Inspirations drive the world.  They are responsible for the conception of everything that is being used, applied or being worked on by everyone. Newton got inspired to discover gravity because an apple fell on his head. Archimedes was taking a bath in his bath tub when he got his ‘Eureka!” moment. Inspirations could be drawn from plain and even weird day to day experiences as these geniuses did. Similarly, it is pivotal for every designer to attain a “Eureka!” moment in their design process to move forward with their ideas and to get them materialized.

We often hear a lot of strange and fascinating stories of how designers got their inspiration for their projects. Here are some examples of where and how landscape architects derived their inspirations. This could leave us mesmerized, but at the same time, we might end up scratching our heads!

1. Inspired by The Wild and Natural –The High Line, New York

James Cornerfield and Diller Scofidio+Renfro’s -The High Line – a public park in New York ,is a landscape project that is textbook thorough and popular with every landscape designer. The High Line was a former Westside Industrial Railway. It is a 1.45-mile-long elevated steel structure built in the 1930s for freight trains and the last train ran on it in 1980.

However, the inspiration from which this industrial railway was converted into a park came from the wild seeded landscape left after the line had been abandoned. Thus, the designer team created a paving system that would initiate natural growth and hence form a ‘pathless’ landscape. This would help the visitors to create their own unique experiences and movements through the place-basically be wild and uncontrolled.

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Image Sources: High Line ©www.hkphab.org.hk

Moral of the story – Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Putting a different perspective to what already exists can make things seem interesting. The true challenge for a real designer would be to realize the beauty that could lie in the existing which could make a visitor appreciate it in a more meaningful way.

2. Culture re-imagined! -Restyling Athens, Greece

The inspiration for Madrid based studio Abmarquitectos’s competition proposal to restyle the Greek Capital came from a very humble element of the mighty Greek Culture-The Olive. While formulating the design, they tried to amalgamate all the spirit of Athens to reincarnate an area that once used to be cemetery and in the last few years had lost its soul. The olive-one of the main symbols of Athens and also a symbol of renovation and regeneration for the Greeks was used as an inspirational element that could give coherence and unity to the entire design.

The research for this proposal leads way to an opportunity that established a link with Greek Mythology. The origin of Athens according to mythology is related to the plantation of the olive by Athena (in fight with Poseidon for supremacy in the protection of the city). Poseidon was already savoring the victory when Athena began to explain the extraordinary properties of the olive tree: a strong plant that could live for many years and produce tasty, delicious fruits, of which men could extract an ideal liquid for seasoning food, give strength to the body, heal the wounds and illuminating the night. The victory of the goddess was overwhelming. Zeus decreed Athena as the winner by donating citizens the most useful plant and was granted sovereignty over the region.

The abstraction of this tale is conceptually drawn out in the design proposal through factors like time resistance, attractiveness, strength and unity, which heals urban wounds and enlightens the night. For example, in the design, the paving pattern-a major intervention- achieves the olive tree light filtering effect through a hexagonal pattern that adapts to all geometries and situations.

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Image Sources: Athen, Greece ©www.behance.net

Moral of the story –Each culture and era in time represents a plethora of elements that find deep rooted prevalence in their foundation. Should they be buried in time? As simple as they might seem, they form the basis of a complex yet interesting blend of history and traditions. Thus, they become amazing sources for inspiration which can stimulate design abstractions and perspectives.

3. This was there yesterday, but today it looks different –Bulebel Monument Design, Malta

Inspired by the various factory buildings that form a part of the Bulebel Industrial Estate, Malta based designers JEMS proposed the Bulebel Monument design working with metal material and prism forms as a state-of-the-art approach to accentuate a brand image through the use of amazing landscape design.

Initially appearing as a mass of prisms scattered across the green areas of the estate, it is a design aiming to strengthen the motto of Bulebel Industrial Estate Tenants Association. The coming together of single independent tetrahedrons as seen in isolation is a depiction of the various factories forming part of the estate. The assembly reaching its full potential showcases the act of solidarity and forming strong networks. Constructed of 4-equilateral faces, the tetrahedrons allow for flexible re-configuration emulating the ever-changing nature of technology and the industry.

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Image Sources: Bulebel Estate ©Pinterest

Moral of the story – Once again it is all about perspective. The best way for a designer to make a statement about something is to actually represent that very thing for what it stands for. In this way, not only does the element get recognition but could also gain value in its true sense.

4. It could all be in the writing –The Blossom Gate, Xiangyiang

Calligraphy is often touted as a very common but innovative source of inspiration for a designer. This is very well depicted through Austria-based designer Chris Precht’s design proposal for the Blossom Gate, an entrance to a myrtle garden in the Chinese city of Xiangyiang. He took inspiration from traditional south Asian calligraphy to propose this incredibly innovative structure suitable for a multi-purpose space.

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Image Sources: The Blossom Gate ©Pinterest
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The Blossom Gate ©Pinterest

Moral of the story – Calligraphy is an art in itself. The principles of design and art often witness an overlay. So a designer should always keenly observe if a particular art catches his eye. Is it the form? The formation? The line work? Analyzing art that surrounds can help a designer further his skills to derive inspiration.

5. Inspired by geography – Boo, Amsterdam

The courtyard of Hotelschool in Amsterdam is adorned with Daan Roosegaarde’s latest landscape of light called “Boo”. Inspired by the connection between Europe and Asia , “Boo” represents a ‘Zen garden from Asia’ dominated by 6m high pillars of interactive LED light .While walking around the poles , the enhanced sound of crickets surround the visitor and would witness the green lights challenging them to interact.

More the visitors interact with ‘Boo’, the more dynamic the pillars get. This connection is a portrayal of Roosegaarde’s techno poetry. . “We live in a network society, connection is essential,” he says.

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Image Sources: Boo by Studio Roosegaarde ©Pinterest

Moral of the story –   Sometimes the requirements of a place could be achieved from the culture and landscape of another place which might probably lie on a completely different latitude and longitude. It is all about being aware of what the world has to offer in every aspect. Different geographies come with so much variety, color, personality, culture and action that fusing them could give rise to so many inspirations.

Inspiration might seem like something that matters only at the very beginning as once abstracted, technicality and practicality push its due credit aside. However, there would be no discovery, innovation or design if there is no inspiration. Landscape Architecture, while being restrained in some practical limits, also allows tremendous scope for experimentation. Great designs are a result of simple inspirations. A good designer should always be observant and keen to learn in order to derive different sources of inspiration. Every designer has his or her unique way of carving out inspirations that makes their design process distinctive.

Michelle Thomas
Author

For Michelle Thomas, architecture could be described as an afterthought decision of life. However, her fondness for writing has always been innate. A soon to be graduate of Masters of Landscape Architecture from RMIT, Melbourne, she always found writing as the most sincere medium for communication and expression to build a narrative of architecture design.

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