The creative process of each project begins with some method of reading and interpreting the existing landscape. We create diagrams to visually communicate our findings and support design concepts; sometimes however, the land is either so disturbed or so malleable that the drama of its past is explicit on the ground or through an aerial image.
A recent project immersed us into the rich historical geography of South Park’s landscape. Scarred through time, this land tells a complex story of resource dynamics, rugged climate, and evolving temporality. Charged with developing a historic masterplan for a piece of the ranch property, Bluegreen most enjoyed unravelling the landscape story and exploring ways to share it. Our design strategy merges history and land through light intervention simultaneously revealing changing ecological conditions and relative eras of human use. We strive to teach the past through the ecology of the present and future.
On a site like this, it’s not difficult: the land speaks for itself. In this aerial photo, look for mine tailings and landform excavated through the process of hydraulic mining, a deserted railway bed, the lines of a departed corral, informal trails to fishing spots, the tell-tale tracks of motorsport junkies, and countless scars few, if any, people remember.
Oftentimes in historically rich places, we are drawn most to the hard artifacts– man-made objects that have not been swallowed by time. In Ashcroft we tip-toe through ghostly cabins, at Gettysburg we look for cannons, and in Rome we sprint to the Colosseum. Rubble, relics, castles and monuments present history beautifully, and they make terrific selfie backdrops, but are we cherishing the history in the land with equal enthusiasm? I implore you to study land. Use online maps, use a bicycle, use a sketchbook. Excavate history, and share your discoveries.