One of the largest problems plaguing sustainable development today is the tendency to use the cheapest, most readily available land. More often than not, this results in the degradation of green space and uncontrollable sprawl. In a recent interview on Archinect, Julie Bargmann talks about dedicating her practice to doing something different: her D.I.R.T. (“Dump It Right There”) studio regularly takes on industrial sites, abandoned rail yards, or otherwise “undesirable” locations for development. Rather than advocating the superficial beautification of these places, she instead incorporates elements of the sites’ histories into her projects, layering them with cultural and ecological significance.
In addition to her critical (as opposed to commercial) practice, she teaches at the University of Virginia’s Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, a combination of disciplines which has great importance towards her belief of holistc, integrated design. Sound interesting? Get a load of this: one of her studios, so called “D.U.M.P.,” is held on a landfill site. What’s that all about? “Design Understanding Many Perspectives” is dedicated to exactly that: changing peoples’ perspectives, starting with the students.
There is so much more to Julie Bargmann’s work – TerraGram: her High Line Reclamation competition team, collaborating with Bill McDonough , and the meaning of trash (!) in our design vocabulary – you’ve got to check her out for yourself.