The editors of Landezine were charmed by the portfolio of simple and well-thought-out spaces. But what made us fall for the office completely were their writings that reveal a liberating spirit and refreshing attitude behind their actions. TERREMOTO has the power to effortlessly challenge the old certainties and recipes our profession is based on. The result are spaces that are simply generous and look incredibly comfortable.See all LILA recognitions or visit LILA website
Terremoto creates well built, site-specific landscapes that respond to client needs while simultaneously challenging historical and contemporary landscape construction methods, materials, and formal conventions. Our design approach is post-internet, critically-regionalist, and respectfully inflammatory.
We reject the idea of any kind of signature firm style, instead allowing site, historical and cultural context to guide our design decisions. We design through a lens that incorporates influences and inspiration as varied as the as the Japanese art and landscape movement Mono-ha, the work of Gilles Clément, the natural ecology of trail and park systems, archaeological ruins, the philosophy of modest landscapes that Julie Bargmann espouses, and Noguchi’s meticulous stonework craft.
Our work attempts to address the dearth of landscape architectural work in the United States – especially at the residential level – that operates at a conceptual and philosophical level. We create work that allows us to explore ideas and that is both intellectually and formally different from what we are seeing. We view gardens and local landscapes as micro-expressions of our wider culture.
Guided by these beliefs, we aim to create environments that are aesthetically, ecologically, and metaphysically provocative + productive – whether we are crafting both intimate and grander residential gardens and landscapes, unexpected public spaces, and playgrounds and community gardens.
Our landscape approach, in many cases, strives to do as little as possible. We embrace illegibility and prioritize ecology over a design that’s easy to read, letting existing site conditions guide our work and veering toward native plants wherever possible. In this way we are crafting environments that are habit and interspecies rather than human supremacist. And we view it as our utmost role to be responsible stewards of a changing climate (a concern that is forever top of mind as California residents and landscape practitioners). In the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles where we have completed over 30 residential gardens within a two mile radius, we’ve been able to re-establish a patchwork ecology.
As a practice, we are explicitly a team that eschews both hierarchy and ego. In addition to being designers, we are also a team of makers, sculptors, musicians, writers and artists and that sensibility translates back into our landscape ethos.
We are process driven and low fi, embracing the analog, hand sketching and using watercolors, being on-site, working with our hands, letting conversations guide our design process. And bringing in technology and digital tools as a support. Materiality is integral to our work – embracing locally available and modest materials wherever possible, whether it’s repurposing reclaimed wood found on-site or excavating the remains of the demolished Los Angles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to salvage boulders as part of Terremoto pet project meditation garden.
An overarching recognition of labor in the landscapes we design permeates our practice. From planting a flag in the ground in our industry to start to move toward better labor acknowledgement and practices for the mega-talented crews that build and maintain our practice to programs like Test Plot and the Land and Labor studio we co-teach at the University of Southern California that seek to build community engagement in the maintenance and care of our public landscapes.
Published on January 24, 2022