Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Map Regression

A great and informative post on some garden history from none other than gardenhistorygirl explores the idea of map regressions, in particular the Mikhailovsky Garden in St. Petersburg. This time-based approach captures moments of design through particular eras, showing how public space and garden design is influenced (although sometimes with a bit of a lag) by the stylistic whims of the time and place.




:: images via gardenhistorygirl

The interesting concept, and one we grapple with in historic preservation and it's many hot-button issues - is the concept of 'what (or rather whom) offer the most appropriate history to choose'. arcady elaborates on one approach: "It is a serious question in historic landscapes, which have multiple layers of time and meaning. Often, the most recent style is the easiest one to which to return. Traveling further back in time could require the removal of the top layers--layers that might include mature trees, or extant landscape features like ponds to which contemporary visitors have become attached. ... Rarely, though, a connection to some serious historic event, or the need to provide the proper setting for a significant piece of architecture, make the return to a more distant time an appropriate choice."

In the case of the Mikhailovsky Garden this was the 1820s naturalistic garden which erased most of the formality of the garden. This was restored to that form in a 2001 restoration effort. One wonders is the appropriate era of historical record is based on merit, lobbying, or ease of restoration...?

:: images via gardenhistorygirl

We can (and should) apply the same techniques and lens towards urban form as easily as landscapes (or maybe easier due to more complete documentation... and learn as well, with most histories, it is the interpretation that wins in the end. This is not idle chatter, but a future post on the very loud historical lobby in Portland is summarily being allowed to interpret history at the expense of good sense... more to come.

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