A critical view on landscape architecture

Andersson, T., 2004, A critical view on landscape architecture, in: ECLAS (Jørgensen, K. & G. Fry), ‘A critical light on landscape architecture’, ,

  • Author : Andersson, T.
  • Year : 2004
  • Published in Book : A critical light on landscape architecture
  • Abstract in English : In the 1950ies, landscape architecture was, at least in my country Sweden, still lingering in the private garden, with emphasis on private life and the dwellings of individuals. The landscape architect often worked as a garden designer and with aspects as close experience of plants, garden cultivation. Qualities as variation within the confined areas of the private garden, development of attractive spots to be at (the pergola, the terrace) and an experiential circulation (garden paths) were high on that agenda. In the 1960ies, landscape architects took the step out in a larger landscape and involved in very many more ways in society culture. They came to work with the industrial development that was rapidly happening, and with extraction of natural resources and with infrastructure. Water power plants, rock and gravel quarries, freeways and other infrastructural projects were important commissions. Key words were large scale, environmental impact, landscape renovations, exploitations of the technical aspects of the landscape and how it could be used as a resource for society’s material use. The 1970ies arrived and brought a counterweight. Emphasis was put on ecology, nature, impact assessments, natural reserves and national parks. And instead of using the landscape as a resource by its materials, the possibility rose to use the landscape as experiential and social resource. Landscape architects working with design during this period were somewhat confused. Where—geographically—should their work take place? Their ideology was to be found in rural areas, a legacy from the previous 1960ies period, but their commissions now tended to be found in urban areas, towns, cities, housing districts. So the language of natural landscape was taken into the cultural landscape, if we express it that way, and caused some strange collisions. For instance housing courtyards were filled with ecological plantings and ideas of biotopes with multi-layered ecological plantings. With the 1970ies, the aspect of design in landscape architecture had more or less been lost. In the 1980ies, the pendulum came to a full swing with the cult of the city and urban life arriving. Since the professional group of landscape architects more or less had lost their design competence back in the ecological movement of the1970ies, the building architects took their step into the landscape architect’s arena. And since building architects seem to have a broader training in designing objects rather than space, plazas, parks and streets all over Europe, although commencing in Barcelona, were filled with objects as bollards, pergolas, elaborated benches and sometimes structures with little more meaning than being artful per se. In the 1990ies, again the landscape architects walked out in a larger landscape, but this time not into nature but within the city precinct. The Green House effect and the phenomena of the cities collapsing under the weight of vehicular traffic called for a new attitude towards urban design that the building architects, often trained at polytechnical schools, didn’t have. With key words as processes, ecology, spatial thinking and sustainability, landscape architects now have found a new arena for action—and for commissions. The sustainable city is today something beyond suspicion in all planning considerations Landscape architects, with their ability to work with time, thus has a self-written presence in urban design projects nowadays. This brief contemporary history outline is admittedly not without some generalizations. But—and at least-- it is hard to think of the ecological movement taking place in the time of the 1950ies, or the city cult taking place in the 1970ies, or the urban design movement taking place in the 1960ies.