The forest formerly known as … Parkstad – Archiprix 2024 – 1e prijs

Starting from an understanding of the Anthropocene as a call to care, Lea Hertmeyer’s graduation project examines how care thinking can be translated into landscape design strategies.

Lea Hartmeyer - The forest formerly known as … Parkstad - Archiprix 2024

Exploring the forest territory | Three design projections zooming into the forest habitats of cascade (Traversing the linear forest), Frame (Wandering among groves) and Carpet (Living in a forest clearing). Together they detail the spatial translation and the experiential implications of the new forest framework.

Can you (briefly) explain your choice of subject?
My project brings together three subjects: the concept of care, the forest and lastly dispersed territories or the Zwischenstadt. I started my graduation project with an interest in the idea of the Anthropocene and how it requires a fundamental shift in our manner of thinking, designing and doing. This led me to the concept of care, as an alternative way of engaging with the planetary crisis by focusing on building and sustaining networks of embodied and mutually beneficial relationships between humans and other than humans. In the theoretical framework of my graduation project, I then explored what care could mean for landscape architecture and came up with three starting points: repair, relate, reduce.
These I applied in a research by design project for the region of Parkstad, a dispersed territory in Southern Limburg. Coming from a Zwischenstadt region myself I was fascinated by this territorial construct, which is, despite being rather ubiquitous, still often overlooked in favour of more traditional conceptualizations of the city. Starting from the perspective of care, I explored how this shrinking territory could be revitalized through the landscape – specifically the forest.
Building on the work of the Urban Forestry group, as party of which I did my graduation, I explored the forest a multidimensional and multiscale entity. Bringing together its multiple ecosystem services, differentiated spatiality and cultural meaning, I designed a territorial forest framework for Parkstad that honours the needs and interest of humans and other than humans in the region.

Lea Hartmeyer - The forest formerly known as … Parkstad - Archiprix 2024

Care, landscape architecture and the forest | Theoretical concept of the project which explores the translation of care for the realms of landscape architecture and the urban forest through three domains of care: repair, relate, reduce.

What or who are your sources of inspiration, and can you briefly explain this?
With a rather diverse subject matter, inspiration came from a variety of different sides and sources. I, for example, worked a lot with the writings of Joan Tronto and María Puig de la Bellacasa on care, looked at Thomas Sieverts work on the concept of the Zwischenstadt and how it was given shape through the IBA Emscher Park, read Martin Prominskis text on “Andscapes”, the writings of Jill Desimini on shrinkage and landscape architecture, and the PhD thesis of Wim Wambecq on forest urbanism. Developing my drawing style, I drew inspiration from the landscape paintings of David Hockney and the drawings and work of Marti Franch.
What however inspired me the most was Parkstad itself. During my thesis I repeatedly visited the region. Cycling and walking through it in different seasons and maybe more importantly returning to it mentally while I was designing. I was and am fascinated by its patchwork character, by how a rich and diverse landscape is woven into and sometimes hidden by its seemingly mundane and everyday character. We often problematize fragmentation, and rightfully so – especially from an ecological, historic or morphogenetic point of view-, but fragmentation also manages to enlarge a landscape from the inside out. The diversity and contrast it produces, can lead you on a journey of discovery full of unexpected moment, which unfold over relative short distances. In my design I tried to safeguard these qualities, while also framing them in larger forest framework needed to answer to such questions as landscape connectivity and readability.

State and (briefly) explain describe the key moment in your graduation project.
While working on my project, there were several moments that pushed my project further and made it into what it is, for example establishing the three domains of care (repair, relate, reduce) or coming up with the nine overarching forest types that bring together the different scales of my project. In that sense I find it difficult to define one key moment, as it is more a series of back and forth-s and every now and then a moment of clarity. What however has stayed with me the most, was when I came up with the three forest figures that structure the territorial forest framework of Parkstad. Despite starting the design explorations for a “masterplan” within the first weeks of my graduation, it was not easy finding a coherent, yet differentiated spatial expression for the Zwischenstadt Parkstad. So, when I came up with the forest figure of the frame, while drawing on a huge A1 on my bedroom floor, I felt that the project was really coming together.

Lea Hartmeyer - The forest formerly known as … Parkstad - Archiprix 2024

Re-reading the Zwischenstadt | Analysis and translation of the main landscape layers of the Zwischenstadt Parkstad (cultural, interurban and urban landscape) into three forest figures (Cascade, Frame, Carpet) meant to render the current landscape experience more coherent yet complex. A transformation from heterogenous landscape layers with fragmented forest structures into an interconnected and diverse forest infrastructure.

Can you (briefly) explain what design(ing) means to you?
To me designing means shaping connections that are not immediately obvious but feel natural and logical once expressed. As designers we feel (and are) tasked with translating larger environmental, social and even economic challenges into tangible spaces and places. I think the strength of design lies in not only in attempting to formulate solutions to these bigger questions and concerns, but also reframing and rediscovering them through the process of design, through notions such as form, situatedness, expression, meaning, and memory. Here unexpected connections can be found and forged, which tie people to places, which lay connections between human and other than human, nature and culture.

What hope/do you want to achieve as a designer in the near/ and or the distant future?
With my work and research, I want to delve deeper into the intersection of care and landscape architecture. I want to explore what a caring landscape architectural practice could mean. How it could shape and express various forms of nature-culture relationships. How it could offer alternative solutions to problems often formulated through the lens of architecture and urbanism – such as question of livability, prosperity, growth. How, it can forge connections with the world of maintenance and management and how these two realms can learn from each other and inspire one another.

Lea Hartmeyer - The forest formerly known as … Parkstad - Archiprix 2024

A year in trees | Management and maintenance calendar for a housing block in the forest neighbourhood Amstenrade (see Living in a forest clearing) indicating the shared responsibility of the neighbours through specific and embodied acts of maintenance. Together the neighbours develop and let the develop the forest clearing they live in and with.

Project text
The Anthropocene challenges us to rethink the way in which to care for and take care of the world around us, to acknowledge our entanglement with biotic and abiotic beings, but also our dominance over them and with that our responsibility for them. Starting from an understanding of the Anthropocene as a call to care, this project examines how care thinking can be translated into landscape design strategies. Three care needs are identified for the case study of Parkstad (NL): repairing (reviving damaged ecosystems), relating (strengthening the human-nature and the rural-urban relationship) and reducing (limiting anthropogenic impact on the environment).
Analysing the region through these domains of care reveals a network of challenges related to the diffuse and fragmented character of the Zwischenstadt found here (relate), the environmental and ecological degradation of the cultural landscape (repair), as well as housing and public space challenges associated with their shrinking quality (reduce).

Through research by design the project investigates how differentiated afforestation can help tackle these challenges and revitalise Parkstad as an agent of care. This is done by remapping and redesigning the whole territory of Parkstad as a forest, through which a new spatial framework is created. Three distinct forest figures (cascade, frame, carpet) establish spatial and experiential differences between the cultural (cascade) and the urban (carpet), while connecting them through a dense forest (frame). This forest frame furthermore acts as environmental and ecological casco, while providing decommercialized public spaces. The cascade extends the casco and combines it with a recreational forest network woven into the agricultural landscape. While the carpet introduces a diverse and dynamic forest housing landscape that can absorb shrinkage while providing space for natural development. Small scale design projection explores how acts of care can create and maintain the local forest biotopes that make up the larger spatial framework.

Through designing and drawing with care the projects raises a number of questions: How do we honour the needs of humans and other organisms in territorial transformation processes? How can we revitalise territories without relying on mechanisms of economic growth and territorial expansion? What does urbanisation and urbanity grounded in the development of the forest look like? What does it ask of humans to not only live in the forest, but live with it?

Thesis and presentation

More images

Lea Hartmeyer - The forest formerly known as … Parkstad - Archiprix 2024

Moments of care | Section of the forest neighbourhood Amstenrade with zoom-ins depicting acts of reciprocal care between humans and the wider forest ecosystem (1) Trees cool pedestrian and houses, (2) Neighbour mows meadow creating an insect habitat and play space, (3) Neighbour prunes shrubs enabling the proximity of road and forest habitat, (4) Neighbour waters garden, created out of the forest edge, (5) Forest with partially cleared undergrowth creates space for recreation, as well animal habitats, (6) Minimal forest maintenance and natural edges creates space for various animals.

Lea Hartmeyer

Start graduation
September 2022

July 2023

Delft University

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