Study to legitimize landscape! A critic on the fine dutch tradition of (educating) landscape architecture

Paul A. Roncken, 2004, Study to legitimize landscape! A critic on the fine dutch tradition of (educating) landscape architecture, in: ECLAS (Jørgensen, K. & G. Fry), ‘A critical light on landscape architecture’, ,

  • Author : Paul A. Roncken
  • Year : 2004
  • Published in Book : A critical light on landscape architecture
  • Abstract in English : The hypothesis of this article is that the historic perspective of the Dutch tradition - as instituted in the ‘Wageningen School’ – shows an evolution into an objectifying design methodology that tries to legitimize landscape processes rather than providing aesthetic design motivations for site design. This legitimization can be seen as a unique quality resulting from the ‘polder model’ democratic principle of the Netherlands, but it can also result in an unnecessary discourse on the ‘why-question’ of pragmatic transformations of the landscape. This especially becomes clear now that the public and governmental demands for (historic) identity and authenticity merely focuses on the aesthetic imagery on a given location. The questions whether or not a landscape architect or team can both uphold a certain objectivity to legitimize and perform good site design is therefore relevant. In the Netherlands a landscape architect still has a reputation of being a specialised partner in the question how to legitimize various kinds of landscape transformations. The issue whether this reputation can be made accountable for is a critic, which is not yet discussed as such, but will be in the near future. This article will provide a few stunning gaps in the credibility of both the professional and the academic tradition. In the end it will be argued that although the focus on legitimization has it’s inconveniences, it is still the best option for a Dutch defined professional and academic identity. A choice for this focal point should be made soon, otherwise the necessity to contract a landscape architect for his of hers indispensable role in the design process will not be that evident (an artist, an ecologist or an urban designer will do too). And the fine art of the Dutch landscape architect will become an adaptable point of view and not a craft by itself, and may thus be an example of a bad strategic development of landscape architecture in Europe.