Working Method

Perhaps the most meaningful break that the Bos Park makes with the pictorial tradition is, then, the proposition that design itself is the establishment of a working method, a system operations informed by scientific analysis (hydrology, forestry, social sciences) and aimed toward concrete applications (reclamation, shelter, recreation). What is significant here is that the working method and the technical means themselves are unveiled and incorporated into the final appearance of the park, giving it its artistic logic and meaning. Composition as a passive practice is rejected in favor of construction as an active process. The park is the result of the conditions of its own making. (…)

Loss of Form. The distribution of forest, open lawn, and water in an all-over pattern that fills the space of the site results in a “loss of form”——that is, in a loss of figuration of the voids (open lawns) against the mass (forest). Instead, there is a superimposition of four systems -woodland, lawns, water, and elements- that equally contribute to and reiterate the spatial experience. No layer is subordinate to the others; each is coopted to have equal presence in the landscape.

Anita Berrizbeitia, The Amsterdam Bos. The Modern Modern Park and the Construction of Collective Experience (1999)

Cornelius van Esteren, Jakoba H. Mulder and Jac P. Thijsse,

Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) (1935-)

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Over-determinism

City landscapes are being increasingly commodified, monitored, and constructed in ways that discourage spontaneous appropriation and unplanned transformation. In resistance to this over-determinism, a few contemporary landscape architects and urbanists are seeking to promote qualities of indeterminacy, open-endedness, and temporality in their work. Their aim is to engender and support engagement rather than objectification. These efforts are particularly applicable to large-scale public, decommissioned, and marginalized lands within or at the edge of the cities. Such spaces resist popular prescriptions of use, identity, and meaning. Is this shift from form to events, permanence to change, identity to void, a recognition for the need to recover essential territories in the city that are “neither wilderness nor home”.

Anuradha Mathur, Neither Wilderness nor Home. The Indian Maidan (1999)

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Anuradha Mathur, Dilip da Cunha, SOAK (2009)

Mumbai’s Cross Maidan, India

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Movements and Shifts

ln recent years l have become increasingly interested in movements and shifts of territory, specifically landscape experiences more than the apparent fixity of buildings and objects. l have therefore come to consider my work in provisional terms, as speculative constructions that are produced and trnsformed through continual reshaping processes: weather, seasons, light, growrth, erosion, deposition.

If I spend time and energy investigating the traces that exist on a given site, it’s certainly not for any archeological purpose; I have never been particularly interested in reconstructing an historical lineage. Instead, I regard these remainders as manifestations of dynamics generated by different sources, forces, activities, events, and actors. This process never ends, and one ought to appreciate all the possible future developments that are already inscribed in the land, lying latent or fallow. The dynamic mapping of these routes and traces at different periods allows me to understand the shifts and modifications of sites-on-time.

My main interest, however, moves from the trace at one moment -as memorial-  to the recognition ofcchanges in time and fuiture potential. Consequenty, I believe that both buildings and designed landscapes must not only make the passing of time visible but also make this passage effecting of further potential.

The architecture that is necessary to mark and make possible such shifts must be more than visual. For me, a haptic, kinesthesic approach to design in essential for any deep form of site appropiation.

Georges Descombes, Shifting sites. The Swiss Way, Geneva (1999)

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Georges Descombes, Parc en Sauvy (1986)

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Reshaping Worlds

…the function of mapping is less to mirror reality than to engender the re-shaping of the worlds in which people live.

James Corner, Eidetic Operations and New Landscapes (1999)

199VISO-XIX-533_1.2.Julia Romano, The Landscape Representation Essay IV (2014)

Achenbach_Andreas_-_Landscape_with_a_Stream_1-bajaJulia Romano, The Landscape Representation Essay VI (2014)

83955305_o-otroJulia Romano, Combination X (2014)

Mechanistic

Functionalism was entirely consistent with the rationalistic and mechanistic world-view which rose to become the dominant European ideology in the seventeenth century. Believing, as they did, that the cosmos was a complicated clockwork, Descartes, Newton, Bacon, and their ilk maintained that it could be analyzed, reduced, investigated and ultimately controlled. If the universe is a machine, it is easy to assert, as did Le Corbusier, that a house ought to be one. It was this connection with science which ultimately distanced the functional approach from ordinary people and delivered it into the hands of technocrats. This did not begin to happen until the emergence of the social sciences in the nineteenth century when functionalism became linked with ideals of social progress and revolutionary political developments.

Ian Thompson, Ecology, Community and Delight (1999)

DROM + Strelka KB, Azatlyk Square (2019)

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Loss

Landscape in the West was itself a symptom of modern loss, a cultural form that emerged only after humanity’s primal relationship to nature had been disrupted by urbanism, commerce and technology. For when mankind still “belonged” to nature in a simple way, nobody needed to paint a landscape.

Malcolm Andrews, Landscape and Western Art (1999)

1280px-Hobbema,_Meindert_-_A_Wooded_Landscape_-_Google_Art_Project Meindert Hobbema, A Wooded Landscape (1689)

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Meindert Hobbema, The Avenue at Middelharnis (1689)

Ideas

Landscape reshapes the world not only because of its physical and experiential characteristics but also because of its eidetic content, its capacity to contain and express ideas and so engage the mind. Moreover, because of its bigness – in both scale and scope – landscape serves as a metaphor for inclusive multiplicity and pluralism, as in a kind of synthetic ‘overview’ that enables differences to play out. In these terms, landscape may still embrace naturalistic and phenomenological experience but its full efficacy is extended to that of a synthetic and strategic art form …

James Corner, Eidetic Operations and New Landscapes (1999)

russ_deveau_highline_park_35James Corner + Field Operations, High Line (Russ Deveau photo)

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Tyrannical

Turner notes that the word “landscape” has itself undergone a shift in meaning. In the seventeenth century it was a painter’s term. derived from the Dutch, which referred to a picture which depicted inland scenery (as opposed to seascapes, portraits, etc.) The scenery depicted was usually of ideal, or idealised places. The eighteenth-century “landscape gardeners” took their inspiration from painting particularly the works of Poussin, Salvator Rosa and Claude Lorrain, but sought to realise these ideal Landscapes throught the tangible manipulation of earth, water and vegetation. Things started to go wrong, as far as the meaning of “landscape Archiecture” was concerned, when a secord sense of the word “landscape”, which Turner calls the Geographer’s Sense, gained ascendancy over the original meaning. In this sense “landscape” has come to mean “a tract of land with its distinguishing characteristics and features, esp. considered as a product of modifying or shaping processes and agents (usually natural)”.

As Turner sees it, the problem with “landscape architect”, if “landscape” is used in the Geografer’s Sense, is that it implies God-like powers to rise mountains, to direct the course of rivers, to control the climate and to dictate the pattern of human seattlement” This aspiration to omnipotence is, he says, “as preposterous as it is sacrilegous as it is tyrannical”.

Ian Thompson, Ecology, Community and Delight (1999)

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Chris Reed + Stoss; Huangpu Riverfront (2012)

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To Map

To map is in one way or another to take the measure of a world, and more than merely take it, to figure the measure so taken in such a way that it may be communicated between people, places or times. The measure of mapping is not restricted to the mathematical; it may equally be spiritual, political or moral. By the same token the mapping’s record is not confined to the archival; it includes the remembered, the imagined, the contemplated. The world figured through mapping may thus be material or immaterial, actual or desired, whole or part, in various ways experienced, remembered or projected.

Denis Cosgrove, Mappings (1999)

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Adriaan Geuze & West 8, Eastern Scheldt (1992)

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Header: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas (1972)

Brundtland

A sustainable activity or use is one which, in practice as well as principle, can continue forever. It can be argued that sustainability is essentially a homocentric concept, since the touchstone of moral value remains the effect that actions will have upon the quality or continuance of human life. The idea of sustainable development is ambiguous in that it can be given a technocentric slant, in which environmental conservation criteria are traded-off against economic development criteria, or a more radical, ecocentric spin, which emphasises the constraints on human activity that must be accepted if biospheric systems are to be protected against further life threatening deterioration. The Brundtland Report is inclined to regard species and ecosystems as resources for humans rather than things which have intrinsic value. However, it recognises that the quality of human life can only be guaranteed if it does not put excessive demands upon the carrying capacity of the supporting ecosystems. Following Callicott and Mumford, we may prefer the term ‘ecological sustainability’ to the term ‘sustainable development’. The latter is often taken to imply (or at least condone) continued economic growth, whereas the former encourages a vision of steady-state economic development in which human wants are met through greater efficiency rather than an increased consumption of resources.

Following Brundtland, the principles of sustainability received further definition in Conserving the World’s Biological Diversity. Of particular interest is the set of ethical principles suggested by the authors of this document, which represent an attempt to get beyond ‘resourcist’ thinking. They are based upon the idea of interdependence: ‘humanity is part of nature, and humans are subject to the same immutable ecological laws as all other species on the planet’, from which it follows that sustainability must be ‘the basic principle of all social and economic development. Personal and social values should be chosen to accentuate the richness of flora, fauna and human experience.’ So far these principles could be construed as homocentric, as could the report’s insistence that the well-being of future generations is a social responsibility of the present generation. However, the document also embraces Naess’s principle of biocentric egalitarianism when it states, ‘All species have an inherent right to exist. The ecological processes that support the integrity of the biosphere and its diverse species, landscapes and habitats are to be maintained.’

The report’s attempt to balance the ecocentric with the homocentric is valiant. It attempts to draw a parallel between conserving species diversity and encouraging diversity in ethnic and cultural outlooks towards nature. In doing so, it inevitably ducks some of the difficult, maybe even intractable, conflicts that are sure to arise when the effects of particular cultures or lifestyles are examined closely. Nevertheless, its overall thrust is surely right; it acknowledges ecological limits within which human society must work, but emphasises that these are not limits to human endeavour; ‘instead, they give direction and guidance as to how human affairs can sustain environmental stability and diversity’. If Norton’s convergence hypothesis is right, the steps taken to implement such a policy of sustainable development should also meet most of the concerns of the deep ecologists. What the landscape architectural profession requires, at this stage in its development, is a revised system of values which places sustainability alongside the more traditional interests in aesthetics and utility, together with credible visions of how these three value areas may be combined in realisable landscapes.

Ian Thompson, Ecology, Community and Delight. Sources of values in Landscape Architecture (1999)

Kamel Louafi, Expo Water Garden (2000)

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