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Assargård, Hanna, 2011. Landscape urbanism : from a methodological perspective and a conceptual framework. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

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Landscape urbanism has for the last decade been a topic for debate among practitioners and theorists involved in forming the contemporary city. The advocates for landscape urbanism mean that traditional dichotomies like city and country are invalid to illustrate the contemporary urban realm. Rather, a new urban morphology has evolved, which calls for new methods and models when approaching the city. Landscape urbanism suggests a revaluation of landscape in order to develop these approaches. This paper sets out to map how this is addressed within landscape urbanism. Through the analysis of texts and projects concerning landscape urbanism, connections, patterns and characteristics regarding models and strategies of landscape urbanism methodology are presented. Because of landscape urbanism’s fluid character, the paper is of a discursive and investigative character.

In the second chapter it is studied how landscape design has drawn inspiration from the scenic landscape for centuries. Landscape urbanism however suggests a possibility to draw inspiration from the functions and operational aspectsof landscape, rather than its aesthetic qualities. The revaluation of landscape as landschaft implies a focus on process, contingency and the integration of cultural and natural processes over time. However, replacing landscape as landschaft and discarding a dichotomous thinking in the planning discourse is not new to landscape urbanism. This thinking is rather a trend which landscape urbanism is a part of.

Viewing landscape as a construct and concept opens up for several interpretations. In the third chapter, three different perspectives on how landscape is interpreted are presented. First Ideologies of landscape urbanism, second The concept of landscape as methodology and third Defining ideas of landscape urbanism. The three perspectives complement each other in providing a nuanced image of how landscape is interpreted within landscape urbanism.

The first perspective Ideologies of landscape urbanism discusses how the two main orientations of landscape urbanism, The Machinic and Field operations interpret landscape differently. The Field operations approach corresponds to landscape urbanisms idea of intertwining different processes over time. In the Machinic mode, landscape is interpreted as a source. From this source, data is collected to supply a form-generating computer program.

The second perspective of chapter three, The concept of landscape as methodology, concludes that landscape is interpreted at two levels within landscape urbanism, metaphorically and operationally. On the one hand, landscape is used to describe and envision the contemporary city. This means a metaphorical ideal of how the city can be approached through the lens of landscape. On the other hand, the revaluation of landscape also means to see the dynamic abilities of landscape as a model for design. Methods and operational strategies that can address and further the dynamic conditions are encouraged.

The third perspective of chapter three, Defining ideas of landscape urbanism, describes how two defining ideas of landscape urbanism are derived from the interpretation of landscape as surface and ecosystem. Landscape as surface interprets landscape as a thick mat and heterogeneous field where landscape is regarded as an infrastructure that can organise the city. Interpreting the landscape as an ecosystem means to emphasise process and the interaction of natural, cultural, economical and social processes as well as an understanding of how they affect the spatiality of a site over time. Landscape as surface and landscape as ecosystem both take departure in the dynamic city and aims at developing operational strategies to address it. Hence, both defining ideas stress flexibility, the design of process and frameworks that can tackle contingency, bottom-up phenomena, synthesis of different systems and the rejection of formal compositions. However, the suggestions in which way these characteristics are fulfilled differ since the interpretations of landscape are different. This generates different conceptual models and strategies to use in the practical work. These models and associated strategies are presented in the fourth chapter.

First, the fourth chapter defines methodological approaches of landscape urbanism. This section discusses how the focus on process and anticipation within landscape urbanism means a new approach to site. Site is more than what meets the eye; social, economical and ecological process over time and how they have affected the site must be taken in consideration. Landscape urbanism suggests interdisciplinary teams to fully understand a site. To design for change, and to be able to incorporate different kinds of systems of social, economical, natural and cultural character, the design of strategies and frameworks are promoted. A framework gives instructions to the site and orchestrates the processes on the site rather than accomplishes a static form. Representation is used as a tool in the process of understanding the site as well as in the process of conceptualizing and contextualizing the site. Learning within landscape urbanism is regarded as a valid approach in order to develop new methods and techniques and to truly understand a site. Learning also means the exchange of information with other disciplines, with the public and with having a “conversation” with the site. These methodological approaches of landscape urbanism suggest a new role for the designer as well as a new idea of site.

Second, the fourth chapter defines conceptual models and strategies to use in the practical work. The models and strategies are derived from the interpretation of landscape as surface and ecosystem, and not as the traditional interpretation of landscape as scenery. The rejection of landscape as a scenic image doesn’t mean that form is discarded. Rather, the models and strategies demonstrate that form and process don’t have to compete; an integration of form and process can rather inspire to new aesthetical and functional solutions. Models in this context mean basic working models that help to illustrate an approach or a concept. Hence, they have a potential to act as a tool in the design process. The associated strategies explain how the conceptual models are transferred to practice and subsequent form. The models and strategies presented in this paper thus illustrate possibilities to generate form in a landscape urbanistic context.

The models derived from the idea of landscape as surface are framework, layering, surface/inverted cityscape and program. These are associated with strategies such as patch, grid and fields, folding and infrastructure. The models derived from landscape as ecosystem are process, resilience and shifting scales. These models are associated with strategies such as succession, interaction-information and phasing flexibility. The strategies are illustrated by projects related to the landscape urbanism discourse in order to make them understandable and reflect on what they could mean in practice. Associating the models and strategies to landscape urbanism projects thus confirms and relates them to a landscape urbanism context.

A matrix relates the models and strategies to how they interpret the landscape metaphorically and operationally. Hence, the matrix includes the perspectives presented in prior chapters of the paper and thus functions as a summarizing and contextualizing agent for the paper. The matrix should not be seen as a complete overview of landscape urbanism methods and strategies, rather it suggests a contextualization and a basis for a conceptual framework regarding landscape urbanism methodology. The contribution of the matrix is to provide an idea of how landscape urbanism could be applied in practice. Further, the matrix may act as a structuring guide in making landscape urbanism methodology more accessible, but it is not a manual. The detailing of this paper is rather at a conceptual level. This is due to landscape urbanisms broad approach, and that its methodology is not yet that defined in order to present detailed description of its working methods. Nevertheless, the matrix could in the future act as a model in the mapping of landscape urbanism. Thus, the matrix has a potential to act as an instrument in future research regarding landscape urbanism methodology. Therefore, this paper not only provides results regarding an overview of landscape urbanism methodology characteristics, but also an instrument for future research.

Main title:Landscape urbanism
Subtitle:from a methodological perspective and a conceptual framework
Authors:Assargård, Hanna
Supervisor:Myhr, Ulla
Examiner:Lindholm, Gunilla
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2011
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:LARKU Landscape Architecture Programme, Ultuna (admitted before July 1, 2007) 300 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:operational landscape, flexibility, process-oriented design, interpretation of landscape, strategy
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Landscape architecture
Deposited On:29 Mar 2011 06:37
Metadata Last Modified:20 Jun 2016 14:51

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