Groundlab is an international practice of Landscape|Urbanism|Architecture. The practice employs architects, urban designers, engineers, geographers, and landscape architects, to bring together different expertise into a collaborative platform and explores Landscape Urbanism as a new mode of practice and approach to contemporary social, economic, and environmental conditions.
Groundlab develops landscape, urban and architectural design and projects that put forward innovative models in order to produce contemporary environments. Groundlab uses and understands landscape as an alternative and an original model with culturally and socially charged concepts and develops its work out of the close analysis of existing and potential conditions on site utilising temporal and dynamical forces that currently shape the cities.
With an inherently multidisciplinary approach, the studio sees the urban environments as landscapes processes that constantly change and evolve, therefore requiring innovative mechanisms and designs to emerge, configure and re-configure the existing and future urban environments of the 21st century.
El “Parque Lineal Ferrocarril de Cuernavaca” representa la posibilidad de suturar e integrar socialmente parte del territorio metropolitano a través de la construcción de una infraestructura social y ambiental que permitirá integrar y reducir las condiciones de desigualdad, consolidando y ampliando espacios públicos, conectando equipamientos (nuevos y existentes), integrando redes de movilidad y construyendo un paisaje hídrico que fomente el manejo responsable del agua de lluvia. Se propone un modelo replicable en otras áreas de la Ciudad con condiciones similares que puede generar espacios de calidad, redes continuas de movilidad y la reinyección de agua de lluvia al manto acuífero, recuperando espacios en desuso mediante su transformación en áreas verdes y zonas de esparcimiento.
Moorside sits strategically between two fundamental landscape features, the majestic peaks of the Lake District and the vast blue mass of the Irish Sea. Our proposal reflects both physically and visually on the sublime qualities of these landscapes and that of the Cumbrian territory in general, in the production of an awe-inspiring, sustainable and ecologically restorative terrain utilising the spoil accumulated from the power station. We propose the organisation of the mounds to create a central valley which emphasises views across the site, towards the Lake District highest peaks and the sunset landscapes of the seaside. Through the inversion of the existing hydrology network, water runoff is redistributed centrally to reproduce a mountain lake locally known as Tarns. The Tarn is a distinctive feature acting as the hinge of the project, managing the water volume on site, choreographing the astonishing views and organising the mounded landforms that are brought to life through rainfall. While the main publicly accessible site involves the creation of the Moorside Tarn, the south mounds site could be used to create the Moorside Pike. This single hill stands in direct contrast to the tarn formation in order to provide a clear identity to both landforms. Whilst the Moorside Tarn welcomes visitors and choreographs its movements and visuals in and around the water body, the pike directs views and provides a singular viewing spot that witnesses the transformation of waste material into a sustainable landscape and distinctive landmark.
L A N D script _ data S C A P E | ‘Digital’ Agency within Manufactured TerritoriesNew technologies constantly change and re-shape the way we think, design and produce our environments and territories. Our impulse to control the surroundings in which we are immersed and live has triggered many of the innovations in technologies and methods that are now widely available to designers today. The invention of geometry, for instance, was triggered by the necessity to provide certainty to the distribution, property and taxation of productive land around the Nile that shifted with every annual flooding – fact on which the fertility of the land and thus, their living also depended (Gardner 2009). More recently, the development of contemporary cartography, concomitant of the emergence of innovative surveying tools, provides a reliable technical tool for states and governments to ensure the control and delimitation of land, resources and management of territories within and beyond their frontiers.Along these lines, digital cartographic tools provide precise and accurate readings of the world based on their capacity to seamlessly handle and assemble vast amounts of information from multiple fields in the generation of territorial datascapes. Methodologies based on these innovative tools imply abstract systems of organization that provide frameworks to develop and script concrete interventions and management schemes into given territories. However, the processing capabilities of digital technologies have stressed the accuracy and objectiveness of information. The apparent objectiveness, efficiency and pragmatism of these methodological approaches have detached these technologies from its purpose, while the procedural rigour has accentuated the scientific claims of design in the validation of management decisions. On this basis, we argue that this operative framework blurs and questions the role of the designer, and its capacity to engage with territories and the dynamics that shape them. In these conditions, digital tools can exacerbate designer’s detachment from contemporary conditions (as a mere observer) whilst diminishing its direct participation and implication from reality.This essay attempts to put forward alternative and novel ways to handle the potential of digital tools, both from the point of view of analysis and intervention, addressing the question of the designer’s agency within the scope of what we define as landscape and territorial projects. In order to do that, it proposes the re-engagement of designers in the idea of land-script and datas-capes, as a way forward to acknowledge the power of digital tools in the hands of the creative and critical stance of the designer. Both land-script and data-scapes share common etymological roots with landscape. From a broader understanding of the latter, as a social and cultural construct, we intend to re-articulate our relation to the former terms. Excerpt from: L A N D script _ data S C A P E | ‘Digital’ Agency within Manufactured Territories, in 'Innovations in Landscape Architecture’ J. Anderson and D. Ortega, eds., Routledge, 2016
Groundlab as part of a consortium made of LyonBosch Architects+Martic, Idom and Sergio Chiquetto has won a major competition to redevelop the Alameda/Providencia Urban Corridor in the City of Santiago,Chile.
The project comprises the design of a 12 km transport/urban corridor that enhances the public space and integrates public transport to the civic life of the city by prioritizing pedestrian and bicycle movement. It creates a linear plaza framed by water and tree landscape that brings back the character of the corridor as an ‘Alameda’.
The design continues and integrates, structurally and aesthetically, the telecommunications antenna into a single sinuous landmark whose profile transforms dynamically according to each individual point of view. The paths structure follows a diagonal grid structure that provides accessibility with minimum slopes and resting points as well as sustainable water infrastructure running alongside. It connects spatially - through the path network- and visually –each landmark in the city has a particular point of view of the tower- with Salerno. In the landing points, trees are added where necessary to protect from the sun and heat and the soil is retained with a wooden surface that serves also as furniture to create an intimate environment to rest and enjoy the landscape. The park is materialized with fully recyclable elements and compacted soil to reduce the costs and visual impact.
Quadtree is proposed here as the concept for the landscape design in order to create comfortable outdoor areas to be inhabited at different times during the day and year. The concept enhances the existing grid and structure of the skyline master plan as the basis for a further subdivision into a smaller scale. The quadtree grid generates open, semi-open and enclosed modular spaces that can be used to create micro-climates at multiple scales, allowing a better control of the temperature and humidity in outdoor inhabitable zones such as the linear park and playground areas.The square prototypes/modules are designed as a catalogue that can be implemented on site linked to climatic conditions. The squares are related to shading and cooling techniques as well as local materials and create a material/pattern gradient in order to house different programmes and activities along the linear park and playground areas.
Embassy of Nature seeks to identify Sokolniki as the main Gateway to Nature in Moscow by linking the park with its surroundings and the Elk’s Island natural reserve. It does so by revamping the historical radial structure of the park to become the Eight Ways to Nature and by extending the ecological corridor to the south. The project is based on three principles that enhance the existing potentials of the park: its proximity to a natural reserve, the historical axial structure, its forest areas as well as the popular urban park next to the main entrance. The goal is to create a strong identity as an embassy of nature, to enhance its heritage of existing radial structure, to increase the accessibility of the park and its historical architectural elements together with the introduction of a diverse range of characters and activities in the forest as well as its historical structure.
The project reorganizes the area around the train station due to its relocation closer to the city Centre. It involves the redesign of the station and all the infrastructural components such as , main crossing points for cars, pedestrians, bicycles and trains. At the same time the area in front of the old train station will be free up thus allowing the introduction of new programs with new activities for the town. The proposal uses this space to create a unique “Innichen showcase” where local products like bacon, mineral water, felt, linen, etc. are to be display. This territory works as a transition area and attraction for visitors and residents from the north of the municipality and beyond.
Centenary Square is proposed as a two-fold, continuous stage that serves as meeting and performative public space. It uses the existing height level difference of the ground to choreograph a series of unique and integrated stages that perform as a catalyst linking the events happening in the surrounding buildings with the activities taking place in the plaza. A canal system is introduced as a water feature to collect and perform as open-air sustainable drainage. The proposal recycles the existing brick material (crushed brick bound with cement – similar to terrazzo -) that becomes a continuous carpet with various densities and gradients to lead and invite people to the gathering and event spaces.
The concept comes from a mission of fabricating an experience both intimate and intense combined with a strong feeling of harmony with the environment and intimate contemplation. The concepts finds its precedents within the SouZhou gardens tradition, such as the rock, the outcrop, the occidental equivalent of the grotto, and the use hanging and sunken gardens. The result is a combination of intense distortions of the ground and an acute sense of three dimensionality, where one feels itself draped by concrete, steel and vegetation, free to explore a thickened version of a microcosm in a series of pocket landscapes for reflection, relaxation and ultimate playfulness.
GroundLab in collaboration with Plasma Studio, were successful in winning this international competition following invitation, with a radical self-sustainable vision for the future. The project entitled Flowing Gardens creates constant functionality using water, planting, circulation and architecture harmonized into one seamless system. The proposal comprises of a 5000 sm Exhibition Hall, a 4000 sm Greenhouse and a 3500 sm Gate Building sitting in a 37 ha landscape that will house the International Horticultural Expo and create a park for Xi’an City as its legacy. The opening was in 2011, and is expected to receive approximately 15 million visitors.
The pavilion is part of the Horticultural Fair that took place in Xian from April to October 2011. The project was a invitation to develop a small piece of landscape able to reflect the principles and concepts developed in the Landscape Urbanism unit at the AA. The pavilion uses the water and the ground as the main drivers for the design. The ground was manipulated (folded, thickened, ) to allow the inland and lake water to run through the inner space by means of water inlets, pools, canals expanding the water experience into the hard and soft landscape: next to benches, paths and plating areas in a seamless design.
The concept of immersion design is to bring animals and guests within their natural environment habitat or landscape. Animals are separated by sunken fences and people move through skywalks thus allowing as much space as possible for animals and the best views for people. The proposal also considers the integration of the existing heritage buildings from the fascist age on the site while maintaining its aesthetic identity. This strategy attemps to put value on historical buildings and at the same time, take advantage of the existing facilities for the new development. Man-made structures along the pathways serve as interpretive “nodes” in which visitors can learn more about animals and their conservation in the best possible conditions for animals, people and buildings.
Mexico City sits on a valley, home to a rich network of lakes, wetlands and rivers. This complex ecology is almost extinct due to a relentless urban development which threats the viability of Mexico City while denying its inhabitants access to an inherently per-formative landscape. The project proposes the recovery of the ravines, the last and primal bastions of the water ecosystem which nowadays co-exist with the city. Through a multi-scalar approach, it fosters local and punctual interventions with metropolitan implications. It ensures the re-integration of ravines into the urban fabric through the engagement and interlocking of responsibilities from various agencies, communities and neighbours.
Latent Landscapes proposes the use and rethinking of the linear structure of the streets of Chalco. This vital space consolidates it as urban fabric, through the use of its natural ability to collect and distribute water in the territory. This proposal is strengthened by means of the generation of a hybrid drainage system extended throughout its territory with different intensities. The system regulates -infrastructurally- water during the rainy season, generates -scenically- green spaces and linear parks with minimal maintenance and reinforces -socially- existing public spaces, flea markets, trade corridors, pedestrian walk, etc.
The concept of the park is based on the existing and TRADITIONAL TERRACES of the Cyprus and more specifically Latsia landscape which become the foundations for a SUSTAINABLE WATER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, essential for the maintenance of a park given the Mediterranean climatological conditions. It consists on the consolidation of Pallourokampos’ existing terraces that define the park’s configuration. These terraces allow not only the management of the slope and water but they generate an intrinsic spatial relation between the park activities, the landscape and the views.
Landscape, ground and nature will become increasingly important to future users and through its location, perfect symmetry and the axial and programmatic relationships to the surrounding urban grain, this new park is destined to become a major place to go meet and enjoy an extended range of activities in addition to the classical recreational functions and value. Our project is developed to enhance the given framework, highlight the axis and develop a central meeting place in a contemporary, dynamic and exciting way. Starting from the fact that Astana is located on the intersection of East and West and exponentially develops as a major link between those cultural and economic spheres, our intention is to make the park into a place where this is symbolized and can be experienced too.
The reason for a park is that of providing a chance to weave the cityscape of our urban environments with ecologies and places with entirely different character. In this sense, the park weaves distant and local territories into the ultimate form of metropolitan experience, helping to forge character and long term vision of the entire city. The design of this park in Taichung becomes the key to produce a resolutely cosmopolitan and distinct experience for gateway development and, up to a certain extent, the entire city. in a nutshell, weaving shall become the main concept to turn the landscape of Gateway Park into the strongest form of urbanism.
The proposal is based on the prominence of the land as a mediator between the eidetic tourists’ expectations, the actual infrastructure and the spatial development patterns, under the influence of the contemporary realities and demands of the 21st Century. The question is how to translate such situation from the supposed problem into an identity and relevant local presence as it can be. The project acknowledges the Alps and its massive presence and morphology as a reference, and proposes and connective network that mediate this landscape, the required programme and the necessary infrastructure to make it happen. Delta project operates as a solid base for an authentic material architecture and infrastructural urbanism to response to Andermatt local conditions and necessities.
Ground Ecologies is a winning competition entry for the redevelopment of the Jia Ding District. The site is located in the outer area of Shanghai City and is part of the greater master plan of the city to develop peripheral new districts that can cope with the rapid urban development and the need to provide residential and mix-used areas with direct access to the city centre. The competition called for the transformation of the industrial site into a high dense residential area boost by the newly open metro line station, placed in the border of the site and a highway. These infrastructures will ensure direct and close connections to the centre of Shanghai, allowing Jia Ding district to become an important local centre and a realistic alternative for Shanghai urban development in the near future.
The concept was developed in order to interweave different historical moments and material realities of the City of Santiago in general and the Sport’s Park in particular. To carry out this synthesis we considered two preliminary readings: on the one hand the existing spatial organization, related to the sport’s activities, and on the other the current morphology of the territory. While the former translates itself into a clear orthogonal north -south grid, the second follows the ‘natural’ movement of water along existing slopes, giving birth to a new, interwoven, spatial organisation that produces an enhanced character of the site. The project is the result of a careful negotiation between existing materials and programmes on site. In this way, our proposal can be understood as a machinic landscape, where water becomes a per-formative infrastructure that serves the necessities of the daily park’s activities and thus creates an aesthetic quality directly linked to the performance of its landscape.
Deep Ground is GroundLab’s winning entry for the international design competition for Longgang Centre and Longcheng Square. The project deals with the regeneration of 11.8 Km2 of the urban fabric in the centre of Longgang, north east of ShenZhen in the Pearl River Delta, with estimated population of 350,000 and 9,000,000 m2 of new development. The project radically expands the scope of urbanism in order to deal with the contemporary challenges of modern China: through the concept of ‘thickened ground’ multiple ground datums are fused to foster intuitive orientation and connectivity. The polluted and neglected river will become an ecological corridor, whilst the existing Urban Villages are retained to form nucleuses to lend identity, vitality and human scale to the new development.
Ground_n is a ‘Park- terrain’ interface, joining the disconnected adjacent urban fabric on one scale, and connecting multiple moulds of earth and built form on another. The overall strategy seeks to reformulate the notion of ‘ground’ as an operational tool that beyond establishing the traditional vertical linkage among levels, it actively weaves through the levels, generating an amalgam that defines diversity through gradients rather than through separation and stratification of layers. The built mass is distributed through a series of bands that enhance the continuity of the existing fabric to the west, thus promoting urban porosity -movement and exchange, and the possibility of further growth to the east. The project tries to acquire certain intensity with a typology composed of one to five storey bands generating an overall built ratio of 0.7.
Xisi Bei district is one of the 25 hutong protected zones in Central Beijing and as such is subjected to this development pressure that is leading its “siheyuan” typology into extinction with the traditional urban life being reduced and in certain cases eliminated. The project proposal attempts to use this traditional system of urban organization as a basis and starting point for the reinterpretation and growth of Xisi Bei area. This is achieved through building a catalogue of a generative typology of four- combine- gardens upon the concept of probability, consequently breeding a wide domain of modular arrangement onto the block of Xisi Bei.
This is Groundlab contribution to Archilab 9th. Thanks to Groundlab Leila Meroue for the production of all models and Emmanuelle Chiappone, Marie-Ange Brayer and Frédéric Migayrou for the opportunity to take part on this project.
The project Flowing Gardens was selected for an exhibition part of the Landscape European Biennal that took place in Barcelona September 2012.
Cartographic Grounds reconciles the precision and instrumentality of the plan with the geographic and territorial implications of the map. In light of the ascendance of “mapping” and data visualization in design culture, and the privileging of abstract forces and flows, the exhibition re-imagines the projective potential of cartographic practices that afford greater proximity to the manifestation and manipulation of the ground itself. The approaches presented here offer landscape architecture a long-overdue reconciliation of the depiction of the ground as a site of design with the geological and geographic, the regional and the territorial. They provide contemporary design practice with clues to the imaginative intersection of the material and the digital, the data-driven and the experiential. Groundlab is taking part of the exhibition with the “Flowing Gardens” project. More Info about the exhibition
Alfredo Ramirez curated the exhibition called: Prototipos Urbanos. The exhibition aimed at showing relevant projects currently being developed in Mexico City at an urban scale. All projects are linked to the idea of recovering water landscape in Mexico City such as rivers, lakes, wetlands and also to the implementation of transport networks and their repercussion in the public space in the city.
The work of Groundlab was shown in Teheran Arts House in December 2010. The work featured panels and models of research work by Groundlab. Hossein Kachabi was the curator of this exhibition called “From Academia to Praxis”.
The work of Groundlab together with the work of AA Landscape Urbanism 2004-2007 was shown in the c-6 pavillion on the Hong Kong – ShenZhen Biennale from December 2007 to March 2008. The work features panels and models of research work by student works as well as design work undertaken under the Groundlab Collective, linking academy to professional realm.
Founding Director London
Jose Alfredo Ramírez is an architect co-founder and director of Groundlab and currently director of the Landscape urbanism MA at the Architectural Association. He studied Architecture in Mexico City and graduate from the AA Landscape Urbanism graduate programme in London 2005. Alfredo has worked and developed projects at the junction of architecture, landscape and urbanism in a variety of contexts such as China, Mexico, Spain, among others.He concentrates mainly in large scale developments like the Olympic Master Plan for London 2012 or the International Horticultural Exhibition in Xian China 2011. He has lectured on the topic of Landscape Urbanism and the work of Groundlab worlwide.
Director/ LondonArchitect/PHD ResearcherClara Olóriz Sanjuán is a PhD architect, tutor and practising architect. She graduated from the ETSA Universidad de Navarra and obtained her PhD on the relationship between architecture and technology focusing on industrialized systems of production at the ETSAUN and at the AA. Previously, she has worked for Foreign Office Architects and Arquitectos Cerouno. Currently, she teaches at the AALU masters program as a design tutor as well as at the ETSAUN. She is also co-directing the AA Visiting School ‘Computing Topos’ in Bilbao and the AA Research Cluster ‘Urban Prototypes.’
Founding Director BeijingArchitect/Landscape UrbanistEva Castro has been teaching at the AA since 2003 and is also cofounder of Plasma Studio and GroundLab. She studied architecture and urbanism at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and subsequently completed the AA Graduate Design programme with Jeff Kipnis. She won the Next Generation Architects Award, the Young Architect of the Year Award, the ContractWorld Award and the HotDip Galvanising Award. Her work is published and exhibited worldwide.
Landscape Architect/DesignerLiam Mouritz is a designer working in the realm of landscape and architectural design, having completed his studies in the Landscape Urbanism program at the AA. His work explores the idea of a territorial practice which acknowledges the inherently conflicting dynamics driving human occupation, be it urban or remote. Through tools such as cartography and computational simulation, he seeks to better understand how to intervene within these territories. Previously, Liam trained and practiced as a landscape architect and urban designer in Perth, Western Australia.
Architect/Associated New York
Enrique Limon is an architect, he holds a AA Postgraduate Diploma from the Architectural Association and runs Limonlab. Enrique is in charge of Groundlab offices based in New York since 2015.
Jessica Smith, Alexander Prujean, Giovanna Celeghin, Ada Chang Liu, Arianne Yunya Tang, Laura Virto Martinez, Nicola Vendramin, Ada Chang Liu, Winnie Zhiyun He, Kate Gong, Gabriela Pulido Palm, Marta Musial, Carmen Frances, Juan Torres, Anna Vyazovskay, Giancarlo Torpiano, Leila Meroue, Daniel Portilla, Laura Riaño, Christina Nearchou, Hana Qijin Huang, Zhuo Li, Marta Postigo, Aleksandra Cicha, Ignacio Gias, Federico Ruberto, Nicola Saladino, Wenwen Wang, Cristina Barrios, Hossein Kachabi, Xiaowei Tong, Marinna de Paula, Rui Liu, Alejandra Bosch, Jorge Ayala, Arturo Lyon, Nadia Kloster, Jose Arnaud Bello, Brendon Carlin, Maria Paez
Groundlab’s International Collaborative Platform constructs a constant interaction with offices, academic institutions and individuals across the world including:
Architectural Association (London), AA Landscape Urbanism Gradute Programme (London), ARUP (London), LyonBosch Architects (Chile), Sarah Majid (Jordan), Eva Tsouni (Brasil), Territorios Talle de Arquitectura (Mexico) among others.