Thursday, May 15, 2014

Latest trends in landscape design

A terrace opening up to the sight of concrete towers and buildings; a stroll outside the main gate and nothing but mundane concrete houses with little foliage, managed erratically; these are sights common in many cities across the world, including India. However, as the market changes and more city dwellers throng to the metropolises and other big locations for a better lifestyle, landscaping has emerged as a strong element in their preferences for residential and commercial use. Nishant K. Agarwal of Avighna India testifies that, the demand is primarily focused around 4 aspects: easy maintenance, local vegetation plantation, lighting, and best possible utility of the given space. 

 
Closer to nature is the way to go
As mentioned by the CMD of Le Solitarian Group, Harjeet Singh Sahni, the consumers are now looking for projects which ‘go green’, be more ‘natural’, and look at ‘sustainability’, when it comes to creating drawing a wish-list for their residential abode. So much so, that the their next target project, the ‘Solitarian City’, is based on designs which highlight aesthetic and nature blessed terrace gardens, along with distinguished green areas, and a sky lounge which brings about a sense of being close to nature.


Similarly, the One Avighna Park in Mumbai will be having elements like garden terrace with tree plantations, leisure pool with green islands and waterfalls. In the west, there are measured trends which testify to facts on the subject. According to figures published by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2014 Trends Survey, the most popular design element chosen includes Outdoor living space at 92.8% popularity amongst poll participants. This is closely followed by sustainable design practices at 74.2% followed by vegetable and fruit garden with 72.4% popularity. 

Using space for more than just beauty
Mr. Sahni brings forth another facet of current customers’ landscaping demands: utility value. From using it as a place for hosting private gatherings, or converting it into mini-farms for growing vegetables, the landscape city dwellers now want goes on a step further! Though it is a trend primarily seen in the west, but growing one’s own food including fruits and vegetables seem to be the new ‘in-thing’ for a lot of home owners, who have the resource to spare for it.

Elaborating further into this aspect of landscape designing, Nishant Agarwal points out, Today’s home owners want an outdoor entertainment space, so more people are adding decks or terraces that are large enough to accommodate comfortable seating; often the finished result resembles an indoor room.


Native vegetation suits best
According to publication Lushome (www.lushome.com), the return of the native flowers and plants is now more commonly seen in the private landscaping of customers. Sustainable wild flowers and exotic plant varieties, which were earlier restricted to just the local forests or local green areas, are now appearing more often in private residential properties. There seems to be an existent desire to connect the outdoor natural surroundings with the personal landscaped spaces, which include kitchen-gardens, personal orchards, or terrace gardens. For practical purposes, Helene Marsh's Tiburon Bay House in San Francisco could be a prime example, especially because of its sustainable landscaping, credited to ‘Shades of Green Landscaping’, thus giving the property, a LEED-H Platinum certification. In India, one can perhaps take a look at the ‘One Avighna Park’ project based in Mumbai, where local variety of lily ponds and planters, a very much a part of the designing plans.

Nishant Agarwal points out the additional benefit of having local plants and foliage as a part of landscaping designs; their survival and maintenance. Local plants are more naturally attuned to surviving under general local conditions, and might also not need maintenance all that frequently, or with much effort.      


Light to show the way
Lighting forms one of the most important components of an aesthetically complete landscape design. Depending upon the area and the need, latest landscaping ideas are centered on different forms of lighting such security lighting (needed for the most vulnerable parts of the property), task lighting (based on the utility of the space), ambient lighting (for aesthetic looks and greater comfort), and accent lighting (meant to highlight a special feature, artifact or location).
Lighting also has changed in recent times, which have gone on from the common bulbs to varied lamp designs, and that too with eco-friendly tech-savvy designs. Solar panel based lights have collector panels which can become a part of the whole landscape design, or even be hidden behind shrubs and heavy plants to keep the aesthetics in place. Also, LEDs are beginning to become more popular in the place of traditional halogen bulbs, which were earlier the norm. This change in choice is attributed to the fact that people are now using lighting, to highlight specimen plants and trees, apart from art work or even exotic furniture.

In order to gauge how popular lighting is becoming a choice for customers, the ASLA survey mentions the most popular feature in outdoor living spaces, had lighting choices at 98.3%, followed by fire-pits and fireplaces at 95.4%, as the most sought after growing trend amongst customer and architect wish-lists. 
To summarize the current market information source (ASLA Survey 2014), the most popular elements emerging from each category is as follows:
- Design Element: Gardens/landscaped spaces (94.2%)
- Outdoor Living Feature: Lighting (98.3%)
- Landscape/Garden Element:  Low maintenance landscapes (95.4%)
- Recreation Amenity: Decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers (86.1%)
- Outdoor Structure: Terraces/patios/decks (97.7%)
- Sustainable Design Element: Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants (88%)
Given the current scenario of expanding urban and semi-urban populace of a country like India, and the largely urban population of the western countries, the primary resource of adequate and appropriate land, will get scarcer in the times to come. Architects, interior decorators, and landscaping professionals will now be under motivated largely as to how best to use the resources at hand, and offer customer the best possible aesthetic and sustainable living space.  

Note:
*All pictures are from primary sources

3 comments:

Somnath Bhattacharjee said...

well your document reminds of hardy s one of the great poems,although he was a pessimistic but also a note of optimism prevailed in that poem,i am personally sorry for being unable to remember the name of the poem,hardy says we are become so much mechanistic that we have forgotten our close affinity with the nature and nature goddess,the mother goddess,but after viewing your documents and upcoming projects very much akin to natural elements and more over nature friendliness,once again optimized me for having a real good and fresh generation which is not faaaaaaaaaar away.i am soooo hopeful.you have done a real good job and keep it up with that.All my good wishes are with you.

Wrik Sen said...

Thanks for thinking this deep!! Hopefully it has atleast someone thinking about what I write!!

Somnath Bhattacharjee said...

YOU ARE A VEEERY GOOD WRITER INDEED.