Land AS: conflicting definitions of land – and disciplinary relations to it – in landscape architecture

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As its name would suggest, landscape architecture has, by definition, a relationship to land. This relationship varies between the prosaic – as a “steward” of the land – and the pragmatic – as a designer of it. However, while it often views land broadly in landscape planning and landscape ecological terms, its real agency is limited by a factor that it rarely considers: land tenure. The contradiction between large-scale ecological functioning and the limitations of the building lot is the basis for this paper.

Reflecting broader societal conceptions of land, inflected by the way the discipline operates, in this paper I work through a series of conceptions of “land” for landscape architecture: Land AS Boundary; Land AS Pattern; Land AS Surface, and Land AS Depth. In doing so, I seek to demonstrate how each of these geometric descriptors sits within the frame of land tenure and larger land-management practices, generally in ways that contradict the values of the discipline. Ultimately, I conclude by proposing changes in both practice and future areas of theorization about the relationship between landscape architecture and land tenure specifically, toward which I aim to contribute.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalThe Urban Transcripts Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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