Designing Landscapes as Evolutionary Systems
Author: Prominski, Martin
Source: The Design Journal, Volume 8, Number 3, November 2005 , pp. 25-34(10)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Journals (formerly Berg Journals)
Abstract:In the last 20 years, the theoretical debate has shifted 'landscape' from a green, arcadian opposite of the built environment towards a comprehensive embodiment of our artificial modernity. Examples from this debate are J. B. Jackson's definition of landscape as a 'dynamic system of manmade spaces' or R. P. Sieferle's concept 'Total Landscape', where the former antagonists town and country have dissolved into a homogeneous structure completely characterised by the accelerated processes of modernization.
This new perspective highlights three previously neglected issues: uncertainty, processes and relations. As a spatial and temporal terrain, a landscape is continuously changing in an unpredictable way, steered by the relations of the site with its specific context - an evolving system instead of a static image.
Landscape architecture, the profession which is responsible for the demanding task of designing these evolving systems, has produced some conceptually remarkable projects in recent years. The paper discusses three examples of contemporary landscape architecture which offer insights into designing evolutionary systems. These projects deal with the problem of determinacy versus indeterminacy, the integration of time in design and systemic openness for changes in the design environment. Furthermore, they express comprehensively the ability of design to deal with complexity, uncertainty, uniqueness and value conflicts as described by Donald Schön. Finally, they allow an outlook for changing a classical, scenic aesthetic to a relational aesthetic or 'systems aesthetic' which the art critic Jack Burnham already announced in 1968.
As a conclusion, the question of how these insights from designing landscapes could add segments of knowledge to the general design theory debate is discussed.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 2005
- Established in 1998, The Design Journal is an international, refereed journal covering all aspects of design. The journal welcomes articles on design in both cultural and commercial contexts. The journal is published four times a year and provides a forum for design scholars, professionals, educators, and managers worldwide. It publishes thought-provoking work that will have a direct impact on design knowledge and that challenges assumptions and methods, while being open-minded about the evolving role of design.