The Landscape Guide

Back to urban design

The Ten Tenets of Landscape Urbanism

See: Ian Thompson (2012) Ten Tenets and Six Questions for Landscape Urbanism, Landscape Research, 37:1, 7-26, The bold text below are quotations from this excellent article and the explanations in normal text are based on his, longer, explanations.

1. Landscape urbanism rejects the binary opposition between city and landscape

We must move away from traditional ways of thinking and speaking about landscape and cities.

2. Landscape replaces architecture as the basic building block of cities. Corollary: landscape urbanism involves the collapse, or the radical realignment, of traditional disciplinary boundaries

Landscape Urbanism can act as a solvent to break down the barriers between the other built environment disciplines, including landscape architecture, civil engineering and architecture.

3. Landscape urbanism engages with vast scales - both in time and space

Landscape Urbanism is inherently outward looking. It seeks seeking connections with the wider context in any specific development project.

4. Landscape urbanism prepares fields for action and stages for performances

We can evaluate the performance of a landscape as we might judge that of a motor engine.

5. Landscape urbanism is less concerned with what things look like, more with what they do

Landscape Urbanism is interested in systems, but asserts that it is not concerned with the aesthetic qualities of space.

6. Landscape urbanism sees the landscape as machinic

When landscape urbanists employ the term ‘machinic’... they are using it in this free and openended way to suggest notions of connection, coming together and assembly . [See  Gilles Deleuze and Wiki on assemblage theory]

7. Landscape urbanism makes the invisible visible

Traditionally, infrastructure is hidden to keep it away from scenic landscapes. Echoing Modernism’s calls for honesty and authenticity, landscape urbanists would reverse this situation.

8. Landscape urbanism embraces ecology and complexity

Landscape Urbanism draws upon the vocabulary and conceptual apparatus of ecology for understanding site and city

9. Landscape urbanism encourages hybridity between natural and engineered systems

Following from Landscape Urbanism’s interest in infrastructure and ecological functioning, it challenges the nature–culture dichotomy and promotes creative assemblages and hybridity between natural and engineered systetms.

10. Landscape urbanism recognizes the remedial possibilities inherent in the landscape


Gilles Deleuze and his friend,  Félix Guattari, have exerted a philosophical influence on the theory of landscape urbanism

A Deleuzian folded landscape at the Laban Dance Centre in London

Creased landscape