feeling the topography

14 April 2009, 21:07

In an urban environment set amongst bustling highways and major thoroughfares, where natural settings have long since been paved flat, terrain is no longer the domain of nature, but requires human intent to determine the land’s purpose and provide meaning to the landscape. We live in a society where land must be set aside or reclaimed at high cost to create public open areas. It therefore becomes more important to consider the land’s form and function for the people that will use it. With the exception of deep, concrete-lined bayous and towering highway overpasses, neither or which are accessible to the contemplative experience humans require, people here are not able to experience the earth’s natural change in elevation.

Growing up in Austin, I took for granted the affect of feeling the natural terrain while at play. Given the robust topography of the Hill Country region, running, rolling and sliding down hills was an integral part of recreation there. It wasn’t until a recent trip to Herman Park, more specifically the Miller Outdoor Theater, did I catch a glimpse of the childhood I experienced that my own children frequently lack. Recently witnessing my children (and myself) running and rolling down the hill at Miller Outdoor Theater, their obvious joy at this simple, rarely experienced recreation resonated with me.

That man-made hill, only some 25+ feet above the otherwise natural, flat grade, creates the sensations of gravitational forces at work which can seldom be felt during daily life. It is nothing more than a simple mound of earth, but experiencing it creates a deeper connection to it.

Houston is flat, but feeling the topography, even the subtle changes, is a necessary component to understanding the beauty of our environment, but one it seems happens far too seldom.

Comment

#1 · Angela Martinez

15 04 2009 - 14:06

Greg, great job! It’s the little things in life, right?