Express Meaning

The artful shaping of the landscape to serve human purposes at whatever scale, from the garden to the region, entails an understanding of the human and the natural worlds, in both an empirical and a metaphysical sense. Landscape architects must confront nature as discrete elements of rocks and trees and nature as Idea (naturel Nature). In designing the landscape we extract natural features from their context and reorder them to serve human purposes. At times we attempt to imitate or reproduce natural processes and forms, at times we abstract or echo those processes and forms, and at times we superimpose a sharply contrasting order. This do to express meaning.

The concern for nature that is at the core of landscape architecture yields a sense for temporal and spatial scales that distinguishes it from related fields. The landscape comprises a spectrum of scales; it is rarely as enclosed and self-contained as a but is continuous, linked to other distant landscapes by the movement of air, earth, water, and living organisms, including humans. The landscape is also dynamic, evolving continually in time. Unless a landscape design is comprised of inert materials, it is thus never complete, but continues to change perceptibly month by month, year by year.

Anne Whiston Spirn, Nature, Form, and Meaning: Guest Editor’s Introduction (1988)

William Wenk + Wenk Associates, Shop Creek Restoration (1989)


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vty is professor on Landscape Theory and Landscape design at the Catalonian Politecnical University in Barcelona and at the Politecnico di Milano

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