In this seminar/workshop we will explore an under-studied but crucially important urban realm—the designed, adapted vegetative canopy—through descriptive, analytical, and projective methods. We will build an interpretive and systematic archive of planted formations in cities and urbanizing regions throughout modern history and into the present. Specific case studies will document the variable conditions that both sustain and challenge designed vegetative morphologies and their mutations: soils and microclimate; adjacencies and ecological connectivity; responses to pathologies and adaptations to climatic change; and administrative management and stewardship. Cases for examination will include Parc du Sausset near Paris, Philopappos Hill in Athens, the Mall in Washington DC, the 9/11 Memorial in New York, and the groves and boulevards of London Plane Trees in Darmstadt, Istanbul, Barcelona, and Rome.
The course will allow us to refine our descriptive and analytical tools through semester-long individual investigations of planted form. We will produce a close reading of how these plantations were conceived and implemented: How have they adapted, and how can their performance characteristics be optimized? In the projective portion of the study, students will devise speculative proposals that would augment ecological and spatial performance, and model potential outcomes. The course requires advanced skills in vegetation mapping and three-dimensional modeling.