Conversation with Bruno Marques 3 Landscape Architecture education: a time for growth Robert Holden 4 Victoria Tower Gardens is the wrong place to build The Holocaust Learning Centre Hal Moggridge 5 Landscape as epitaph – The Vietnam Memorial, Washington Simon Ward 6 Book reviews 7 Letters 8 Calendar
2 ISSUE 2 APRIL 2021
1 Human cities Graham Marshall 2 Landscape Architecture education: New Zealand
Front cover charcoal drawing by Doug Patterson: Drinkstone Lake near Drinkstone Suffolk. 'This was the first of the landscape portfolio which developed into 2 metre wide panoramas. I was cycling by in early March, crawled through a fence and discovered this beautiful hidden lake. I drew there everyday for two weeks returning many times in the early evening throughout the summer. It truly changed the way I work and simultaneously I discovered the work of the artist Harry Becker. This was the 2020 Covid summer for me'.
Please contribute letters, calendar events, book reviews and ideas for articles. To request author guidelines or to be added to the mailing list contact email@example.com
Welcome to ISSUE 2 of the journal where we explore a range of topics in the UK and abroad including landscape higher education, memorial, and the study of psychology as a tool for shaping place in cities.
Concept : Edward Hutchison, Brodie McAllister Editors : Brodie McAllister, Edward Hutchison Graphic Design : Susan Scott
Issue 1 was read by over 2000, with 20% overseas and a reach to New Zealand.
Calendar co-ordination : Helen Tranter Social media/web development : Ben Betts
Disclaimer: The authors are resposible for the accuracy of articles and the views expressed; copyright of material rests with the authors and those they credit
For future publications, we encourage submissions from diverse groups and backgrounds anywhere in the world in order to create a global dialogue of understanding on what next for landscape. In particular, we would like to see students submit articles or propose a debate topic. Being a reader of Landscape Matters is not necessarily a passive activity and we invite you to submit material, propose debates and join in with planned ones. Please forward on the journal to anyone who might be interested. The next debate is on Environmental Art (15th June, 5pm): please express interest using our debates email address firstname.lastname@example.org
contested space where professional advisors can find themselves with very little control; almost a precariat themselves. This matters because we have a notion of being civilized and that brings with it a requirement for individual and collective moral principles; a need for virtue, consequentialist and deontological ethics. Interestingly, the climate crisis, along with concerns about wellbeing, pollution and food standards are now challenging the status quo of exploitation internationally. As a climax to these unsustainable effects, COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the fragility of our systems, particularly our economic urban models. It also provides an opportunity for us to do the right things before it is too late; to bounce forward rather than back.
THE LANDSCAPE IS a very contested space. From ecological processes to social relationships, species compete for resources to survive, and adapt constantly to changing circumstances. Darwin noted that those that cannot adapt, perish. He also observed that ‘In the long history of humankind (and animalkind too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.’ We are a social species and have learned to co-operate so well that we have developed a capacity for some of us to survive in every environment on earth. In fact, Jonathan Haidt states that ‘The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human co-operation – a force for construction & destruction.’ This is how we have come to control environments and create human habitats capable of generating resource surpluses to support thrival and not just survival. However, co-operation is not necessarily benign, and for the most part it is used for exploitation of both people and the planet’s resources. So, for the majority, the survival mode continues to be the norm in our bespoke human habitats. This survival existence within these urban environments means that there is a large precariat with very little control over the space around them. Artist Amy Casey captures a sense of this: ‘In my paintings, I have been trying to find stability in a landscape with no land. How can we find our footing in a world that seems to be constantly shifting?’ In a landscape of leaseholds, people have an almost universal lack of agency over this process, creating a city in the image of any wild forest we previously foraged. Not such a bespoke human habitat after all; we have created ‘urban jungles’ instead. These urban jungles are stewarded by public authorities, often working remotely, who are lobbied by private interests and supported by professional advisors. This is also a very
Artist Amy Casey ‘In my paintings, I have been trying to find stability in a landscape with no land. How can we find our footing in a world that seems to be constantly shifting?'
Part of our failure to be sustainable is that we do not recognise ‘place’ as an ecological process, continuing with the tradition of perceiving place as a problem, solution, product, or destination. The fundamentals of the ecological process are human evolution and the idea of adaptive fitness. We have managed to survive so far, but that is a costly entropic process. To be sustainable at our contemporary population levels we need to maintain a state of thriving. This requires a paradigm shift in our thinking and practice, but not necessarily a new model or models. Reflecting on the exceptional power of human co-operation, we need to widen the understanding of human ecology, evolutionary psychology and the importance of embracing and stewarding sustainable change (uncertainty) if we are to harness it effectively. Encouragingly, co-operation among ordinary citizens is emerging worldwide in response to the climate crisis and numerous other systemic issues. Some Governments like New Zealand’s have put wellbeing at the top of their national agenda with a Wellbeing Budget which will impact policy making across the board. This demonstrates the underlying soft power of communities of interest. For the built environment professions, this is an opportunity for reflection on future roles, not further competition within
Whitevale & Bluevale flats Glasgow
our contested space of placemaking. Current practice takes place in silos with uneasy and contradictory overlaps. Multi-or inter-disciplinary working is not enough. To make successful places requires joined-up ‘expertise’ underpinned by a common understanding of people, their needs, how they respond to places, how this shapes their behaviours and thus how they function as individuals and communities. It is fair to say that this common understanding, or wisdom, as Jane Jacobs called it, is absent. However, it can be found by embracing the well-researched disciplines of evolutionary science, public health and geography. Perhaps this requires a foundation degree for the built environment professions, and or post graduate degrees. Continuing Professional
Development programmes are an important starting point, but there is a difficulty with the setting of the curriculum?
Current practice takes place in silos with uneasy and contradictory overlaps.
Glasgow Tenements: is it the apple or the barrel that
In response to perceived ‘harsh’ environments, along with physical and mental wellbeing concerns, grass roots movements championing urban environmental improvement have emerged. In turn, there is growing research interest, funding opportunities and policy development emerging, particularly in planning. ‘Blue/Green infrastructure’ has entered common language, ‘LTN’s’ (low traffic neighbourhoods) and high street ‘parklets’ are popular in the UK since the COVID lockdowns and communities are planting trees everywhere. This feels good and intuitively appears to address key problems. However, while appearing strategic, these reactive ad-hoc solutions prevent the development of essential comprehensive and informed stewardship processes. We can consider this binary problem-solving approach as a continuation of the unsustainable outputs that have shaped our contemporary urban landscapes. Reactive traffic management circuit breakers in the context of tackling rat-running can be useful short-term tools but cannot continue to be declared final solutions to be walked away from by the authorities.
When professionals contribute to populist movements it must be on an informed basis. Communities act as exponents of ideas; professionals need to be the proponents of those ideas. That entails original thinking, peer review and interrogation of data. From a landscape perspective, it is understandably intuitive to regard the creation of greenspace, planting trees and exposure to ‘nature’ as beneficial interventions for mental wellbeing. Equally, there is a danger for confirmation bias in selecting evidence that supports old and unfounded professional narratives. The evolutionary biologist David Sloan-Wilson recommends that ‘It is always necessary to jump up and down on the scaffold of knowledge to make sure it is solid. If you are sceptical about a scientific claim, then jump up and down on it as hard as you can until you expose a weakness or convince yourself that it is solid.’ While there is space and probably necessity for a new urban placemaking discipline, it doesn’t inevitably need to manifest as a professional institution; it could underpin the existing ones, allowing some to remain specialists like architecture and for others like landscape architecture to develop a wider theoretical base. The key upscale would be to move away from the idea of ‘nature’ as something innate, special and separate from the urban human habitat. If we do not understand our own species, how we respond to places and the habitual behaviors that establishes, how can we design and steward places effectively or protect that important wider landscape?
The key to that understanding lies in evolutionary psychology and wider social sciences. A condition known as the ‘urban penalty’ or ‘urbanicity effect’ has been reported in research since the 1930’s and a relationship has been established between mental ‘ill-being’ and perceived quality of place. Importantly, there is a dose-response relationship between time spent within urban environments in childhood and risk of mental ill-health in later life. It is also important to emphasise that the urbanicity effect comes from exposure to the whole environment, both physical and social. So when ‘evidence’ claims that short-term exposure to nature is beneficial to mental wellbeing, this author is ‘sceptical about...(such) scientific claim(s)’. Prescribing doses of exposure is not the same as changing a person’s entire environment. Rather than following a medical model, we need to understand the complex causes of ill-being and seek to address them comprehensively at source. Much evidence about the value of ‘green’ exposure sets out to prove that thesis, rather than looking from the other end of the telescope to understand the urbanicity effect. It's worth pondering for a second why there is a need for tree preservation orders, protected landscapes and the spectre of a climate crisis if the thesis that we have a natural affinity with nature is correct? Wellbeing has become a hackneyed phrase in this discussion but is often misunderstood. It is a complex concept, that relates to individuals, community and society differently. It is also a place variable, returning different results for life satisfaction, happiness, feelings of worth and anxiety (UK ONS). It also occurs in two forms: hedonic and eudemonic. The former comes from maximising pleasure and minimising pain. It is a dominant but short-term welbeing strategy, and resource depleting. The latter comes from the pursuit of meaningful goals; ‘transcending oneself’ for the sake of the
This is the basis of ‘life history theory’ and where every project should start – understand people in their landscape before imposing solutions. greater good. It is a longer-term wellbeing strategy and resource sustaining. Where resources are perceived to be unstable, thrill seeking hedonic behaviours prevail and egocentric choices become the norm. Conversely, where resources are stable, reliable and predictable, people tend to be allocentric and better able to adapt to life stresses. However, a caveat to this is that children need happy and hedonic experiences in their places. The qualities of an environment, therefore, directly determine our life strategies and our wellbeing, emphasising the importance of place design. This is the basis of ‘life history theory’ and where every project should start – understand people in their landscape before imposing solutions. Landscape can sometime be a toxic asset and we need to understand the tipping point or tolerability. When, where and why do cues to impoverishment, threat and resource become psychologically intolerable?
Landscape Architecture education : New Zealand Conversation with Bruno Marques
KH: Having previous experience studying and working in Portugal, Germany, Estonia and the UK how would you describe NZ landscape architecture education? What is different about the way you teach here? BM: First you have to understand the history of NZ and obligations that we have here in terms of the Treaty of Waitangi. NZ was established as an agreement between the Crown and the Indige-nous people. We need to understand the biculturalism of this country. This transfers to the landscape architecture education. There is far more awareness of the cultural and social values in the way we teach. There is a great difference between Western ways, that tend to be more individualistic, and Maori or Pacifica collective understanding of life. Bruno Marques is a Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture and Programme Director for
KH: What does this approach look like in the everyday studio setting? How do you recognise these values in design teaching?
Landscape Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington, School of Architecture.
Krzysztof Herman is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at Warsaw University of Life Sciences and a Visiting Scholar at Victoria University of Wellington, School of Architecture.
BM: The Maori population is of course represented in your classroom, but the vast majority of students are Pakeha (New Zealanders of primarily European descent). We need to introduce them to the culture, demystifying some aspects of it, and making it more accessible. We introduce the values of Maori people during the first year. And those values are very much connected to landscape and ecology. Land, water and air define the Maori identity. In the second year we try to implement some of those values in design studios and in third year we go out and engage with communities-real people. This gets even more complicated in the last years of studies when we raise the bar and seek contributions from various stakeholders including the Iwi (tribes), City Councils, private investors etc.
We take on very current problems including: climate change, biodiversity, land ownership and the housing crisis. So the students need to manage various expectations. We engage with real cases and issues. We take on very current problems including: climate change, biodiversity, land ownership and the housing crisis. New Zealand is being presented to the world as this pure and green place, but this is actually far from the truth. We have many issues to solve here. KH: New Zealand landscape, even if not ‘pure’ is definitely unique, astonishing and rugged. Remote islands with one of a kind wildlife, volcanoes, steep hills, strong winds, tsunamis and earthquakes constantly adjusting the land… BM: New Zealand does have an amazing and diverse landscape, and yes, we definitely have to be aware that there are natural disasters occurring here. That’s why we put so much emphasis on resilience as well as post disaster relief. The questions that we might ask in design studio include: how do you design costal areas being not only aware of erosion but also changing sea levels and possible tsunamis? How do we deal with globalisation and intensive farming, deforestation, pollution of our rivers… Before coming to New Zealand I would never expect that nearly 80% of the rivers here are polluted and unswimmable, mostly due to high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. KH: There is quite a lot that landscape architects could improve here, and the market seems to be quite open for graduates, isn’t it? Even in the midst of the global pandemic there are jobs being posted and local offices are looking for skilled designers… BM: The market slowed down slightly during the first month of the pandemic, but we see things picking up again with many graduate positions being advertised now. Due to the housing crisis there is a lot of construction going on both here and in
There is a great difference between Western ways, that tend to be more individualistic, and Maori or Pacifica collective understanding of life.
comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. We became a successful ‘bubble’ and currently enjoy life that is very close to ‘normal’, having students on the campus. NZ lockdown was brief but harsh - very restrictive. What are your experiences from this period when it comes to teaching?
Australia. So there are many projects landscape architects can get involved with.I would say that at the moment about 80 percent of our graduates stay here in NZ for three to five years, initially practicing landscape architecture locally to obtain the professional registration. Several students each year become employed before they even graduate. About 10% are international students and they tend to go back to their homes and work there; the other 10% would right away head out to work abroad, especially in Australia, a far bigger market. KH: These young landscape architects are being trained by a very international team here at Victoria University of Wellington. The lecturers, like yourself, come from Europe, Australia, both Americas, Asia… How does this affect teaching? Do students enjoy and appreciate this foreign, imported knowledge?
BM: Well, it was a year ago when we had gone into the lockdown. And personally, as long as we were all at our homes, teaching and studying online, I found the distant methods of teaching feasible. Everyone was in the same position and
Above: Field trip.
BM: This is quite common throughout Universities in New Zealand. And I think it’s one of the strengths of our programme. We are deeply involved in the local issues but at the same time we want to prepare our students to be able to practice anywhere in the world and be global landscape architects. Kiwis love to travel and many of them, at some point of their career, will work elsewhere. The usual places of interest for them would be the UK and the Commonwealth but they would often choose to practice elsewhere, for example in the Scandinavian countries. KH: We know that not much travel is happening at the moment and for current students such plans will have to be postponed. Nevertheless New Zealand is in a fortunate position when it
Middle: Wellington School of Architecture, Te Kura Waihanga. Below: Studio crit.
initially quite motivated to make it work. What I find more challenging is the hybrid teaching. You have 70 percent of the class in front of you, and since they are so close and palpable, you tend to mostly cater to them. But then you have to still think about the students that are connected online, away and slightly forgotten. They might not be getting the same quality of education, unfortunately. We do provide some extra tutors that work with the students that are not on campus, but so much of design education is group studio work, learning by doing, absorbing the culture through talking with the other students… Right now we have several students who, due to borders being closed to non-residents, are completing their studies online while their colleagues are enjoying the on-campus education. This is not ideal and hopefully just a temporary situation.
Landscape Architecture education: a time for growth. Robert Holden
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE education has grown intermittently in the UK. The course at University College Reading began in 1930 and closed to new entrants in 1959, and was followed by The Polytechnic (Regent Street) from 1943 until closure in the 1950s. The University College London(UCL) course lasted from 1949 until the 1960s and that at Newcastle University from 1949 to 2003. The Reading course closed because it was staffed by the departments of horticulture and art, so in the words of the course director, Frank Clark, 'the Diploma became a constant source of irritation to departmental heads who had to ask their staff … to deliver… special lectures to students outside their departments'. The UCL course closed because at the end of the first joint foundation year, shared with architecture and town planning, insufficient students chose landscape architecture. A new head of the architecture school closed the Newcastle course in 2003. Eight of the eighteen institutions teaching landscape architecture since 1930 have stopped their teaching. Eight of the twelve Landscape Institute (LI) accredited universities teaching landscape architecture are now in architecture departments. And UK landscape architecture teaching lacks the breadth found elsewhere. Unlike Wageningen in Holland or Ås in Norway, no UK course is in an agricultural university. Landscape architecture education began at Harvard in 1900 and by 1914 there were courses at Yale, Cornell and Berkeley. They all continue and a significant academic community has developed. In the US it is conventional for leading practitioners, from Laurie Olin to James Corner, to teach. Academic excellence leads to welcoming the re-founding of courses at UCL (in 2018) and Newcastle (in 2020).Today in the UK
only UCL, Newcastle, Sheffield and Edinburgh are in the top 200 Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2021. All these universities are strong in research: research and education feed off each other. We need to promote academic excellence and Intellectual debate in landscape architecture. One way for British universities to do that is to work together, as do the five schools in Holland. They have a joint website, Dutch School of Landscape Architecture, with news and a calendar of events. Four of the five Dutch schools are research active and the website describes their research. It provides a wealth of information. In British courses there are usually four or five full-time landscape architecture staff, sometimes fewer. It is the full-timers who direct the course and develop research. But Sheffield has over twenty staff; Edinburgh has eleven staff. Therefore, it is good to learn there are 144 students on the new UCL Masters courses, with seven staff listed on its website. Academic excellence includes research. And the December 2020 BREXIT trade agreement continues participation in the EU Horizon research programme for 2021-27. Therefore, multi-lateral bids for research funding can continue. Of course, the quasi-scientific status of landscape architecture is always a challenge, however bids in environmental, science related projects are eligible. In 2021 there is just one independent department of landscape architecture in the UK, at the University of Sheffield. Departmental status gives an independent budget whereas the pattern of recent years has been of merger with other departments (e.g. Edinburgh in 2011 and Greenwich in 2012). Another issue is over-reliance of some courses on overseas students, especially from China. This is a problem at a time of pandemic: why go to a high Covid-19 country, when you can go to New Zealand or Australia and be taught in English? It is good to have significant numbers of international students, but the UK does need more home students. A British strength is the conversion courses whereby graduates from other disciplines undertake a two year Masters. These hardly exist in continental Europe (and in the States
conversion Masters are three academic years). But in the UK they ensure a flow of dual qualified entrants to the profession. All of the LI accredited universities have conversion Masters. In consequence, a majority from British LI accredited courses have post-graduate qualifications. So we should value Masters level education sufficiently. Accepting accredited Bachelors graduates as LI Associate Members after three years practice undervalues Masters education.
Eight of the eighteen institutions teaching landscape architecture since 1930 have stopped their teaching. Bachelor level. Clearly the opportunity is there for the landscape profession to establish similar courses.
However, British strength in the post graduate entry is matched by a decline of entries to undergraduate courses. Of the four London schools only Greenwich now has an undergraduate entry. Overall the UK has seven undergraduate courses in landscape architecture: in Germany there are fourteen. In Germany (population 83.1 million) there are c.8,000 state registered landscape architects while in the UK (population 67.9 million) there were 3,459 chartered members and fellows of the Landscape Institute in 2019. In Germany there is one state registered landscape architect for every 10,388 people; in the UK the equivalent is 1:24,024, which is less than half the proportion. Most Landscape Institute members join from LI accredited courses. One response to the issue of landscape architecture recruitment is to promote government sponsored apprenticeships. The first meeting of the LI’s Trailblazer group of employers met on 12 October 2017. Proposals were made to government in 2018 and in consequence a two year online course for a technician’s entry to the Landscape Institute began in November 2020 at Capel Manor College. This is at level 3 (A level equivalent). Discussions are continuing with the University of Greenwich for a Masters degree, involving one day per week university attendance and leading to Chartered membership of the Institute.
One challenge for universities is to fund the teaching of 20% of an apprentice's contracted hours which must be spent in formal training, equivalent to one day per week. Another challenge is that there are fewer larger practices able to support apprenticeships in landscape architecture compared with other development professions. Yet apprenticeship degrees are an opportunity to be seized and they have to be financed. In 1947, the Institute of Landscape Architects, under Geoffrey Jellicoe's presidency, persuaded the Cement Manufacturers Federation and ICI to fund lectureships at Newcastle (Brian Hackett) and at University College (Peter Youngman). Similarly, the Sheffield undergraduate course was set up in 1968 by Professor Arnold Weddle as a new department, with Northern Arts Foundation funding. These are precedents for future seed funding initiatives.
Above: Sir Geoffrey Jelllcoe at Thames Polytechnic in the early 1980s. In the 1930s Sir Geoffrey also taught on the University of Reading
Examples of such apprenticeship degrees in other professions include the MSc Spatial Planning at UCL, leading to RTPI membership - which is a part time MSc for graduates from other disciplines. But this is hardly new: Greenwich ran a part-time one day per week option until 2014, as did Birmingham in the 1990s. Another example is the Cambridge University Architecture School’s apprenticeship Masters (total 3.5 years), taught in periodic, two-week residential courses. The RIBA has validated eight Masters level courses so far and two at
This article deals with landscape architecture education. However, the Institute could also promote accreditation of courses in science, management, urban design and landscape planning. The LI accredits just one such course, the BSc Environmental Science at Sheffield Hallam. There are scores of such courses.
landscape architecture diploma (as well as at the AA); as ILA president he helped launch the UCL and Newcastle courses (Photograph by Roy Furness).
Below: Greenwich and Lille students: a week long charrette with ENSAP for the Ville de Lille, 2013.
So what opportunities are there? How about courses at Oxford and Cambridge and in Wales and Northern Ireland- one for every devolved nation. After all, Iceland (population 343,000) has a course in Reykavik. Promote them by finding seed funding as did the Institute of Landscape Architects in establishing the profession. And promote Masters’ apprenticeships. But the LI does need to talk to academics as well as employers. Why not set up an open discussion group like ASLA’s Education and Practice PPN? And what better time to promote landscape architecture education, given the planet’s environmental challenges….
Victoria Tower Gardens is the wrong place to build
The Holocaust Learning Centre Hal Moggridge
THE UK HOLOCAUST Memorial Foundation, a government
The inquiry revealed the profound weaknesses of this co-location. Inevitable damage to tree roots was disregarded. The site is too small for all the Learning Centre facilities originally proposed. Visiting pedestrians would struggle past Parliament along already overcrowded pavements. The adjacent Millbank bus and cycle lane would be obstructed by visitors’ coaches for 3-4 hours daily. Then the National Planning Policy Framework was ignored: it states that ‘existing open space .. should not be built on unless (a).. surplus to requirements; or (b).. replaced by equivalent or better provision…’ No attempt has been made to supply a substitute park. This is an undesirable precedent for using public parks as free locations for politicians’ favoured projects, however admirable- in this case supported by the public purse!
committee, wishes to build in Victoria Tower Gardens a large new underground Learning Centre approached through a pavilion, fenced-off courtyard and 9.5m high Memorial Building of bronze fins and steep mounding. This 2 Ha public park is listed Grade II, is the setting for the Houses of Parliament World Heritage Site, and has calm lawns beside the Thames within two rows of fine Plane trees. Though Westminster City Council voted against consent, a revealing public inquiry was held last autumn, the result due in late April. There was very moving evidence about the horrors of the Holocaust. Will emotion thus genuinely aroused be assessed to justify ignoring both government policy and the wellbeing of park users, those working nearby including parliamentary staff, local residents, many from low income families without private outdoor space, and tourists? The UKHM Foundation first considered various sites including the Imperial War Museum, only 1.2 km from Parliament, where there is already a Holocaust exhibition – an obvious choice. Their policy was ‘that a memorial on its own is not enough and that there must be somewhere close at hand where people can go to learn more'. In January 2016 the PM announced that ‘this memorial will be built in Victoria Tower Gardens’; a Learning Centre was to be in a nearby building. Then ‘in a moment of genius’ the 2 politician chairs decided that the Learning Centre should be underground in the park with the memorial. This arbitrary decision was adopted without public consultation or professional assessment before a competition was launched.
Plan of existing unpretentious park. River Thames on the right; paths with seats on either side.
This Holocaust Centre (UKHMLC) beside Parliament would require high security. There would be uniformed officials at each park gate guiding entrants, others on the high mound to guard against objects been thrown from above, and still more to assemble visitors at the entrance pavilion: 3000 daily visitors, all year, together with expected unscheduled visitors. Most would walk along a new diagonal path from the north, spoiling the park’s peaceful atmosphere. This popular park would simply be stolen from its current users, its childrens’ playground isolated and reduced, and the whole rearranged to function efficiently for this new civic function.
Left: Red/orange shows impacts of UKHMLC: steep mounds over basement (dashed); new central path always crowded with
visitors to the Holocaust Centre.
Proposed fenced courtyard to Holocaust Memorial; stair access down into the Learning Centre; 9.5m high bronze fins; trees on the left at
The park was created in 1879-1900 with public funds on condition that it be ‘provided for use as a garden open to the public’- a condition diminished by this proposal.
A crowd assembled on the level lawns.
Victoria Tower Gardens, managed by The Royal Parks, is now a serene green space for respite from city life. The consultants to UKHMLC themselves, admiring the park, wrote how they ‘met for a walk around the gardens and were collectively taken by the beauty of the place’; and how the Palace of Westminster’s ‘romantic array of towers gradually reveal themselves ... rendering the Gardens highly remarkable.' The park was created in 1879-1900 with public funds on condition that it be ‘provided for use as a garden open to the public’– a condition diminished by this proposal. The Gardens also fulfill democratic functions, often for interviewing politicians, sometimes where a vast crowd fills up the lawns in preparation for a demonstration of the peoples’ opinion to Parliament – a function which would forever be inhibited.
2 Existing park on a typical summer day. Buxton Memorial to the ending of slavery on the right.
Landscape as epitaph –
The Vietnam Memorial, Washington Simon Ward
MEMORIAL LANDSCAPE design is a subject I’ve long been fascinated with on both a personal and professional level. I entered and won my first competition to design a memorial just out of university in1989 and have more recently entered memorial based design competitions for the RNLI and to celebrate the life of Joseph Paxton, both of which led to more research in this area and only served to reinforce their appeal. What is it about these projects that makes them so special? They represent combinations of landscape, place, imagination and extreme emotion; a rich cocktail, which has created some of the most celebrated and potent cultural expressions through landscape of recent times. They often come about as a result of national competitions, attracting the brightest and most creative responses and have been at the forefront of contemporary landscape design in every era of human existence. The Vietnam memorial is one of the projects in this idiom and for me summarises the essence of great memorial design. I was fortunate enough to visit the site in 2018 during a business trip to Washington and my on site experience matched every expectation from the photographic and written accounts I had seen. In almost every case, the best examples are based on very simple but strong ideas, highly symbolic and evocative, with clear messages and strong materials but for all their simplicity they also contain something very complex and elusive and not easily explained. In many cases they can engender deeply profound experiences for their visitors, often combining a mixture of intellectual, emotional and spiritual reactions which is a rare and elusive combination to achieve. Remarkably the memorial was designed by an at the time unknown student called Maya Lin; a 20 year old undergraduate from Yale who got a B for her college design – the same one which was unanimously voted the winner by a panel of distinguished judges
in an International design competition attracting over 1420 entries in 1980. This is a lesson in encouragement to any students of art and design – and equally a warning to their tutors. Her design brought several startlingly simple and appropriate ideas together into a simple yet powerful and supremely appropriate response. A ‘V’ shaped design cuts into the land deliberately pointing to the Washington monument and Lincoln memorials, both epic white stone statues set within a huge axis – grand overwhelming statements and celebrations of the power of the state. Maya responded to this context by subverting it for this most unpopular of American wars, creating an anti axis, anti monument design, deliberately set off the main axes. It was also anti obelisk with their aggressive high rise phallic forms dominating the local skyline. Instead Maya chose a low key almost forgotten and relatively small site (at 0.3 Hectares) and cut her design into the land as a scar in the hillside, for this war and the American psyche – so much so that some veterans were even opposed to it. It is an act conceived to be deliberately anti memorial and the antithesis of the high rise gleaming white monoliths which surround it. The design also works incredibly well when up-close and personal. The scale of the memorial is very human rising from 0.2m to 3m high. The names are listed, beginning low and then as reflecting the casualties they rise and multiply up the wall where the visitor literally comes face to face with an intensely thought provoking ‘it could have been me’ image of oneself against the black polished marble wall. This has been inscribed with the names of each of the 58,000 soldiers who died in a conflict many thought should not have occurred, and of which many in the US became deeply ashamed. This monument is a simple startling and deeply symbolic paeon to a tragic generation of young American men. Built not out of the normal white stone of the surroundings, it is located in a quiet, dark and respectful place, lying serenely amongst the huge white monoiths – and prophetically, easy to miss. It is the perfect anti government, anti war statement, accommodating no flags or statues but still managing to attract millions of visitors every year as one of Washington’s most powerful, effective and meaningful epitaphs.
David Attenborough, A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future Ebury Publishing, 2020 Sir David Attenborough, now 94 years of age, has written a book which sets out his great concern at the decline of the natural world and the future for humankind. As a boy living in Leicestershire, he was an avid naturalist with endless curiosity and a deep love of the natural world. Studying natural sciences at Cambridge University, National Service with the Royal Navy and then a job with the BBC in 1952, his first production was a popular series called Zoo Quest. From 1969 to 1972 he was Controller of BBC2 introducing colour television and then Director of Programmes for BBC Television. Now he’s the world's leading Natural History presenter and programme maker. His vast experience and knowledge has resulted in a book of great clarity beginning with Part 1, his Witness Statement: a frank and clear warning of the impending environmental crisis and loss of the natural world. The synopsis of his career and observations of the natural world is intertwined with a summary of the Holocene, an epoch covering the last 10,000 years – which was a period of stability and expanding natural diversity. This is in contrast to a growing population, deforestation, expansion of farming and fishing and the rapid pollution of the oceans and atmosphere, all of which are having an adverse impact upon the planet. During his life time the natural world has declined by 31%. Now only 35% remains. The second part of the book, entitled What Lies Ahead, is a stark description of the Earth's environmental decline, due to take place over the next 90 years unless action is taken. Without a concerted effort by all of humanity this will lead to
the sixth mass extinction and a diminishing quality of life for generations to come. The third and final part of the book, A Vision for the Future: How to Rewild the World, deals with the means to halt the decline and reintroduce nature, so creating a more sustainable world. There are many well researched solutions that include renewable clean energy, expansion of Marine Protection Areas, replacement of industrialised farming with sustainable farms and the protection of tropical rainforests through financial incentives. The desire for ever increasing growth measured by gross domestic product (GDP) should be replaced with environmental economics. Within cities solutions include low carbon transport systems, movement by walking and cycling, creation of green spaces, tree planting to cool and purify the air, the improvement of mental wellbeing by incorporating nature into extended parks, green roofs and covering walls with cascades of plants. All of this will continue to play an important role in the future of a sustainable world. In conclusion he states, ‘The next few decades represent the final opportunity to build a stable home for ourselves and restore the rich, healthy and wonderful world that we inherited from our distant ancestors’. This book contains a useful glossary and extensive notes of the references and research quoted. Mark Loxton
David Jacques, Landscape Appreciation: Theories since the Cultural Turn Packard Publishing, 2019 Books on landscape architecture can be rather self-absorbed in what the designer wants. Here is one concerned with the landscape from the observer’s point of view – or landscape appreciation. The subject goes back to Uvedale Price, Immanuel Kant and arguably before them, but the book concentrates on the period within some people’s living memory. It covers landscape evaluation from the 1970s through to the environmental aesthetics of the present and dissects and pins down the many theories for rigorous examination. No person or theory is spared. The author has recently continued this critical exploration and published on how neuroaesthetics can inform the methods of landscape assessment in Landscape Research. The early chapters investigate the metaphysical assumptions of the Modernists like Geoffrey Jellicoe and Sylvia Crowe, and how they allied their approach to painters such as Ben Nicholson and sculptors such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. This part recreates the mindset of that optimistic post-War generation that adopted functionalism, neoPlatonism, the laws of the Cosmos and Jungian psychology, all perhaps rather strange concepts to today’s professionals, but vital then to a belief in progress towards discovering life’s fundamentals. Their approach needs to be appreciated in considering the establishment of the National Parks and the methods of landscape evaluation for planning roads, new towns, power generation and distribution systems and indeed the countryside as a whole.
The influence of human ecology was seen in environmental determinism, holism, and ‘blood-and-soil’ ideologies, but also in the ecological ethics of Brenda Colvin and Aldo Leopold. Jay Appleton’s prospect and refuge theory is minutely examined. The author is in general no admirer of ecocentrism and devotes much space to disagreeing with neo-Darwinian approaches. The middle chapters deal with the rise of post-Modernism in its various guises, and how the great edifices of Marxism, Modernism and science were deconstructed, only for a new ‘ground-up’ approach to all aspects of culture to arise from the uncertainty. Phenomena like landscape and garden conservation, the cultural landscapes approach (in which the author was deeply involved), and landscape characterisation are thereby seen in context. One chapter looks at contextualism, designer ecology, land art and other endeavours of the 1990s as interesting responses in the creative arts. Towards the end, part C, ‘Reflections’, provides an analysis of the contribution of philosophy in modern aesthetics. It reveals huge and irreconcilable positions and wonders whether philosophy, in its aims of declaring propositions ‘true’ or ‘false’ is the right discipline to pronounce on such matters in a field that is so full of shades and nuances. It concludes by suggesting, in the light of the chaotic state of landscape theory, what practical bases can be adopted in modern landscape assessment. Hence this is a serious contribution to landscape theory, with the material digested and expressed in plain English – it is very readable. It also has a well-selected range of illustrations and should be required reading for all those engaged in, or intending to be in, landscape policy and planning. Jan Woudstra, Department of Landscape Architecture, the University of Sheffield
Marc Treib, Thinking A Modern Landscape Architecture, West and East. ORO Editions, 2020 Modernism is an international movement in art and design that arose from transformations in Western society in the first half of the 20th Century, for example new technology and industrialisation. It is a departure from the traditional and Realism. Late Modernism is still very influential. Post-Modernism, which does not merely mean ‘after’ modern, rejects the basic assumptions of Modernism. Traditionalists often accuse such modern movement creations of being cold and abstract, but this charge lacks depth of understanding. In this publication, Marc Treib, retired Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley, reprises the early influence of the modern in landscape via Christopher Tunnard in England and the USA (and Tunnard’s 1938 publication Gardens in the Modern Landscape) and Sutemi Horiguchi, Japan. This is a rare cross cultural study, since we think of the modern movement as principally from the West. Christopher Tunnard laid out the need for design to reflect contemporary life more strongly and the influences from moderrn art. Horiguchi’s essay 'The Garden of the Autumn Grasses',1934, set a new direction for garden design in Japan with a strong connection to modern architecture as well as seasonal use of planting against a simple backdrop. Unlike Tunnard, he looked to 18th Century Japanese painting for inspiration. Tunnard’s interest in Japan and reference to Horiguchi’s work in his publications links them as thinkers on the same quest, but in different cultures and geographies.
The book is generously illustrated with photos and hand drawings and provides a valuable record of these two designers, particularly as many of their projects have vanished. The extensive bibliography is a very useful resource in its own right for those wanting to pursue further reading. Brodie McAllister
Mini reviews by Joelle Stockley Dara McAnulty, Diary of a young Naturalist Little Toller Books, 2020 Winner of the Wainwright prize, Dara is 16 years old and on the autistic spectrum. His beautifully lyrical memoir conveys the deep pleasure and peace he finds when immersed in nature. He shares with the reader his fascination with birds, insects, trees... Paolo Cognetti, The Eight Mountains Atria Books, 2018 This story is about Pietro, his father and a local boy. At the heart of it is not only the relationship they have with each other, but also with the healing power of the surrounding landscape. The protagonists are deeply affected and transformed by the magnificent, as well as threatening, mountains which dominate the village of Grana in Italy. We are immersed in the peaks and valleys of Pietro's life – it is exhilarating.
Many of your readers will already be aware of the BJP government's decision to redevelop the Central Vista in New Delhi (formerly the Rajpath) and the high levels of concern both within India and abroad. The proposal is controversial on many levels. Chiefly, the destruction of a widely acclaimed masterpiece of urban design by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, replacing the broad approach to the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President's palace or official residence) with blocks of government offices remarkable only for their massive size and questionable architectural merit. The second concern is environmental. Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world and New Delhi with its low rise buildings, trees, gardens and open spaces provides, if nothing else, a green lung. This development involves the removal of a very large number of mature trees and the loss of public access and amenity. In Britain - especially within the Lutyens Trust (set up in the 1980s to protect the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens) where the concern is particularly acute - the response has been muted and cautious for fear of making a bad situation worse. Whatever the politics of this, the fact remains that a major work of art is under threat.
. . .
....... Mark Lutyens
Landscape Matters Journal feedback This is brilliant! I will certainly forward it to like-minded potential disciples. I’ve long been waiting for a journal with a focus on the cultural, historic, aesthetic and esoteric landscape. Simon Ward, Head of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, UK and Europe, Atkins
. . .
Sally Marsh FLI Co-Director, High Weald AONB Partnership, and PhD researcher at University of Kent.
04 / 2021
E T T E R S The Central Vista, New Delhi
In the last year soils have been across all the news media from popular TV programmes, such as Countryfile, to Channel 4 News, newspapers and social media. In 2010 the European Commission produced a report titled ‘The factory of life: why soil biodiversity is so important’, but soils didn’t feature much in climate and biodiversity debates until the last couple of years. Since 2018 a raft of new reports on soil have been released from a range of national and international bodies such as FAO, IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform), IPCC, EEA (European Environment Agency), and CPRE. Soils hold three times more carbon than the atmosphere and are home to over a quarter of all living species on earth. They are the physical centre where issues such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, restoring biodiversity, producing healthy food and our cultural associations with land overlap. It is heartening to see the Landscape Institute’s (LI) commitment to equipping the profession with the skills to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies. We expect soils to form part of this programme, but in one prominent work area - LVIAs and LVAs - we are failing. I recently reviewed LVIAs/ LVAs produced by 16 landscape practices for housing development on green fields across four districts between 2018 and 2020. Not a single assessment addressed the impact on soils, nor identified soils as a landscape receptor. It begs the question, 'what do landscape architects see when they look at a development site on green fields?'. From this research it appears that the profession sees fields as a blank canvas on which to sculpt an idealized facsimile of a ‘natural’ landscape. Over many years I have walked across fields with ecologists, archaeologists, farmers and foresters. All see something slightly different, but all tend to look below the surface of things. Of course, many LI members share this approach, but these findings suggest that, in this particular work area at least, the LI’s ambitions to take action to address the climate and biodiversity emergencies will not be realised without substantial change.
05 / 2021
17 April / Society of Garden Designers www.sdg.org.uk Our Future Health – how to unlock the restorative power of nature, virtual conference 21 April / Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk Agriculture in the new policy landscape – support, the payments system, land management, productivity, sustainability, and regulatory reform 27 April / GreenSpace Scotland www.greenspacescotland.org.uk Green Heat in Greenspaces, virtual mini-conference 27 April 1.30pm / Johanna Gibbons UCL, Work in Progress landscape architecture lecture series Register: UCL Bartlett website
04 May 12.30pm- 01.30pm / RTPI Yorkshire www.rtpi.org.uk Changing approaches to flood management and the implications for planning professionals, free webinar 13 May / RTPI West Midlands www.rtpi.org.uk Open spaces – lessons learned from the pandemic, free webinar 13 May 6.30pm GMT / Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, Ryan Coates - Region 40: A National Park for the Anthropocene Epoch webinar. Register: www.csla-aapc.ca/events/ congress-2020-webinar-series 19 May / CIEEM South West www.cieem.net Botany for beginners, virtual training event 20 May / Harrogate Flower Show – Spring Essentials 21 May-27 June / Architectural Association Gallery www.aaschool.ac.uk Exhibition of paintings by Zoe Zenghelis inspired by metropolitan structure, landform and abstract tectonics 25 May / Dr Phil Askew Work in Progress landscape architecture lecture series Register: UCL Bartlett website FOLAR / Friends of Landscape Archive at Reading Women in Landscape Architecture talk series / 18.00-19.15 www.folar.uk/events May 4 Phil Black: From Adam architecture to toasted sandwiches Elisabeth Beazley in principle and in practice May 11 Diana Armstrong Bell Sculpting the Land, Landscape design influenced by abstract art May 18 Sally Ingram: A snapshot of modernity: the photographs of Susan Jellicoe defining the post war landscape May 25 Hal Moggridge: Brenda Colvin 1897-1981
06 / 2021
2 June / GLF Africa (IFLA) www.iflaworld.com Restoring Africa’s Drylands, virtual conference 6 July / RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 15 June 5pm / Environmental Art - Landscape Matters virtual debate
07 / 2021
5-9 July / National Association of AONBs www.landscapesforlife.org.uk Landscapes for Life Conference, hosted in Devon, virtual sessions across the week 6-7 July / Association of Public Service Excellence www.apse.org.uk Advanced Contract Management, virtual training 7-8 July /University of Birmingham www.playfulplanet.org.uk Conference on Children, Play and Space 8-9 July / CIEEM www.cieem.net UK Habitat Classification for Practitioners, virtual training event
Peter Hutchinson Concept bird’s eye view of a proposed M5 Foreshore residential development in Northern Ireland, blending with existing buildings. Ink drawing scanned and colour added in Photoshop.