who we are

Office of Living Things is a landscape research and design collective that uses the tools of landscape architecture to cultivate a culture of attention to the agencies, propensities, and complexities of living things. Through a methodology that intentionally muddies our own collective practices with the assemblages we find in our projects, we translate, draw, re-tell and re-invent stories at the intersections of nature and culture. Our research, fieldwork, and design emphasize direct engagement with site and community through a practice of radical listening--being outside, flexible, mobile, and open.

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“Shouldn’t we try to understand before intervening, pause long enough to assess the parameters of the place, its complexity, and finally how to be a part of it?”
Gilles Clement, The Planetary Garden, 1999

The Cabbage School is an alternative educational center, “a rigorous, skill-based fool school,” in the mountains of Western North Carolina. in the Summer of 2019, OLT members co-taught a workshop for non-professionals in landscape mapping and drawing.

Using the Cabbage School as a site of investigation, this class introduced participants to methods of observing, understanding, and representing landscape systems—topography, water, geology, climate, and vegetation. The students collectively worked on drawings at multiple scales, with a focus on exploratory fieldwork, inventing creative and rigorous drawing languages to both capture the complexity of a site and inspire potential site-based interventions and responses. 


Over the course of 5 days, we learned to read the site, co-create unique and beautiful representational drawing languages, and collectively produce landscape maps of Cabbage School’s terrain from the scale of a yarrow patch to the scale of Western North Carolina. Following the principles of “observe in order to act” and “work with instead of against,” the class is intended as an introduction to the practice of landscape architecture through the initial act of translation. Maps, drawings, and ideas produced in the class will contribute to the ongoing design of the Cabbage School site.


OLT Team: Bonnie Kate Walker, Batul Abbas, and Cara Turett