Remembrance of landscapes past

Cooper Marcus, C., 1978, Remembrance of landscapes past, in: Landscape, 22, 3

  • Author : Cooper Marcus, C.
  • Year : 1978
  • Journal/Series : Landscape
  • Volume Number (ANNUAL: Counting Volumes of the Year shown above) : 3
  • Volume Number (CONSECUTIVE: Counting all Volumes of this Journal ever published) : 22
  • Pages : 34-43
  • Abstract in English : All of us carry the memory seeds of childhood landscape – Those environments we encountered, smelled, dug in, climbed, and explored when our senses seemed most tantalizingly alive. These memories affect us in countless subtle ways, from the colours we choose for furnishings to the locations we choose to live. In teaching students of architecture, the author puts them through learning experiences to heighten awareness of their own environmental histories and to alert them to how the setting of the past affect their current environmental preferences and values. In 1977 fifty environmental autobiographies have been selected from a class of eighty students and simple content analysis has been done. Two major themes stood out in these rich and evocative offerings: the significance of outdoor environments and the need for hiding places. Despite the great variety of places and country of upbringing and of socio-economic class or culture represented in the sample, the themes remained more or less constant, which suggests that children seek to fulfil some basic needs in the physical environment --- whatever and wherever that environment may be. Wild playgrounds are important for children. Wild playground or nature areas should be incorporated in every grade school, but especially those set in the city. If more multi-family and cluster housing seems economically inevitable – and even preferable for many adult social and functional needs – how can children’s needs be taken care of? The private yard may have shrunk to a patio or balcony in such housing, but in return the community gains a communal open space. However, if we continue to landscape such spaces in the “clipped lawn” aesthetic, we will soon find children seeking hiding places under the backstairs, beneath the juniper bushes, and behind the garbage shed. With careful forethought to the needs of the exploring child and the danger-seeking child and the private, daydreaming child, we can revise our views of the urban and suburban landscape to allow for spaces where clubhouses can built, streams explored, and trees climbed. If we don’t, we are depriving the next generation of environmental experiences whose worth we have only begun to sense. Sad to report, we know more about the ecology of many wild animals than we do about our own children.
  • Comments/Notes : KEYWORDS: sense of place, children, play, memory, landscape design, favourite place.