Open-Ended

Many design critics and theorists, including me, have commented on the shift from spatial to temporal preoccupations in landscape theory and practice since the late 1980’s. More recently, more premiated entries in large parks competitions, from Landshaftpark Duisburg-Nord, to Fresh Kills, to Downsview Park, have employed design strategies that exploited the temporal qualities of the landscape as a dynamic, performative, open-ended process medium.

Elizabeth K. Meyer, Uncertain Parks: Disturbed Sites, Citizens and Risk Society (2007)

staten island FO

James Corner + Field Operations, Fresh Kills (2000)

Open-Ended

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_35 High Line (Russ Deveau photo)

Ideas

Reappearance

jim copiaIn the opening years of the twenty-first century, that seemingly old-fashioned term landscape has curiously come back into vogue. The reappearance of landscape in the larger cultural imagination is due, in part, to the remarkable rise of environmentalism and a global ecological awareness, to the growth of tourism and the associated needs of regions to retain a sense of unique identity, and to the impacts upon rural areas by massive urban growth. But landscape also affords a range of imaginative and metaphorical associations, especially for many contemporary architects and urbanists.

James Corner, Terra Fluxus (2006)

Reappearance

Confusion

img06Relais Landschaftsarchitekten, The Written Garden (2011)

Landscape comes into English language geography primarily from the German landschaft. Much has been written about the fact that the German word means area, without any particularly aesthetic or artistic, or even visual connotations.

Denis Cosgrove, Landscape as cultural product (1984)

The word landscape finds its roots in the Old Dutch word landskip, which designates a stretch of cultivated land. The word paysage in French stems from the Latin word pagus, which simply means an extent of land made by the peasant. In other words, landscape is the belabored making of the peasant, and has nothing to do with the ideal of untouched wilderness.

Christophe Girot, Immanent Landscape (2012)

Historically, landscape has had a range of meanings, some quite unrelated to art. One such meaning applies to civic classification of territory. It has been argued that the German Landshaft or Lantshaft was not originally a view of nature but rather a geographic ares defined by political boundaries. In the late fifteenth century, the land around a town was referred to as its landscape, a meaning that still survives in some places, as in the Swiss canton of Basel Landschaft.

Malcolm Andrews, Landscape and Western Art (1999)

This distinction can be traced back to the Old English term landskip, which at first refered not to land but to a picture of it, as in the later, selectively framed representations of seventeent-century Dutch landschap paintings. Soon after the appearance of this genre of painting the scenic concept was applied to the land itself in the form of large-scale rural vistas, designed estates, and ornamental garden art. Indeed, the development of landscape architecture as a modern profession derives, in large measure, from an impulse to reshape large areas of land according to prior imagining.

James Corner, Eidetic Operations and New Landscapes (1999)

Landscape is a familiar term that is rich and evocative, but also complex and at times confusing.

Simon Swaffield, Landscape as a way of knowing the world (2005)

Confusion

Controversy

Landscape Urbanism describes a disciplinary realignement currently underway in which landscape replaces architecture as the basic building block of contemporary urbanism. For many, across a range of disciplines, landscape has become both the lens through which the contemporary city is represented and the medium through which is constructed.

Charles Waldheim, Landscape as Urbanism (2006)

Consider that landscape urbanism does not exist; that it is nothing more than an advertising campaign intended to promote the writings of its authors, helping them sell books and get promoted. It is another manifesto for a discipline overrun with manifestos. It will soon be replaced with the next forward thinking, ‘big idea’ answer for the problems plaguing contemporary urbanism.

Rather, what does exist are different ways of thinking about landscape, which come from different people, with different histories, voices and contexts.

From the beginning, this process has been about landscape. It has been about ways of thinking about landscape architecture and ways of approaching a post-industrial urbanism and trying to sew it together with places for people, culture and nature.

Leanne Muir, Mapping Landscape Urbanism (2010)

b8e1a7c54004f38ad58d2c5d814df68aJames Corner,  Qianhai Water City (2011)

Controversy