Hypernature: the recognition of art
The recognition of art is fundamental to, and a precondition of landscape design.
This is not a new idea; nineteenth-century landscape design theorists J.C. Loudon, A.J. Downing and Frederick Law Olmsted advocated as much when making the case for the inclusion of landscape design or landscape architecture as one of the Fine Arts. More recently, Michael Van Valkenburgh and his partners, Laura Solano and Matthew Urbanksi, expressed their interest in exaggerated, concentrated hypernature – an exaggerated version of constructed nature. Creating hypernature was prompted by pragmatic acknowledgements of the constrictions of building on tough urban sites and the recognition that designed landscapes are usually experienced while distracted, in the course of everyday urban life. Attenuation of forms, densification of elements, juxtaposition of materials, intentional discontinuities, formal incongruities -tactics associated with montage or collage- are deployed for several reasons: to make a courtyard, a park, a campus more capable of appearing, of being noticed, and of performing more robustly, more resiliently.
Sustainable landscape design should be form-full, evident and palpable, so that it draws the attention of an urban audience distracted by daily concerns ofwork and family, or the over-stimulation of the digital world.
This requires a keen understanding of the medium of landscape, and the deployment of design tactics such as exaggeration, amplification, distillation, condensation, juxtaposition, or transposition/displacement.

Elizabeth K. Meyer, Sustaining Beauty (2008)


Michael Van Valkenburgh, Teardrop Park (2009)