A READER ON AN INTRODUCTORY LANDSCAPE SYLLABUS FOR ARCHITECTURE UNDERGRADUATES

june 11

“In the opening years of the twenty first century, that seemingly old-fashioned term landscape has curiously come back in vogue. The reappearance of landscape in the larger cultural imagination is due, in part, to the remarkable rise of environmentalism and a global ecological awareness, to the growth of tourism and the associated needs of the region to retain a sense of unique identity, and to the impacts upon rural areas by massive urban growth.

But Landscape also affords a range of imaginative and metaphorical associations, especially for many contemporary architects and urbanists. Certainly, architecture schools have embraced landscape in recent years, even though not long ago, architects could not (or would not) even draw a tree, let alone demonstrate an interest in site and landscape.
Today, however, it is not merely an interest in vegetation, earthworks, and site planning that we see espoused in various schools of designs and planning, but also a deep concern with landscape’s conceptual scope; with its capacity to theorize sites, territories, eco systems, networks, and infrastructures, and to organize large urban fields…

…Recently, a few landscape architects have shed their professionally defined limits to expand their skills across complex urbanistic, programmatic, and infrastructural areas. So it seems that certain elements within each of the design professions – architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and planning – are moving towards a shared form of practice, for which the term landscape holds a central significance…. “

James Corner,
Terra Fluxus
The Landscape Urbanism Reader – edited by Charles Waldheim – Princeton Architectural Press, New York

The above excerpt is a pretty accurate summary of the current trend in landscape architecture in the world, especially Europe and the Americas. No doubt, in this age of communication, India cannot be far behind. In the backdrop of this scenario, it befalls you, the architecture student, to be critical of his awareness of the field of landscape architecture and its influence on the outside world. Most importantly, you should be able to clearly identify the strong inter-relationship between open / natural and built space environment. It is with a view to studying this basic building block, that a syllabus on landscape architecture for architecture undergraduates will be discussed.

What is the objective of the landscape theory syllabus for TY students in Academy of Architecture?
To articulate this, an understanding of the intellectual development of the TY architecture student is requisite, so that we are able to identify how the syllabus of landscape architecture fits into the overall scheme of the BArch programme.

Primarily we understand that as TY students, you will not necessarily be a landscape architect in the future. You are in fact studying to be an architect. The architectural syllabus, in the past two years, covers basic space making, climatological design, and basic form and space crafting designs for single and/or moderately complex user programmes.
In the 3rd year one moves from a study of single buildings to a discourse on arrangement of more than two buildings. (Discussion on urbanity and town planning are still about six months to a year away.)

Landscape, even as an extension of architectural function and experience, has not been introduced yet. So, whereas, as a TY architecture student you have passed through spatial, textural, climatological and functional dimensions of built environment; as a TY landscape student you have, as yet had, none of the corresponding orientation in natural and open space environment.

In this context, the fundamental question we ask ourselves here is “what landscape architecture “skill set upgrade” should a student receive by the end of the 3rd year of a Bachelor’s course in Architecture?”
To answer the question we pose ourselves two fundamental questions which must be answered in the affirmative
a) Do I now what is landscape architecture?
b) Do I have adequate tools to explore it further if required?

With an understanding of this perspective we have considered a broad approach to exploring the basics of landscape architecture with you. Some of these “skills” will be taken up in detail others will be covered in broad strokes. The entire syllabus will be broken down into theory-workshops, lectures and studio-workshops. They are divided into –

The ability to understand the experiential quality of landscape elements; independently and in conjunction with architecture.

the requisite methodological and analytical tools to understand the lay of the land and what it implies in terms of locationing, experience and environmental implications for/of architecture.

the ability to see and foresee the influence of natural and designed open spaces in the larger context of the urbanity, regional master plans, and character of civilizations.

an understanding of the scope and influence of landscape architecture and landscape planning , in a time of great infrastructural and demographic upheaval in this country.

The entirety of landscape architecture as a field of study may not be completed in the current academic year, or even two years. It is important for students to understand is that each smallest workshop / project falls in the backdrop of a larger picture of contemporary open space design and management. The tools for which will be acquired here.

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