Let's talk about ecotones

Socrates understood the importance of knowing the definitions of words, even if you think you already know them. Below are four words that I believe could start to solidify our direction (all of them are gleaned from wikipedia and their pages make for interesting reading...in all your spare time).

A concept is an abstract idea or a mental symbol, typically associated with a corresponding representation in language or symbology, that denotes all of the objects in a given category or class of entities, interactions, phenomena, or relationships between them.

To quilt is to stitch together (two pieces of cloth and a soft interlining [or ecosystems]), usually in an ornamental pattern.

An ecosystem, a contraction of "ecological" and "system", refers to the collection of biotic and abiotic components and processes that comprise and govern the behavior of some defined subset of the biosphere. Elements of an ecosystem may include flora, fauna, lower life forms, water and soil.

An ecotone is a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities (ecosystems). It may appear on the ground as a gradual blending of the two communities across a broad area, or it may manifest itself as a sharp boundary line. Changes in the physical environment may produce a sharp boundary, as in the example of a shoreline or the interface between areas of forest and cleared land. Elsewhere, a more gradually blended interface area will be found, where species from each community will be found together as well as unique local species.

What I am proposing we adopt as our concept is the quilting together of a series of unique ecosystems. The critical part of this design would be the articulation of the ecotone, or intersection between two ecosystems. To reinforce this concept, the built form would take on one of two roles:

1 - Individual buildings that support the clear definition of one particular ecosystem. This could be achieved by the building-type we discussed Sunday (the pavilions) and other free standing structures.

2 - Elements that act as ecotones: constructed elements (ie fences, walls), planted elements, or sculpted landscapes. These elements would allow us to develop a sophisticated (hopefully) legible organization of the diverse elements of our scheme.

This tangent was spurred by Ariel's comment last week that he envisioned the area as a greenbelt and that with built form fragmented throughout. All I am suggesting is that we recognise the unique qualities of the different zones (ie native texas landscape, constructed wetland, forest, garden, orchard, urban) and define them; in this case as ecosystems. Instead of fragmenting form, we use it as the thread to stitch everything together.


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