Landscape Infrastructure and Urbanism

This seminar deals with the proposition that landscape is the appropriate model and medium through which to understand contemporary urbanism. This seminar aims to construct a theoretical position through a critical inquiry into contemporary ideas that deal with the interrelationships and oppositions between landscape theory and practice on the one hand and urban design theory and practice on the other. There are two key aspects to a methodological position defined by landscape architecture, that is fundamentally different to an architecture-based approach to urbanism. One is a different spatial conception, which relies on the organization of horizontal surfaces, and a focus on infrastructural space as the key element of urban ordering. This is in the context of a contemporary understanding of cities beyond traditional conceptions of center and periphery to a spectrum of structural conditions including urban sprawl, multi-nucleation, de-densification, etc. The other is a means of operation over time assuming a basis of dynamic systems, rather than static form. This ability to deal with temporal change makes landscape an appropriate model for contemporary processes of urbanization and the change and open-endedness of urban conditions. It requires abandoning the classically defined and historically determined dichotomy of opposition between nature (the wild, the dangerous and the untamed) and the city (safety, order, and civility), that is embedded in much historical and contemporary landscape and urban design theory and practice.The seminar will focus on urban systems and infrastructure for transport and circulation, water management and open space. The course will also include a number of guests including Professor Richard Marshall.Beyond their participation in discussions, students will make class presentations of seminar topics and complete a paper developed from their presentation.