Understanding Landscape Urbanism


James Corner (2006) suggests that there is a need for the development of new ways of thinking and approaching design differently, by no longer seeing the environment and the urban as two separate identities, design should be constructed upon the combination of the two. To achieve a combined understanding of both landscape and urbanism, Corner (2006), suggests that the function of the landscape first needs to be clearly understood. The multi-dimensional nature of the landscape allows for it to be capable of responding to temporal changes, transformation, adaptation and succession. This observation is further supported by Waldheim’s (2006) argument as he suggests by considering the landscape as a form of horizontal infrastructure it can be better understood. Such an acknowledgement of the connection between landscape and urbanism has led to the development of the theory Landscape Urbanism.

Defined as ‘a creative form of practice’, Corner (2006) suggests that there are four provisional themes of Landscape Urbanism; processes over time, the staging of surfaces, the operational/or working method and the imagery. By considering how the processes of urbanism shape urban relationships, spatial form is understood in the context of how it relates to processes that flow through, manifest and sustain it. The understanding of a place means the understanding of what happens there (Kahn, 2005) by giving the process of time consideration landscape should not solely be considered in terms of natural systems but understood in social, political and economic terms.

The example of Corner’s ‘Fresh Kills’ demonstrate how by considering the landscape in the above terms bring benefits for design and the success of implementation in regards to producing a scheme which is able to adapt to future possibilities. By considering the arrangement of different environmental layers, Fresh Kills proposes the creation of vast park lands on an old landfill site. Through the process of naturally cleansing the landscape, the proposal proposes a growth emergence from past and present conditions to create a unique future, in turn changing how people experience reclaimed landscapes.

Reference and Images

Corner, J. (2006), Terra Fluxus, In Waldheim, C., Ed, The Landscape Urbanism Reader. Princeton Architectural Press.

Kahn, A. (2005), Defining Urban Sites, In Burns, C., & Kahn, A. Eds, Site Matters: Design Concepts, Histories, and Strategies.

Psychology Press.

Waldheim, C., (2006), The Landscape Urbanism Reader, Architectural Press, Princeton.

Image Source: Corner, (2007), Fresh Kills, available at: https://blackboard.ncl.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-2033783-dt-content-rid-6301513_1/courses/O1415-ARC8065/J-Corner_Freshkills.pdf, last accessed: 12/3/2015.

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