Designing Parks

The schedule for this course is variable. Please select this studio carefully. Course motives:The studio aims to develop the student\’s ability to design urban parks inclusive the context. The task involves two specific problems: a program of high complexity, and urban redevelopment. The commission:The project is based on the limited competition that was held last summer in the area just north of the inner city of Amsterdam. Two parks, very much neglected, that are separated by a highway are going to be linked. The highway is to be lowered and partly covered. This is not the only change. As important is the redevelopment of Amsterdam North the coming 10 to 20 years under the influence of the new metro system. In 2011 there will be a station located almost in the park. Instead of the separation by the river IJ, the park will then be just minutes away from the inner city. The project is part of a large-scale redevelopment of Amsterdam North. The old docklands along the river IJ will be transformed, bringing new inhabitants and new jobs to North.The competition brief will partly function as the program for the studio. Students will also research the effect of less intense use of the site such as an urban wilderness, or development of the whole area in to a denser urban situation making full use of the metro station.The studio will analyze of the transformation of Amsterdam North, studying its urban history that goes back more than a century. This part of Amsterdam (100.000 inhabitants) has a very well readable landscape underlying the urbanization. There is a well-documented Master plan for the overall transformation of North. There is good digital information available (detailed maps, inventory of existing trees, aerial photographs), but a trip to the site is necessary to get a good idea of the location, the scale, the surrounding housing etc. A study of the parks in Amsterdam, which gives a good cross-section of park design in different periods, will be worthwhile. An analysis of the 5 competition entries may also be part of the project Pedagogic objectives:To develop synthetic thinking and design aspects of the field of landscape architecture:First is the ability to grasp the features of the place. Ecology, social use, representation, site-memory, maintenance and project economy all derive from an unconditional demand to understand the place, its history, identity and character. To develop proposals for existing parks means that the students also have to give a comment on these; the style, the way they function, and are linked to the urban fabric, and the influence the new park will have on the transformation of the surrounding. The problem of complexity and urban redevelopment:The park and the transformation of its urban context form a complicated, but positively challenging task. Urban spaces often possess a disrupted and changing history, many times hidden and layered. Urban spaces often have a complex utilization by many social groups – and individuals – sometimes with conflicting interests. Designing a park is a classic task for the landscape architect, the combination with the urban redevelopment puts the designer in the front line of urban transformation processes and makes the question what the role and the form of the park should be, at present and in the future, even more urgent. This is a good basis for a lively debate and an opportunity for the students to develop their professional position as a landscape architect or an urban designer.Initiation:The studio will begin with the development of a \’landscape vocabulary and grammar\’. It is a tool kit based on the decomposition scheme in Designing Parks. It is a method for tracing the history of some key landscape elements. This way we can study and describe the use of these elements and the context (style) in which they were used. The park design will then offer possi