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Landscape design professionals can help elevate your green space

Landscape design professionals can help elevate your green space

Even in the heart of the city, there is no reason to sacrifice the green space that makes a house feel like a home, a landscape designer can convert it to a place you and your family will desire to spend time.” says Meghna Dulani Gehenwar, Founder and Principal Architect, The Pinewood Studio.

What changes will the pandemic have on urban  landscape design? What are some of the key  learnings? 

For the past decades, those looking at the intersections  of planning, design, and public health have focused  less on infectious diseases and more on chronic  disease, hazards, and disasters, and the vulnerable. The  current pandemic brings the question of designing for  infectious diseases back to the forefront and raises  important questions for future research and practice. 

Public health and safety will likely be on people’s  minds even after the threat of contracting COVID-19  diminishes. People are going to be considering density  and wanting more of that public space to be outside  and thinking about the transmission of germs. 

The pandemic has taught us that cities need to improve  their infrastructure to help people live healthier lives.  Some of the key factors are air quality, access to  daylight and sunlight, and the provision of open space. 

Walkability in local outdoor spaces has proved  particularly important during the pandemic

Not everyone has access to safe, walkable spaces.  For example, some communities don’t have enough  sidewalks. Pedestrians should have enough room to  walk or shop despite the public health crisis. Some of  

these changes after the pandemic may decrease noise  pollution and traffic and increase safety in busy areas. 

Several restaurants, faced with restrictions on dine-in  capacity, also reimagined outdoor seating options and  found new uses for public space near their establishments.  This trend will continue as restaurants and business owners  look to include outdoor spaces in their place of work. 

In the metro cities, it’s an era of sky rises. What  kind of landscape design do you advise in such areas  dominated by sky rises? 

Architectural trends are currently formed considering the  landscape, soil characteristics, and appearance of existing  buildings. They develop in close connection with several  features inherent in such an ambiguous phenomenon  as a megapolis. It is important to add trees to rooftops,  terraces or balconies high in the sky. The ‘living building’  designs then become a reality when forests reach a new  high in the cities through sky rises.  

The plant materials’ biggest challenge at this elevation is the  wind, in addition to some extreme hot and cold temperatures.  Think about trees near mountaintops with trunks that bow  away from prevailing winds. Such plantations require wind resistance tests and a lightweight substrate in order to meet  plants’ nutritional demands. Regular pruning will ensure  trees don’t interrupt tenants’ views. 

One can’t ignore the benefits the buildings can  provide if successful. These include absorbing  dust in the air and creating a microclimate  to filter out sunlight. Custom drip irrigation  systems provide ease of maintenance to the  busy professionals and landscape lighting  allows for nighttime enjoyment. Even in  the heart of the city, there is no reason  to sacrifice the green space that makes a  house feel like a home. Whether you have  an outdoor garden on a balcony, a rooftop  lounge space or a small backyard, landscape  design professionals can help elevate your  green space to a place you and your family  desire to spend time.

As a landscape designer what piece of  advice do you have for Tier 1 and Tier 2  cities and satellite townships which are  coming up, what role can landscape design  play to make such places more habitable?

The influx of professionals has increased  the population in Tier 1 and 2 cities. Town  planning, waste management and storm  water management is crucial now more than  ever. Especially environmental restoration  and development of parks as breathing  space. These green spaces ensure oxygen  balance and air quality in cities that are  headed towards increasing pollution levels.  For example, large trees on both sides of the  road provide shade and control increasing  temperatures. Individual homes and  corporate buildings should focus and invest  in rainwater harvesting. Landscape architects  should also make rainwater harvesting a  mandatory part of their design.  

For people who are lucky enough to have  a house on a larger plot of land, what kind  of landscape design would you advise?

For larger plots of land, I would suggest  incorporating as less as hardscape and as  much as softscape as possible. It’s important to create permeable surfaces so that the water table does not deplete. This is a great opportunity to create dedicated kitchegardens for home grown fresh vegetables. I highly recommend investing in good  quality landscape lights which use the least amount of electricity. It is also advisable to  use materials that are natural and locally  available. This can be done through local  contractors and indigenous techniques. 

What are some of the key components to bring to life a beautiful landscape? 

Plants have no fixed shape or form, so why should landscape be rigid? In my opinion,  organic landscape design is more exciting  and interactive. It makes you stop and ponder  over creativity. In order to bring to life a  beautiful landscape, it’s important to play with  natural stones, wood, layering of different  textures and intricate detailing as part of the  design. Layering of plants can add variation  throughout the greenspace. In addition to  this, one can also create the play of light and  shadow with pergola, trees etc. 

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