Placemaking: A Dialog Between Architecture and Landscape
How can material choice convey meaning characterized by site specific characteristics as well as programmatic considerations?
Before examining the characteristics of a site and considering an architectural response or its materiality it is important to understand the basic relationship between a place and architecture that intervenes on it. Martin Heidegger’s “Building Dwelling Thinking” (1971) explains the most basic relationship between architecture and landscape with great clarity. Heidegger uses the example of the bridge to describe the link between architecture and landscape: “The bridge swings over the stream with case and power. It does not just connect banks that are already there. The banks emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the stream.” This explains the way in which landscape is inherently linked to architecture. Heidegger’s article presents the importance of the relationship between architecture and landscape. John Dixon Hunt’s text, Gardens and the Picturesque: Studies in the History of Landscape Architecture (1992), has the same sensibility about the importance of the relationship between the two, and expands on the history of garden design as a way of giving landscape architecture a non-arbitrary design basis. Hunt’s analysis of the history of garden design determines the driving force behind changes in garden design and landscape architecture to be cultural events. Rather than the form of gardens changing based on purely aesthetic purposes it is attributed to events such as the opening of gardens to a wider public. This opening helped move gardens away from a universal aesthetic determined by the wealthy few to an understanding that there is no universal aesthetic. Charles Waldheim asserts that there has been a growing disconnect between architecture and landscape in The Landscape Urbanism Reader (2006). Similarly to Heidegger Waldheim relies on pointing out the link that inherently ties architecture and landscape as a way of imparting the idea that landscape design needs to be more strongly considered part of architectural design. These all provide arguments for why the relationship between architecture and landscape must be strongly considered.
Linda Pollak and Anita Berrizbeitia’s Inside/Outside: Between Architecture and Landscape (1999) agrees that there has been a growing disconnect between architecture and landscape. They seek to reinvigorate interest in the relationship between the two by compiling a series of precedents which are each studied under the frame of five frameworks for the conceptualization of the relationship between architecture and landscape. In the text, On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time, Leatherbarrow catalogs materials which weather in conjunction with other materials, and the presents the idea that the weathering of materials could become a design consideration. His text can be connected to Pollak’s as she also explores materiality as one of the “operations” of conceptualization. Materials that weather over time can be used as a symbol to connect the project in theory to its functions. It is in response to the growing disconnect of architecture and landscape despite the fact that they are inextricably linked that architecture must consider the site not only as the place upon which structures sit, but look more intently at the dialog between the two.
“Building Dwelling Thinking”. Poetry, Language, Thought. Martin Heidegger. New York, New York: Colophon Books (1971)
Martin Heidegger’s article, “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” from Poetry, Language, Thought (1971), asserts that space in the landscape does not exist as a place until architectural elements define the relationship between the two. Heidegger supports the idea through the example of the bridge: stating that the banks of a stream do not exist as banks until the bridge connects the two. Heidegger’s purpose is to explain the way in which architecture and landscape are inextricably linked. Given the strong theoretical and philosophical background of the article, Heidegger is writing to architects with a strong understanding of architectural theory.
Gardens and the Picturesque: Studies in the History of Landscape Architecture. John Dixon Hunt. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press (1992)
John Hunt’s text, Gardens and the Picturesque: Studies in the History of Landscape Architecture (1992), asserts that the history behind garden design and ultimately landscape architecture is not just a matter of garden aesthetics, but that its form and changes in it can be traced through time and linked to cultural events. Hunt supports the claim by tracing the history of garden design back to the 1800s when gardens became available to an increased section of the population, and in this action became something that could no longer count on the normative value of nature. Hunt’s purpose in articulating cultural events that affected garden design in history is to give landscape architecture a non-arbitrary basis in design, and in doing so establishes the importance in the relationship between architecture and landscape. The dense composition of the text and the extended history of gardens aim the text at landscape architects looking to expand their knowledge of the professions place in history.
On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time. David Leatherbarrow and Mohsen Mostafavi. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press (1993)
David Leatherbarrow’s and Mohsen Mostafavi’s text, On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time (1993), argues for the inclusion of the process of weathering in the architectural design process. Leatherbarrow backs up the argument by emphasizing the temporality of buildings since they don’t typically have a usable life over one hundred years and of nature as a whole. The purpose of the text is to depart from design actions which literally attempt to look like natural elements, and move toward a material patina resulting from the actual action of these elements. The simple vocabulary and easy reading style in the text targets a general audience of those interested in the subject of materiality in architectural design.
Inside/Outside: Between Architecture and Landscape. Anita Berrizbeitia and Linda Pollak. Gloucester, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers (1999)
Linda Pollak and Anita Berrizbeitia’s Inside/Outside: Between Architecture and Landscape (1999) argues that a combination of factors have led to a deep division between architecture and landscape, and they construct a framework with which to understand the relationships between them. Pollak and Berrizbeitia define five operations each offering an approach to constructing relationships between architecture and landscape: the operation of reciprocity aims to subvert the predominant view of landscape as only the ground on which architecture rests, the operation of materiality critiques the tradition of landscape and architecture in purely visual terms, the operation of threshold rejects the reduction of transition from space to space to merely that of an abrupt crossing, and the operation of infrastructure places architecture and landscape as a place where natural or true ground no longer exists. The purpose of the text is to present a new approach to the representation of relationships between architecture and landscape in order to present opportunities for design outside of the conventional discourse. The text presents a fresh look at issues of representation using ordinary language aimed at attracting not only architects and landscape architects but academics and professors as well.
The Landscape Urbanism Reader. Charles Waldheim, editor. New York, New York: Princeton Architectural Press (2006)
Editor Charles Waldheim organized a series of essays in The Landscape Urbanism Reader (2006) through which he asserts that landscape design is central to urbanism in that urbanism’s theoretical and operational strategies find themselves within the field of landscape architecture. Waldheim supports his claim with essays which argue that architects as well as urban designers create objects, and that through the arrangement of these objects they create space, while they should look to conduct rather than control. Waldheim’s purpose is to point out design culture’s disconnect with landscape in order to make the reader consider the inherent connection between architecture and the landscape and to then question its current role position in relation to architectural and urban design. Waldheim uses a simple and concise language to target a general audience of architects and urban designers interested in landscape in the design process.
The Once and Future Park. Herbert Muschamp. New York, New York: Princeton Architectural Press (1993)