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 Freshkills, to Downsview Park, have employed design strategies that exploited the temporal qualities of the landscape as a dynamic, performative, open-ended process medium.
When we work as landscape architects, despite many explanatory models, design remains an obscure process of trial and error — who will clear up the error? — of ‘attitude’ and ‘intrinsic nature’ of morphology and performance models. C.T. Sørensen talked about inventions. The results. at least, are on view.
Supposing we understand avant-garde landscape architecture the same way we do with architecture and the other arts as the realization of abstract ideas in this case of nature, ecology and society. Then designing should consequently be understood as the ‘invention’ of information systems or layers that overlap with existing elements. This must precede any thoughts on appearance or expression. Working the other way round can be seen as trite, as patronage, and as predetermining interpretations and even feelings.
Like space and its design, ecology, having been hurried on by prognostics and catastrophes, begins as the vision of a better world. It is an abstract idea of interrelations that are often unclear and must be made concrete and visible. As ﬁt as landscape architecture is concerned, this means neither a scholarly treatise, nor specialised or naive graphics, but the development and invention of appropriate elements and the implementation of their organisation patterns in existing structures.