Trend Watch December 2018

Melbourne tree-tw

Emails to Melbourne’s Trees are Romantic, Funny and Strange:

The city gave 70,000 trees email addresses for the public to report issues. Instead, they sent love letters and existential queries.

Since the project began more than 4,000 emails have come from all over the world including from Russia, Germany, Britain, Hungary, Moldova, Singapore, Brazil, Denmark, Hong Kong and the US.

A selection of the emails can be found on the ABC website, including this example:

Dear Smooth-barked Apple Myrtle,

I am your biggest admirer. I have always wanted to meet you, but tragically, I’m stuck in New York.

I think you are the most handsome tree of them all, tall with an inviting open canopy. I love to just dream of you, the smell of your clusters of white flowers, the sight of your lush, dark green foliage, and feel of your patterned bark.

You inspire me to live life to the fullest, and pursue my dreams; you keep growing despite the terrible tragedies in this world. You are loved and deserve the world.

Love, some person in New York

Each tree has a unique ID number that can be found via Melbourne City Council’s Urban Forest Visual, an interactive map that provides information about each tree including its species (if known) and life expectancy.

Photo by Melbourne Urban Forest Visual.

Giant Panda Hassell-tw

Hassell’s Winning Panda Land masterplan:

A connected, immersive ‘panda trail’ across the southern Chinese city of Chengdu aims to invite visitors to explore and view the iconic animals in a new way, says Hassell of its competition-winning design.

The proposal draws on research into how people perceive and engage with wildlife, says the firm.

“By locating animal enclosures away from the main paths, limiting visibility to the exhibits through key openings and positioning animals at a higher level than the visitors, we dissolve the common idea of humans being dominant over nature,” said Andrew Wilkinson, Hassell principal and project leader.

The project is “highly rewarding,” he told ArchitectureAU.

The masterplan proposes to educate visitors about panda conservation and protection across three key sites.

At Dujiangyan to the north-west Hassell envisions visitors becoming “explorers rather than conventional tourists,” wandering through the valleys of a panda habitat parkland, observation station and eco resort.

At Beihu park and lake in the north-east, the focus is on surrounding communities joining conservation efforts, with scientific research and cultural innovation centres running local education programs.

A landscape restoration strategy would lead efforts at Longquan Mountain to revegetate degraded areas. Hassell plans for an international education and learning venue and nature park to “connect the mountain to the new eastern edge of the city and a global market.”

Tongji Urban Planning and Design Institute collaborated with Hassell on the project, with specialist advice provided by  landscape architect and zoo designer Jon Coe.

Image by Hassell.

Alone architecture buildings PixaBay-tw

Designing Cities to counter loneliness:

The way we design our cities can help or hinder social connection, writes Tanzil Shafique from the University of Melbourne for The Conversation.

We are currently experiencing epidemics of loneliness, he says, with half a mission Japanese suffering from social isolation, the UK appointing a minister for loneliness and an Australian MP calling for the same.

As well as the impact on mental health, researchers have found that loneliness can also increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, said to be as bad as smoking around 15 cigarettes a day.

The design of the built environment, Shafique says, does not ’cause’ interactions to happen that will alleviate loneliness, but it could work better to enable and encourage strangers to meet.

He proposed the question to his graduate design studio at the Melbourne School of Design: Can we think of different ways to be in the city, of a different architecture that can ‘cure’ loneliness?

Their responses range from transport solutions, pet share facilities, laneway activations, a restaurant with produce grown onsite, a kindergarten co-housed with a nursing home and gardening installation for cemeteries.

You can read more about the projects in his Conversation article, and see an image portfolio on the School’s website.

Image: Pixabay, Pexels.

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