Future Landscapes
Design, Visualization & Photography
Platform Section Perspective_03.jpg

Thesis Blog

A semi-weekly blog outlining the research, findings, and design development of my master's thesis "Urban Nature - The Inhabitable Edge' at Kunstakademiets Arkitektskole in Copenhagen.

Stories and Visions


I tend to be fairly good at all the logical/rational (i.e., unemotional) aspects of site analysis, but have in the past had a hard time showing the 'poetic vision' of what my project hopes to accomplish. I still choke on 'poetics' every time. It has a bad, Danish connotation.

Christopher Alexander puts it another way that makes things much easier for me. He says that every good project needs to envision how it will bring life to an area. How will this project make people feel connected to a space, anchored to the city? What will people be doing there?

Last week I worked a lot on research, mostly writing. This week I've put that writing into pictures. However embarassing it may be, I am going to share some of this writing. Suggestions for improvement are welcome, just don't mock me needlessly.

To help me envision what a design project could add to the site, I write 3 short stories from the perspective of different users. Yes, they are vastly idealised, but this presents the 'best experience' of a certain user. I've then put together a collage correlating to each story.

Story #1 - Little Girl Skating with Father

My dad takes me skating when the lakes are frozen. We walk down the dock and then onto the snowbank where I can change into my skates. Dad helps me tie the laces tight. I get up and we cross the ice together.

I love to stand in the middle of the lakes looking out around me. The busses look so tiny and everything moves but you can’t hear it. All I hear are the sounds of blades on ice, the men shovelling last night’s snow to clear a rink, and parents calling for their kids to ‘be careful!’

We skate to the island and back again. Dad asks if I want to warm up.
The skate shack sells hot chocolate that you can drink while warming your feet at the fire-pit. If you sit at the fire long enough, you’ll see everyone you know. Even people who don’t skate come to the fire to warm up, say hello, and watch the other skaters.

We walk back along the path to the bridge. The winter berries are bright red, and small birds pick at them. I like the meadow in the wintertime, the snow looks so smooth with long blue shadows. Deep footsteps show where someone tried to make a shortcut.

The sun sets early, and it gets chilly in the shadows. Dad gets out the blanket and I get into the front of our cargo bike.

I see the lights come on and the smoke from the fire  at the skate shack, and smiling, warm faces before we turn the corner for home.


Story #2 - A Runner going around the Lakes

It takes about an hour to run around the lakes, and I never get bored.
I often wish that someone would invent a camera that was small and light enough to bring with me while I run, because the lakes are different every time I see them.
I think they’re best on those fall days that start out gloomy. The skies are grey, and the fog sits close to the water. You think... ‘great, another glorious day in Copenhagen.’

As the morning warms up, though, the sun starts peaking through the patches of cloud, and the fog begins to lift.

Finally the sun comes out in full and the mist still hangs between the tall grass, making everything dewy. Everything feels fresh; the air is clear and the path is firm. It’s early, there’s no traffic, only a few cyclists making their way home after a rowdy Saturday night.
The water is absolutely calm and the full autumn trees reflect like a postcard. I can see them setting up the tables for brunch in the sun, the smell of coffee and bacon as I run past.
Since they built the tunnels, I don’t have to wait for the traffic lights to change anymore... I can train properly, with no interruptions.

Sometimes at the end of my run, I swim in the deep water by the stone ledge. Now people are unmooring their boats for a morning cruise. The clouds are moving across the sky, and I go back to the shore to pick up my shoes and shirt.


Story #3 - A couple walking on a summer's evening

The sky glows with colors and the traffic has died down. the water is calm in the evening light, just beginning to reflect the rectangles of light showing in the apartment windows. streetlights blink on, but it is still light out.

we walk down the path where the water ripples against the sandy edge, ahead we can see people eating on the steps. They’ve brought down their own tables and chairs and candles flicker in colored glass lanterns.
The steps are long, more like plateaus in some places, easing down to the water edge. The grass grows long between the steps, glowing gold on the tips as the sun makes its way behind buildings.
We sit on one of the steps under the big tree and take out our glasses and bottle of wine.
You can hear the frogs and crickets near the water, and the ducks quacking softly in a group while an old lady and her granddaughter throw yesterday’s leftover bread to the hungry birds.
Another girl crouches down on the dock, puts her fingers in the shallow water, picks up a rock and throws it back in the water.
It skips across the lake, breaking the reflections.

Past the steps, the path curves between trees and groups of long grass and reeds. Path turns to dock, we’re over the water, and when we stand to watch, a fish breaks the surface to catch a mayfly then disappears again.
The lights across the lake are stronger now, the sky darker. A soft glow from the edge of the path lights our way, and when we come onto land again, the dock gives way to a smooth path, with a rock ledge going out into the deeper water. A group of young men holding beers cheer on a friend, who takes a breath and jumps off the ledge.

Note: I wanted to do a story for each of the seasons, and a picture to go with each. So far I've written stories for summer, autumn, and winter. And I've made images for winter, autumn, and spring. So I don't have an image for the last story. The very first visual is for a story I haven't written yet, about watching the birds when they migrate back for the summer.

Tomorrow: The more typical site analysis.