Making a Start

Moving to Melbourne and building a personal website have been problematic. Both have been planned, or attempted, several times over the last few years.

Just over a month ago, I made the move. Today, I’m launching the site. As fond as I am of my obtuse landing page, it’s time to retire it in favour of a more dedicated blog and portfolio.

Having just started a PhD, the plan for this site and my research are up in the air. At present, I’m aiming to document and publish some of my past and present design projects, as well as start writing semi-regular blog posts on where my research is taking me.

Broadly this research is looking at the application of computational design tools to landscape architecture and urban design. This is generally an underdeveloped area of research, although there have been some interesting recent developments that point to an emerging ‘computational landscape architecture’, or at least a new strain of computational design techniques that focus on landscape architectural problems. Last year, Digital Landscape Architecture Now was the sole major reference point for this area, albeit one that presented a blunted-edge view of contemporary practice. This year we’ve seen Chris Reed, Stan Allen and others increasingly exploring this area.

As with any design project that lacks budget, time, and scope constraints, developing a personal site or portfolio is an exercise in slouching towards an unknown ideal. Thankfully, having an article published with a URL in my bio provided a much needed deadline for finishing and launching this thing.

On the technology side, the site is generated using the excellent Jekyll engine, which perfectly enables my addiction to writing anything and everything in Markdown. With no need for a database or dynamic language runtime, I can host the whole site quite happily as a collection of static files and folders over on Amazon’s Cloudfront CDN.

The stylesheets make extensive use of loops in Sass to adjust the typography and padding in a non-linear manner according to the screen size, which has the unfortunate side-effect of making the CSS near-unreadable. Picturefill is used to create responsive images with distinct crops for different screen sizes. Typekit is serving up the excellent FF Tundra and Proxima Nova.

The design was developed from the content out, which hopefully shows. But its still very much a minimum viable product, presently lacking any real form of navigation or contextual affordances, not to mention actual content. I’ll be figuring those out as I go.

Note: the RSS feed for the blog is available over here.