VIEW: Diana Fernandez on Heterogeneous Futures

Heterogeneous Futures:
Design Thinking Alternatives for Anthropologically and Ecologically Diverse Landscapes

Diana Fernandez, Sasaki Design
Thursday, September 2, 2021
12-1pm EDT

View the recording by clicking HERE.

“From the mountains of the Dominican Republic to the streets of NYC,” landscape architect Diana Fernandez writes, “I root myself as a designer in my lived experiences of space and place.” We spoke with Fernandez on "making space for inclusive futures that embrace and celebrate our differences in the physical manifestation of place.”

The latest in our 2021 monthly series on Race, Ecology, and Design.

Building upon principles rooted in landscape ecology, landscape heterogeneity presents an opportunity to embrace the concept of difference to build resilient and community focused landscapes. This dialogue exposes the interconnected relationship between ecology and the anthropological sciences. From the design of a public landscape to commemorate Black culture, to increasing ecological complexity in urban and suburban systems through planting, landscape heterogeneity creates a platform for change within the doctrine and practice of designing landscapes.

Diana Fernandez is a Senior Associate with the international environmental design firm Sasaki Design. A proven thinker, collaborator and leader, she works with architects, planners, urban designers, ecologists and civil engineers on the design of equitable and sustainable places. In 2020, she was awarded the Emerging Professionals Medal by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Diana is saying such essential and inspiring things. Here are a few notes on the talk.

–“Land is not neutral,” and has never been. Olmsted’s vision was a colonizing vision.

–Professional design is a system that strips designers of lived experience and perpetuates tidiness, exclusion, homogeneity in the design realm. “We are designing spaces that are meant to exclude the other.”

–“Landscape heterogeneity is a state of consciousness, not a framework.” States of mind and body like openness, joy, nourishment, and healing are essential.

–Incorporating vernacular practices of place-keeping

–Materials tell us who these spaces are designed for, making concrete the social and cultural factors that shape them

–Systems of oppression manifest them in the experience of spaces, in their heat and discomfort, for example

–What landscape strategies would be read, culturally as affirming of the communities who live there, rather than as symbols of gentrification, like street trees, for example, which are celebrated for their efficacy against heat?

–How do you create visceral experiences of what a space could be?

–How to be inspired by what the universe is telling us, its infinite difference and heterogeneity?

–From utopia to heterotopia, embracing differences in the public realm

–I grew up in the ghetto in NYC, and without running water in the Dominican Republic, Diana observes, contending with what Hannah Arendt said about the promise of public space; my experience of the public realm is not that of common ground

–How do we talk about reparations in the context of heat resilience?

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