60 303 Introduction to Landscape Urbanism


Requirements: admission to the MA program

Course content

Responsible teacher: Alice Labadini
Guest teacher: Kathleen John-Alder, Rutgers University, New Jersey

This course will be an intensive reading and theory course stretching over 3 separate weeks. It will include an introduction to the discipline of landscape architecture, an introuduction to contemporary theory, and a thematic component on the notion of "ground".

The first part of the course, led by Kathleen John-Alder (Rutgers University, New Jersew), will explore the term "ground" through a discussion of mid-twentieth century environmentalism in the United States, when practitioners like Ian McHarg and Lawrence Halprin began to reconfigure the practice of landscape landscape as an inclusive cross-disciplinary endeavor concerned with organizational systems and order. Second, it will follow this discussion with John-Alder's own work on "thick sections", or multi-layered timelines, as a means to reposition the role of history in the design process. Third, John-Alder will end with a discussion of her recent work on the Re-Build by design Competition and its exploration of the term ground in the face of rising water levels in the New York City region.

The second part, by Alice Labadini, will introduce students to selected theoretical fundamentals of contemporary landscape architecture discourses, and especially of what has been recently named "Landscape Urbanism". This part of the course will provide theoretical and historical perspectives on contemporary landscape design, and will especially look at how landscape methods and theories have entered and influenced urbanism’s discourses and design practices.

The third part of the course, also by Alice Labadini, will have a thematic focus and re-visit the notion of "ground", and explore this from different perspective. The students will be given theoretical references in the form of texts and lectures and will be challenged to discuss recent landscape architectural projects in relation to the idea of "ground".

Literature list will be available later

Learning outcomes

Students will gain insight in contemporary landscape architecture's general vocabulary, methods and challenges. They will acquire knowledge on the most fundamental discourses in contemporary landscape architecture's debates.

Students will acquire skills in formulating ideas and concepts for landscape architecture and position them in relation to relevant theoretical discourses and design references. They will also gain capacity to critically read landscape architecture projects and frame their critique within current and past disciplinary discourses.

General proficicency
Students will understand how landscape structures and ecological systems shape and influence the urban landscape and have a capacity to recognise such structures and systems in existing situations and use them actively in the reading and in the design of space.

Working and learning activities

The course offers both lectures and readings. The lectures will focus on decisive moments within contemporary landscape architecture discourses. The readings will be based on seminal texts from recent landscape architecture theory. The course will be actively based on group discussions and readings, where the students will be challenged to relate the theory to current landscape situations and speculate on the role of theory in current landscape design. The course exam will consist on the production of a conceptual model or installation and of a short accompanying text which should bridge the making of the model with the course's theory.