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Manifesto for an Unblinkered Landscape Architecture

  • We believe landscape architecture to be the most comprehensive of the arts. It has a theoretical and historical continuity running from ancient to modern times, with Senenmut, Vitruvius, Bramante, Babur, Le Nôtre, Brown, Repton, Meason, Olmsted, Jellicoe and McHarg among its leaders.
  • The six grand compositional elements of designed landscape are: landform, water, plants, climate, buildings and paving (= horizontal and vertical structures).
  • Lanship, defined as the condition of friendship between people and places, is our goal. Its characteristics include commodity, firmness and delight.
  • As an art, the practice of landscape architecture rests on the 'imitation of nature' (mimesis) in the classical (neo-Neoplatonic) sense of representing visual ideas about the nature of the world.
  • Landscape design does best when preceded by excellent landscape planning and sustained by good managers. It is therefore necessary to involve clients/communities and other professionals in the planning, design and maintenance of projects which aim to create lanship.

"Landscape architects of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your blinkers".

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We* believe landscape architecture to be the most comprehensive of the arts. It has a theoretical and historical continuity running from ancient to modern times, with Senenmut, Vitruvius, Bramante, Babur, Le Nôtre, Brown, Repton, Meason, Olmsted, Jellicoe and McHarg among its leaders.

The six grand compositional elements of designed landscape are: landform, water, plants, climate, buildings and paving (= horizontal and vertical structures).

Lanship, defined as the condition of friendship between people and places, is our goal. Its characteristics include commodity, firmness and delight.

As an art, the practice of landscape architecture rests on the 'imitation of nature' (mimesis) in the classical (neo-Neoplatonic) sense of representing visual ideas about the nature of the world.

Landscape design does best when preceded by excellent landscape planning and sustained by good managers. It is therefore necessary to involve clients/communities and other professionals in the planning, design and maintenance of projects which aim to create lanship.

"Landscape architects of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your blinkers".

* 'We', in this context, refers to Tom Turner, the authors whose work he has drawn upon so freely - and any landscape architects supporting these principles.

Notes

Note1: I have been wondering about a landscape architecture manifesto for a long time. The stimulus to writing this draft came from: Landscape Architecture: An Apocalyptic Manifesto: Is it Dead? which I saw in November 2004.

Note2: This is a manifesto in the defined sense of a "public declaration explaining past actions and announcing the motive for forthcoming ones".

Note3: The manifesto was compiled in the belief that although talented staff have joined the landscape profession and they have significant achievements, the profession has come nowhere near fulfiling its potential. The abysmal quality of most twentieth century urbanisation illustrates my point. If landscape plans were formulated in advance of urban development, the costs could well be lower and the quality would certainly be higher: both functionally and aesthetically. It can be done and it must be done. The key issue facing the profession is that we have not yet explained our aims and objectives to the public or the politicians - a task requiring simplicity, clarity, logical rigour and constant repitition.

Note4: 'Unblinkered' is used to convey the idea that landscape architects should keep looking at details but should also have an eye for the big picture: in historical, philosophical, artistic, political and economic terms.

Note5: Bob Jacobson has suggested an adjustment to the manifesto wording.

Medium public2 original

Illustration from Landscape planning and environmental impact design (p. 91). The caption was 'Picturesque theorists recommended a transition from the works of man to the works of nature. Applied to regional planning, picturesque theory suggests a transition from urban to rural to wild.

Medium three stakes original

Illustration from 'The blood of philosopher kings' in City as landscape (p 144). It uses Repton's trade card as a base and shows 'Three stakes driven into the heart of landscape theory'. The stakes are labeled Empiricism, Geography and Functionalism. They are all good things, of course, but they destroyed the eighteenth century 'designer's use' of the word landscape to characterise the end product of the design process. See note on landscape theory.