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For most, James Rose is remembered as one of three Harvard students who rebelled against their Beaux Arts training in the 1930s, helping to usher landscape architecture—kicking and screaming—into the modern era. Yet somewhere after Harvard and well into the real world, Rose lost faith in the modern planning and design professions he had helped to inspire. By the mid 1950s he had retreated from public practice and spent most of the latter part of his career designing private gardens that were in direct contrast to the environmental excess and cultural banality of the emerging contemporary post-WWII suburb.
These built critiques were made with found objects, recycled left-over materials, native plants and whatever he could scavenge from the sites themselves. He called them “space-sculptures-with-shelters,” and they reflected the creative, spatial and artistic nature of the garden in ways that were greener, more economical and less wasteful of resources. In doing so, Rose incorporated a conservation ethic into a modern design aesthetic, skillfully choreographing outdoor spatial experiences that inspire us to better perceive our relationship with the environment. Today, in the age of sustainability, it is equally, if not more, important to employ contemporary green technologies within the context of the aesthetics of landscape experience.
The goal of Suburbia Transformed 3.0 is to promote and celebrate residential designs that go beyond “green” by explicitly using sustainable strategies, tactics and technologies to enrich the aesthetic spatial experience of people. ST 3.0 will assemble contemporary projects achieving this goal into a travelling exhibition and catalogue. The emphasis is on how such sustainable landscapes can be beautiful, inspiring, perhaps profound; and serve as examples for transforming the suburban residential fabric, one garden at a time.
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