The Landscape Guide

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The word 'Landscape'

The word "landscape" has two components: land+scape. Addition of the suffix scape converts a concrete noun into an abstract noun. Similarly, a horseman is a person who rides a horse and horsemanship is the [abstract] art of riding horses. When first coined the meaning of the word landscape was similar to our word region. It was value free.

Under the influence of the Ideal (or Neoplatonic) Theory of Art the word landscape was then taken up by painters and then by garden designers, to mean 'an ideal place'. It retains an evaluative connotation in the terms 'landscape architecture' and 'landscape planning'.

But in the late nineteenth century the word 'landscape' was also taken up by geographers to mean 'the product of geographical evolution' and, in this context, lost its evaluative connotation.

Landscape architects and landscape planners require a word with an evaluative connotation to describe the end product they which to achieve. They aim to make good places, not just any places. The left hand words in the list below are preferred to the right hand words in describing the objectives of the design and planning process

landscape - region

architecture - building

urban design - town design

environmnent - surroundings

Classical landscapes. Ialy (above) Greece (below)