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Artful Landscapes: 10 Modern Landscape Architecture Designs

Landscape Architecture Designs – Long before green was good and sustainable was sexy, the world’s landscape architects understood and practiced the discipline of environmental custodianship.  Still today, they work to restore life to a polluted world, doing so in our homes, our parks, our offices and even our cities.  To celebrate the good work of today’s landscape architects, here are 10 truly amazing landscape architecture designs that work to make this a better world.

Highline Park New York

Manhattan’s Highline Park is an exercise in eco-friendly urban reclamation, the rescue of an abandoned raised freight line for the common good of the city.  After traffic through these raised rails ceased in the 1980s, the line sat abandoned waiting for demolition.  The neighborhood of Manhattan’s west side rallied to save the raised line to create a public park with a green roof as an escape to the busy pace of the streets below.  James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro cooperated to turn this aging eye sore into a green place of peace for Manhattan residents.  The resulting park stretches across nine city blocks, featuring a contemporary design that fits well with the forward thinking people it was built to serve.  Highline Park is a prime example of the old adage that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.  [photography: iwan baan]

Highline Park Gallery

Vulcano Buono Nola Italy

In an homage to the tragic history of nearby Pompei, Vulcano Buono in Nola, Italy is a giant structure with a green heartbeat thanks to a green-roofed landscape designed by Renzo Piano.  Vulcano Buono is a truly massive structure, designed as a point of commerce and tourism for one of Italy’s prime freight cities.  The structure features a shopping mall, an outdoor theater and a hotel with a 150 square meter open market within.  The landscape architecture designs for this building include 2,500 plants which wrap around the eye of the volcano.  Designer Renzo Piano and his partners are no strangers to landscape architecture, as their work is featured twice in this list.

Vulcano Buono Gallery

Shanghai Houtan Park

There is more than meets the eye in this marvel of landscape architecture design.  Shanghai’s Houtan Park is both a place for public relaxation and a complex ecological system that naturally cleanses the local environment.  This park has replaced a mile-long stretch of industrial space that had fallen into disrepair, located alongside the almost terminally-polluted Huangpu River.  But through a series of cascading terraces and plant-based filtering, the waters of the Huangpu cycle through Houtan Park to the point that they can once again support aquatic life.  Beside the water is a long stretch of local flora and even an urban farm, giving a new natural outlet to the citizens of this busy city.  During the Shanghai Expo 2010, Houtan Park provided recycled water from the Huangpu River to be used for non-potable purposes.

Shanghai Houtan Park Gallery

Mill Valley Residence’s Green Roof

A feature on landscape architecture designs wouldn’t be complete without a gem of residential green roof design.  The Mill Valley Residence by Scott McGlashan, also featured on our list of green roof designs, is a multi-generational home built in a terraced manner on a sloping plot in California.  Its many roofs are lined with rows of plants, encouraging the local nature to thrive in its environment.  Even without the green roof, this home is an achievement in modern, sustainable design, but it is a gem of landscape architecture that must be admired.

Mill Valley Residence Gallery

Tree Museum of Zurich Switzerland

The famed Swiss landscape architect Enzo Anea designed this stunning salute to the tree just outside of Lake Zurich.  The Tree Museum of Switzerland is a serene retreat lined with lush green grass, punctuated with rising stone columns.  The columns are a canvas upon which the shape of a collection of trees from around the world are showcased.  In this 2.5 acre “museum”, 2,000 species of trees have been carefully curated and cultivated to honor one of nature’s most majestic works of art– the tree.

Tree Museum Gallery

California Academy of Sciences

Renzo Piano returns to this list of landscape architecture designs with his brilliant work for the California Academy of Sciences building.  This massive temple of science features a dynamic green roof above with living plants below, fed by a series of skylights that dot the building’s green canvas.  From a distance, the Academy and its landscape are what immediately seizes the eye, a continuous green expanse of trees, grass and other plant life that the building alone does not interrupt.

California Academy of Sciences Gallery

Crosswaters Ecolodge, Guangdong Province, China

Education is an important focus of China’s green movement, and the Crosswaters Ecolodge endears eco-education with a retreat where visitors can experience the green power of nature firsthand.  Chinese eco-tourism at its finest, Crosswaters Ecolodge provides its guests with a greater understanding of its environment while giving back to the locals living in Guangdong Province.  The compound includes terraced farming which feeds its restaurant and the local villagers alike, while a wild bamboo-sourced structural habitat wows its visitors while they enjoy their stay.  Still path-side ponds, a high-reaching observation tower and a beautiful bamboo bridge merge traditional Chinese architecture with sound landscape design techniques.

Crosswaters Ecolodge Gallery

Youth Center Roof Garden in Chicago Illinois

While eco-education is an important focus for the Chinese, it’s of equal importance in the United States as well.  The Youth Center Roof Garden in Chicago Illinois is a large and plentiful roof-top garden designed to both educate and feed those it serves.  The expansive, concrete-grid of the city of Chicago leaves little room for farming, but the Gary Comer center carves a niche by making it’s roof a wide, long and deep garden sewed by the local youth.  This rooftop landscape architecture design is the latest amongst a healthy green movement in Chicago, and this one succeeds in both its design and the education it provides to the wide-eyed youth that tend to its plant life.

Youth Center Roof Garden Gallery

Qinhuangdao Beach Restoration in Qinhuangdao China

That lush, dreamy environment above was a scarred wasteland before this recent project.  The Qinhuangdao Beach Restoration is not just a work of landscape architecture design, but one of magnificent eco engineering.  Turinscape and China’s Peking University collaborated on a massive campaign to turn a deserted, eroding and garbage-ridden beach into a serene place of beauty for the locals, both human and animal.  This 60 hectare strip of land has been reborn with the seeding of native plants to protect against erosion and provide a stunning visual backdrop to the beach’s visitors.  The renewed beach also features a recovered wetland that will encourage wildlife to return and use the new habitat.  This project is an example of hope for the scars of industrialism and neglect.  Through encouraging nature, scars like these can be healed.

Qinhuangdao Beach Restoration Gallery

Bridle Road Residence Cape Town

While the modern design of this home is worthy of its own respect, it is the landscape architecture designs about this plot that are truly unique.  The Bridle Road Residence in Cape Town, South Africa is located at the base of the Table Mountain with panoramic views of the ocean bay below.  The local environment is amongst the most ecologically diverse regions throughout the world, home to a collection of brush species that exist nowhere else.  These fine native bushes, called Fynbos, have been endangered by the development of Cape Town over the centuries, so the landscape architects of this home covered the grounds with these rare and beautiful bushes.  This home is not just a living space for its inhabitants, it is designed to preserve and protect one of the most rare native species of plants in the world.  (beyond that, the natural swimming pool is a stunning touch as well).

Bridle Road Residence Gallery

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Landscape architecture designs can be about so much more than just mulch and sod, nursery trees and shrubs.  The design of a landscape can be a truly artful undertaking, and its results can help protect, preserve and cleanse the world we live in.  To learn more about landscape architecture, visit the American Society of Landscape Architects, an organization whose mission it is to “lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.”

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