Saturday, February 19, 2011


Working in different contexts and understanding vernacular landscapes other than where we grew up is undoubtedly difficult. We talk a lot about sense of place and the concept of being rooted in a place. It makes me wonder if as designers we are more apt to rooting ourselves in place than the average person, or vice versa? We are trained to analyze and interpret place in more perceptive manner, but is it possible to understand the idiosyncratic elements of landscape foreign to our subconscious self? Just because we may be able to understand place more effectively, or know what components to analyze, does it mean that we actually can design well for it?

The landscape that shaped our being as children is better understood than a romantic European park or an Asian garden (from the perspective of an American landscape architect). If we extrapolate that concept out to a broader scale, to say, city wide or regional, how long would it take to truly understand a city or a region that is foreign to us? How does this impact our design decisions and the legitimacy/ effectiveness of proposed alterations to existing landscape infrastructure?

How important is it to learn about the invisible landscape processes versus the physical, economic and social landscape processes? Geospatial data, on site surveying, economic analysis and demographic data can all be effective in telling the story about foreign physical landscapes, but is there anything that can supplement rootedness in understanding what can't be seen?

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