there if you can!

STOP PRESS : PG has just received an e-mail from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design telling him that he has been accepted into their Masters of Landscape Architecture in Urban Design programme. He seems to be having trouble breathing. Wow, PG, are we proud of you!

Some of PG's work for a GREENinc project for Eskom at Megawatt Park

Some of PG’s work on GREENinc’s project for Eskom at Megawatt Park

February 2013

Well, we’re halfway into 2013 – almost – and here is our first newsletter. There wasn’t anything to report on last month because James didn’t go to Australia or anywhere that was worth posting anything from. Nor did anyone, apparently. But things are happening again. Elize posted a rubble mural from Pinterest. There’s also an animation called the ABC of Architects – a (very effective) 1 min 38 second introduction to everyone from Alvo Aalto to Zaha Hadid. Anton posted photos he took of Marco Cianfanelli’s sculpture at Mandela’s capture site near Howick during the break – so someone did go somewhere interesting after all – and an article on biophilic cities from the Landscape Architecture Network. Their T-shirts are also good, I especially like the one below. Click here to order – if you qualify to wear it, of course. Andrew put up a photo of the screens, pergolas and paving slabs going in at Houghton Golf Club. James posted an interactive site with views and sounds from the 68th floor of “the shard” in London and got all nostalgic. There are also graphics from our proposal for incremental site rebahilitation at a biomimicry centre near Knysna – just go to the facebook page.

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