Archives for posts with tag: Landscape Architecture

Sydney Harbour is without a doubt beautiful. Us Sydneysiders are quite lucky to have at the heart of our city this maritime masterpiece. Multiple levels of government have been making quite a bit of effort over the last few years to make the harbour foreshore accessible to people. I think that there is also a master plan to connect a continuous stretch of foreshore from Woolloomooloo (East of the Opera House – and yes I spelt that suburb correctly) all the way through to Balmain. So when the plans to redevelop the Western maritime shoreline of the Sydney CBD began, the opportunity to redefine the shoreline and reconnect a previously inaccessible strip of land arose. This part of my city is named Barangaroo.

Barangaroo was the name of the wife of one of Australia’s most famous indigenous Australians – Bennelong. She was a powerful woman from the Aboriginal clan of Cammeraygal, being a key figure in the local community.

After decades of construction and harbour reclamation, the original shape of the shoreline had been lost to the square shape of concrete docks. The plan to introduce a public park on the Barangoo shoreline was opened up to a design competition, and the winning design was a beautiful landscape proposal that returns the shape of the original shoreline. The driving force for the introduction of this park was Australia’s greatest Prime Minister from the few decades – Paul Keating. And we can now enjoy the fruits of the labour of the architects, landscapers, and builders who gave us this new park – and cycleway too 🙂

C’mon, you knew that I would throw my two wheel endeavours into this.

So we took off on our bikes as a family, me riding alongside the Pok on his bike and my wife riding her bike with our Chariot trailer in tow shuttling Kiki. The distance from our place to the Barangaroo headland is just shy of 6km, a big distance for my little guy. But the reward was this:

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The shoreline has been recreated with large hewn sandstone blocks. The stone that submerges with the tide has already taken to the green aquatic colours. There are two tracks the follow the shoreline. One which is composed of compacted earth for walkers, and a second asphalted path for two wheel steeds and runners. The views out over the harbour are great, and uninterrupted out to the inner West and the ANZAC Bridge.

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The sandstone blocks are quite large, but not off-limits to walk on. Though the blocks do make you feel kinda small, but at the same time Balmain seems strangely within arms reach.

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At the Northern most point of the headline was the opportune time for a refuelling pit-stop.

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This gave me a chance to explore the park a bit more while the kids snacked. I rode up the hill to get a better view of the landscape of the park. The trees that have been planted have not matured yet, so hopefully in a few more years the shade will be more prominent.

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My little Kiki was asleep the whole way to the park until we stopped. She was pleasantly surprised when we she woke up.

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The view from the headland to the Sydney Harbour Bridge is pretty spectacular too, and the elevation provides a unique perspective. The short climb is fun to ride up.

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The old maritime control tower which directed shipping is still in place and presides over the entire park.

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Some of the sculpture pieces are pretty cool. This mini “stonehenge” from sandstone blocks was the site of a little game of hide and seek between The Pok, Kiki, and myself.

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And I can never get enough of taking photos of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but it is the colours in the stone that are a highlight to me.

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We took the opportunity to have a few race sprints between The Pok and myself. My little man is turning into a bit of a speed demon on the wheels, hitting over 20kph in a burst of speed. Not bad for a five year old. But all that energy output lead to more refueling for the boy – a hot chocolate did the trick.

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All up a great family ride and what turned out to be the longest ride that my little man has done – 13km! He loved it as did my wife and little girl. And we are lucky to have a new addition to our harbour front.

This week travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack’ is Architecture. I have loved this week’s theme, so much that I thought I would do a second post. My first can be found here. As usual the images link through to the larger photos on Flickr.

This first photo is of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Monument in Washington, D.C., USA. This monument, unlike many of the others in the capitol, is one of beautiful landscape architecture that was designed as a place that the long passed president would have himself enjoyed. It is not a monument in memory of military sacrifice, and it does not impose a sense of awe in visiting the capitol of the global superpower that is the U.S.A. Instead, it is secluded tranquility on a human scale.

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On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in France is the town of Troyes. It is a gloriously preserved medieval town and is a showcase of the Aube département. The town centre is a beautiful and living example of medieval architecture with all the exposed timbers and crooked buildings. There is awesome eating too, with the region’s specialty being andouille sausage on many a restaurant menu. I wish we had spent more time here, would definitely go back.

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Back in North America, and when we visited my brother and his wife in Toronto, Canada we had a lot of opportunity to explore the nation’s biggest city. There are quite a few architectural gems in Toronto (not to mention the MASSIVE CN Tower), but my favourite piece would have to be the modern facade for the Royal Ontario Museum. The museum itself is pretty cool with some interactive displays that my son, The Pok, enjoyed trying to destroy.

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I love visiting Japan, and you could write constantly an entire blog on Japanese architecture and design. Tokyo itself is just epic. This building though is unique even for Tokyo. I have been unable to find out details of what is inside or who owns it other than what appears to be three letters on the upper facade spelling out NOA. It is one of my most popular photos on Flickr.

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We went to a few countries on our honeymoon, and one of the coolest cities we have ever traveled to would have to be Tallinn in Estonia. The old town is amazing, and only a quick walk from the ferry stop. But it wasn’t the many old buildings that caught my eye, but this small office building with its supports for its cantilevered upper floors. Cool, cool, cool.

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Singapore, Asia’s island city state, is exploding in new construction and its economy is booming. I have been so many times that I have lost count (as it is a good intermediate stopover on the way from Australia to Europe). The architecture of the Marina Bay Sands building is on epic proportions. The overall design is relative simple, and it produces some striking lines that fill the lens.

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Across the road from the new huge glistening hotel is another beautiful but more modern piece of landscape architecture, the Gardens by the Bay. I have blogged about this place before, even so the mega trees are cool.

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I used to work for an American software company and this involved annual training trips to the USA, particularly Silicon Valley in California. Driving past the Oracle Headquarters is pretty impressive. The campus of towers is gleaming over a lake, and the cylindrical shapes have a dual meaning as the architectural symbol for a database is a cylinder. The window cleaning here must be some job.

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England is a treasure trove of Architecture through the ages, and Shrewsbury in the midlands is a prime example of a town where you see a lot of architectural history in one place. The old town, not too dissimilar to Troyes, is well preserved and I love the exposed dark wooden beams against the white plaster walls. Many of these old buildings have new modern businesses now occupying them and plying their trade.

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Shanghai in China was one of the other major destinations on our honeymoon, and it was a bit overwhelming to say the least. I think China is moving so rapidly economically that people are forgetting the cultural challenge of maintain a link to the past while accommodating the demands for growth of the future. This shot for me typifies the architectural mish-mash that is Shanghai.

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San Francisco, in California U.S.A, is one cool city. It is vibrant and hip, and this is reflected in the “Painted Ladies” opposite Alamo Square – a set of terrace houses beautifully maintained and not far away from the city centre. I hope that they are earthquake proof.

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My final shot is from the small town of Porvoo in Finland, about an hour out from Helsinki. The town is famous for the row of red painted houses by the river and its church. The houses were painted in honour of a visit by the King of Sweden back some time in the 19th century. While not architecturally stunning, I think it is quite unique for the country.

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Why have so many of my photos from my travel’s got grey sky? No fair weather exploring for this traveler.

I have really enjoyed this week’s travel theme, hence my two goes at it. Check out some of the other posts that you can find posted in the comments by the other bloggers.

On a side note, since blogging my Flickr account photo views have shot up. I have now had over 10,000 photo views and it is climbing rapidly. This amateur photographer is quite happy about that.

 

For many of us celebrating the Easter weekend, it is a religious occasion. One theme of Easter is that of new life (hence the tradition of the Easter egg). For me the rejuvenation of gardens and public spaces is akin to this. I have been to Singapore nine times now and enjoy immensely travelling to the city state. It has a buzz and energy about it, while presenting beautiful gardens that are boosted by the tropical climate and rains. Singaporeans enjoy presenting their gardens in new and innovative ways. The Gardens by the Bay at Marina Bay are no different, and they are truly magnificent. We saw them under construction a couple of years ago when we took the opportunity for a stopover in Singapore on the way to Europe, staying at the Marina Bay Sands (you can get amazingly cheap rates on the rooms if there is not a big event on at the same time as your visit). I didn’t know what I was looking at from the hotel balcony view until I got back home and found this article on inhabitat.com . So I said to my wife that next time we go to Singapore we have to see these gardens and their super vertical garden “trees”. Below are a couple of shots of the gardens under construction. BTW – as per usual, all these images link through to my larger photos on Flickr.

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Late last year we finally got the chance to go back and visit the gardens, open to the public and in full bloom. To get there you have to walk past the imposing Marina Bay Sands hotel complex, and over the bridge that separates the gardens from the uber-size hotel-casino. When you finally arrive it is like being sucked into another world full of flora and colour. The Supertree vertical gardens greeted us, and I must admit I was awestruck by the genius of their design and construction.

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The elevated deck that allows you to walk through the “trees” looks awesome. I think we will take the walk on the deck next time we go, now that the Pok (our son) has properly found his feet.

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There are several themed gardens located throughout the site, in many ways reflecting the diverse cultural backgrounds of the people of Singapore. We stopped for a rest in the Chinese Gardens, where the backdrop was the three huge towers of the uber-size hotel-casino. We could see the storm clouds approaching in the distance and it rained briefly on us several times while we were walking around.

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You can’t get away from the Supertrees and there are some 18 in total at the gardens. You can go right up to the base of these structures and there is excellent information about the trees and how they work – truly impressive!

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There are a few other themed gardens with different plants that are being nurtured. Turning a corner sucks you into what at first appearance would be a completely different garden from the one you just left.

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The Pok had an excellent time running around the gardens and spent a lot of time doing laps around the base of the Supertree above. At the time, with him being so young, he found it quite a novelty that he would walk the base of the structure and see Mummy and Daddy again, and again, and again.

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Finally, the proper tropical storm approached and brought an end to our visit. We had a fantastic time, and will definitely visit again to see a lot of the parts that were still being finished and maybe seeing the greenhouse too. I think a visit at night would also add a different dimension to our next visit, with the whole site lit up under the different coloured lights. I would definitely recommend a visit to these Gardens if you are spending 48 hours in Singapore. One tip, bring water! The humid Singapore climate coupled with all the walking you will do when visiting the gardens will leave you parched. If you want to know where the gardens are in Singapore, I have inserted the Google Maps link below.

Google Maps - Gardens by the Bay

For all of you that are celebrating Easter, have a happy one with family and friends.

Returning from my morning bike ride the other week I took the Oxford Street bus lane express back home. This is surprisingly quick, with the only danger being overtaking a parked bus picking up passengers. But I noticed to my left that the Paddington Reservoir Gardens was open (at 7:30 in the morning). I had first discovered this through the website inhabitat.com and this article: Sydney Transforms Waterworks Ruins into Incredible Public Park. I was a bit embarrassed to discover this on an American website given that the site is less than 5km as the crow flies from where I lived. It became a mission of mine to photograph this park.

What I found was a stunning example of urban rehabilitation and a small oasis in what is quite a ‘citified’ area of Sydney. It is one whole storey below street level and once you descend you forget that you have just left the bustling city. The architectural design is tranquil and uses the old structures as a skeleton to lay out a modern garden both at street level and on the subterranean level. As an amateur photography who loves buildings, design and architecture, I got a feeling of giddy excitement as I viewed all the lines and patterns. Below are some of the shots. As usual, the images click onto my larger images hosted on Flickr.

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I would love to go back and shoot this location again. Since I was last there I have acquired my one and only Canon L series lens. I was a bit disappointed with the light for this shoot too. But as with all photographers, I am always trying to acquire the perfect shot. If you ever visit Sydney, you can find the gardens at this location on Google Maps below:

Google Maps - Paddington Reservoir Gardens

 

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