Anti-architecture and anti-landscape architecture

La Leche 'River' in Peru

Christine wonders if I am anti-architect and I thought, after a little introspection, that a public reply would be worthwhile. I would like this blog to be an interface between architecture, landscape architecture, garden design and planning – and regret it if I come over as more anti-architect than anti- the other environmental professions. I have worked with architects all my professional life, though more as a teacher than a designer, and have often found them to be more creative and more technical than many other built environment professionals. But I regard the twentieth century as a bad period in the history of urban and landscape planning – and part of the blame lies at the feet of the professions. Another, larger, part is an unwanted consequence of professional specialization. But perhaps the largest part is the fragmentary arrangements for commissioning work. River control structures, for example, are commissioned by specialized river authorities with no mandade to spend money on anything except riverworks. They might even be called up before the auditors if they ‘wasted’ money on architectural or landscape objectives. But when an abomination has been created, it is simplest and blame the designers and they do not lack culpability.

The phogograph of La Leche River in Peru is described by Gavaton as a ‘now-channelized-for-agriculture river’. He is very right, except perhaps in continuing to call it a ‘river’ – unless he would argue that a dead dog is still a dog.

3 thoughts on “Anti-architecture and anti-landscape architecture

  1. Christine

    It would seem that the major concern behind this project is to mitigate the economic effect of floods (an estimated $200 million) of infrastructure and construction (bridges, buildings and roads).

    The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is funding a study to analyze;

    “comprehensive flood control alternative for the La Leche River watershed and will identify the investments needed to implement the project. In addition to flood control, the project will improve water conservation and storage efforts to expand irrigation and potable water supplies in the region.”

    The focus of the project funding is economic;

    “USTDA’s strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an environmental for trade, investment, and sustainable economic development.”

    However, under the definition of ‘sustainable economic development’ an enterprising landscape company could submit a proposal that considers the broader implications of a project with this objective.

    Peruvian’s are canal constructors by culture. Many of their ancient civilisations thrived because of this form of landscape intervention. Perhaps there were also landscape consequences in terms of degradation of the environment which are not so well-recorded? It would be interesting to look at this history a little more closely…

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    I should have done more research before criticizing the project but, despite the stone pitching, it would take a lot to persuade me that this is a context sensitive design. I think the design is all about water management and nothing about architecture, urbanism, habitat creation etc.

  3. Christine

    You might be interested in this paper on Early Monumental Architecture on the Peruvian coast published online. ( the following paper on La Leche flood Control Project. The papers will no doubt confirm your suspicion that engineered ‘water management’ practices have taken precedence over a more integrated approach to the role and potential of water to enhance lived experience within human settlements and urban environments.(


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