And/Or & Both – when more is more.

It would be unfortunate to lose the distinction between [1] garden design and [2] [3] landscape architecture much as the trend towards [4] interior architecture is actually unfortunate for [5] interior designers. The differences of focus and attention to scale provide a variety of design insights which are not replicated.

Why? Because the rich tradition of garden design is the foundation and a source of inspiration to landscape architecture, to urban design and to city design. In the future we may say more as gardens move from the [6] ground plane to vertical surfaces and [7] roofs. Parc Eduardo VII in [8] the city of Lisbon is an example of the axis and hedges of gardens informing the structuring of city vistas.

There is much to be said for the process of abstraction. Landscape architects, arguably coming into being with the [9] English landscape tradition, have evolved a language and way of working of their own, which is continually evolving. Viva la difference!

Image courtesy Artifolio

22 thoughts on “And/Or & Both – when more is more.

  1. Tom Turner

    Donald Schon, who served in the navy before becoming an educational and design theorist, wrote that there was no example of a successful naval gun having been designed by someone who had been trained or educated as a designer of naval guns. This has to be a worry for those who teach design. Does it follow that we should train architects, garden designers etc in ANYTHING but their chosen professions? Should garden designers be given responsibility for buildings? We need to remember that the most innovative and forward looking building of the nineteenth century was the work of a garden designer (ie the Crystal Palace by Joseph Paxton). Similarly, architects have made enormous contributions to garden design, though in saying this one needs to rememeber that the term ‘architect’ only took on its present meaning in the nineteenth century or thereabouts. Vanbrugh and Kent, to take two English examples, did not have anything resembling the training of a modern ‘architect’ and because of their interest in scenery might be more accurately categorized as ‘landscape architects’ than as ‘architects’ or ‘garden designers’.

  2. Christine

    I suppose this is the same vexed question that occurs in most professions or pursuits where the performative aspects come to the fore.

    At the heart of which is the question of the relative contribution of talent and education to what in music is or used to be called virtuoso performance. [ ] The meaning of the word has changed slightly in recent times, along with the primacy of the scienfic mind, to emphasize technical accomplishment over artistic accomplishment, rather than being a balance of the two – accomplishment.

    Perhaps, not all lessons that are valuable for landscape architecture might be learnt in the core skills of a landscape curriculum?

    Examples of landscape programs vary, ie the Masters of Landscape Architecture (two years) at RMIT articulates from the Bachelor of Design (Landscape)(three years), [ ] while the University of Nebraska has a five year degree program combining elements of Architecture, Horticulture and Agronomy, and Community and Regional Planning programs. [ ]

    Both programs allow students to enter the profession of landscape architect.

  3. Tian Yuan

    Christine, thank you for your post. I always think that Landscape architecture is a very unique profession which is partly art and partly science. And a landscape project requires team work. So a pricipal landscape architect will be a person who has leader capability, is good at art-work making and scientific thinking. As they serve their cliens by design, communication skill is also very important. All the skills mentioned above are impossible all depending on training in university.

    My other thought about this blog post concerns Garden design. I realise that garden design much more about ‘private’ space making or small space making, which is very different from urban design and landscape planning. But even in a city, spaces are for serving people all the time, therefore they are needed all the time. A urbaniation without garden deign may not be perfect!

  4. Tom Turner

    Christine, I accept the point about talent and education. But I think Donald Schon’s point is different. I think he means that an education sets a person to set about a job in a particular way and that this is counter-productive to creativity.

    Yuan, I think that architecture is also ‘partly art and partly science’. And, following from my response to Christine, I think architecture is ‘partly constrained’ by the type of art and the type of science which architects learn as students. There are a great many arts and a great many sciences. It may be, for example, that the future of architecture (sometimes called ‘biotecture’) lies with buildings which are made (partly) of living forms. This is a particular interest of Neil Spiller (the new head of school at Greenwich)

  5. Tian Yuan

    Living building, does it mean to make a building alive and can grow itself organic? Without any fundamental knowledge of Living buildings, I guess if architecture could find new material to build, then landscape architecture could learn from it a little bit in the future.

  6. Tom Turner

    I think the idea is that the materials used to make the building are alive – though it would be good if someone could genetically engineer a tree-like plant which ‘grows’ rooms!

  7. Christine

    I am thinking of the ‘biotecture’ as simply a building skin that is able to do something akin to photosynthesis or rather carbonsynthesis. So Neil Spiller and Greenwich University is advancing the science of architecture…but the next most obvious question is ‘what will this building look like?’

    Why is this important? Does it matter if it looks like this [ ]? Or Tom perhaps this? [ ] Or this? [ ]

  8. Tom Turner

    I think you are right that it is coming from biotechnology and materials science – so the pessimist in me, with an eye to the history of industrial design, thinks it will start by trying to look as similar as possible to traditional materials (just as artificial fibres began by looking like natural fibres and cars began trying to look like horseless carriages).

  9. Christine

    I wonder between when the car first started looking like a car rather than a horseless carriage?
    What is the intrinsic ‘car-ness’ quality that we would identify that would distinguish it from ‘carriage-ness’?

  10. Christine

    I believe you are right. Why?

    Carriage: [ ] see also [ ]

    1903 Stanley Steamer. [ ]

    Car: [ ] see also [×1440.jpg ].

  11. Tom Turner

    I suppose that style is just style and functional necessity is necessarily functional! Which leads one to wonder what a contemporary house would look like if the design were governed by functional necessity. I remember that modern movement houses were supposed to be functional but critics have ridiculed their achievements in this respect.

  12. Tom Turner

    A dinner plate can be decorated in many styles without changing its form or its functional ability to contain food. The difficulty in conceiving a house which is ‘purely functional’ would be in defining what the functions of a house really are. I fear this is indefinable, but the specification could be that a house for a family would accommodate 2 adults and 2.4 children, last for 70 years (three score and ten), require no maintenance, heating or cooling, collect and store its own energy, water etc. If it were to have a garden then it should be able to produce sufficient food for the family. I am looking for a parallel to the 1903 Stanley Steamer but I do not think it can be found! So if, instead, we think about ‘purely functional’ accommodation for city dwellers then I guess we are talking about a 4-storey walk-up apartment block, sadly.

  13. Christine

    As you point out decoration is different to both form and function. When we ask about the essence of something we are asking something about what form it will take, rather than how it will be decorated. ie [

    I am perhaps not so pessimistic about the house as you. Why? I don’t think the essence of the house has to do with how many people live there, how long it lasts etc.

    This is a secpndary level of an analysis that asks ‘what type of house will it be?’

    Childrens drawings are probably more informative in understanding this distinction.[ ]

  14. Tom Turner

    All agreed, but the analogy with the 1903 Stanley Steamer still interests me. The car was remarkably modern because it was designed for only one purpose (‘speed’) and I wonder what a house would look like if it too were designed only for a single purpose (‘existing’ – I remember working with a man who could not go for half an hour without remarking ‘this isn’t a life – it’s a mere existence’).
    Can you tell us about the above illustration? – it makes me think of a late-Byzantine town and, despite the grass and flowering trees, there is a notable lack of gardens. The Byzantine court was ritualistic and deeply Christian.

  15. Christine

    If we were to look for an essence of ‘house’ similar to the Stanley Steamer what would it be? An igloo, is considered a house by the inuit. [ ] However, the Yurt is considered to be ‘home-like’, but a dwelling rather than a house. [ ]. A Tipi is considered a tent, a dwelling although the name in Lakota also means house. [ ]

    So, supposedly there are many instances of dwellings (to ‘dwell’) which are not houses.

  16. Tom Turner

    Excellent examples, but would it be possible to add a contemporary or futurist example to the list? The Airstream caravan is in this category but it is not very ‘modern’ and it is not a house. Container City in London Docklands (built out of shipping containers) also has an elemental quality. The Huf Haus has a high (‘factory conditions’) quality, and is very much at the luxury end of the market. What could one say about its style: glazed Swiss chalet?

  17. Christine

    You are right the caravan is definitely not a house, but a ‘caravan’. See [ ]. The essence of a caravan is its ‘mobility’.

    The container city is not a house, and is actually not a city either. [ ] But it is a relatively large and permanent settlement of containers. So it is ‘city- like’. Potentially it has more in common with the yurt and tipi, because of its inherent ‘portability’.

    The Huf House is a house. In understanding what is meant by style the various definitions in wikipedia go someway towards this. [ ] The use as a dwelling its permanence are important characteristics. An important question to ask would be how ‘demountable’ is it?

  18. Tom Turner

    Historically a ‘caravan’ was a group of people travelling in convoy but a ‘caravansarai’ was a ‘caravan palace’ and functionally akin to a modern hotel or a city apartment block – though they were normally designed around courtyards and may be the origin of the madrassah and cloister building types.
    In medieval Europe the ‘basic form’ of a dwelling combined a house+land, as in the ‘manor’ and, for the poor, the ‘croft and toft’, ‘messuage and curtilage’ or ‘cottage and close’. It is this intimate combination of indoor and outdoor space which I think is missing from the ‘Byzantine’ illustration above.

  19. Christine

    Yes. My intention in selecting the illustration was not literal, but rather symbolic.

    It is possible to identify nature and culture in the illustration and to imagine the differing relationships of dwelling/habitation/shelter/nature and city/nature without foreclosing on either option. The nature illustrated could potentially be wild nature and/or cultivated nature.

    The non-specificity was important. Hopefully it is not so ‘Byzantine’ as to make this potential not operate!


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