Location: Publications
Date: 2007 - 2014
Below Ground | City Silvaculture, the art and science of city soils - September 2014

Soil is the foundation of all life, of all biodiversity. It is a dynamic living medium, complex physically, chemically and biologically. Soil is our unsung hero, so often unnoticed, unappreciated, neglected. Even the words ‘dirt’ and ‘soiled’ conjure up negative connotations. In cities, soil needs particular protection and nurture, especially during the construction process. Thus over the course of a project, we take on stewardship of the soil. We’ll call on Tim - a sharp-eyed soil scientist - to join us on site with mini auger in hand. There is no denying what he draws out of the ground - a deep plug of soil that presents a narrative of care or disregard that would otherwise remain concealed beneath the surface.

From Middle English soile, soyle, sule (“ground, earth”), partly from Anglo-Norman soyl (“bottom, ground, pave-ment”), from Latin solium (“seat, threshold, place”), mistaken for Latin solum (“ground, foundation, earth, sole of the foot”); and partly from Old English sol (“mud, mire, wet sand”), from Proto-Germanic *sulą (“mud, spot”), from Pro-to-Indo-European *sūl- (“thick liquid”). Cognate with Middle Low German söle (“dirt, mud”), Middle Dutch sol (“dirt, filth”), Middle High German sol, söl (“dirt, mud, mire”), Danish søle (“mud, muck”). See also sole, soal.
To celebrate 21 years of practice J & L Gibbons authored the book 'Time and Territory' to provide an insight into our approach to design and ecology. The work is presented as a visual essay. The book was designed by Pentagram - September 2007.
Background 1 - Mile End Waste - July 2012

Not all urban spaces possess great aesthetic virtue and neither do they
require it in order for them to be valued, well-loved and memorable. A
city requires differentiation between its dramatic set-pieces and its quieter
locales in order for it to become legible – knowable, even. Some spaces,
streets and buildings must assume the humble but no less important role
of becoming a background against which other objects and events are
seen and experienced.

Researching a landscape is not simply a starting point or an early phase
of our work. It is most useful when it is ongoing and cumulative and
when it allows for speculation and reflection. How research material is
used varies from project to project; it can capture the imagination, hint
at approaches, interpretations or technologies, define process or imply
programme. It allows the pencil to move in a particular way across the
drawing board but rarely becomes explicit or obvious in the design.
At the end of a project, our research is carefully filed away in the practice
archive and often destroyed as soon as our obligation to retain it has
passed. We thought it would be interesting for some of this background
material to become more permanent and to see whether it might sustain
a narrative of its own in published form. We decided to test this on what
appears at first sight to be little more than a deep grass verge on a short
section of the Mile End Road in London’s East End and to juxtapose
archive material with a photographic record of the landscape today.

Available online - click on cover image for link.
J & L Gibbons project 'Making Space in Dalston' features in Landscape World Vol. 53, published by Choseok, South Korea - July 2012.
J & L Gibbons feature in the new LLDC, Design for London and GLA publication - "Stitching the Fringe, Working around the Olympic Park" - July 2012.
J & L Gibbons feature in Topos Small Scale Interventions in Landscape Architecture issue 79 - June 2012
The work of J & L Gibbons features in the publication "Is this what you mean by Localism", supported by the Mayor of London and the London Borough of Hackney - March 2012.

Featuring and essay by Kieran Long.