- The following post is authored by Sherwood summer intern, Froste Wistrom.
- This summer a Swedish guy is in town. I have gotten the opportunity to learn from the staff of Sherwood Design Engineers through a 9 week internship. This spring I completed my second year of the Landscape Engineer program at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Alnarp outside of Malmö – on the southwestern tip of Sweden. The university does a lot of research on agricultural efficiency and houses a Landscape Laboratory, which studies vegetation systems, looking at how to combine productive forests and recreational parks. Landscape Architecture, Agronomy, Horticulture, Garden Design are other programs at the university.
Malmö is known for being at the forefront of sustainability with internationally accredited projects such as the Western Harbor and the eco-city of Augustenborg. The Landscape Engineer program focuses on landscape construction and design, and soil studies, with a main focus on vegetation, horticulture, plant habitat, and vegetation dynamics. Sustainability is interwoven throughout all of our courses
During my first week at Sherwood Design Engineers I attended a SPUR event at their beautiful Urban Center on Mission Street. The topic was Tactical Ruralism and the speakers were well reputed Landscape Architect Thomas Woltz, from Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architecture and Winemaker Ames Morison of Medlock Ames Winery. Thomas Woltz spoke eloquently about the work that the company does, their values, and how they work with ecological restoration through landscape design and engineering.
Nelson Byrd Woltz has done the landscape design for Medlock Ames Winery tasting room gardens. The owners of the winery are determined to take responsibility of their land, through ecological restoration and other responsible practices. Thomas Woltz said that he strives to “make values physical”, by working closely with the client and understanding their principles, making them reality. Only part of the land is used for growing grapes, the rest has been re-planted with native species. Controlled burnings are used to maintain the native grass lands. I the vineyard sheep are brought in to do the weeding. Timing is important; if they arrive too late they might be tempted to eat the delicious vine buds.
NBW has undertaken many other grand and inspiring projects. The most amazing to me is the 3000-acre Orongo Station on the North Island of New Zealand. This part of the country, as many parts of the world, has been badly deforested; many of their native species have been lost, both flora and fauna. The company came up with a plan of how to reforest the area using sheep track pathways in the hillsides, which gave the plants a small ledge where water could gather. In a century the temperate rainforest will be partly restored, however, progress is already apparent.
- For this project, pioneer species are planted first as they are fast growing but with a shorter life span. Once those species have grown up a bit they will act as nursing trees for other species that need a more protected environment in order to establish themselves. This natural succession is very important to understand if a project like this is to succeed. Nature will find its way, but clever landscape architecture and engineering can help it get there faster. Maintenance is an important aspect to get the vegetation system to work as intended. Thomas said “Artificiality reveals it as a product of intention”, this quote caught my attention because for me restoration projects are done to attempt to recreate the originality of a site. Perhaps you could look at this differently- that through the human footprint the site may be protected in the future.
Sherwood Design Engineers has worked with Nelson Byrd Woltz on several residential and commercial projects; the Hudson Yards in New York and Centennial Park in Nashville are the most current. I intend to learn more about these projects further throughout my time at Sherwood.
I highly recommend the Nelson Byrd Woltz book, Garden Park Community Farm. It is very interesting with beautiful photography. It has nice narratives, which really explain the aims and goals of their projects and how they were realized. I am looking forward to the rest of my summer here in San Francisco at Sherwood and for more SPUR events!