CELA Research 2017

CELA Abstracts

Playground as a Diagnostic Indicator of a Child’s Well Being

David Watts - djwatts@calpoly.edu - California Polytechnic State University

Keywords: Children, Poverty, Community Capacity, Mental Disorders, Playgrounds

"Children in abject poverty live in an environment of heightened emotional stress with issues of insecurity, hopelessness, and risk for mental disorders (1). These children have greater risk for injury from accidents or neglect, suffer lower developmental scores in a range of areas, and various forms of malnutrition (2). Poor education associated with poverty is a consistent risk factor for the onset of common mental disorders, primarily exhibited in conduct disorders (1). The lack of education represents a diminished opportunity for children to access necessary resources to adapt and cope with these challenges. This exemplifies a diminished level of community capacity that if strengthened could provide enhanced resilience for children to the physical and mental development restraints inherent to their daily lives.

Resilience can have numerous meanings in the context of community capacity but here it will refer to the personal competence of any child in their capacity to learn from and seek out the positive elements of their environment (3). Children’s personal capacity for coping with adversity can also be understood as the interface between their ability to create effective relationships and their sense of autonomy versus their incapacity to regulate their emotional reactions (3). Physical resources are tangible tools to build and strengthen community capacity associated with a group of individuals. Playgrounds are a key contributor to facilitating resilience in children as they create opportunity for positive development of competence and perceived efficacy valued by self or society (4). It is also an environment that permits unstructured peer interaction that fosters cognitive reasoning, and education of societal values (3). Watching children’s play behaviors can provide insight to community members into their mental health and communicate if the child is facing a crisis at home (5).

The paper will present a literature review of studies addressing the conditions of physical and mental stress children face living in abject poverty. It will also explore the relationship of playgrounds to children and neighborhoods in these conditions utilizing the Ratang Bana AIDS Orphanage in Alexandra Township, South Africa as a case study. The case study highlights the impact of landscape architecture through playground design on an impoverished community. The review will communicate the current state of research, identify evident themes, and highlight areas for future research efforts."

Footsteps in Time: The Gardens of Versailles

David Watts - djwatts@calpoly.edu - California Polytechnic State University

Astrid Reeves - areeves@calpoly.edu - California Polytechnic State University

Keywords: Versailles, Louis XIV, Gardens, History, Physical Artifact, Cultural Artifact, Social Constructionism

The gardens of Versailles remain timeless in their ability to capture the imagination and instill a sense of awe as visitors today share a connection with those who have walked it’s allées over the last three centuries. The illusive 'sense of place' that we, as landscape architects, strive for in every design is epitomized by this work of André Le Nôtre and Louis XIV. While its physical form as a landscape artifact has undergone few transformations from the original plan, its metaphorical cultural meaning and how people experience it has transformed over time. Iconic in its inception and implementation, the gardens of Versailles exemplify a cultural narrative of man’s relationship with nature. The historical change in the construct of man’s relationship to nature from one of control and dominance to partnership and alliance is exemplified in the garden. The original designers saw the gardens as an expression of power and control over nature and the populace privileged to enter. His majesty took time within his reign to write a guide for how his subjects and guests were to experience the gardens (1). Subsequent generations have since been afforded the freedom to experience the gardens in new ways and to construct their own understanding and meaning. Tourists are able to explore the gardens unfettered by the social constructionism (2) that originally defined the visitor experience. The intimacy of quiet garden rooms found off the main allées are often not a part of today's experience as they are passed over by contemporary visitors in favor of the excitement of major focal points found along key axis. Children run carelessly through the allées and families jostle their way through crowds to gain a front row view of a fountain as it springs to life while classical music accompanies their footsteps. History has shown how an individual can shape the landscape, while the landscape itself then influences and shapes the individuals who reside there (3). The movie retraces the journey through the gardens originally prescribed by Louis XIV for members of his court and guests to remind us of the journey's original intent. It highlights the choreographed movement, pauses, views, and landscape details that conveyed his message of power and control. This historical reference provides a platform to illuminate and frame the cultural palimpsest that has evolved through time in this living artifact. The movie showcases the resilience of the designed landscape to respond to changes in cultural behaviors and norms.

Digital video and the impact of landscape architecture on public well-being

Cesar Torres-Bustamante - -ctorresb@calpoly.edu - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Keywords: Video, Digital Video, Communication, Landscape Architecture

Fifteen years ago Charles Waldheim discussed and speculated over the use of photography as a representational mechanism for the landscape, considering it an analytical tool that not only reveals a given condition but that also articulates possible futures [1]. Since then, opportunities for framing landscape analysis, schematization and planning have emerged from still images, and also from moving images. In the last 10 years, video, audio and moving imagery presentations have revealed innovative possibilities in landscape design and representation. Christophe Girot has highlighted the potential of video in investigating landscape temporality by recording it's ever-changing -and impossible to grasp- dynamic and fluid characters. Our perception towards video has also shifted in the last decade, from a task that required specialized technology for recording and editing, to an uncomplicated activity that can be done with any smartphone. The average time that US adults spent watching video on digital devices has increased more than 250% in the last five years: from 21 minutes (0:21) per day in 2011 to almost one hour and a quarter (1:16) last year. [2] Girot asks for a better integration and understanding of contemporary visual thinking in project development and communication [3]. Digital media offers an accessible and affordable platform for communication, that can shift from message communication or analysis into persuasion: video outcomes focus not only on telling a story but also on finding ways to grab the attention of the viewers and hold them long enough to deliver a message. This video session aims to showcase student videos produced as submissions for the 2015 Wayne Grade Memorial Student Competition, a contest that challenged students to communicate the positive impacts of landscape architecture on public well-being. Students produced short videos as means to communicate what landscape architecture is, and how it impacts our lives. These experimentations with moving images included animations with simple video-editing software (“ABC of Landscape Architecture”), compositing 3D objects on video (“Landscape Architecture and Stormwater Management”), using animation as a video-game (“Stick Figure Games”) and stop-motion (“Landscape Architecture: What difference does it make?”) to explore the possibilities of short animations as means of “effectively [communicating] the vital role that landscape architects play in protecting and enhancing ‘public welfare’” [4]. None of the students were expert video editors, yet their abilities and skills found in digital video a platform that gave them opportunities to communicate, experiment and shape a message about the impact of landscape architecture on public well-being.

Link to video ‘ABC of Landscape Architecture’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coJYJuA7wfg

Landscape History in the Digital World: A Case Study of 1920s Los Angeles

Christine Edstrom O'Hara - cohara@calpoly.edu - California Polytechnic State University

Keywords: Historical GIS, Digital Technology, Landscape History, Spatial History

Primary data used in the study of landscape history is often a complex amalgamation of both qualitative and quantitative materials from letters, reports and published writing by designers, to paintings and photos, plans and maps. The challenge in this work is to synthesize the mix of information into a way of understanding the project within its historical context. The purpose of this study and presentation is to show how digital technology offers methods to analyze built and unbuilt projects in ways that landscape architects can assess “space” rather than just “place,” offering new perspectives on spatial history.

HGIS, or historical geographical information system, displays and analyzes data from past geographies and can track them through time for a visual representation of information. American geographer and history professor Anne Kelly Knowles writes, “GIS mapping offers an unprecedented range of tools to visualize historical information in its geographic context, examine it at different scales, interrogate its spatial patterns, and integrate material from many sources on the basis of a shared location," adding that “almost every historical document contains some kind of geographical information.” While GIS can create maps from historical data, its ability to align maps through georeferencing also has immense value as this overlay process produces new readings of seemingly unrelated documents. Technology application is not limited to GIS, however. With project plans that have contour data, other software like AutoCAD can be used to digitize contour lines, with Sketch-up exploding the site into 3-D. Using a specific planting plan, photo realistic images can be developed in Photoshop to visualize the human scale experience from the otherwise 2-D sheet of paper.

A case study of 1920s Los Angeles demonstrates the use of a range of digital methods to understand built and unbuilt projects designed by the Olmsted Brothers within the historical context of that period. Examples include a series of qualitative maps from the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation on perceptions of social class and ethnicity, georeferenced to park proposals by the Olmsted firm, and compared against Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.’s written reports to understand the pattern of spatial routing around poor neighborhoods. Using the firm’s planting plans, unbuilt parkways through Los Angeles were digitally created in Photoshop to understand Olmsted’s written intentions of the visual quality of the design. The significance of the study is that digital techniques offer unlimited value and application to the landscape historian, with new ways to understand the spatial quality of historical narratives as well as technical plans.

Sectional Thinking: Considering Experience, Sequence and Spatial Development in the Design Process

Joseph Ragsdale - jragsdal@calpoly.edu - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Keywords: Representation, Section, Landscape Sequence

Within the academic environment, courses in site analysis, site planning, and site design often rely heavily on plan-based graphics to study and reveal context, influences, opportunities, constraints and design solutions. In Sullivan’s Drawing the Landscape, the plan “represents the landscape from a single, aerial viewpoint. The landscape plan is a way to view the site from a measured distance as if you were floating above it. Being able to see the landscape in this manner requires you to “get small” and visualize yourself flying above your design. It is magic and fun.” (Sullivan, p. 209). The plan is a key drawing to inform, test and represent design ideas but requires the ability transform the aerial view into the visual, on-the-ground experience. For beginning design students, working in plan can prove challenging to the understanding and conception of landscape experiences, sequences and spatial development. Support drawings, including sketches, perspectives, elevations and sections in combination with three-dimensional studies (analog or digital models) can further comprehension and visualization efforts.

This project presents results of the use of sectional thinking over a two-year period within an undergraduate curriculum. Sectional thinking, prioritizes the use of the section, to focus student understanding of the experience of the landscape, the development of landscape spaces and the consideration of a sequence through the landscape. Sectional thinking was utilized throughout the design process, from inventory and analysis, design development, concept refinement and final presentation. This poster will provide a summary of the visualization approach and highlight examples of sectional thinking within each phase of the design process.

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