The Dirt: You and Sanders also argue that if architects and landscape architects got on the same page, buildings and landscapes could perform so much better and work as "linked, interactive systems that heal the environment." How can these disciplines meet up? What are the points of agreement?
Diana Balmori: The real points of agreement are outside of both professions in a way. It lies in the new definition of nature, a definition that has dramatically changed. One of the most dramatic changes is that suddenly we are part of nature. Before, we were outside it, nature was out there, we did things to it, it did things to us, but we were outside. Now we know that we're totally integrated and whatever we do to nature affects us, too. This new way of looking at nature suddenly changes the basis of our thinking.
There will be no remedy but to put the architecture and landscape together. Both architects and landscape architect are starting to work in ways that imitate nature in the way that it functions. Buildings are trying to become much more like living things. Their facades can move so that at times of sun this happens and a times of rain this other thing. They're becoming like breathing can move so that at times of sun this happens and at times of rain this other things happens. They're becming like breathing animals, too. You bring the air in and expel it in a different way, like a living being. We're now looking at living systems to see how the building could imitate them better.
|© Balmori Associates.|
Originally appeared on The Dirt.
Landscape architects have been working with living things for a very long time so they're very much more attuned to how difficult it is to maintain life and have it prosper. However, at the same time, they would like to find ways in which they can engineer things to wok like natural systems. So they're working much more with inert materials that they didn't use before because they had this false naturalism. Engineered systems are fine as long as they work like nature. You don't imitate the surface or the looks of the landscape but you imitate how it works. So there's a big shift, a colossal shift. Suddenly, landscape architects and architects are much more on the same page because of these ideas. Its now possible to cross that line.
The entire interview can be read on The Dirt.
Suggested book: Diana Balmori, Joel Sanders | Groundwork ı Between Landscape and Architecture | The Monacelli Press, 2011. You can purchase the book: here.
Now, Diana Balmori proposes to re-envision city as been embedded in nature, an emerging idea very closed to recent research conducted by many architects from Emergence: Morphogenetic Design to Rachel Armstrong's Living Architecture to Neri Oxman, but in another way: Armstrong and Oxman being very interested in the relationship between, nature, science, technology and cities to rethink building materials.
Back to Diana Balmori, this idea of embedding city in nature supposes a city that needs to work like nature, namely: all of its systems need to become like natural systems, she said. In a way, this may transform architecture and urban design deeply by allowing these fields for new ways and tactics for design and process. This will also mark a rupture with practices from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Indeed, I have already said: as Pierre Bélanger and many others pointed to, architecture was forced to damage environment to respond to housing and infrastructure growing demands.
Suggested book: Diana Balmori, A Landscape Manifesto, Yale University Press, 2010. You can purchase the book: here.
This new era seems to lead to a new approach of re-engineering cities that will link human technologies with natural environment. An anthropocenic era, as I have already mentioned. In a way, Balmori's approach enhances this new vision.
According to her, it is possible change cities by adding in localized systems that work like nature rather than acting in a city for million inhabitants since that's going to take centuries to change. In this context, local tactical urbanism rather than global tactical urbanism, an approach linked with nature that will facilitate interaction between human activities and natural elements — as well as built and natural environments.
A very interesting interview that I warmly recommend.