Friday, 25 March 2011

a tale of two territories

As the design process continues, we move closer and closer to the human scale. In increments we have moved from 1:500, to 1:200 and now to 1:50.

AS I did not attend the Lille trip, I have to select two areas of the design to refine at 1:50 scale. Two areas represents a substantially greater workload than one... surely worth enduring the intensity of the Lille week!


So: two areas, selected on Monday under the supervision of my tutors. This promises to be the most detailed aspect of the design so far. It is hilarious to view them in this skeletal, denuded state they presently occupy, as illustrated below:

I mean, what IS that? Some clouds, some trees, some other shiz...

I think they're supposed to be shrubs.... you'll see, I promise!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

radio selecter

Having noticed a tendency to post sporadically with random radio links, I thought I'd pick up my Radio (mainly 4) highlights from the preceding week.

This week selection focuses specifically on poetry. Radio 4 has long been the home of intelligent speech but there appears to have been a resurgence of poetry on the station of late, culminating in some brilliant programmes last week.

Garden designers and landscape architects should be aware of Ian Hamilton Finlay and that he has something to do with concrete poetry. This great programme- Make Perhaps This Out Sense Can You- profiles the life and work of Bob Cobbing, founder of the movement, including some great readings.

The Company of Poets revealed that Angela Carter wrote a great deal of poetry, though it was never published. Contributions Salman Rushdie and Andrew Motion contribute to an intriguing insight the writer's character, as well as recognising how much of her poetry explored many of the themes (the contemporary gothic, feminism) that characterised her acclaimed prose.

Poetry doesn't have quite the same reputation in the UK that it enjoys in the rest of the world: in some countries, being a poet can lead to incarceration. BBC World Service programme How My Country Speaks addressed this in its profile file of Irina Ratushinskaya. Ratushinskaya is a Russian poet imprisoned in the 1980s for writing poetry the authorities deemed anti-soviet. Her poems here are read in translation, but the lilt of her beautiful Russian accent provides an enchanting backdrop to her ephemeral verse.

Finally, Something Understood explored the theme of Serendipity through music, poetry and prose. This programme is commissioned by the BBC as part of its religious output, but the format of the show covers all faiths (and those of none) and is genuinely the perfect way to conclude a weekend bent over the drawing board.

Have a listen and let me know what you think.


Monday, 21 March 2011

planting plan copy

planting plan copy by joey.donovan
planting plan copy a photo by joey.donovan on Flickr.

Structural planting plan, as rendered in AUTOCAD

crit day

BElvedere revival by joey.donovan
BElvedere revival a photo by joey.donovan on Flickr.

the crit has begun.. once again i'm waiting for my half finished images to print out at 1.60 a pop, all wrong and all wrong.

here's a photo montage that will be part of my steaming failure.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


IMG_2412 by joey.donovan
IMG_2412 a photo by joey.donovan on Flickr.

New base area

New base area by joey.donovan
New base area a photo by joey.donovan on Flickr.

On Jamie's advice the area has now been cropped to exclude the skate park and most of the existing cherry avenue. It's rotated so North is at top so I can import into Autocad but sadly it won't fit on an A1 this way up!

drainage... in colour (sort of)

drainage in colour by joey.donovan
drainage in colour a photo by joey.donovan on Flickr.

This is the initial plan for site drainage- notes in the preceding entry on contours explain how it works. Sort of.

Essentially the majority of the site is hard surfaced, water runs off, collects in a pond after filtration and is redistributed.

I had a bit more of a think about this after doing some Potsdam research and made some notes on the way back from Paris ("exciting" photographs with NO people in them coming soon...), which I thought I'd include here.


hardworks key plan

hardworks key by joey.donovan
hardworks key a photo by joey.donovan on Flickr.

Here's the draft key plan- as with structural planting plan, this is incomplete. I don't have the detail annotations and even the key is incomplete BUT I have the layout and the surfaces and levels resolved.

Drawing wise, it certainly grtabs attention but is next to useless as a construction plan! The dense hatching reduces legibility, discussed with Paula the benefits of resolving everything in pencil before inking, and line weight needs to be more defined ( I need to add one lighter pen and make the heaviest line heavier)

Really think making the hatching less intense would allow the structural definition to breathe. Thing is, it's about surfaces so I sort of got lost in that.

Oh well. Getting there I guess... at least it will be an adequate template for when I turn it into an autocad drawing...

Draft gradients

level level drft by joey.donovan
level level drft a photo by joey.donovan on Flickr.

This was thrown together a few weeks ago but deserves a place on the blog even though prosaic.

The development area is framed by avenues to the North, South and west and a retention basin in the east (bottom page).

Some contours are extruded at level across the grade to create new design features.

Beyond the avenue, a skate park and children's play area disturb the regimented topography.

structural planting plan (draft)

structsoft key drft by joey.donovan
structsoft key drft a photo by joey.donovan on Flickr.

Once again, to maintain a record of pin-ups I'vve posted this incomplete structural plan.

The main avenue comprises Quercus Robur f. fastigiata at 7.4m centres in two single rows 15m apart.

Avenue running from London Aquarium, across stage and towards courts comprises Malus floribunda

A stand of Betula pendula occupies top middle section.

A line of 9 alders at 5.4m centres stands in front of Shell Downstream with a generous gap

Feature trees inc.lude:

-Betula papyrifera

-Acer palmatum vitifolium

-Acer pseudoplatanus "Brilliantissimum"

All existing trees maintained (inclusive of cherries on avenue to London Eye) except two planes in bottom left to accomodate water.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

work flow exercise

Did a quick rendering practice using jamie's workflow exercise, which I'd post hre, but have been having some issues.

Instead, here's my very quick interpretation of jamie's lighting task:

workflow-test night

This was all very quick- one layer of very dark blue over the top, lighting holes punched through with 0% hardness brush eraser, then very soft and low opacity colour burn brush for lights.

To produce a good lighting scheme with this technique would still take time- the silhouettes cast by uplights need to be masked. Essentuially, this representation appears to denote 13 very sharply focused and bright spotlights shone from a helicopter...

The real star of the lighting plan is still Mr. Hadley

Oh yeah- just found the original rendered plan:

workflow-test day


You may have noticed that I've been fiddling witht the appearance of this blog. WELL... aside from being a (sort of) productive distraction from the hard and softworks scheme for the jubster, it's sort of connected with the advanced representation course all BALA3 & BAGD3 students attend.

attempts to represent anything graphically, let alone my "brand" have proved problematic over the past few years (probably not what a third year student should be admitting) but I've tweaked and tweaked this one until I'm happy enough to publish online. As you can see, the business card corresponds to the web banner I've produced for this site (and should eventually form part of the overall branding for I actually feel ill typing those words)


I've been really unhappy with the resolution of images uploaded directly to blogger so have tried pasting the html in from flickr, though of course this means uploading stuff all the time... rebranding the blogger site has also been frustrating.: I have a feeling I may end up delving into the murky world of html...

Friday, 11 March 2011

water, water... everywhere?

The continuous process of overlaying, re-drafting, overlaying and re-drafting is always augmented by research and re-consideration of existing precedents. My drainage strategy for the site involves the harvesting and re-circulation of rainwater and grey water combining organic filtering (reed beds and grey roofs) and more traditional,, grey infrastructure (gullies, rills, storage pounds and pumps.

(This image and all subsequent images- except where noted- courtesy Dreiseitl, H. & Grau, D. 2009. Recent Waterscapes. Berlin: Birkhauser

Jamie Liversedge directed me towards Potsdamer Platz earlier on in the term, but I was unable to find anything in the library or on the web with any degree of detail. I raised the issue at a tutorial today, and Julia Fogg handed me a book:

"Potsdamer platz- might be in there. think it was Herbert Dreiseitl"

"No... that doesn't sound familiar... I'll have a look anyway..."

And, of course, i opened the page on Potsdamer Platz... the humanity...

Okay: here is the site in plan form. The brief was to re-design this urban plaza in the heart of a very corporate area that provided leisure facilities for the general public. In addition to these concerns, the design had to "come close to meeting ecological aims".

Dreiseitl does not specify what these initial aims were: reading between the lines, one can infer that perhaps corporate interests were keen to have "something environmental" within the design to address corporate-social responsibility factors. Examining the site and its proximity to the Landwehrkanal, it seems Dreiseitl (and the other planners, designers and engineers not mentioned in the text) concluded that water management and rainwater harvesting were the best ways of giving the design an "ecological edge" (my quotes) without compromising the other areas of the brief.

Herein I think there are strong parallels with Jubilee Gardens. Like the Potsdamer Platz, there is an active corporate presence fringing the site (Shell etc.). Like the Potsdamer Platz, the site has to provide programmatic leisure facilities. Of course, the heavy volume of tourists at Jubilee Gardens (and the fact that businesses seem to face away from the site) mean the bias is much more towards leisure rather than business, but still worthy of consideration. And finally, the two sites both abut an important watercourse.

(an aside- is it me or do European cities have more waterways than London? Central London is crossed by the Thames and the Grand union canal, with the River Lee running down the eastern extremity... compare this aerial view of Berlin)

The original master plan I drew up for Jubilee Gardens (which I am hoping to revise in light of recent design developments) was very much concerned with reconnecting with the river specifically and water generally. The idea of harvesting rain and grey water, filtering and redistributing was a very attractive one. Potsdamer Platz in Berlin sets a very useful precedent, especially as it combines some biological (soft?) techniques in a "hard" environment... I want my designs for Jubilee Gardens to complement (and compliment) the aesthetic of the South Bank, which is essentially urban.


Above is a simplified diagram of the water management strategy at Potsdamer Platz: grey water is collected from adjoining buildings along with excess rain water from green roofs, and collected in underground cisterns. These cisterns act as both a storage buffer (capacity of 2600 cubic metres, with "900 cubic metres left free in their turn for cases of heavy precipitation") and repository for accumulated solids (presumably the cisterns have to be cleaned on a scheduled basis). This water is pumped back through the site and cleansed via "planted purification biotopes"


The precise nature of these planted biotopes is not fully explained and it is this area that i shall have to research if i want to implement the scheme at Jubilee Gardens, and the effectiveness of these is really the deciding factor. The text notes that "technical filters can also be used", with the implication that this is a necessity to avoid algal build up in summer months. Essentially, the "green-ness" of this method hinges on the amount of energy that this system consumes.

People love water. As some of the (admittedly small) images show below, water is utilised beautifully in Dreiseitl's design. Its interaction with light offers infinite possibilities- in a sense, water and light offer third and fourth material categories beyond the traditional hard and soft designations.
How the human race manages water supply will prove to be crucial over the coming decades. Even disregarding their impact of climate change the burden on supply precipitated (pun intended) by increased food production (demanded by the exponential growth in human populations globally) will severely stretch resources. recently, drought in China has damaged their wheat crop, leading to increases in price as China has sought to import grain (see this article in the guardian). Water is also used for cooling and cleaning in industrial processes, and water consumption by the rapidly industrialising eastern economies is increasing exponentially,

I believe it is the role of landscape architects to demonstrate- even if only on a small scale- how old and new technology can be incorporated cheaply into their designs. In the United Kingdom, from whence I blog, the first heavy downpour is accompanied by dramatic flooding. Conversely, hosepipe bans implemented nearly every summer. It is estimated that a third of Thames Water's (an Australian owned firm supplying most of the water in the south east of England) mains supply is lost before it reaches the faucet. 33%! and yet we still deem it necessary to flush our lavatories with high quality, filtered drinking water! (See BBC News article from 2005 )

Yet again I have deviated on my derive... fun as these meta-literal psychogeographic ramblings are, I have a degree to (barely) pass. In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of a Berliner appreciating the tactile qualities of water... (if that's what floats your boat)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

*/$%*)("££ brownies?

Here is a typical example of the standard email I receive four or five times a day to my university email address.

Dear All,

There is a Brownie Unit in Court Road Eltham who meet on a Wednesday night from 6.00pm to 7.30pm and they desperately need some help and support on a regular basis.

They currently have one leader in training and 16 very keen brownies. They urgently need to find one more leader or unit helper but if they could find 2 that would be even better as it would allow their numbers to increase to 24.

If you think you could help please contact the District Commissioner, Ann Fairthorne, on

Many thanks

Janice Larkin

It's uncanny- only the other day I was thinking "What better way of advancing my career prospects as a thirty-year-old man than becoming the leader of an all-girl youth movement for the under 11s"

base plan

a funny thing happened when i tried to save my base plan as a jpeg:

Isn't that absolutely-fucking-hilarious?

So, after what can only be described as a LOT of fannying about, here is mah base plan:

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

studio session

For the benefit of posterity I'm uploading two v.quick sketch exercises. They look awful: I'm hoping in the future, when a well-renowned landscape architect and urban designer, these hideous images will come bite my arse.

1 min sketch plan

The above is a very quick rendition, upon instruction, of the development area complee with topographical annotations. Worryingly it's all pretty much there but still can't get my hand to do what my mind's telling it. Even my handwriting at speed is retarded! And to think of all those hours spent writing out the alphabet in first year...

Aerial view studio sketch

..and here we can see an aerial sketch. A little more satisfying, but my bendy scratchy lines piss me off. Honestly: i know my scheme, I just cannot draw!

2 things right...

...i got two things right today. It may well go down in history for that very reason.

One was the difference between capping and coping...

...I've already forgotten the other one.

Here is a link to the last (Friday 4th March) Gardener's question time- it has a feature on the 2012 Olympic Park.

(Cut and paste this and insert in nav bar if it doesn't work

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