Addressing COVID-19 world, students take top honors at World Landscape Architecture competition

Sectional image of Li and Li project proposal

"Biodiversity Bank" by Joanne Li (MLA I '21) and Tian Wei Li (MLA I '22)

Harvard Graduate School of Design students Joanne Li (MLA I ’21) and Tian Wei Li (MLA I ’22) won first place in the World Landscape Architecture international competition Reimagining the Spaces in Between. Their project, “Biodiversity Bank,” was supported by a GSD Summer Emergency Fund grant and advised by Design Critic in Landscape Architecture Rosalea Monacella. The ideas competition challenged students to redesign an area in a fictional city impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their entry, the students explained: “When you visit our project, you will see open spaces between buildings transformed into a living interface where the microbiome grows. Have you noticed that during COVID, alimentary and organic disposables have become more abundant, now that your home and kitchen are the center of your life? The ‘Biodiversity Bank’ interface is a receptacle for organic food leftovers. The Bank produces nutrients for the bacteria and soil. Then, the spatial design incorporates these nutrients to support macro-scale biodiversity, producing social and ecological benefits.”

“An innovative response that highlights the (often-overlooked) importance of soil and bacteria for health and well-being and maintenance of life,” noted the competition’s jury. “The solution presents the concept of city as a mutually symbiotic organism with everything inter-related. Interesting solution and compelling graphics. Appealing typologies such as orchards, meditation gardens and compost gardens that come together to create a startlingly different type of city solution.”

Proposals of different social distant activities
LIVING GROUND: Redefine six-feet distancing by Xi Chen and Sophia Xiao

The runner-up prize went to Xi Chen (MLA I ’21), Sophia Xiao (MLA I ’21), Siqi Zhu (MLA II ’22), and Xuezhen Xie (Cornell) for “LIVING GROUND: Redefine six-feet distancing.” Their project looks at different scenarios for organizing outdoor activities on a six-by-six foot grid. “An aggressive scheme that reclaims public spaces for the public,” commented one juror.