Landscape – Great Idea!
The production of landscape has always been based on ideas. Designed and built landscapes function as a catalogue of interpretations of nature, of society, of economics and cultures. Globally the structures of landscapes and settlements are converging – resulting in new types of urbanity on every scale. x—LArch enhances the professional and scientific exchange on landscape throughout the world.
The reason why we chose this caption was not to emphasise a belief we have – that landscape is a great idea. In fact it was rather an argument we came across frequently by others – professionals and scholars of other disciplines dealing with spatial development and design. This argument aroused our interest in the setting in which the role of landscape architecture might be shifting.
The merging of disciplines, the range of approaches and the blurring of borders between professional tasks comes along with the global development of urbanization. In the year 2008, 50% of the people worldwide are living in cities, and this number is yet to increase, changing urban landscape at an accelerated pace. Edward Soja and Miguel Kanai announce the global urban age consicitng of the urbanization of the globe on the one hand and the globalization of urbanism as a way of life on the other. Globally the structures of landscapes and settlements are converging – resulting in types of urbanity abandoning its built up structure.
In the discussion on urbanism landscape is a central feature. Not only is the discussion on spatial development very closely related to green and open spaces as well as to productive cultural landscape, there is also a tendency to a much more action-based planning approach. In the Journal of Landscape Architecture Richard Weller, Australians renowned landscape architect entitles his research for a large scale future of the city region of Perth as ‘Planning By Design’ he aligns with the overall growing interest for a pro-active strategy of designing at large scale. Scenarios, of course, have been a means for projecting uncertainties into the future for a long time. Doing so by landscape architectural design, however, is a newly observed procedure. It comes along with a new attention for large scale building sites and development projects, such as documented in the publication on Large Parks, edited by Julia Czerniak and George Hargreaves. The last edition of TOPOS is dedicated to the same topic: Landscape strategies and contains a number of extensive projects all over the globe.
Apart from designing vast entities of landscape there is another issue realted to scale, which is of growing interest. It is the clos connection between smaller scale projects with their wider surrounding. It seems as if there is an increasing awareness of wider relations. One could assume that this is a result of globalization and the inherent growth of connectivity. It seems as if it shows a larger interest in complexity as a whole. That is why the first focus of x—LArch III is called: Scale Matters.
Furthermore there are specific ideas connected to the power of landscape as a solution for spatial problems. Landscape ecology is now interpreted as a model to understand and come up against environmental problems through design concepts, last shown in the project for Fresh Kills in N.Y. by field operations. The production of landscape has always been based on a construct of ideas. As ideas shift along societal changes, the meaning of landscape is subject to constant mutation. Designed and built landscapes function as a catalogue of interpretations of nature, of society, of economics, of cultures. The second block of questions therefore is dealing with Landscape as a model. In which way can landscape act as a model or an instrument to enhance spatial qualities? How do ideas interact with the built outcomes? Ideas and ideologies change, they seem to become interchangeable due to globalised mechanisms. Can we identify ideas behind “new landscapes”, or the way they were developed?