As important natural elements in urban design, trees beautify and purify any landscape. However, the U.S. is currently losing 36 million trees a year, CNN reports. Aside from improving aesthetics, trees reduce heat, noise, air pollution, and energy emissions. It’s therefore all the more important designers incorporate trees into their landscape designs. No matter the look and feel of a space, trees can always be used to enhance any urban design project.
Creating order with trees
Kilometrezero (a Barcelona- and Paris-based architecture studio) used the waterfront’s existing trees as their design inspiration for the Baltic Sea Art Park in Pärnu, Estonia. Able to lend order to an otherwise chaotic space, the trees were recast as path-markers as small areas in between were sectioned off. Small paths were then created to connect the spaces, making it an inviting recreational area. Leaving room for new trees to be planted, the designers were able to create a functional, visually appealing space. (image below / Garden by the Bay – Singapore)
The Poppy Plaza War Memorial in Alberta, Canada was designed by the Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative and Stantec Consulting. The 86,100 square foot memorial is home to 3,278 trees (mainly of the Poplar variety) planted to honor fallen soldiers from World Wars I and II. Memories of the deceased can live on through the trees and provide comfort to bereft relatives. When it comes to memorial trees, professional pruning and trimming is essential, 72tree.com advises. Not only does proper care keep the trees looking good, but it also maintains tree health. Over-pruning can increase risk of disease and failure, ruining any memorial garden. (image below / Bosco Verticale – Milan)
Street tree planting
Lonsdale Street in Melbourne, Australia is a popular road lined with retail outlets in the suburb of Dandenong. BKK Architects and Taylor Cullity Lethlean Landscape and Urban Design were tasked to improve congestion, provide ways for pedestrians to relax, and boost environmental sustainability. They planted over 250 trees along the street to transform it into a calm, green space. Pedestrians can now sit on the comfortable wooden benches under the shade of pin oak trees. The trees also produce oxygen and stormwater run-off is captured and reused for irrigation.
There are a myriad of ways to use tree in urban design. As these examples show, trees can function as beautiful accents as well as take center stage in designed landscapes. Ultimately, trees help us connect with nature while improving aesthetics and benefiting the environment.