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Lanxi Zhang



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Three operations were developed through the generative capacity of fire. The first operation involved the excavation of a site on Olive Boulevard, and the development of a sunken prairie in public open space. The annual ritual of a prairie burn becomes the occasion for a neighborhood festival. The second phase, directed by the operation of inversion, caused the insertion of a vertical prairie garden into the wall of an adjacent building. Containers let into the wall are planted with wildflower species, and these too, are subject to regular disturbance by fire. Behind the new Wash U development on Delmar Boulevard there is a tract of vacant terrain that has been used as a parking lot, but is now grassed. Two old oak trees grow adjacent to the lot. The third intervention examines variability in biotic evolution by dividing the lot into three “experimental plots.” Each plot is treated differently with respect to the conditions it presents to acorns that fall from the adjacent oak trees. In the first plot, cages are erected to prevent squirrels from harvesting fallen acorns and removing them from site. In the second plot, a mix of loam, compost and humus is spread over the ground, proving ideal conditions for acorn germination. The third plot is left untreated. The project follows the growth of oak trees on the three sites through time.

Publication Date

Spring 2015


Washington University in St. Louis


Architecture | Urban Studies and Planning


(c) 2015 Lanxi Zhang

Olive Boulevard and Delmar Boulevard
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