Architype Dialogue presents
Marcus Barnett – Marcus Barnett
With this particular landscape architecture project, what was the most difficult issue your firm faced or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought and unique approaches in the project?
This particular project was dictated by an unusually conceptual client brief. One of the initial and ongoing challenges was to communicate the concept as simply and as visually as possible.
The brief particularly lent itself to two themes which informed the design and design process: the exploration of organic forms and the use of sustainable products and materials.
Timber was an obvious choice but we also explored the use of products that had hitherto not been utilized structurally. One such product was bioplastics – the initial design concepts being driven by a desire to create a pavilion that was, at least notionally, completely biodegradable.
The organic drivers for the design resulted in an exploration of structurual integrity without compromising the design concepts. As with many projects, the final result was a combination of design, practicality and cost.
In general, do you feel that the role of the landscape architect is changing on similar building types? Did this project expand or evolve your role as a landscape architect in any way?
It is difficult to make general, industry-wide comments with reference to this project because it was a competition installation. However, the project certainly resulted in a degree of expansion and evolution with regard to our role. We were exploring new levels of concept-led design and seeking to communicate a very specific client brief. Once such approach was an opportunity to build on our practice’s desire that structures are effectively linked with the landscape in which they are located. This was partly achieved by the timber capillaries that ran throughout the landscape and then formed the structure of the pavilion. It was also strengthened by the open nature of the pavilion in which views were framed and air movement and sound were constant sensory links to the planting outside.
Our role was also expanded by the fact that we were the primary design force from the outset. It is often the case that we are approached by architects to provide landscape solutions for existing buildings and outside spaces. On this occasion, we used architects to help us realize the technical execution of our design of the pavilion. Often it is architects who come to us, this time it was nice to return the favour!
How is your installation or project possible today in a way that it may not have been in the past, and how have current trends or thoughts in landscape architecture inspired new creative solutions?
Three-dimensional modeling is not a new development but it certainly helped us realize the pavilion and timber capillaries in ways that would have been much more difficult in the past. With the help of Nex Architects and Blumher-Lehman, each join, angle, cell and cassette used in the structure was unique. A traditional approach to joinery was replaced with a cutting edge process that gave us exactly what we wanted.
Architype Review thanks Marcus Barnett for his interview and for contributing to this collection of Architype Dialogue.