Does It Matter What You Call It? Landscape Urbanism in ‘Scape 2012

“It doesn’t matter what you call it–the larger effort to engage landscape ideas and landscape thinking in broad discourse is what the larger disciplines of landscape, urbanism, planning and architecture need.”

Does the name Landscape Urbanism matter? Probably. In fact, it does–and the editors and writers behind this site have had numerous discussions about the use of the term “Landscape Urbanism,” capitalized, and “landscape urbanism”, lowercase, as well as the theoretical and pedagogical implications of the term’s rise to relevance over the last few decades. But as Jessica Bridger, an American landscape architect and critic points out in the latest issue of ‘Scape–and something I also very much agree with–while the dialogue about terminology is important, we also should pause that dialogue for a minute and consider that the larger effort to “engage landscape ideas, and landscape thinking, … in broad discourse,” is what our larger disciplines of landscape, urbanism, planning and architecture need.

This website and our online journal are the subject of review in the 2012 November issue of ‘Scape, out now. Ms Bridger writes:

“This review could be about landscape urbanism and explore that ideology and the appropriateness of its use as the title of a website, a supposedly emergent form of practice, a catchphrase or an entire issue of Topos and so on, but it will not engage in that debate head-on. Instead, this review takes a broader approach, and examine the much needed addition of a well-considered and comprehensive website about ideas that touch on landscape architectural themes.”

The fact that landscape architecture is missing a larger body of critical dialogue–and that we need to explain, simply and clearly, how the built environment came to be–is the underpinning hypothesis behind this website. Are we adequately describing what we do as designers of the built environment? Do people know how a place came to be? The striking fact that people find places like Prospect Park, Golden Gate Park, Central Park to be “natural remains,”–and not elegant, articulate, phenomenal constructions as equally complex as a building and its constituent parts–is a design and communication flaw that we need to address if we’re to continue to promote and advocate for the professions we work within. As Ms. Bridger writes:

“Landscape architecture simply does not have enough engagement with theory and history in a way that intelligently connects the possibilities and future of the profession with concurrent or past themes and ideas. This is true in the sphere of urbanistic thought, but is also equally as true for other segments of the profession. This condition is detrimental to the development, and quite frankly also to the continued existence of the profession.”

We couldn’t agree more–and we’re delighted that ‘Scape and Ms. Bridger understand the wider implications of the creation of this site. We must, be one of many steps towards the direction of a broader conversation about the way the (built) world works and what we imagine for the future of our cities and the health of our global environment. As she writes, “The names of these things matter less than the content, and if a convenient name enables the engagement or attraction of many, so be it. Viva landscape urbanism (.com).”

Viva, indeed.

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  1. Pingback: Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for the Week of Oct. 8 « Waltercomms Blog

  2. Does It Matter What You Call It? Landscape Urbanism in ‘Scape 2012

    This is a very good text, reflecting very important contemporary issues and developments in the field of Landscape Architecture. It is very important that the named topics receive more importance and space in different media, both the ones established by our ourselves and the wider public.

    Posted at 3:07 am on
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