Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Learning Landscape - 1

Having moved to Norway nearly two years ago, I've been noticing subtle differences in the (physical, natural and planned) landscape - from topography to plant species. Now realizing the need for a more structured study of such phenomena (if I am to work in landscape architecture here), I will turn some of my blogging to this focus.

Starting with a reflection on some photos - unstructured observations over the past year in Oslo, which I will attempt here to structure into the following categories: what nature has planted in the forest and on the islands/coast surrounding the city, then what people shop atthe market and plant within the city.

For now, Nature - forest:

The forest plays a huge role in the lives and culture of Norwegians - even here in the city. Each weekend or evening day of good (and sometimes bad) weather, people flock by public transit and autos to the many entry points to the 300 (+) square kilometers of forest that surrounds the city (Oslomarka). In the winter, ski trails abound under conifers punctuated by busy "hytta" 's selling sausages, waffles and coffee. In the summer, more trails appear for hikers and mountain bikers, ponds thaw for swimming and fishing. Plants here are layered, from framing dramatic scenes over the fjord, then entering species-specific groves and finding a multitude of smaller flowering plants tucked into the brush surrounding paths and creeks.

The city forests are one locale in Norway where people greet strangers happily - society coming together to mutual enjoy and benefit from the health provided by nature. The proximity of this resource may be the most incredible aspect of Oslo - one can go from a hip downtown cafe (sipping 6$ coffee) to stumbling over moose droppings in about 20 to 30 minutes using the local subway or bus lines.

In the meantime I play to try keeping tabs on both the downtown flower market and the local botanical garden to see what's in bloom through the seasons. This will require a bit more discipline in scheduling on my part.