The Landscape Guide

Landscape HISTORY & THEORY: History, Theory, Sustainability, Books, Vitruvius, Landscape Architecture, Manifesto, Lanship, Mimesis, Professional Oath, Landscape Architecture History and Theory CD, Definitions,

Definitions of landscape architecture

Landscape architecture may be defined as 'the art of composing landform, water, vegetation, buildings, paving and climate to make good outdoor space'.

Similarly, the elements of architecture are  walls, floors, roofs, ceilings and apertures, while the aims of  architecture are to create places with commodity, firmness and delight.

The above definition is not far removed from that given by Norman T Netwon in the forward to his history of Design on the land. Newton wrote: 'What, then, should the term landscape architecture be taken to mean? It will be understood here to mean the art - of the science, if preferred - of arranging land, together with the spaces and objects upon it, for safe, efficient, healthful, pleasant human use (xxi)'. In a footnote, Newton added that 'It is often incorrectly assumed that Humphry Repton and J C Loudon, in England, had earlier used the title "landscape architect"; both men styled themselves "landscape gardeners" (a title that Olmsted rejected), whereas by their infrequently used term "landscape architecture" they referred only to buildings in the landscape'. He is wrong about Repton having used the term but for Meason and Loudon it certainly meant the art of relating architecture to landscape. We have simply extended the original sense of the term to include the arts of relating architecture, landform, water, vegetation and paving to each other.

Professional body aims for landscape architecture (collected 2014 AD)

The ASLA About Page states that:: OUR VISION - Leading the design and stewardship of land and communities. OUR MISSION - Landscape architects lead the stewardship, planning, and design of our built and natural environments. The Society's mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education, and fellowship. What Is Landscape Architecture? Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of the natural and built environments. Types of projects include: Academic campuses, Conservation, Corporate and commercial, Gardens and arboreta, Historic preservation and restoration, Hospitality and resorts, Institutional, Interior landscapes, Land planning, Landscape art and earth sculpture, Monuments, Parks and recreation, Reclamation, Residential, Security design, Streetscapes and public spaces, Therapeutic gardens, Transportation corridors and facilities, Urban design, Water resources.

The LI About Page states that:: The Landscape Institute is the Royal Chartered institute for landscape architects. As a professional body and educational charity, we work to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the public benefit. We champion landscape and the landscape profession, through advocacy and support to our members, in order to inspire great places where people want to live, work and visit. We work with government to improve the planning, design and management of urban and rural landscape. We accredit university courses and promote professional development to ensure that landscape architects deliver the highest standards of practice

Professional body aims for landscape architecture (collected 2009 AD)

ASLA American Society of Landscape Architects: "The Society's mission is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments".

UK Landscape Institute: "The Landscape Institute is an educational charity and chartered body responsible for protecting, conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment for the benefit of the public. It champions well-designed and well-managed urban and rural land"

Other definitions of landscape architecture (collected 2000 AD)

'The branch of architecture dealing with the arrangement of land and buildings for human use and enjoyment' (Princeton WordNet definition of landscape architecture) [Comment: no landscape architects see their work as a branch of architecture]

'The development and decorative planting of gardens, yards, grounds, parks, and other planned green outdoor spaces' (Britannica Online) [Comment: clearly they have never heard of ecology, sustainability or the environmental movement]

'The science and art of modifying land areas by organizing natural, cultivated or constructed elements' (MSN Encarta definition of landscape architecture) [Comment: much better than WordNet or Britannica but so wide in scope it scarcely defines a subject]

'Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of the natural and built environments. Types of projects include: residential; parks and recreation; monuments; urban design; streetscapes and public spaces; transportation corridors and facilities; gardens and arboreta; security design; hospitality and resorts; institutional; academic campuses; therapeutic gardens; historic preservation and restoration; reclamation; conservation; corporate and commercial; landscape art and earth sculpture; interior landscapes; and more' (ASLA American Society of Landscape Architects definition of landscape architecture) [Comment: tells us what landscape architecture encompasses but not what it is ]

'Future success in meeting those demands upon those deterioration of the environment and waste of its resources will require special knowledge, skills and experience relating to natural systems, physical processes and human relationships, normally found in the practice of the profession of landscape architecture' (IFLA International Federation of Landscape Architects definition of landscape architecture) [Comment: this is not really a definition]

'Landscape architects work on all types of external space - large or small, urban or rural, and with 'hard' or 'soft' materials' (UK Landscape Institute definition of landscape architecture) [Comment: shorter than the ASLA definition but the same criticism applies]

The landscape architect must consider the relationships between a building and its surroundings, the topography, walls, roads, and planting. He must be aware of the influence exerted by climate, and the relationships of earth, plants, water and building materials to create an architectural landscape integrated with the natural and man-made environment' A E Bye (p xii Art into landscape, Landscape into art 2nd edition PDA Publishers Arizona) [Comment: wordy, but much better than any of the 'official' definitions of landscape architecture]

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