Since the 1990s, the landscape field has reinvented itself in different guises including, but not limited to: landscape-as-art, landscape urbanism and landscape infrastructure. Each of these frameworks combines new ways of thinking about the city as an environmental system with varying emphases on form, performance, and program. Further, technological advances in digital terrain modeling, Google Earth, diagramming, and the use of computer programs to generate photorealistic perspectives have all changed the content of landscape architectural design processes and content.
Beyond technology, the field has been expanded and enriched by an expanded understanding of process derived from evolving ecological theory, including the systems-based emphasis of landscape ecologists such as Eugene Odum, who developed the modern notion of ecology as an integrated discipline. Odum’s work has provided a ground for further evolution in the topic by Richard T.T. Forman, Steward Pickett, Steven Handel, and Nina-Marie Lister, among many others. This emphasis provides a crucial corrective to the traditional, interventionist mode of landscape architecture and the emphasis on ecological systems in this vein can to be further enriched with an equal attention to sociology and political science. Moving forward, we need to think analytically about the interconnectedness of social and physical systems, knit these strands together, and derive new territories for action.
Kate Orff, Toward an Urban Ecology: SCAPE / Landscape Architecture (2016)
Kate Orff, Oyster-tecture (2009)
Julie Bargmann + D.I.R.T. studio, La Luna Garden
In contrast to architects, urban planners and other designers, landscape architects bear the responsibility of creating interesting spatial configurations that are shaped by factors that bring about change: the seasons, weather conditions, skies, plant cycles, soil conditions and time. Together these constitute the quintessential aspects of landscape architecture: it’s about making use of dynamic, living processes instead of static, immutable situations. A good understanding of nature and how it works forms the foundation for diverging from the usual…
Steven Delva, Why we shape space (2012)
1. Use a local problem to invent a generic solution. Though landscape architecture tends to be a custom job, it can still offer solutions for footloose phenomena. 2. Use a global challenge to solve a local problem. Global problems can have a major influence in landscape design. 3. Think big in small scale projects. Design solution often emerge in the bigger picture. 4. Think small and simple in big scale projects. On large scale and long term, it’s hardly possible to foresee the results of a design intervention. Still it’s vital to show how the future might look like. 5. Design total landscapes. If possible, ‘total design’ is very powerful and can overcome apparent contradictions. 6. Don’t design everything. The more you design, the less freedom there is left. 7. Aim for pure nature. Designed nature might never be ‘pure’ but can be overwhelmingly abundant, rich, exciting and fertile. 8. Make devices to experience nature. People need devices to experience nature; they bring binoculars, kites, bike, etc. Landscape architects should develop unique devices to enable that experience. 9. Trigger senses. Like most media, this book only shows the visual side of landscapes, while an intense landscape experience depends on all senses. 10. Make sense. Landscape architecture is about realizing ideas.
Lola Landscape Architecture, 10 tips for landscape architecture (2012)
Lola Landscape Architecture, Groot Vijversburg Park (2015)
Working in collaboration with muf architecture/art and Objectif, Making Space in Dalston is a project concerning an alternative approach to regeneration. It evolved a process of communication and action research to help develop a shared vision with residents, businesses and local organizations.
The project looked at how more public space could be created without losing the existing qualities of the neighbourhood. A key concern was how to embrace change while nurturing the self-organising distinctiveness of Dalston that is inherent in both its social capital and physical character.
Rather than a traditional top-down master plan, the project set out to identify projects through dialogue from grassroots up. The stakeholders themselves became the driving force and promoters of change.
A total of 76 projects were identified in 10 themes, through discussion with almost 200 individuals or groups. Projects were either permanent or temporary. Some were termed ‘meantime’ projects in space awaiting development.
Johanna Gibbons, Making Space in Dalston (2012)
Here we have a little description of how to make a project getting rid of the concept of the unity of design: instead of having a one-concept transformation Gibbons purposes to scatter the action into many that will respond to little desires and wills so, instead of having a part of the users in favor and other against a big bet, we’ll have many elements that are more able to approach people’s desires and complex opinions. We’ll get a more adaptable result too, and an extra learning of the design process. All those benefits will come just living without the big discourse of unity in creation. This way to understand the creative process without the strength of the author’s assertion could have to do with what we are talking about when we speak about the necessary “feminist turn” in the discipline.
Johanna Gibbons + Muf Architecture – Art, Making Space in Dalston (2012)
Why does the project result in isolation? In fact, the question has already been answered. Each project is above all the declaration of another, new future that is thought to come about once the project has been executed. But in order to build such a new future, one first has to take a leave of absence, a time in which the project shifts its agent into a parallel state of heterogeneous time. This other timeframe, in turn, disconnects from time as society experiences it –it is de-synchronized. Society’s life carries on regardless– the usual run of things remains unaffected. But somewhere beyond this general flow of time, someone has begun working on a project -writing a book, preparing an exhibition, or plotting a spectacular assassination- in the hopes that the completed project will alter the general run of things and all mankind will be bequeathed a different future: the very future, in fact, anticipated and aspired to in this project. (…)
The author of the project already knows the future, since the project is nothing other than the description of it. And this is why the approval process is so highly unpleasant to the project’s author: at the earliest stage of the submission, the author is already asked to give a meticulously detailed description of how this future will be brought about and what its outcome will be. While the project will be turned down and refused funding if the author proves incapable of doing so, successfully delivering such a precise description will also eliminate the very distance between an author and the others -a distance critical to the entire development of the project. if everyone knows from the very outset what course the project will take and what its outcome will be, then the future will no longer come as a surprise. (…)
Sartre once described the state of “being-in-the-project” as the ontological condition of human existence. According to Sartre, each person lives from the perspective of an individual future that necessarily remains barred from the view of others. In Sartre’s terms, this condition results in the radical alienation of each individual, since everyone else can only see this individual as the result of his or hers individual, and never as heterogeneous projection from these circumstances. Consequently, the heterogeneous parallel timeframe of the project remains elusive to any form of representation in the present. Hence for Sartre, the project is tainted by the suspicion of escapism, the deliberate avoidance of social communication and individual responsibility. So it is no surprise that he also describes the subject’s ontological condition as a state of “mauvaise foi” or insincerity.
Boris Groys, Going Public (2010)
Particular conception of design processes; derived from Claude Levi-Strauss’s analysis of Edgard Allan Poe’s short story of two brothers who suffered a shipwreck caused by a whirpool. During the ‘Descent into the Maelström’, one brother, in awe of his immediate circumstances, is overcome with fear and drowns (engagement); the other brother detaches himself from reality, ensuring his survival by clinging to a floating drum (distance).
Gunther Vogt cit. Alice Foxley (ed.), Distance and Engagement (2010)
Gunther Vogt, Basel Novartis Campus (2011) (Christian Vogt photos)