LI Landscape Institute Policies

Landscape architects would flourish in a web of enlighted policies for town and country

The Landscape Institute has some policies. There are two of them. One is about Brownfield Skills and the other about Climate Change. So far as I know, neither are major areas of professional employment for landscape architects. My recommendation is that unless and until the LI comes up with something better the Landscape Institute should pluck up its courage and publish the policies which Alan Tate and I helped put together in 1995. They are only 13 years old. As the Credit Crunch evolves into the Recession, the LI should do some good for the environment – and help its members expand their areas of operations. Nothing venture – nothing gain.

The 17.10.08 issue of Vista (‘News, views and analysis from the Landscape Institute’) has an interesting report on how the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) ‘has thrown down the gauntlet to developers and planners with its ambitious new eco-town worksheet on green infrastructure’. I hope this creates lots of work – but who will do it? There is also a report on Northala Fields ‘ a revolutionary new park development in Ealing’ designed by artist Peter Fink with architect Igor Marko of FoRM Associates. The item does not say who the landscape architects were.

The LI  ‘Position Statement’ on Climate Change suggests more Green Infrastructure might help a little and gives the following examples: street trees,  hedgerows, pocket parks, cemeteries, small woodland, city parks, green networks, forest parks, lakes, rights of way, regional parks, rivers and floodplains, long distance trails, reservoirs. The document would sound better if called a ‘Policy Statement’ but even then I doubt if the networks would be clamoring to interview the LI President. The examples of projects are a little better but surely none of them were initiated to combat global warming.

12 thoughts on “LI Landscape Institute Policies

  1. Christine

    Interesting times ahead! [We live in interesting times!]

    The following statment from the American Society of Landscape Architects on Climate Change makes for a fascinating read for an architect….

    Then again, the following definition of landscape architecture is enlightening also;

    “1. the branch of architecture dealing with the arrangement of land and buildings for human use and enjoyment.”

    Under this definition I have unwittingly practised as a landscape architect?

    The definition of architecture from the same source is;

    “1. an architectural product or work
    2. the discipline dealing with the principles of design and construction and ornamentation of fine buildings
    3. the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their esthetic effect.”

    There definitely seems like a fair bit of overlap in these definitions.

    What is a landscape architect’s opinion of these definitons and where architecture ends and landscape begins or landscape ends and architecture begins?

  2. stefan

    this is what i was taught on my landscape architecture course;

    traditionally, buildings were constructed so they fitted in with the landscape. out of necessity they were made of local materials, and they were constructed and sited so they would offer protected from the elements or take advantage of local resources. this meant they looked ‘right’, they blended almost unconciously with their surroundings.

    modern technology has allowed us to ignore these restrictions and led to a break between architecture and its surroundings. now, its not the building that is expected to fit in with its surroundings, but the surroundings that are expected to ‘fit’ the architecture. how you feel about this depends which side of the fence you’re sitting on i suppose. imo, its wrong obviously, and i’d like to see the emphasis swing the other way again.

  3. Christine

    I would suggest it was a little more complex that (the purpose of the building & the social context in which it was constructed also influenced siting and materials selection.)

    Note the incredible but different siting and design of these Greek monasteries:

    I thought of your beach house when I was viewing this project online in Australia;

  4. Tom Turner Post author

    I walked up to the monastery at Meteora in a thick mist (many years ago) and could see nothing. I think the monks gave us a glass of cold water. When we came out the mist had cleared and the experience was wonderful. The girl I walked with was called Cathy Morningstar.
    Regarding the context-insensitivity of International Modern architecture, I think it used to be, in part, a matter of principle. Just as artists and sculptors wanted to ‘abstract’ themselves from the drawing rooms and facades, so architects wanted to create a new and abstract design style. They wanted it to be free of stories and historic styles. Though not explicitly rejected, ‘context’ fell into the same category.

  5. stefan

    great pics christine.

    youre right, my original post applies mainly to ‘ordinary’ domestic buidings. religous and civic buildings would have been designed to stand out from their surroundings, emphasising their importance.

    ‘understanding the difference between created and natural beauty’ i love that. perhaps theres room for some sort of overlap?

    i’ll try and get a look at that project. unfortunately, everytime i use Flash my computer crashes! poor old things a bit buggy.

  6. stefan

    by the way, i’d like to contest the definition of landscape architecture given above. what about the landscape architect who works on the trail system for a national park, or creates a new area of woodland? neither of which has anything to do with buildings. i think landscape architecture, simply, is the arrangement of outdoor space. its about how one space leads to the next and how the feeling changes as it does so. it differs from architecture in that;

    there are no boundaries

    the transition between spaces is more fluid

    the spaces are subject to constant change through natural processes

  7. Christine

    Sure. I would agree. I usually think of landscape projects as not including architecture, or including architecture only as a secondary component of the environment ie. botantic gardens, urban parks in general, wilderness areas with minor landscape interventions (and huts) etc or even regeneration projects (ie. post industrial processes such as mining).

    But then, we architects happy turn our hand to many things, such as campus planning and masterplanning and also design building complexes and compose buildings with indoor and outdoor areas and atria all of which means we sometimes dabble in landscape (however inexpertly)!

    Because of this we also arrange outdoor space, consider how one space leads to another and how the feeling changes as it does so.

    There are boundaries in architecture (which can both be occupied and moved through and across) and architects rather delight in them. Especially the condition of being on the boundary for example a porch or a verandah or a patio or a deck or a window seat or a juilet balcony, or a conservatory or an outdoor room…..

    Transitions: well you can have a lot of fun with them! They can be as fluid or disjointed, as slow or as fast, as easily understood or as difficult, as transparent or translucent, as ephemeral or solid as you like!

    Weather does wonderful things to architectural materials that we are rather impressed by too, for example the greying of timber and the greening of copper. And you can always grow plants on and in architecture in a variety of ways!

    If there was no plant in sight – would it still be a landscape?

  8. stefan

    sure! i guess a desert is still a landscape, no matter how arid it is, and then there are projects such as West8’s Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam.

    when i said there were no boundaries, i should have said there don’t have to be boundaries. you can use them in the landscape too of course – to create tension and mystery, a sense of transition, or to conceal and then reveal views

  9. Christine

    You are right of course – plants solely do not define natural landscapes. (And it could be a moonscape!)Although most deserts do have plant life of some sort: this hard baked landscape is probably the most sparse in terms of ecological features I could find with a quick image search.

    Diurnal to nocturnal and seasonal variations adds another dimension. With deserts topography, geology, wildlife and the societies and cultures that the desert supports (both permanent and transitory)are all important.

    Created landscapes. West8’s Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam. Would they say it is an example of Urban Design or Landscape Design? How do you think they would distinguish between the two types of design problems?

  10. stefan

    landscape design in an urban context? thats a copout perhaps but the only short answer. i’d argue that a space is a space and the principles behind designing it are the same. how you apply these principles of course is a matter of context and can rely on specialised knowledge depending on what arena you operate in.

    heres another West8 design that perhaps blurs the boundaries between the two:

    i think i said it was like bringing a field into the city.

  11. Christine

    This is an instance of landscape photography….

    It captures something of the ‘essence’ of what it is that draws us in….makes us want to notice the big ‘dramas’ and the small ‘flourishes’ in nature.

    Movements in life in the natural world parallels movements in our own.

    Franz Leitner also works as an architectural designer (rather than architect?);

    “In working as an architectural designer, I have come to recognize that the exceptional spaces we inhabit deserve reverence to those who created them. I have great respect for Artists, Architects, Landscape Architects, Craftsmen, and the Patrons of these professions.”


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