Intention of Improving

Landscape architects develop ideas for changing places and landscapes with the intention of improving their design, making them better to use and more able to meet ecological requirements. Their work includes comprehensive and sustainable planning of the environment as it is lived in, and reconciling the different demands for creating open spaces capable of facing the future. The design process as an essential part of landscape architects’ activities includes both finding ideas and also presenting them visually. Landscape design is first and foremost a problem-solving strategy for open areas and open spaces. Images, sketches, plans and other drawings as well as models are produced, using a variety of techniques, with the aim to convey concrete planning intentions or possible consequences of developments that can occur under certain conditions. A written explanation is usually provided to support the strategies presented, but this could never be an adequate substitute for a visual presentation. As visual presentations are universally understood, their significance and statements largely make sense without words, a great advantage in a globalized world.

Plans and images also remain -and this is perhaps particularly true today because so many possibilities are available- unique objects, each with its own justification. Even though they are prepared in large numbers for any planning process, each one has its own statement to make, and is potentially interesting, exciting, harmonious, aesthetic or simply beautiful to look at. Even though the large numbers of visual presentations might suggest something different, landscape architects work economically: images are not prepared for their own sake, but because of the statement that each one makes.

Elke Mertens, Visualizing Landscape Architecture (2010)

Lateral Office, Caribou Pivot Stations (2010)



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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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