LNP 01 - 29 - 2010

Today, the strategies of sustainability are slowly becoming the "norm" in design in most developed countries. This is because the world's desire for perfectly groomed landscapes and endless resources has been challenged.. Luckily, we have begun to change our ways. Unfortunately, the landscape is not always the recipient of this sustainable effort. More specifically, much attention has been paid to the "greening" of built structures- by adding solar panels, reducing heat gain, and including composting toilets. However, the same methodology (perhaps not the same techniques) should also be applied to landscape design- especially when it comes to water usage. We can no longer afford to design landscapes that necessitate constant watering and maintenance by a full-time staff. While the profit of these efforts can be astounding, it leaves little hope for smaller endeavors. Can't there be another way? Recently, we had the privilege of visiting Villa d'Este in Tivoli, Italy. LOOK UP HISTORY While Hadrian's villa itself is impressive, the landscape steals the show. At heart, the extensive gardens are a series of terraces that ease the visitor down the steep slope. They are very formal in organization and reflect the style of the times. What really catches the eye and mind, however, is the way in which water is used throughout the site. Each level of the garden is connected by different courses of water, including runnels, fountains, and channels. But here's the catch: It is ENTIRELY??? gravity-fed. By this I mean that the water originates at the top of the slope near the villa and progressively makes its way down to the largest fountain at the bottom, which is the grand finale. Here, the water is used to power a water organ that plays a melody every 2 hours. The lesson we can learn from this design is that a site can be incredibly lavish and can still be designed using common sense.

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