We are a landscape of all that we have seen.
~ Isamu Noguchi


Landscape Inspiration

mills studio intends that the DTS Project House Landscape Design to complement and make the architectural agenda more apparent, mediate between nature and culture, and provide delightful experiences. Varied designed landscapes were visited and evaluated for how they reinforced or worked to contradict the architect’s stated and perceived agendas, how they aged, performed, and were perceived with the passage of time, and what they express about our relation to the earth and the seasons. Specific implementations were studied for how horticulture, materials, and detailing might apply to the specific conditions and intentions of the DTS Project House. The best way to make these evaluations is to experience each landscape directly at multiple times of day, and multiple times during different seasons. Since landscapes are not about a single moment in time, only landscapes that mills studio visits in person are trusted as useful sources of inspiration.

Varied specific sources serve as inspiration for development of the DTS Project House Landscape and lower hillside, including the existing cactus gardens on site, the work of James Corner of Field Operations, gardens and public trails at Newport Beach City Hall, Neutra’s Kaufman House in Palm Springs, Schlindler’s Kings Road House, and Eric Moss’ floating Cactus Garden in the sky. David Adjaye’s MCA Denver and Allied Works’ Clyfford Still Museum are examples of roof deck landscapes and gardens which specifically address roof top conditions similar to the DTS Project House. Landscapes / Hardscapes integrating water and water movement  are of particular importance.

Hydroponic technologies, Living Wall examples, as well as Vertical and Hanging Gardens by Patrick Blanc and Herzog & de Meuron have an impactful influence on the DTS Project House landscape development. Landscape strategies that tend toward hardscapes, such as the Salk Institute and Neuroscience Institute both in La Jolla, California, have direct application to the DTS Project House. mills studio visited and experienced landscapes and hardscapes that employ differing strategies to traverse significant elevational changes. The many integrations of landscape and artistic expression by such artists as Robert Irwin and James Turrell also serve as references and inspiration.

mills studio looked to historic, modern, and contemporary landscape examples, including the work of luminaires like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, and Luis Barragan; modernists like Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, and Pierre Koenig; and contemporary practitioners like James Corner, Andrea Cochran, Bernard Trainor, and Reed Hilderbrand to inform both strategies for relating architecture and landscapes and specific examples relevant to the DTS Project House.    

Newport Beach City Hall 2010
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
PWP Landscape Architecture

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s and PWP Landscape Architecture’s Newport Beach City Hall of 2010, provides a model sustainable landscape of native and drought tolerant planting providing a variety of horticultural experiences. The different landscape zones are connected with a series of paths and trails with both covered and uncovered bridges connecting the lower main building / parking area to the elevated overlook of the Pacific Ocean. Public amenities, such as seating and picnic areas, and artworks are located along paths that traverse the gently sloped hillside. The overlook at the top of the hillside also provides a plan view of the site’s development below – providing a macro scale perspective to the site’s various individual micro scale experiences.

Cactus Garden
Culver City, California 2013
Eric Owen Moss Architects

Eric Moss’s Cactus Tower provides an alternative way to define and experience landscape. A landscape that one can walk underneath provides a new perspective for both viewing and experiencing landscape and opens possibilities for accentuating the change of elevations on a hillside site. The mid-air landscape shows a possible model for how to think about raising a landscape above the ground plane and making it “accessible” to upper building levels floating above the hillside. The specific implementation of the Cactus Tower visually integrates structure and landscape and integrates engineering and landscape. Raising the landscape elements, Cactus, into the air gives the landscape both a micro scale by defining a local space and macro scale with its created urban presence. The intended symbolism of the specific choice to make it a Cactus Tower shows the possibility for a landscape to take a clear environmental position.

If you look at landscape in historical terms, you realize that most of the time we have been on Earth as a species, what has fallen on our retina is landscape, not images of buildings and cars and street lights.
~ Bill Viola