The designer of urban landscapes talks about how to strike a happier balance between modern cities and nature
From the windows of Diana Balmori’s sixth-storey apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the treetops of Central Park look close enough to touch, separated by little more than a street and a low wall. But it is this very separation that Balmori’s career in landscape design – culminating in Balmori Associates, the Manhattan-based firm she runs – has sought to erase
The 19th-century park, she says, represents an outdated idea of how cities – and their inhabitants – relate to nature: “You wall it [off] as much as possible to say, we are totally distinct from that stuff that’s out there.
Balmori aims to “put the city in nature rather than putting nature in the city … you make the whole city work according to how nature works. But it doesn’t mean that you have to plonk some trees in it.”
Sitting in a sleek tan armchair in her sun-filled living room, Balmori gestures to illustrate her point. You get the sense she would be just as comfortable drawing her ideas on the sketchpad propped near the window as she is setting them out in words.”