Empowerment

In more recent decades, social and ecological issues have again stimulated a range of more radical ‘landscape’ initiatives, in which the science of landscape ecology combines with a focus upon the experiential, everyday land- scape of local communities to resist the worse excesses of globalisation. An early expression of this reformulation of landscape as a radical challenge to conventional practice was the ecological design approach pioneered in Holland and introduced into the British New Towns in the 1970s. Initially, emphasis was placed upon restoration and recreation of largely indigenous woodlands, grasslands and wetlands within the new urban areas, frequently on former industrial or mining sites, with the aim that they would make natural environments more accessible to children and communities.

Over time, emphasis has shifted to community participation in the re-making of urban landscapes, through organisations such as Groundwork and Common Ground. These initiatives are tangible expressions of a phenomenological commitment to ‘dwelling’ through landscape, combined with the instrumental knowledge of ecology. Drawing upon both public and private funding, these new vehicles for landscape knowledge contrast dramatically with the ‘elitist’ history portrayed above, as a fundamental part of their operation is the empowerment of local communities, frequently in lower socioeconomic areas, to become engaged in their local landscape setting.

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

Basurama+Makea, Barna on wheels (2009)

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