Saturday, January 22, 2011

Creative EcoSpaces and Design

The flora of the Hill Country region of Texas is amazingly diverse. A wide variety of trees grow among many types of cacti and desert flowers. Grass, rocks, shrubs, and sand cover the ground. Besides the variance of vegetation, a particularly unique aspect of the region is how the beauty of the environment affects the edificial construction, with inhabitants using deliberate measures to blend nature with man-made facilities.

The trend of the area is to remain unobtrusive to the eye, yet artfully interesting. Combining natural, native materials with creative design allows the neighborhoods to blend harmoniously with their environment's surroundings, while retaining a certain aesthetic charm. Here are a few scenes from my neighborhood:

These neighbors purposely use the same wood in their fence that grows as trees in their front yard, which is soothingly accordant.

This house uses the same wood in a different style. So much prettier than chain link.

This house makes an environmentally-conscious statement in a completely different way. It's is a particular favorite of mine, ingeniously incorporating old recycled windows as parts of their fence. The whole thing looks rather magical, don't you think?

With a tiny white picket fence to boot!

Reusing the windows and doors makes the house feel welcoming and whimsical, showing how creative recycling can be aesthetically appealing and good for the Earth.

These neighbors carved out a shady sitting spot from a heavily wooded area in their front yard, perfect for summertime gatherings.

These lucky children have a suh-weet lookout spot, complete with pulley system and ominous sign. So much more interesting than a plastic clubhouse!

Out of context, the whole neighborhood might look like a spot far out in the suburbs. Actually, it is part of bustling South Austin, a mixed-use commerce and residential zone very much within the city limits, approximately ½-4 miles from downtown. That's what so nice about Austin. The city is less concrete and dense, giving space for vegetation and growth. Businesses and residents alike strive to preserve and enhance the surrounding flora, combining man made necessities with natural greenery.

These guys will flower and bloom beautifully once it gets a little warmer.

Agave giants! They just look super cool.

Kudos to Austinites for implementing eco-friendly designs. Even on a chilly winter day, the city looks conscientious, beautiful, and green.

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