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Diana Balmori: A Landscape Manifesto

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New York based landscape designer, Diana Balmori presents a lecture on the virtues of a greener city

Diana Balmori is on a mission. In London to present her new book; A Landscape Manifesto, she aims to tackle the changing role of landscape architecture within the 21st century. In her lecture at the Geological Society on the 18th October, Balmori presented her 25-point manifesto through an analysis of key projects that reflect the flexibility and potential of landscape design.

The lecture highlighted the changing value of landscape design within the city and the gradual shift of its role throughout the past century to a more integral position within the urban realm. Balmori strengthened her argument by presenting projects that explored what she calls; ‘the fourth dimension of landscape design, time’. Her scheme Memphis Riverfront: Beale Street Landing, where fluctuating tidal patterns will alternately submerge and reveal pods of lightly programmed public spaces, explored the diurnal changes of urban and environmental activity. Whereas Earthworks: NYC 2012 Olympics explored the flexibility of landscape design over longer periods of time. This un-built project developed the idea of spectator areas being carved into the landscape topped with heavily programmed temporary structures, able to be removed after the games, providing a fully sustainable park for the local community.

As respondent to her lecture, Eric Parry commented that by presenting this complex manifesto through a simple series of topics Balmori made clear her thesis that landscape design is; ‘an acceptance that things are changing constantly’. The debate after the lecture explored Parry’s ideas about the differences in pragmatics between architecture and landscape design, namely issues of poetics, scale and programme, and the importance of fusion between disciplines in the changing relationship between the city, its inhabitants and nature.

Diana Balmori: A Landscape Manifesto, Yale University Press, 236 pages, £45

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