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Landscape Architecture

Cambodia, Destinations, Landscape Architecture, Musings

Preah Khan: Architecture Education Rising from Ruins

March 12, 2013

For the past nearly quarter of a century on the flip side of the planet from my Pacific Northwest nest, the World Monument Fund has been helping bring modern day workforce training opportunities to would-be architects, engineers, archaeologists, and artisans in the midst of a still-recovering country tangled in layers of civil war and jungle-eaten ruins. This is the story of the Preah Khan Project at Cambodia’s Angkor Temples.

I grew up in a land of peace and plentiful resources.

When landscape architecture wormed its way into my curious mind at age 14, I’d already squirreled away countless years of urban planning and city management experience (ahem, they’re releasing a new version of SimCity this year, by the way…). But seriously, when I chose to pursue landscape architecture in university, my world was rife with opportunities to study, to travel, and to gain practical experience in modern-day design, construction, and management.

In other regions, access to higher education and workforce training is not so simple; in other regions, entire generations of skilled artisans and professionals have been lost to war.

Countries like Cambodia, filled with natural and cultural landscapes in need of preservation and protection, riddled with histories of instability, are all too often left to wither alone or to be plundered by foreign governments, unscrupulous business ventures, and outside interest groups.

Happily, I share an encouraging story today. One of foreigners banding together to partner with Cambodian citizens to increase education, skills, and ultimately care for the Cambodian people’s cultural heritage. Continue Reading…

Cambodia, Destinations, Landscape Architecture

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Scenes from Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm

February 27, 2013


Frozen Portraits at The Bayon

Don’t laugh. I have an admission to make: we followed Angelina Jolie to Cambodia. She beat us to Angkor by a dozen years, filming scenes for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2000 among the picturesque ruins of the Khmer Empire, and as round the world travelers with a stop in Siem Reap, it was too hard to resist the cheesiness of a little star-stalking during our visit to the ruins.

The Lara Croft: Tomb Raider route includes a visit to the many-faced Bayon Temple within the bounds of the ancient city of Angkor Thom and a trip through the tree-entwined bones of the similarly aged 12th and 13th century Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university of Ta Prohm. Continue Reading…

Cambodia, Destinations, Landscape Architecture

Six Hundred Years After Sunrise, or, Angkor in a Day

February 20, 2013

Angkor is perhaps the greatest of Man’s essays in rectangular architecture that has yet been brought to life.
– Arnold Joseph Toynbee, East to West


Exhibit A: Sunrise at Angkor Wat – The Clichéd (and Beautiful) Pilgrimage Point of Cambodia

Ankgor.
A spread of ruins; archaeological remnants of an ancient civilization.

Iconic.
A bit bewildering; there for the seeing, for the picture-taking, with secrets lost from time.

Unmissable.
Take several days, they said. We took one, and filled it as full as we could. Continue Reading…

Cambodia, Destinations, Featured Partners, Intrepid, Landscape Architecture, Musings

Tonlé Sap Tour: Visiting the Floating Villages of Cambodia

January 9, 2013

An odd juxtaposition: being in a hurry, surrounded by a slow and ancient way of life.

We sped toward Siem Reap, Cambodia on a six-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh. The dinner hour pit-stop barely gave us time to catch our breaths, and we were off again, aimed for few nights’ stay near the temples of Angkor Wat. I watched the sun set out the bus window, glazing everything from rice paddies to rustic roads with warm light, causing me to consider the farmers working the land to grow a living with each passing day.

When we arrived in Siem Reap, we knew our time was limited. Though we planned to join people from around the world in flocking to see the ancient Hindu temple complex ruins of Angkor, we also wished for a chance to experience something a little farther from the crowds, something a little more insightful about present day life in rural Cambodia. Enter: a visit to the remote floating villages of Tonlé Sap.


Floating Village of Kampong Phluk: Tonlé Sap Tour

Tonlé Sap is Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, a UNESCO Biosphere welling up to 15,000 square kilometers in the rainy season, draining to the Mekong River, and shrinking to 2,700 square kilometers during the dry season. North America’s Great Salt Lake is 5,483 square kilometers, by comparison.

One and a half million Cambodians live in 127 communities around and on the water. Lake dwellers live in bamboo floating houses and stilted structures, fishing for a living and navigating the waterways as they’ve done for centuries, though motors and foreigners and outside developers are changing the tides. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Featured Places, Food, Landscape Architecture, Thailand

The Travelling Soul: In Search of the Northern Thai Spirit at Tamarind Village

December 7, 2012

The most beautiful glimpse into Lanna culture came from an unexpected turn down a lantern-lit walkway. After admiring handicrafts and tasting our way through local dishes during a warm evening wander through Chaing Mai’s Sunday Market street stalls, Ted pulled me aside.

“What’s down there?”

A bamboo grove lit by spotlights and floating lanterns beckoned us onward, away from the noise of the street and toward the promise of a grand discovery. The flags said something about Travelling Souls… Continue Reading…

Destinations, Landscape Architecture, Musings, Zanzibar

Descending into Dar es Salaam…

October 26, 2012

Outside the plane window stretched a vast expanse of blackness punctured by glowing pinpricks of yellow and orange. Not twinkling stars in the sky: backyard and street-front fires.

We arrived in Tanzania after sunset, after nature’s light-switch flipped.

Descending into the Dar es Salaam airport seemed surreal. On the approach, I could make out suburbs entirely void of electrical streetlights or floodlights or illuminated windows. Instead, flames licked toward the dark sky from old barrels and brush piles.

It felt like another world. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Landscape Architecture, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

In Pictures: A Landscape Architect’s Visit to Rustenberg Wines

October 18, 2012

The iconic crisp, white, delicately detailed Cape Dutch architecture of South Africa stands so beautifully against nature’s backdrop. Once I began seeing these beauties pop out from all corners of the Cape – suburban city lots and rolling wine country hills alike – I geeked out for a mini-moment and started pinning pictures of my new architectural crush.

Toward the very end of our time in the country, as a delegate attending the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ World Congress, I gladly accepted the opportunity to visit Rustenberg Wines in Stellenbosch as part of the Cultural Landscapes in Transition tour circuit, and, I’ll be honest, I was more than a little bit excited to take one or two original snapshots of Cape Dutch style to pin on my board…

For over three hundred years, various families have tended the land and taken care of the buildings and legacy of Rustenberg Estate and its incredible setting at the base of the Simonsberg Mountains. If you’re curious to know more, have a quick read of the site’s history: The Epic Stories and Wines of Rustenberg.

Anyway, that’s the gist. I won’t jabber much since this is really just a quick photo post…

And, yes, I promise, I’ll be out of South Africa soon.

Enjoy the peek at Rustenberg’s grounds and labyrinth and garden blooms – and remember these images are from the tail end of their winter! Continue Reading…

Destinations, Landscape Architecture, New Zealand

Blueprints for Christchurch: Post-Quake Construction

July 30, 2012

Speaking of being on a landscape architecture kick

This morning, I’m sitting in my makeshift office on site at Carmel by the Sea, working on a master plan for the 58 year old holiday and conference center on the shores of the Indian Ocean in South Africa. (No, you haven’t missed anything. The blog is country or two backlogged: I have stores from Lebanon to share before shifting hemispheres again…)

But I was too giddy to resist sharing today’s landscape architecture thrill: recently released blueprints for redevelopment of the Christchurch Central Business District in New Zealand.

CG animation of Christchurch, New Zealand produced by Animation Research Ltd. for CERA (the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority), CCDU (the Christchurch Central Development Unit), the Christchurch City Council and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Eight years ago, I moved to Christchurch, New Zealand for five months. The short season was long enough to forever change me. I fell head over heels for the country and its people. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Greece, Landscape Architecture, Musings

Landscape Architecture Footnotes: First Pier and the Thessaloniki Waterfront

July 29, 2012

Pardon me while I nerd out for a moment. I love being a landscape architect, and I love encountering places around the world where people are truly using and enjoying outdoor space.

And I love learning.

That would be me – loving the oh-so-comfy benches on Thessaloniki’s First Pier

Ahead of our one-day visit to Thessaloniki, Greece, I didn’t read up or investigate. I peeked at a map of the city when booking accommodations and otherwise walked in blind, so perhaps it was the absence of expectation or perhaps the atmosphere of pre-sunset light?

Whatever the case, when Ted and I walked down to the waterfront after dinner, I was absolutely enchanted by the First Pier of the Thessaloniki Port. It’s a little slice of urban paradise projecting out into the harbor, and I joyfully sat in the sunshine, people-watching and observing a successful night in the life of public open space. Continue Reading…