CREATIVE AND AESTHETIC LANDSCAPES SITE DESIGN
ROMANCING THE SENSES
Figure 6.1 Model
Aesthetics stretch across the entire spectrum of human experience through all of the senses and memory. Creative and aesthetic landscape ought to provoke a response from – and provide an experience for – visitors of a place, stimulating them and breaking them out of the automated cadence of routine life. Landscapes that can be considered creative and aesthetic are ones that encourage memory and stimulate delight. In order to pursue this ideal, the design for this site is driven by two main goals; engage the senses, and create unique experiences.
The site of focus for this design is located in Manhattan, Kansas, near a growing downtown retail and dining district, a regional mall, and a mix of residential housing. Because human experience is vital to the focal impact of creative and aesthetic landscapes, it was important to understand the people that the site should cater to. The potential users of the site range from the current residents on site, to mall shoppers, young families, active retirees, and high school and college-aged students. In order to provide relevant experiences for such a broad audience, the program of the site needed to have a wide variety of spaces for varying activity levels. Because of its key location just off of Ft. Riley Blvd., the site also has the potential to serve as a gateway into downtown Manhattan by providing a landmark and sense of arrival along Leavenworth Street. To address the varied age groups and activity levels of visitors to the site, the diagram below shows clusters of activities and functions that may take place.
Figure 6.2 Activity Ideagram. This illustrates the multiple uses and opportunities for interaction and activity on site.
To address the visual portion of aesthetics, it becomes important to selectively conceal or reveal views off of the site. Much of the surrounding parking is unappealing to look at, but the residential complex to the north, as well as the patchwork of store roofs to the south, are attractive structures that are pleasant to see while on site.
Program and Design
Figure 6.3 Plan View. The proposed design for the site, designed from a creative and aesthetic direction.
In order to provide the highest quality and most varied experiences, the site is arranged around a vibrant program. For people who want to calmly enjoy the site, there are a series of walks and planters arranged around a fire pit on the southern half of the site. There are benches tucked into mounds of earth and café tables for sitting and socializing around the fire pit, which doubles as a metal sculptural element.
To the north of these pathways there is a large grassy mound that separates the tranquil garden space from an interactive fountain feature. The fountain sprays jets of water and shines playful light sequences for anyone to play and splash in. There is a custom, curved bench cut into the side of the mound for people to sit and enjoy the activity.
Figure 6.4 Autumn Afternoon by the Fire Pit (left) This illustration shows the café tables and the fire pit space located amongst the meditative gardens; Making a Splash (right) This shows the interaction between the main circulation path and splash fountain. The grassy mound surrounding the fountain also provides privacy to the therapy gardens behind.
The splash fountain leads into the wide central path that runs through the site. The path has collapsible bollards on either end to keep vehicles out, but to allow cars in during large community events, such as the weekly farmers market and outdoor concerts. The path is well lit with café string lights at night to provide a warm atmosphere and a safe environment. In the northeast portion of the site there is a large mound occupied with sculptural fiberglass benches, which light up during the evening. A performance stage sits in the northeast corner and doubles as a shaded platform and climbing structure when not in use for concerts.
To the west of the stage is the pathway that leads from the corner of Leavenworth and 4th into the heart of the site. The entrances on the northwest and southeast corners of the site are distinguished by colorful arch structures that have perforated sides that can be climbed. These arches mimic the structure of the band shell, which also acts as the identifying landmark on the corner of the site.
Figure 6.5 Friday Night Concert (left) This shows the sloped grassy area with the sculptural, glowing benches, and the stage area; Entering Through Arches (right). This shows the Northwest entry into the site through the archways.
Along with the artistic overhead structures, there are other art pieces on site. In the garden and fire pit areas, there are brass sculptures that resemble bundles of grass, providing beauty even in the winter season when the vegetation is dormant. To create enclosure and provide protection from traffic, the northeast and southwest corners of the site are raised three feet with a sloping retaining wall that provides seating and an engaging feature for passing pedestrians. All of these elements are meant to encourage engagement and promote interaction. The dynamic moves of the design, such as the vibrant color pallet, mounded landforms, and contrast of organic and rigid forms, break the mold of traditional parks and encourage nontraditional interaction between the individual and the landscape.