Thoroughly inspirational story recorded over at the New York Times. Walter Hood: landscape architect; urban activist; professor at University of California, Berkeley; and a new hero. Hood rebuilds meaning back into cities, starting with historical research into now derelict places, uncovering the key psychogeographical nodes (here was a terminus of the transcontinental railroad; this debris-strewn creek was once a trolley line; this neighbourhood was built on landfill etc.), then observing their everyday usage patterns and flows, and finally working with the local community to carefully – and seemingly very successfully – reconstruct these places, bringing forgotten and neglected city space back to life.
"Mr. Hood’s landscapes are about "connecting the dots," as he puts it — understanding the deep history of a place, observing it over time, and listening to community needs … (He) finds inspiration and even beauty in the shadows beneath the freeway. "I’m interested in how the everyday mundane practices of life get played out in cities, the unheralded patterns that take place without celebration," he said. "There’s a structure to cities, a 4/4 beat. Designing is like improvisation, finding a sound for each place."
Beautifully lyrical approach to describing his work, too. Judging by further comments in the article, Walter Hood’s methods really seem to succeed, and maybe there’s a lot we can learn from his combination of essentially user-centred design with ‘history-centred design’, highly imaginative solutions poetically brought to life, and hands-on engagement with the build process, energising a locally involved team of ‘players’ whose job it will be to look after the space once he’s moved on.
New York Times: He Measures Oakland’s Beat, and Parks Bloom
[via George – thanks!]
Leave a Reply