Tuesday, 8 March 2011


A riddle: What do urbanism and landscape architecture have in common?

Not too long ago, the (still mostly academic) phenomenon of landscape urbanism came to my attention. It seems its supporters are trying to revive the notion (delusion?) of the tower in the park, as made popular by Le Corbusier. They're promoting a literally green urbanism, with urban agriculture, surface water treatment, green roofs, using native species of plants and often placing buildings apart from eachother in mini-parks instead of creating streets and squares. I love green stuff, but I'm not sure if this approach will be able to provide the social spaces needed to create good places for people to live their lives in.

Fighting against the pedestrian-friendly, anti-sprawl movement based on traditional urbanism called New Urbanism (their website is full of interesting information, if not very good-looking), the proponents of landscape urbanism don't seem to mind our society being entirely car-dependent, excluding anyone who can't drive. Part of their point also seems to be a sort of anti-planning,  ideally leaving the growth of city to the collaborations between individual citizens, but in reality, to commercial interests. Landscape urbanists now run the architecture department at Harvard and several other important schools, and should be taken seriously, especially by anyone who believes that walkability is important. 

However, they also seem to be very good at raising an ecological awareness and analyzing the land they're working with. In my opinion, landscape urbanism happened because New Urbanism lacked some central elements. Perhaps they ought to be integrated?

The Boston Globe's Leon Neyfakh's article called Green Building is a good introduction to the development of Landscape Urbanism for anyone wanting to learn more.

I also recommend all architects to read the article A Tire in the Park by Emily Talen, a critical, but far from one-sided analysis of this rather new phenomenon. 

Finally, have some fun with the Landscape Urbanism Bullshit Generator. (This ought to look very familiar to any of my co-students at BAS.)


  1. Thank you for this information! I started reading A Tire in the Park and will finish later. This seems to be quite opposite of the new Village Town movement:


    It also seems to opposite the theories in Charles Siegels new book, which is downloadable for free! Unplanning – Livable Cities and Political Choices:


  2. Here is another article continuing the thread of the discussion ov Landscape Architects v.s. New Urbanism ; Accused of gentrification :



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