Design Principles at Work

Design Principles at Work

March 27, 2017 Art Community Ecology Education 0
Aerial view of The Fargo Project’s pilot site, World Garden Commons at Rabanus Park by L. Hoffarth

Design principles are a valuable resource for artists.

At first, it may seem that defined principles (or guidelines) may limit creativity. In reality, they provide structure to artistic creativity. They’re a constant reminder of what the artist is trying to achieve and why.

That is the case for The Fargo Project, as well.

While The Fargo Project’s pilot site, World Garden Commons at Rabanus Park, is certainly a public works project (stormwater basin), it’s also a work of public art. Early on, the founding artist and project lead established design principles that have driven everything from how we make decisions to what activities we plan for the site.

Jackie Brookner (1945-2015), the founding artist, and Nicole Crutchfield, a Fargo city planner, identified four design principles.

These principles recognize that communities are dependent on the health of the natural world, even if our day-to-day activities have been removed from it. They recognize that within all cultures, we create stories, music and art that reflect our relationship with our surroundings. The design principles also respect ecology and uphold water as a natural resource that connects us all.

Whenever our team moves forward on an idea or starts to dream about what’s next, we review the design principles and confirm that we’re staying true to the artistic intent:

Principle #1 Let the Water Lead
Create a self-sustaining, hydrologically functioning basin true to the regional ecology. Maximize opportunities for the regional prairie landscape to express itself and develop. This means there should be little in the way (such as concrete) to influence the way the stormwater basin behaves.
Principle #2 Learn from the Natural Environment
Learn how the ecological systems behave, practice responsive adaptive design and adaptive management.
Principle #3 Involve Community – Belonging
Make efforts to maximize diverse community participation throughout the life of the project from conception through long-term maintenance.
Principle #4 Experience Nature and Ecology
Create opportunities for people to enjoy the natural environment. The landscape is a unique attraction where people can experience the qualities and ecological relationships of a prairie landscape.


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