Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Works of Landscape Urbanism?

A long-standing question that seems to have arisen in recent days due to discussions on Ecological Urbanism, coupled with a reconnection to the Landscape Urbanism bibliography.  I've also recently rescued my book collection from storage - so have an opportunity to look specifically at some of the pertinent literature to glean what we could consider a 'working list' of projects that make up a coherent body of landscape urbanism.  Is Wikipedia correct in stating that "...most of the important projects related to this theory have yet to be built, so design competitions have been an influential stage for the development of the theory." Or is there something of substance out there.

:: Parc de la Villette Entry - OMA - image via OMA

For instance, again from Wikipedia (i know not the most definitive source - but I'm greasing the skids here) lists four 'projects' in the listing for Landscape Urbanism.
:: Fresh Kills Park - Field Operations - image via Fresh Kills

Three of these are competition entries, including the unbuilt concepts for Downsview Park and the OMA/Koolhaas entry for Parc de la Villette (the built entry being that of Tschumi).  Another competition entry that is often referenced, the Field Operations/James Corner design for Fresh Kills Landfill - is a long-term implementation that is technically in process, but may be years before it is realized. Finally, a surprising entry (I think, not due to the project but that I've never heard this associated with LU before) is Schouwburgplein, a wonderfully interactive plaza in  Rotterdam by West 8/Adriann Geuze.

:: Schouwburgplein - image via West 8

So two questions:
1. What are the elements required for a work of landscape urbanism ?
(i.e. scale, context, key concepts, necessary elements, temporality, products, etc.)

2. What projects would you consider a valid work of landscape urbanism?
(as opposed to, or differentiated from a work of another discipline: architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, planning, ecology, etc.)

:: Downsview - The Digital and the Coyote - Tschumi - image via Downsview 

Again, it may be one of those conceptual culs-de-sac involving the fuzzy distinction between a priori (conceptually defined) and a posteriori knowledge (proven through experience) and trying to retroactively apply intent versus finding those projects designed using a specific theoretical approach.  In fact, I suspect that may be the case, but it's worth exploration. And, as there are folks actively designing under the guise of LU - what is the product, historical or contemporary that explains the concept in physical form?

1 comment:

  1. I just graduated from the AA's landscape Urbanism program and the general consensus is that there are two approaches to LU, the American point of view and the European point of view. The american point of view, to give one example, deals with brownsites or areas in need of regeneration (fresh kills, the high line, toronto), whereas the European model takes on a more infrastructural and multi-scalarity point of view where landscape is what drives new urbanisms.

    A good project to label under the LU label is Hargreave's Guadalupe River Park, where the park is a flood-control device. While there is no urbanism going on here, this project, in the European mindset, would be the first step towards a new urbanism; first the landscape feature that controls the flooding, then the subsequent urbanization.
    Another project could be considered Weiss Manfredi's Seatle Sculpture Park, where the railroad tracks and the proximity to the water created a need for new infrastructure to bridge the city and water using landscaped planes that become architecture.


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