Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Why some Ideas take a long time to be taken up?

In Beauty, Design, History, Leadership, Nature, Strategy, Vision on 2010/09/10 at 10:43 pm

I don’t know.

Roof gardens and “sky rise” landscaping is now a rage in many cities such as New York and Singapore.  It’s like, “why didn’t we think of this before?”

Le Corbusier in his 1926 manifesto, Five Points toward a New Architecture” said this:

“The roof gardens. The flat roof demands in the first place systematic utilization for domestic purposes: roof terrace, roof garden. On the other hand, the reinforced concrete demands protection against changing temperatures. Overactivity on the part of the reinforced concrete is prevented by the maintenance of a constant humidity on the roof concrete. The roof terrace satisfies both demands (a rain- dampened layer of sand covered with concrete slabs with lawns in the interstices; the earth of the flowerbeds in direct contact with the layer of sand). In this way the rain water will flow off extremely slowly. Waste pipes in the interior of the building. Thus a latent humidity will remain continually on the roof skin. The roof gardens will display highly luxuriant vegetation. Shrubs and even small trees up to 3 or 4 metres tall can be planted.

In this way the roof garden will become the most favoured place in the building. In general, roof gardens mean to a city the recovery of all the built- up area.”

[Le Corbusier/Pierre Jeanneret: Five Points towards a new architecture. Originally published in Almanach de l’Architecture moderne, Paris 1926.]

Almost 85 years ago, Le Corbusier had figured out, at least in part, the need for landscape to balance the harshness of the urban landscape of the high density “cities of tomorrow”, and had carefully argued for freeing up the ground plane by lifting all building on piloties (stilts) and maintaining ground footprint by cultivating vegetation on all rooftops.

This is a reminder to know our history, our pioneers and institutional memory.


Sight for Sore Eyes

In Beauty, Nature on 2010/01/13 at 4:56 pm

Near Mevagissey -- where the Sea, Sky and Sheep meet

I learnt this phrase, “sight for sore eyes” from my father.  He and mum were avid and adventurous travellers, and would return home with tales of many sights for sore eyes.

It is almost too easy to look for “sights for sore eyes” (SSE) in ‘pure’ nature — the Red Wood forests in California, the Grand Canyons, the Lake District in northern England, the Swiss Alps, etc.

Sight for Sore Eyes -- Gold Hill, Shaftsbury, Dorset

What is more satisfying, in my view, is when the natural and man-made converge.  An example is the farmlands in the rolling hills around Mevagissey (above), Cornwall, a favourite part of England for my wife and I.  On our way home from a short vacation in Cornwall last year, we made a tea stop at the beautiful medieval market town of Shaftsbury in Dorset.  The view of the Blackmore Vale from Gold Hill (below) is a 5-star SSE! This is not CG (Computer Graphics) nor some Hollywood stage set. This is real life, authentic convergence of nature and the man-made.  I cannot think of a modern equivalent of this though I believe it is possible.

Then again, every time I visit one of the great cathedrals, I wonder if our modern mindset is misplaced for a successful integration of nature and the man-made. Take Bath Abbey (below) founded in 1499, for example. It’s breathtaking and is, also, for me, a sight for sore eyes.

Convergence of nature and the man-made -- Bath Abbey

We don’t make them like this anymore. But we should.