Comment on: Kevin Roche dies, aged 96
I was fortunate enough to visit Kevin Roche's elegant campus at Wesleyan University a number of years ago. It's an excellent example of considered place-making, buildings situated in meaningful relationship with the landscape to create a uniquely special and harmonious whole. An under-celebrated project which was a pleasure to experience and left a lasting impression.
Comment on: Should all masterplans be landscape-led?
This has recently been promoted by Charles Waldheim and others as Landscape Urbanism, and as usual with issues relating to landscape this debate is more advanced in the US and better understood as an appropriate approach to urban design in Europe than it is in the UK. In this country landscape is often still defined by the legacy of our 'picturesque' tradition that placed landscape in a support role to architecture. Good examples of a more integrated 'landscape first' approach include the thoughtful work of Palmbout in the Netherlands, although precedent extends back to Olmsted. Without due consideration of the inherent and potential qualities and opportunities of each distinct place as a part of our holistic 'landscape', in the widest interpretation of this often misunderstood word, a masterplan can often appear to be too limited by number-crunching. All development rises out of the ground so an intelligent reading of the landscape seems like the only meaningful place to start if we want distinctive sustainability for the future. Quality public realm creates connectivity and adds value. A subject worthy of much wider debate given current increasing pressures placed upon our shared public spaces.
These are very disappointing designs for such an important site.
They appear to highlight flaws with the brief as well as the process.
'Outstanding teams' evidently don't always produce outstanding designs.
Issues include surprisingly awkward out-of-scale form-making, inadequate sensitivity and responsiveness to this exceptional site, and the kind of undeliverable over-complexity that leads to so many of these competitions not being realised.
Surely there must be a better way?
This is just not good enough.