Shanghai Landscape Forum: Sensation.

ASPECT insights
Shanghai Landscape Forum: Sensation.
ASPECT Studios are once again delighted to be involved in the Shanghai Landscape Forum alongside peers including Sasaki, AECOM, SWA and others. The forum itself presenting as an opportunity for globally influential landscape architects to provide insights and drive social and environmental change among our industry. Aimed at encouraging meaningful and perceptual discussion, the theme of the fifth forum 'Sensation', was explored through three main discussion points; 'Momentum', 'Memory' and 'Expectation'. Drawing upon their own experiences both within China and globally, guest speakers were challenged to share their perceptions of time, space, memory and public awareness and how these elements interrelate in our current landscape.

Human-Oriented Design

ASPECT Studios Landscape Architect, Manfred Pan, joined the 'Expectation' conversation and presented on the topic of 'Uniqueness of Sensation in the Urban Environment' – an exploration of Human Oriented Design philosophies permeating Landscape Architecture. "From repeating multi-residential pockets to monotonous commercial building glass facades, a monoculture of sensationless environments is overly present in today's current urban environments. People are bored and tired of constant duplication within our city’s urban fabric, only the occasional moment of delight offers a relief. The intent of human-oriented design draws upon the philosophies of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs – examining the stages of 'needs' in order to experience the world. Through the consideration of human-oriented design, we are able to design unique user experiences in each of our projects through the use of influential visual, sound and culturally sensitive design philosophies.”  

Visual Interpretation

We create distinct spaces through consideration of visual impact as a key design philosophy. Our project Hefei Wantou & Vanke Paradise Art Wonderland utilises the pomegranate fruit to symbolise the unique regional symbol of Hefei. The notion of the pomegranate is disassembled through the interpretation of our designers and their theoretical understanding of the pomegranate fruit, as a result, informing the visual interpretation of our landscape design vision. Standing as the centrepiece of the urban pocket park is the light sculpture inspired by the stamens of the pomegranate flower, reaching high to create both a landmark and identity within the surrounding urban context. On the surface, rhythmic paving represents the wind and the shape of bespoke planters represent the petals blowing in the breeze with the active seating edges providing calm and comfortable clusters for people to rest, stay and connect. The compacted and layered arrangement of the pomegranate fruits provides reference for the shade shelters, creating an interesting shadow play on the ground whilst providing a backdrop to the entire space; allowing visitors and residents to rest in comfort during the hot summer months. By designing spaces which are unrestricting of our users’ personal responses, we allow those inhabiting our designs to freely imagine and interpret the spaces in order to stimulate creativity and imagination within themselves.

Sound Interpretation

Angel Place located in the City of Sydney represents our design philosophy centred on sound interpretation as the main notion of impact. Our intent of evoking the awareness of human habitats to emphasis bird habitat preservation informed the permanent public art installation at Angel Place. Comprising 180 empty bird cages playing a soundscape of birdsong; a reflection of the extinct species of birds that once inhabited the city prior to the arrival of the European nations. During the day, you may hear the calls of the Eastern Whipbird, Rockwarbler, Regent Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-thrush, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Spotted Pardalote, Brown Gerygone, Jacky Winter, Scarlet Robin and many others. At night, the soundtrack switches to nocturnal birds such as the Australian Owlet-nightjar, Powerful Owl, Southern Boobook, Barn Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, and White-throated Nightjar. Angel Place and Ash Street have been transformed into an uplifting public realm places which integrate public art and interpretation into the project design, creating a beautiful canvas on which the life of the laneway can evolve.

Cultural Interpretation

Finally, we determine the impact of culturally sensitive design philosophies.  Yagan Square's concepts are representative of the ideas of convergence: of geologies, tracks, narratives, indigenous and non-indigenous people and culture within the square itself. Interactive elements such as water play were created through careful selection of local materials referencing symbolic flora and fauna of Western Australia. The ‘Waterline’ and swan egg artwork featured at Yagan Square showcases our interpretation of water and local wildlife through play. The swan lending itself as a significant cultural animal for the local Whadjuk people, is then carved into a transformed swan egg and formed a place for wading and dropping your feet in on a hot day, shaded by a canopy influenced and interpreted based on the shape of the existing wetlands. The wildflower gardens showcase the unique and diverse qualities of West Australian flora, providing a taste of the West Australian landscape. From the variety of Eucalyptus species found across the State and Perth to gardens that heighten the seasonal characters and colours. From the gardens to the waterline, we interpret culture as a sequence of connected elements assimilating into daily life, providing physical and experiential enhancements to the public landscape, encouraging the visitor to look, touch, feel and enjoy. As designers, if we allow ourselves to break from the notion of what we would intuitively consider, we can break the natural thought cycle and challenge ourselves to be guided by the idea of 'sensation’, creating and crafting those special moments in the urban fabric, helping to bring delight in the unexpected, while striving to increase diversity and uniqueness of the experiences we create.