‘Purity’, ‘Harmony’ and ‘Nobility’

Landscape is in the air! Landscape is everywhere! The word ‘Landscape’ has so much zipped into the recent architectural discourse, that is even more often used than Americans use the word ‘fuck’. Landscape emerges as the solution in times when architecture and urbanism are losing out on significance. This process coincides with the diagnosis that discipline of Landscape Architecture is entering an era of doubt. After conquering the doom and pessimism of the seventies with an ecological answer and meeting the economic hype of the eighties and nineties with ‘design’, the profession is now confronted with the question of how to address the overwhelming number of paradoxical demands surrounding it. How to embody the multi-cultural and multiform in a profession that is historically swallowed by the paradigms of ‘purity’, ‘harmony’ and ‘nobility’. The landscape architect is seen as the personification of the pastoral, the harmonious, the environmentally friendly: truly ‘good’ and noble aims. And in that respect, one could argue that he is often misused for political objectives. yet that very innocence is false and saturated with an oversimplified moralism. For if landscape calls upon ‘endlessness’, ‘awe’ and ‘gigantism’ and express itself in panoramas and distant prospects, then it is indeed the synonym for ‘overview’ encompassing good and bad, is about multiplicity and pluralism. It has the potential to manipulate this field of ideas, opinions, and expressions. Instead of a mere argument of goodness, this domain has the capacity of putting into perspective. This position obliges it to study the substance of the ‘moral’.

Winy Maas, Far Max. Excursions on Density (1998)

Karres en Brands, Boseilanden recreational area (2000-)