Garden and Grand Design Insights for Performance Environments

I have just watched the final episode of Monty Don’s Italian Gardens.

In this program he visited the Vennetto, Lucca, Como and Lake Maggiore.

Throughout the program Monty discussed the transformation of Italian garden design and the impact of seedsmen on these designs.

I thought his visit to Isola Bella was a great way to end the program and the series. The forty-year transformation of a rocky outcrop to an ornate garden prompted me to think about the time scale required for constructing a sustainable performance environment.

On the same evening I watched the concluding part of Kevin McLeod’s documentary on the development of The Triangle in Swindon. I thought the story of the transformation of an idea about improving living environments to a completed but fallible space was compelling. Like Monty, Kevin led me to think about the lived reality of big picture visions.

Both programs took my thinking back to Dharavi too and the role social activity plays in and is supported by intentional design and informal opportunity.

I am going to add the DVDs of both series to my reading (viewing) lists for anyone interested in the construction of performance environments.

Photo Credits

Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore

Haboakus Swindon 0072E



Social Sustainable Spaces

I really enjoyed Kevin McLeod’s conversation with Margaret Throsby earlier this week.

In addition to admiring his style in Grand Designs, I have been fascinated by his Grand Tour and his visit to Dharavi. (The Dharavi program led me to explore edgeless spaces.)

I was particularly interested to hear Kevin explore ideas about social spaces and listened carefully to his brief mention of Hab Oakus. I liked Hab Oakus’s manifesto which includes …

We will:

  • draw on landscape and history to create an architecture which is strongly rooted in context, both physical and cultural
  • create communities which will appeal to young and old alike; where people grow up, have a family and grow old
  • conceive our projects within the context of community-wide initiatives from sourcing local food to sustainable means of transport
  • make places which are a pleasure to live in and a joy to behold.

HAB is short for Happiness, Architecture, Beauty. This approach is another discovery for me on my interest in personal learning environments.

It has prompted me to think about how educational and sport contexts can embody the possibilities that:

We build houses that make people happy; that keep people warm in winter and cool in summer and generally comfortable and cheerful all year round. We work with brilliant architects and landscape architects to make places that look great and work well, and have lots of outdoor space for people to play, chat, lie in the sun, throw a good party, grow their own food.

Photo Credits

The Triangle, Swindon

Northway, Oxford