zoé edgecomb design build
Landscapes are both places and systems. We think about how each site integrates with the natural and cultural systems around it to create spaces that are enjoyable for people but also support wildlife and plant communities from below the ground to the flyways of the birds.
When we manipulate the ground, we’re thinking not just of spaces, slopes and forms, but about the systems that we’re altering and creating. The soil is alive with roots and microbial life, and we make a point to respect its structure as much as possible and to leave the earth healthy. To that end, we try to minimize heavy machinery and use low-impact techniques such as hand-digging where feasible.
Every landscape presents opportunities to keep water on site to nourish plants and recharge our aquifers. Often, water can become an aesthetic feature. We pay close attention to where water is coming from and how it can be an asset, not a problem.
Plants are social beings – they exist as communities with each other, with the life in the soil, and with wildlife, even in the city. We employ native plants wherever appropriate, but recognize that plants have always migrated and adapted, just as people have. Urban conditions, in particular, sometimes call for carefully considered plants from other regions or continents, or plants that have been hybridized for specific qualities. At the same time, we look for opportunities to provide habitat, pollination sites, and food for beneficial wildlife wherever possible.
We pay attention to existing vegetation and the clues it provides to soil and environmental conditions, human history, and current use by wildlife. Sometimes we advocate for allowing a little messiness within an orderly frame.
We believe that access to landscape is a human right. Even a private landscape can be a gift to the larger community, as passersby benefit from beauty and ecological function. We also believe strongly in the idea of the commons, places where land is shared by all. We look for opportunities to contribute to public landscape enjoyment through work on parks, infrastructural landscapes, and other potential community spaces.
Design and making go hand in hand. We believe in spending time on the site, testing out concepts and revising as needed to respond to a particular place. We try to use local materials as much as possible. We love discovering innovative ways to solve problems, and occasionally look to the history books to revive old practices.