LA+ Interdisciplinary Journal of Landscape Architecture University of Pennsylvania stuart weitzman School of Design Editor in Chief Dr Tatum L. Hands Creative Direction Prof. Richard J. Weller Production Coordinator Colin Curley Production Team Ellen Guanlee Xie Luke van Tol Jinah Kim Josh Ketchum Editorial Assistant Allison Koll www.laplusjournal.com email@example.com ISSN (Online): 2689-2413 ISSN (Print): 2376-4171 Proofreading by Jake Anderson Research by Eryn Boyce and Colin Curley Back cover illustration by Laurie Olin
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LA+ Journal, PennDesign and the University of Pennsylvania endeavor to respect copyright consistent with their nonprofit educational mission. The journal has attempted to trace and acknowledge all sources of images used in this publication and apologizes for any errors or omissions. If you believe any material has been included in this publication improperly, please bring it to our attention. Recommended citation: LA+ Interdisciplinary Journal of Landscape Architecture, no. 5 (2017).
identity |ʌɪˈdɛntɪti| noun (pl. identities) the fact of being who or what a person or thing is: he knows the identity of the bombers | she believes she is the victim of mistaken identity. • the characteristics determining this: attempts to define a distinct Canadian identity. • (of an object) serving to establish who the holder, owner, or wearer is by bearing their name and often other details such as a signature or photograph: an identity card. New Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd Ed.
In This Issue
Editorial tatum l. hands + richard weller
park street, usa jinah kim
identifying the anthropocene clive hamilton
how we became aliens ursula k. heise
learning from skopje 2014: architectural spectacle in the 21st century andrew graan + aleksandar takovski
homogenocene josh ketchum
who is my neighbor? mark raggatt
wait, where are you? Mark kingwell
branding landscape nicole porter
in conversation with martin rein-cano
identity is a verb dirk sijmons
molecular man josh ketchum
the best garden in ‘europe’ julian raxworthy
undoing design, producing identity victor ténez ybern + miriam garcía garcía
nature parks, memory, and identity jim igoe
the sea ranch: policing the picturesque nicole lambrou + eric lum
whose land? ellen guanlee xie
a tale of two bridges kerri culhane + molly garfinkel
in conversation with paul carter
the complex identity of built place edward s. casey
landscape architecture in china now rui yang + xiaodi zheng
66° 33’ n luke van tol
on design and the ends of architecture charles waldheim
munich paul preissner
a case of mistaken identity robert zhao renhui
sus scrofa domesticus colin curley Image Credits Upcoming Issues
Visualization of DNA nucleotide sequence
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identity editorial When landscape architects advertise their firms or explain their designs they typically foreground their ability to interpret and enhance a particular place’s identity. This, they say, provides people with a ‘sense of place’ and communities with a stronger sense of identity. Stemming from its pagan roots in genius loci (spirit of place) the creation of a sense of place is positioned, broadly speaking, as an antidote to the perceived placelessness of contemporary global landscapes. As such, the creation of a sense of place as the manifestation of cultural identity has been landscape architecture’s raison d’être and its main aesthetic contribution to the cultural landscape of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Generally, this reinforcement of cultural identity is a good thing: it helps fit the new with the old, it restores ecologies, it reassures people of their place in the world, and it galvanizes communities around signs of the familiar. Occasionally—such as when it’s shouted in German in the 1930s, or mass produced by today’s so-called ‘place-makers’—it’s not so good. These assertions of identity, the former racist and the latter superficial are most problematic because they can be used to rule out design that challenges the parochial, that seeks to invent new identities, subvert authority, make serious art, or even just have some fun! Of course, many of the most interesting things in life are out of place or displaced. This issue of LA+ is devoted to critically exploring the nexus between place and identity and, as is our method, we’ve gathered a global, interdisciplinary team to do so. Professor of Public Ethics Clive Hamilton opens with the rubric of the Anthropocene, arguing that this new epoch requires new identities as a western sense of self isolated from the surrounding world becomes increasingly untenable. Working in the emerging field of environmental humanities, Literature Professor Ursula Heise takes this further by discussing the uncanny notion that in its relentless domestication of the planet, humanity has paradoxically created a place that is now alien (and indeed hostile) to it. In terms of designed places that manifest, challenge, and provoke questions of identity we put forward several exemplary projects. Mark Raggatt explains how a critical postcolonial discourse of Australian identity has been invoked by a development featuring a building-sized portrait of an Indigenous man. And, with Venturi’s Learning From Las Vegas in hand, Andrew Graan and Aleksandar Takovski seek to understand what Skopje’s recent installation of figurative monuments says about contemporary Macedonian national identity. In a different vein, and at a different scale, we go backstage at The Sea Ranch in northern California where Nicole Lambrou and Eric Lum question the reality of this community’s famed eco-identity. And Nicole Porter examines the commercial
phenomenon of branding landscapes—a process that landscape architects are (not unwittingly) complicit in—with starkly different examples from Singapore and Norway. In a remarkable case of identity created through negation, Miriam García García and Victor Ténez Ybern take us to Cap de Creus (just north of Barcelona and from where Salvador Dali drew his landscape inspiration) delivering an ode to Marti Franch’s surgical removal of an entire Club Med resort so as to resurrect the spirit of the Catalan coast. Moving north, Dirk Sijmonds reflects on how for centuries the Dutch have collectively shaped their nation’s landscapes as a continuing work in progress. And in Berlin we speak with Martin Rein-Cano of Topotek 1 who, perhaps more than any other landscape architect in recent years, has challenged the way in which the aesthetics of a sense of place can in fact smooth over cultural difference. We also speak with author and public artist Paul Carter about his notion of ‘choreotopography’ as a way to get deeper into place and its performative dimensions. Two articles make a point of finding identity where you would least expect it. With deadpan prose to match his subject, architect Paul Preissner visits Munich, North Dakota, where he finds a powerful sense of place precisely because of its absence. And, in their discussion of Manhattan’s Two Bridges community, Kerri Culhane and Molly Garfinkel also find strong identity in the type of housing development lambasted by Jane Jacobs and, more recently, the new urbanists. With wonderful twists of meaning and metaphor, Julian Raxworthy relates the provenance of plants to cultural identity by documenting the humble garden of Sakhile Myeki in the informal settlement of ‘Europe’ in Cape Town. Also in Africa, anthropologist Jim Igoe crafts a personal reflection on the way that protected areas can negatively impact cultural identity in order to secure ecological identity. As a thematic subtext we consider landscape architecture’s professional identity through two lenses: the first concerning the identity of ‘design’ schools in the United States by Charles Waldheim, and the second concerning landscape architecture as a discipline and profession in China by Rui Yang and Xiaodi Zheng. And finally, to plumb the depths of identity and place, we turn to philosophers Ed Casey and Mark Kingwell. Casey deepens the mystery of architecture’s capacity to not just express but make place out of space, and Kingwell champions Kafka as a literary master of this issue’s theme, noting that identity is always something of a “fragile fiction.” And one, it seems, we can’t do without. Tatum L. Hands + Richard Weller
identifying the anthropocene clive hamilton
IDENTIFYING THE AnTHROPOCENE 10
Clive Hamilton is an Australian academic and the author of a number of books, including Growth Fetish (2003) and Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change (2010). He is currently writing a book on the larger meaning of the Anthropocene. Clive was the founder and executive director of the Australia Institute, the nation’s leading progressive think tank. He is currently Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra.
t is natural to understand the new by using the ideas we already have. How does it fit in? Where do I need to make additions or modifications to what I already know? But occasionally something comes along that is so radically unique that it defies our existing concepts. If we attempt to squeeze it into what we already know, then we cannot avoid distorting its meaning and significance. And so it is with the Anthropocene. We have known for a long time that humans have transformed landscapes, modified ecosystems and messed with the environment. Yet if we think that the Anthropocene has anything to do with landscapes, ecosystems, or the environment then we will miss its novelty and fail to understand its extraordinary significance. The new epoch is not about any of these old concepts. The Anthropocene concerns the Earth System. The Earth System is the Earth, taken as a whole, in a constant state of movement, driven by interconnected cycles and forces, from the planet’s core to the atmosphere and out to the moon, and powered by the flow of energy from the Sun. It is a single, dynamic, integrated system. It is not a collection of ecosystems but encompasses and transcends all previous objects of understanding including ‘the landscape,’ ‘ecosystems,’ and ‘the environment.’ The Anthropocene is a change in the way the Earth System functions, a change caused by human activities, most notably human-induced climate change, which affects not only the atmosphere but every ‘sphere’ that makes up the Earth System – the atmosphere, the biosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere (icy parts), and even the lithosphere, the rocky crust of the planet. Humans have been transforming their environments since before the Holocene, such as by the use of fire, and since then with broad-scale agriculture and forest clearing. Yet according to Earth System scientists it is only in the last 200 years or, to be absolutely sure of it, since the end of the Second World War in 1945, that the human impact has been so great as to rival the great forces of nature in determining the course of the system as a whole. So the Anthropocene is not just a further extension of human impact on the landscape or ecosystems, something we already know about but taken a bit further. Nor is it just a helpful organizing concept for our existing stock of knowledge about
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human relationships with nature. It is hard to overstate the profound significance of the arrival of the Anthropocene. It equals and exceeds the arrival of modernity and perhaps of civilization itself. For it threatens to transform the conditions of life on the planet and to do so for millennia. There will be no going back. For instance, once the massive ice-sheets of Greenland and the West Antarctic begin to melt there will be no stopping them and the several meters of sea-level rise that will follow. The advent of the Anthropocene forces us to reconsider our identity. We have become a force of nature, a geological force, with the power to alter the future trajectory of the planet. For the first time in its 4.6 billion years the evolution of the Earth is influenced by a willing, conscious, and ‘intelligent’ force. It may take several generations, but we will be compelled to rethink the human relationship to the world around us. Since the advent of modernity some four centuries ago, we in the West have come to see the natural world as a kind of inert backdrop to the drama of human affairs. History is understood as the story of what humans do to one another – of our progress, wars, politics, technology, and social upheavals. Even those who have recognized the role of the environment— environmental historians, political scientists, psychologists, philosophers—have viewed the natural world as that which is beyond us, ‘over there.’ Indeed, the sharp distinction between the Subject who knows and acts and the Object that is known and is acted upon is the philosophical foundation stone of modernity. Culture here, Nature there. It is through this bifurcation that we have learned to perceive ourselves as egos existing inside bodies that are isolated from the surrounding world by our skins. Such a perception of personal identity is both recent and western. In the Anthropocene this philosophy and psychology seem of decreasing tenability. We are implicated, even if for the time being we appear to be woven into the Earth System only in an abstract, collective way. Yet gradually the abstraction and collective nature of our involvement in the Earth System will turn into a very concrete and highly personal engagement. So future generations are destined to inhabit a different planet, one that will require more management—what landscape architects benignly refer to as stewardship—but for which we will need new philosophies. The fundamental questions humankind now faces are these: who will manage the Earth? What kind of principles will they follow? And how will the Earth react?
ursula K. Heise
how we became aliens 14
Ursula K. Heise is the Marcia H. Howard Chair in Literary Studies at the Department of English and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. Her books include Chronoschisms: Time, Narrative, and Postmodernism (1997), Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (2008), and Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (2016).
literature, Environmental humanities
n a short story called “Planet for Transients,” the well-known science fiction novelist Philip K. Dick describes Earth 300 years in the future, after a global nuclear war in the late 20th century. The story’s protagonist, Trent, wanders about on the North American continent in a heavy protective suit amid wildly proliferating fauna and flora. New animal, plant, and human species have quickly evolved after the disaster, their evolution accelerated by increased mutation rates. Trent, a member of one of the few surviving communities of old-type humans, looks for other remaining settlements of Homo sapiens to exchange gear, food, and water uncontaminated by radiation. When he finally finds a group of other humans, they are in the process of packing up and leaving for a new settlement on Mars. As their crew leader, Norris, points out, humans no longer seem to belong on a planet whose air they can’t breathe and whose water and food they can’t ingest. They have effectively become “‘visitors on a strange planet. Look at us. Shielded suits and helmets, spacesuits – for exploring. We’re a rocket-ship stopping at an alien world on which we can’t survive. Stopping for a brief period to load up – and then take off again.’” “‘We’re the true humans,’” Trent protests, seeking to reassert their old earthbound identity. But Norris demurs: “‘Not any more…In a way it’s what we deserve. We brought the War. We changed Earth. Not destroyed – changed. Made it so different we can’t live here any longer.’”1
Published in a science fiction magazine in 1953 amid the hostilities of the Cold War, Dick’s concerns about human survival in a radioactive environment might seem dated if it didn’t recur in much more recent reflections on humans’ relationship to the global environment. From Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy in the 1980s to Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves in 2015, speculative writers have again and again evoked scenarios in which a crisis forces humans to leave Earth and to return later only to find that they have become aliens on their own planet. This realization is not always portrayed as a disaster. Kim Stanley Robinson, for example, who delivered an epic portrait of the terraforming of Mars in a trilogy in the 1990s, followed up with a novel called 2312, in which humans have settled on several planets, moons, and asteroids in the solar system and in the process altered their own bodies and minds.2 These “Spacers,” accustomed to efficient environmental problem-solving in their small settler colonies, return to Earth to lend a sort of development aid to a planet still plagued by widespread socioeconomic inequality, military conflicts, and environmental degradation – a task that they find unexpectedly difficult to accomplish amid Earth’s populous democracies and divergent cultures. Among all their professional frustrations, however, the encounter with Earth’s nature becomes one of their most exhilarating experiences. One of the Spacers, Swan Er Hong from Mercury, who is used to a planet inhabitable only by way of domed habitats and space suits, “moved into the sun whenever she could. That was the direct radiation of Sol, slamming into her naked skin. It was amazing to stand in the light of the sun without
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how we became aliens 16
dying of it. This was the only place in the solar system where that could happen; the bioshell surrounding a star was as thin as a soap bubble.”3 In dystopian as well as utopian visions, the story of humans becoming aliens to their own planet keeps recurring in recent fiction. And not just in fiction. The same scenario, understood as a metaphor for humans’ changing relationship to their natural environment, has also infiltrated environmental nonfiction. Themes and narrative strategies from speculative fiction have appeared in many recent works that investigate humans’ impact on the planetary environment, from Alan Weisman’s The World without Us (2007) and James Hansen’s Storms of My Grandchildren (2009) to Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future (2014). Some of them, like Bill McKibben’s Eaarth (2010), quite explicitly cast humans as unwitting terraformers who have altered their own planet so much that it might as well be an alien one: The world hasn’t ended, but the world as we know it has – even if we don’t quite know it yet. We imagine we still live on that old planet, that the disturbances we see around us are the old random and freakish kind. But they’re not. It’s a different place. A different planet. It needs a new name. Eaarth…It still looks familiar enough – we’re still the third rock out from the sun, still three-quarters water. Gravity still pertains; we’re still earthlike. But it’s odd enough to constantly remind us how profoundly we’ve altered the only place we’ve ever known.4
No longer just a vision of the future in science fiction, the idea that humans inhabit a planet to which they have become alien because of their own ecological interventions has now become a way of understanding their identity in the present. That this story line was adopted in a book about climate change by as prominent a figurehead of the American environmentalist movement as Bill McKibben, the journalist, activist, and founder of 350.org, may come as a surprise. After all, the most influential concept that has shaped public debates about climate change over the last decade is the Anthropocene, the idea that humans have so pervasively reshaped global ecological systems that their impact will be visible in the geographical strata, and that they have thereby ushered in a new geological epoch distinct from the Holocene of the last 12,000 years. The “Age of Man” implies that no part of the global ecosphere is any longer exempt from human influence, even remote land areas and deep ocean layers where humans themselves have not set foot. McKibben’s earlier book The End of Nature (1989) had anticipated this argument by lamenting the demise of nature as a realm distinct from the human sphere, and some ecologists have argued more recently that this far-reaching transformation amounts to a domestication of the planet that leaves no part of it truly wild.5 Yet Eaarth suggests a different story line about the Anthropocene: not that humans have
definitively domesticated their planet, but that they have turned it into a foreign and unknown place, an alien habitat requiring an entirely new mode of inhabitation that humans have to invent from the ground up. Humans in McKibben’s recent vision do not have the option of leaving the planet as those in Dick’s short story do; instead, they have to accept and live out their condition as aliens on Earth. These conflicting story lines about the Anthropocene as the definitive domestication of Earth by humans or its transformation into a new and alien habitat reflect deeper shifts and disagreements among environmentalists about how to envision humans’ relation to their habitats. North American environmentalism—though not environmentalisms in other regions—has traditionally anchored thought and activism on behalf of nature in a ‘sense of place.’ From Henry David Thoreau to Mary Austin, and from Gary Snyder, Edward Abbey, and Wendell Berry to Terry Tempest Williams, environmentalist thinkers and writers have emphasized the knowledge of and care for local places as an indispensable condition for environmental ethics. From Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic” and Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann’s “bioregionalism” to Yi Fu Tuan’s “topophilia,” the intimately felt, deeply experienced, and carefully cultivated connection to the land, sometimes with spiritual dimensions, was imagined as the foundation for an environmental identity whose models and precursors were variously sought in indigenous, premodern, or geographically removed cultures such as those of Western Europe or East Asia. To the extent that humans were thought of as alienated from the land, this estrangement was blamed on the speed and rootlessness of modern society. American environmentalist thought drew part of its political power from its more general stance of protest against some dimensions of modernization, and a newly revived sense of place, so the argument ran, would function as a bulwark of resistance against the multiple deterritorializations of rapidly modernizing and globalizing societies. This anchoring of environmental ethics in a sense of place was problematic from the start, in ways that have been highlighted by environmental anthropologists, historians, literary critics, and philosophers since the 1990s. ‘Place’ or ‘bioregion’ was always hard to define in practice and ranged in scale from one’s own farm, as in Berry’s or Snyder’s imagination, all the way to a bioregion such as the Great Lakes, which includes millions of inhabitants and covers a larger area than some nation states.6 An identity rooted in place left little room for the multiple and fractured identities resulting from collective experiences of mobility and migration reaching back centuries, if not millennia, which cultural and political theory has sought to capture since the 1980s with such keywords as hybridization, mestizaje, border culture, deterritorialization, nomadology, diaspora, exile, and cosmopolitanism. From the refugee and the migrant worker to the tourist and the perennially travelling CEO of a transnational corporation, identity has long encompassed places rather than just one place: places of origin and places
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of destination, places to dwell in and places to visit, real as well as televised and virtual places, places to return to and places to escape from, borders as limits and opportunities, metropolises as threats or promises, the far-away as refuge or place of exile. And the translocal nature of environmental risks themselves, from toxification and biodiversity loss to ocean acidification and global warming, increasingly require from the informed environmentalist a knowledge of global networks as much as—or more than—a sense of place that focuses centrally on the knowledge of the local soil, vegetation, fauna, weather, and history. Against the prominence of a sense of place as the foundation for environmental thought and activism, recent environmentalism has held up the necessity of a ‘sense of planet.’7 Such a sense of planet has to combine awareness of globally shared ecological risks with an acute consciousness of how such scenarios are understood and experienced differently depending on the historical experiences, cultural patterns, and socioeconomic structures of particular communities. Environmental thought here links up with the rich array of discussions on cosmopolitanism and humanism in recent decades and, in the end, to eco-cosmopolitanism.8 With a long conceptual history reaching all the way back to Immanuel Kant and the Greek Stoics, cosmopolitanism by the beginning of the 20th century had come to refer mostly to the identity of most often white, male, European travelers with experiences of other parts of the world. Since the 1980s, the term has been broadened from this narrow meaning to encompass the far broader variety of experiences and awarenesses of migration, mobility, and travel in the late 20th century, and it now includes ‘critical’ and ‘vernacular’ cosmopolitanisms, among others. Many of these new cosmopolitan perspectives share an interest in hybrid identities and place experiences, as well as in the kinds of education that enable an understanding of experiences and identities beyond the local and national frameworks.9 Eco-cosmopolitanism, the environmentally inflected variant of the new cosmopolitanisms, is an “attempt to envision individuals and groups as part of planetary ‘imagined communities’ of both human and nonhuman kinds…to investigate by what means individuals and groups in specific cultural contexts have succeeded in envisioning themselves…as part of the global biosphere.”10 Ecocosmopolitanism, in other words, emphasizes the necessity of knowing at least one culture and one ecosystem other than one’s own, and calls for a combined awareness of shared ecological risks and far-reaching cultural and socio-economic differences. Generalizations about ‘humans’ or ‘the human species’ as they have emerged in the universalizing discourse around the Anthropocene need to be modulated with an emphasis on socio-economic inequality and cultural difference. Rather than anchoring environmentalist identity in the connection to one’s local place or in generalizations about humanity as a whole, then, eco-cosmopolitanism foregrounds that “everyone is a foreigner, almost everywhere,” as a German anti-racist slogan in the 1980s had it.11 In this perspective, the grounds for environmental ethics lie not in perceiving oneself as a native to one place, but as an alien to most of the planet. And as an alien among many other kinds of aliens. The emphasis in the humanities and social sciences over the last few decades on socio-cultural differences between human communities has been compounded in recent years by a renewed attention to our connections with and differences from other species, and even inanimate forms of agency. From systems theory and actor-network-theory and certain types of media theory to the recent wave of new materialisms, new vitalism, and object-oriented ontology, critical animal studies, critical plant studies, and multispecies ethnography, humanists and social scientists have explored varieties of ‘posthumanism,’ perspectives that question the centrality and exceptionality of humans. While these theories differ significantly from each other, all of them seek to redefine human
1 Philip K. Dick, “Planet for Transients,” The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Vol. 2: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (New York: Carol Publishing, 1987), 338. 2 Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312 (New York: Orbit, 2012). 3 Ibid., 103. 4 Bill McKibben, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet (New York: St. Martin’s, 2010), 2–3. 5 Peter Kareiva, Sean Watts, Robert McDonald, & Tim Boucher, “Domesticated Nature: Shaping Landscapes and Ecosystems for Human Welfare,” Science 316 (2007): 1866–69. 6 See Daniel Berthold-Bond, “The Ethics of ‘Place’: Reflections on Bioregionalism,” Environmental Ethics 22 (Spring 2000): 5–24. 7 Ursula K. Heise, Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). 8 Ibid., ch. 1. 9 Homi K. Bhabha, “Unsatisfied: Notes on Vernacular Cosmopolitanism” in Laura García-Moreno & Peter C. Pfeiffer (eds), Text and Nation: Cross-disciplinary Essays on Cultural and National Identities (Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1996), 191–207; Bruce Robbins, “Comparative Cosmopolitanisms,” in Pheng Cheah & Bruce Robbins (eds), Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation (Minnesota: University of Minneapolis Press, 1998), 246–64; Zlatko Skrbis, Gavin Kendall & Ian Woodward, “Locating Cosmopolitanism: Between Humanist Ideal and Grounded Social Category,” Theory, Culture and Society 21 (2004): 115–36; Gerard Delanty, “The Cosmopolitan Imagination: Critical Cosmopolitanism and Social Theory,” British Journal of Sociology 57 no.1 (2006): 25–47. 10 Heise, Sense of Place and Sense of Planet, 61–62. 11 “Jeder ist ein Ausländer – fast überall.” See Russell West-Pavlov, Space in Theory: Kristeva, Foucault, Deleuze (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009), 76. 12 Julia Adeney Thomas, “History and Biology in the Anthropocene: Problems of Scale, Problems of Value,” American Historical Review 119 (2014): 1587. 13 Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (New York: Random House, 2002). 14 Thomas, “History and Biology in the Anthropocene,” 1589. 15 Ursula K. Heise, Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). 16 See Arun Agrawal & Kent Redford, “Conservation and Displacement: An Overview,” Conservation and Society 7 (2009): 1–10; Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009). 17 Dick, “Planet for Transients,” 339.
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identity, sometimes as a part of social systems that include people along with institutions, processes, and substances; sometimes as a part of ecological networks with their flows of micro-organisms, nutrients, and toxins; sometimes in terms of interspecies relationships; and at other times in terms of human interdependencies with sets of objects and machines. In most of these approaches, the boundaries between individual and collective, human and nonhuman, or animate and inanimate turn out to be less sharply and less predictably drawn than older forms of humanism assumed – not so as to assimilate the human and the nonhuman to each other, but to show how they converge and conflict in the functioning of social and natural systems. These posthuman perspectives have developed in concert with rapidly increasing research and knowledge about nonhuman forms of cognition, perception, communication, intelligence, and tool use – and even culture and politics, as Frans de Waal’s findings on the complex sociality of bonobos have demonstrated. The detailed knowledge about other species’ ways of life has turned many of them from inferiors or mere natural resources into at least potential fellow citizens—or fellow aliens—with needs and perhaps even rights of their own. The growth of the animal welfare and animal rights movements over the last few decades has followed from the popularization of these insights, as has a new research area in anthropology. Multispecies ethnography, as practiced by Eben Kirksey, Stefan Helmreich, and Anna Tsing, among others, takes another look at human societies as, in reality, communities made up of humans and nonhumans, from the micro-organisms that inhabit our guts and the viruses that cause disease all the way to the plants and animals we grow for food, keep as pets, or worship as divinities. Whether human identity, in such perspectives, turns out to depend crucially on microbes12 or on plants that use humans as tools in their species’ self-propagation,13 it diverges sharply from classical humanism and conventional definitions of personhood and society.14 For an environmentalist perspective that is informed by these insights, the notion of the Anthropocene may well turn out to be less useful than the idea of “multispecies justice.”15 As environmentalists seek to mitigate and manage humans’ impact on local and global ecosystems, questions of socioeconomic and cultural differences as well as species differences inevitably keep emerging. Nowhere is this more salient than in the decades-long conflicts over the establishment of national parks and wildlife refuges for endangered species in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by conservation organizations that are mostly based in Europe and North America. Even as conservationists have sometimes found themselves in conflicts with animal rights advocates who accuse them of not caring enough for individual animals (especially those that belong to introduced or invasive species), they have also been attacked by environmental justice advocates for privileging the well-being of endangered animals and plants over that of
humans at risk. Local communities who have been displaced from areas they had inhabited sustainably for centuries or even millennia, and barred from resource uses necessary to their survival, have often become hostile to conservation efforts. In their perspective, the interventions of conservation organizations from the global North amount to nothing less than “green imperialism,” the continuation of colonial forms of domination under an environmentalist umbrella.16 In this context, multispecies justice seeks to combine justice for human communities with justice for nonhumans by relying on the insights of the cosmopolitanisms and posthumanisms of the last few decades – environmental diplomacy in a context of socio-economic and cultural differences as well as species differences. What such multispecies diplomacy might look like is suggested by the ending of Dick’s short story “Planet for Transients.” In view of the impending resettlement of old-style humans to Mars, Trent expresses a somewhat mournful wish that they might be able to return at some future time, at least to visit. In response, “Norris smiled ruefully. ‘I hope so too. But we’ll have to get permission from the inhabitants – permission to land…We’ll have to ask them if it’s all right. And they may say no.’”17 One of the most important implications of reconceiving ourselves as ecological aliens operating in a framework of multispecies justice, this ending suggests, is to ask permission before intervening – and to leave open to the social, cultural, or species other the possibility of saying no.
Mark Kingwell is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine in New York. His articles on politics, architecture, and art have appeared both in academic journals and mainstream publications such as Harper’s, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian. Kingwell has authored 17 books of political, cultural, and aesthetic theory, including Better Living (1998), The World We Want (2000), Concrete Reveries (2008), and Glenn Gould (2009). His most recent books are the essay collections Unruly Voices (2012) and Measure Yourself Against the Earth (2015).
“I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business.”1
n senses both straightforward and perverse, the identification of specific location with identity is a key vector of understanding and communication. Positively, we recognize the truth of Neil Young’s lyric about “a town in north Ontario,” namely that “all [his] changes were there.” Or consider the musings of the narrator in a Lionel Davidson novel: “He could see at this moment a certain gracefully fluted pillar, of blackened and waxy stone, and feel under his trailing ten-year-old hand the familiar seams and pockmarks as he rounded the corner from school. One’s consciousness was built of such things.”2 Here, place is identity. But the matter is complicated by negative associations. These days, for example, the superficially innocuous question “Where are you from?” has become a coded red-flag of ethnic or racial judgment, a potential microaggression all on its own. The implication is that the person being questioned is from somewhere else, a judgment presumably based on accent or skin color, and hence does not really belong here, wherever ‘here’ is, in an originary way. “Where are you from?” is not a request for information but a pejorative judgment of unacceptable otherness. Thus, we can speak illuminatingly about how place shapes identity, as in: I am who I am because I have internalized the landscape of the Schwarzwald or the Great Plains; I am who I am because I have been marked permanently by a specific urban fabric, Detroit or Barcelona or Reykjavik. Conversely, I may feel my identity slipping or threatened because I have been de-centered from such a sense of place. Globalized rapid-movement existence, a world of identical airports and shopping districts, can threaten one’s grasp of self. I become an air person, a permanent migrant, not quite there in the metaphysical sense because I am never quite anywhere in the physical sense. The premise of all such investigation is that identity, though it can be twisted and reshaped to some degree
wait, where are you?
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by will and imagination, or deranged by dislocation and exile, is securely related to location. By contrast, very few people, even philosophers, have been able to say where identity itself is located. In fact, most philosophers now subscribe to the view that identity claims are overrated.3 We may feel a keen sense of need for identity, and worry that loosening its bonds will undermine responsibility and stability, but the arguments in favor of this need are hard to sustain. Suppose you enter a teleportation device and two, rather than one, versions of yourself emerge at the receiving pod. Which of these is you? Both? Neither? None of the possible answers are good ones; thus the premise—that a stable self-identical person entered the sending pod—becomes suspect. Identity is fragile fiction, based on loosely gathered memories and relative stability of appearance. (On the latter issue, just ask Gregor Samsa how fragile!) The good news? With personal identity properly destabilized, we should worry less about self-interest and death. Good luck with that. Extended Mind But now we see that a different question, a very old one, is hiding nearby. Is my sense of ‘self,’ however fragile, somehow linked to the world? It seems to be, but by what route? Am I—is my mind—in my head, my body, out of my body, or what? Here we encounter the so-called ‘extended mind’ – that is, the mind conceived as going beyond the spatial and temporal limits of my present bodily existence.4 Extended mind intersects with broader notions of place and non-place. Usually the imagined extensions of mind are minor: using a cane, writing myself a note left on the refrigerator, etc. What if the extensions were far more textured and structured than that? What if, indeed, we consider the continuing truth of Marshall McLuhan’s claim that communications media of all sorts are, themselves, ‘extensions of man’? These extensions of extension complicate the issue of identity considerably. We can now see that there is a troubling, but fascinating, fault line between identity and selfhood. That is, standard, technical discussions of personal identity (i.e., how can I claim I am Person X at Time T1 and also again at Time T2?) are distinct from larger questions of selfhood of the traditional sort (i.e., who am I?).
and technological conditions neglects the background issues, focusing on the alleged benefits or drawbacks of interfaces and specific platforms. Is Facebook narcissistic? Are Instagram or Twitter or Reddit addictive? In this way, this discourse blithely assumes a stable ‘self’ that is using the media, expressing the preferences, buying the online products, and so on. By pursuing this issue of identity’s location more critically, we can hope to illuminate the currently occluded deep background of our fastshifting selves. The real discourse of self does not take the self for granted. Kafka’s Places Let us recap the stakes. Identity is hard, because it is not at all clear that we are the same entity at different times and places. But consciousness is harder, because it seems rooted in our physical experience of place, even down to a very basic level: our homeostatic being-in-the-world, forever checking our sense of comfort against the larger environment, or lifeworld. But then mind is even harder, because it can be extended in both time and space, using scaffolding technologies both simple (notes, canes) and complex (books, the internet). And finally, selfhood is perhaps the hardest of all, since it is mysterious if just to the extent that we take it for granted as simply being available to us. How can we untangle these strands, at least provisionally? Philosophers have their ways, and we must leave them to their work. Here and now, my mind to your mind via this printed medium, I choose a different destination. It is the world of Franz Kafka, whose benighted character Gregor Samsa has already been among us. Perhaps no writer is more insistently and elusively spatial as Kafka. His fiction, especially the novels The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926), are filled with small rooms, narrow staircases, gates, and thresholds. The castle sits on high, an inaccessible monument. The law lies beyond a curiously guarded portal. Streets offer the delusion of flight, the specter of an impossible freedom. Offices, courtrooms, attics, closets, churches, and half-closed doors reveal uncertain threats, or offer glimpses of torture and execution.
And yet, this view of a philosophical fault line does not exhaust the terrain, it only indicates an abyss hidden below. The relevant question is no longer Who am I? or even How am I able to be me from time to time? Rather, how do we make sense of an identity that is not only extended in space and time, but which exists in multiple iterations, in different places and non-places, at once? In short, the truly relevant question is now this: Where, if anywhere, am I?
Even in Amerika (1927), the unfinished ‘escape’ novel, the protagonist fulfills an aspirational dream of freedom by gaining employment as an elevator boy: a functionary who inhabits all day long a small ‘room’ that magnificently ascends and descends with passengers bent on their business—offices or apartments— but which he can never leave. Kafka’s sense of the cityscape is one of threat and suspicion but, for just that reason, he emerges as the phenomenological poet of the built environment. No writer before or since has captured so vividly how the basic elements of the room—walls, affordances, thresholds—construct identity. It is, of course, an identity that is always on the verge of being revoked.
Given current conditions of technologized existence, nearconstant presence of social media and internet access, the traditional questions of identity acquire a new urgency. Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost all the discourse on these new social
But—and here we see the true depth of his genius—this can all be quite funny. The late novelist David Foster Wallace, attempting in a lecture to explain “the way funniness is bound up with the extraordinary power of [Kafka’s] stories,” notes that the main
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problem is the kind of humor Kafka intends.5 In reference to his own creative students, Wallace suggests that the essential barrier is cultural. “The fact is that Kafka’s humor has almost none of the particular forms and codes of contemporary US amusement.” He offers a bravura negative catalogue worth quoting in full: There’s no recursive wordplay or verbal stunt-pilotry, little in the way of wisecracks or mordant lampoon. There is no bodyfunction humor in Kafka, nor sexual entendre, nor stylized attempts to rebel by offending convention. No Pynchonian slapstick with banana peels or rapacious adenoids. No Rothish satyriasis or Barthish metaparody or arch WoodyAllenish kvetching. There are none of the ba-bing ba-bang reversals of modern sit-coms; nor are there precocious children or profane grandparents or cynically insurgent coworkers. Perhaps most alien of all, Kafka’s authority figures are never just hollow buffoons to be ridiculed, but are always absurd and scary and sad all at once.6
If it is none of these—and this is an impressive hi-lo-brow summary—then what is it? Wallace suggests that Kafka’s humor is (I want to say, at this point, ‘of course’) about the self-inflicted violence of the self. Indeed, we should say that the humor of Kafka is predicated on the very idea of having a self, an identity stable enough that we can recognize ourselves in the mirror of a morning. That idea is precarious! Gregor Samsa wakes one day to find it irrevocably altered. Josef K. wakes one day to find that someone has been telling lies about him. We all wake one day to find…well, what? That strange, unheimlich face in the mirror, the inescapable doppelganger of our existence. Without it, we’re nothing. Or so it sometimes feels. The humor here, as Wallace notes, is not something you ‘get,’ the way you get a joke. His students are baffled because “we’ve taught them to see humor as something you get – the same way we’ve taught them that a self is something you just have.” No wonder, then, that they cannot appreciate the essential Kafka joke, an irony at once comic and tragic: “that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.”7 Characteristically, the best illustration of the joke involves a location, and a door. We come to this door and pound our fists upon it, desperate for entry into some kind of privileged place. We pound, and kick, and curse the closed door that denies us passage. We must get through! We must achieve passage and perceive what is on the other side. And then finally, after we have collapsed in tears and exhaustion, our fingers bloody from scrabbling at the door, begging to be let out, the door finally swings open – towards us. We have been pushing on the door marked pull, only the marking was ignored by our faulty desires. We finally see, Wallace says, that “we’ve been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch.”8
Self-Reflexive It is comical, I think, and in just the same way the daily round of getting and spending, fussing and fretting, must appear comical to someone who has, for example, just endured a lifethreatening event. Such precarious selves, taking themselves so very seriously – and looking for answers in all the wrong places. Benjamin, reflecting on Kafka, notes the same tragic irony: our metaphysical staggers toward meaning, when we are “at the mercy of a vast machinery of officialdom,” mimic the physical barriers noted by the physicist Eddington.9 The mere act of crossing a threshold is a kind of miracle. Eddintgon speaks in a Kafkaesque voice, Benjamin suggests, and his conclusion is appropriately biblical: “Verily, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a scientific man to pass through a door.”10 Wisdom counsels that we should sometimes “consent to be an ordinary man and walk in.”11 The traverse is still precarious, just as the façade of ordinariness must be. Surely part of why we need Kafka and those like him is that the pull of the taken-for-granted self is enormous. The selfie photograph—trying to preserve and project my now-self as a possible future-self suitable for viewing—confesses its futility and desperation. But it does so only to the existentially minded, when we entertain our threshold problems; everyone else is, you know, more or less, most of the time, just posting things on Facebook and Instagram. Here I am at Disney World! Here I am at my wedding! Here I am just after having sex! Here I am, I am, I am! Here, here! (The novelist and critic Russell Smith calls this particular form of invidious photographic boastfulness “happiness porn.”) Paradoxically, both the existential view and the pre-reflective view are correct. When we ask ourselves, and each other, where we are, we are really asking: Are you still here? Is your identity stable enough to answer the call, this time, of recognition? The dangers, and opportunities, revealed here are tremendous. A once-stable person might become infected by a species of zombie virus, hollowed out from within by its own extensions: a frantic, head-down, phone-tapping, self-consuming deployment of bits of identity across platforms and temporal zones. The body walks on, but the mind is elsewhere – many elsewheres. A once-stable person might also joyfully abandon the constraints of identity in multiple subject positions, roles and performances, identity reconfigured as a play with many characters revolving only distantly around a physical center. Even the physical center may be altered: surgically, genetically, technologically. We are all cyborgs now. And perhaps now (whenever that is), with these possibilities in mind (whatever they are), we can glimpse (whoever we are) a structural truth. Here, in language, the self must be understood as the act of reflection itself – or, better, as the very idea of reflexivity. It is thought bending back upon itself, in the myriad ways we do that, that constitutes selfhood. Nothing more, but also nothing less. Good news again: you’re doing it at this very minute. And so wait, where are you? Right here, right now. Where else?
1 Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World. 2 Lionel Davidson, Making Good Again (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), 241. 3 The canonical argument is Derek Parfitt, “Personal Identity,” Philosophical Review 80:1 (1971): 3–27. See also Parfitt’s book-length working out of his positions’ implications, Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984). 4 The most influential version of the thesis is Andy Clark and David Chalmers, “Extended Mind,” Analysis 58 (1998): 10–23. 5 David Foster Wallace, “Laughing with Kafka,” Harper’s Magazine (July 1998), 23–27. 6 Ibid., 26. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid., 27. 9 Walter Benjamin, “Some Reflections on Kafka,” in Hannah Arendt (ed.), trans. Harry Zohn, Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 1969), 141. 10 Ibid. 11 Eddington’s book The Nature of the Physical World, based on his 1926–27 Gifford Lectures, was published in 1935 (London: Macmillan). In it he defends his controversial ‘idealist’ view that “The stuff of the world is mind stuff.” Benjamin quotes Eddington at length, saying “one can virtually hear Kafka speak” in his prose: see Benjamin, “Some Reflections on Kafka,” 142.
IDENTITY IS A V
Dirk Sijmons was one of the founders of H+N+S Landscape Architects in 1990 and, until 2015, was Professor and Chair of landscape architecture at Technical University in Delft. He received the Rotterdam-Maaskant award in 2002 and, with H+N+S, the National Prince Bernard Culture award in 2001. His English book publications include Landscape (1998), Greetings from Europe (2008), and Landscape and Energy (2014). Sijmons was appointed first State Landscape Architect of the Netherlands (2004–2008) and was curator of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (2014) with the theme ‘Urban By Nature.’
lexander Pope’s exhortation to consult the “genius of the place” is now something the general public understands and expects of any development. In its new guise of identity, it has become one of the key notions of the age of individualism, as well as a buzzword in the worldwide battle between the global powers that seek to equalize and erase variation on the one side, and the call for ‘authenticity’ and the ‘local’ on the other. Let us first note that identity and the genius of the place are not the same. In practice, identity is a more slippery notion because it is a composite of elements that can play on widely different scales ranging from the local to the national. As a safe haven of a constructed ‘us’ in a destructive world of ‘them,’ or even as an anchor-point of the ‘us’ in times where we are all Charlie (“Je suis Charlie”), but are still looking for what it is that ‘we’ actually stand for. This search might be something universal in almost every country that is confronted with the confusing effects of globalization on their culture. In the current European migration debates, the reflex reaction is that the newcomers have to assimilate; they should adapt to values and norms, the benchmark of which is often sought in a national identity. But, when scrutinized, national identity is itself something of a phantom. With its supposed place-specificity—its genius loci—and in its role as living cultural heritage, landscape is both one of the spearheads and a prominent battleground of identity politics. This might be one of the reasons why discussions about landscape in Europe (and presumably elsewhere) so readily captivate the public imagination. As the arbiters of landscape futures, landscape architects then find themselves in the interesting position of producing, promulgating, or challenging certain constructions of identities.
Right: The Zandmotor is a man-made sandbar located on the South Holland coast and a successful example of dynamic landscape management. The sandbar is gradually eroded by tides that carry the sand to areas where sand depletion previously threatened the coastline.
Maybe because the Dutch landscape is ‘man-made’ and has such specific characteristics, it is often used as an example of a clear identity. It is, however, a myth that God created the world and the Dutch created Holland. Like any other landscape in the world, the Dutch landscape is a coproduction of natural and social processes. It has a long history of reclamation and while people tend to think of this as a single operation against the sea, the Dutch landscape is in fact the result of many cultural layers superimposed on one another. There were alterations after the first major reclamations starting around the 10th century, a layer of ‘planned’ landscapes such as polders and estates during the 17th and 18th centuries, large infrastructure projects from the 19th century (including endless retrofitting phases), and more recently many different natural ‘expressions’ reacting back into these deeper historical layers. The resulting landscape of Holland has a pattern language that is as rich and varied as our relationship with nature is complex. Although these landscapes were never made for the ‘ratings,’ they are now highly valued for their austere beauty. Form, and eventually affection, follows function!
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Around the turn of the millennium, one of the Dutch newspapers asked readers to nominate their ‘artwork of the century.’ As could be expected Rembrandt rated well. Remarkable for me, however, was the small group of readers who nominated the Dutch landscape itself. They argued that it is the only collective work of art we have been working on for the full millennium. But that landscape is also one of the national imagination because the rate of change to the Dutch landscape has been dramatic. What was a differentiated and small-scale agricultural landscape has been transformed into a modern, economic machine. Urbanization and infrastructure changed Holland into an urban landscape and wedged it into the broader economic context of Northwestern Europe. This artifact, formally known as the city, is a conglomeration of built-up areas, water systems, leisure parks, airfields, nature reserves, industries, intensive food production areas, parks, and mining areas all interwoven with tangles of infrastructure, transportation, and both old and new ecological corridors. Although it is common for theorists of the city now to absolve any boundary between city and country, in Holland, where you would expect this to be most true, there is still significant differentiation. As such there are typically two different Hollands in the collective imagination: a modern agricultural landscape and an urban landscape. Both ways of seeing are still legitimate because of the specific post-war history of the Netherlands. From 1945 to 1990, national planning policy kept the urban and the rural domains separate and curtailed sprawl. The Netherlands had to be reconstructed after WWII and the housing shortage and lack of building materials could only be met by building mass (modernist) housing in close vicinity to the existing cities. Suburbanization was out of the question. The second important element of postwar policy was the modernization of agriculture to provide cheap food so the wages could be relatively low and re-industrialization could take off. This modernization was an operation of unprecedented magnitude. In the heyday of the reconstruction, each year some 250,000 ha of the countryside was somewhere in the analysis, preparation, or execution-phase of the procedure. The high standard of Dutch spatial planning culture provided that all re-allotment, urban, and infrastructure plans were assisted by institutional design where landscape architects, architects, and urban planners played a significant role in creating these new, scaled up, modern landscapes. On the one hand, Dutch landscape architects founded their plans with geological, ecological, and cultural historic analysis that represented the genius loci, but on the other hand, they were giving form to the modernization operation that involved generic strategies and techniques that work to eliminate the limitations of the place. Scalingup, draining, mechanization, fixing ground-water tables, land re-allotment, leveling of lots, new farms and road infrastructure, removal of non-functional landscape elements, and reclamation of natural areas, are all recipes from the cookbook of agricultural engineering that can be rolled out everywhere and have the tendency to equalize differences. Although convincing new landscapes have been made, the overall conclusion must be that the programmatic drive (reconstruction, housing, and agricultural modernization) dominated over the genius of the place. In extension of this period, one can even say that the emancipation of Dutch landscape architecture in the 1980s and 1990s is linked to the widening of the working field by repeatedly discovering new ‘programs’ that could be turned into landscape (elements).
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This golden age of the malleability of the landscape deluded designers into the distorted view that landscape architecture is just the mediation between the program and the place and articulation of the result in spatial terms. We wrote landscape architecture with a capital â€˜Aâ€™ and tended to overlook the other agents of change: autonomous social and natural processes. The myriad of spatial investments and disinvestments by individuals and other actors gradually change the landscape. The even more powerful effects of natural processes such as succession, weathering, sedimentation, erosion, soil subsidence, and human-induced climate change are agents of change that steer the course of landscape development. In the last decades one sees a cautious but growing interest in the formative and instrumental power of these processes. Challenging new problems like ecological development, climate change, water safety, urban metabolism, and energy transition can only be tackled with a more process-oriented approach. In the social domain the neo-liberal zeitgeist is a vector in the same direction. It brought on a more modest view of the malleability of society. The resulting partial withdrawal of the state from the arena of spatial planning has spurred bottom-up, actor based, alternatives. Considering place, program, and processes together we can think of landscape as the partial solidification of temporal change; like asphalt, landscape is in fact still a fluid. This way of thinking opens up a labyrinth of causal relationships in which growing, flourishing, ageing, dying, and decaying each play their part. It is a metaphor befitting the habitat of the landscape architect. Thatâ€™s what bringing in the factor of time and designing with natural processes means: knowing that you will never be the one to draw the first, or the last, line. Everything you make is unfinished by definition and your spatial creations are by definition temporary. Unlike architecture, landscape architecture has a built-in memento mori, a reminder of mortality. To my mind this working with living processes is what distinguishes our discipline and is the subject of its most important future contribution. In addition to seeking the genius of the place there must also be a concern with the genius of the process. Identity is a verb.
Dr Julian Raxworthy is a Senior Lecturer in the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Cape Town. His publications include The MESH Book: Landscape & Infrastructure (2004) and Sunburnt: Landscape Architecture in Australia (2011). Raxworthy’s most recent book, Overgrown (2017), concerns the relationship between landscape architecture and gardening, theorizing a new language for plant material entitled “the Viridic.”
HORTICULTURE, CULTURAL STUDIES
n the post-colonial world, provenance is a focus of discussion about who, and what, belongs where. Land causes trouble or rather, people cause each other trouble over land. Migrants, marauders, and refugees leave their homelands to enter places that others feel is ‘theirs.’ With or without human help, plants and animals do a similar thing. Botanists and landscape architects argue about whether something is indigenous, endemic, or exotic – a language that also permeates the discourse of decolonization in post-liberation countries in Africa.
Provenance is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the place of origin or earliest known history of something.” However, in reference to works of art the term is used to refer to a record of ownership. Recalling the Latin root provenire, from ‘pro’ (forth) and ‘venire’ (come), this definition suggests not that one is working backward to an original, but moving forward, understanding the story of belonging over time. For Frantz Fanon, theorist of African decolonization, colonial identity is not about place but rather “the fact of belonging to or not belonging to a given race, a given species,” which “parcels out the world to begin with.”1 After colonization by the Dutch in the 17th century and the English in the 19th century, the 1955 African National Congress (ANC) “Freedom Charter” and then the new Constitution of South Africa set in motion a process for land restitution. Contemporary political discourse in South Africa is very much about who belongs and who doesn’t, and who has rights to land and who has not. But it is not a question of who belongs where, it is a question of who belongs when. This discussion about belonging, ownership, and provenance in South Africa can be contradictory, fluctuating from the rhetorical to the specific, and can be seen even at the level of the garden. Illustrated by a photograph of roses in a Cape Town streetscape, one public commentator on Twitter noted, “the history of colonial conquest can be read in [the] landscape. We don’t REQUIRE statues & monuments.” In this comment the rose is not simply a symbol but also a literal invader replacing the original plants of the Western Cape, known also by their colonial name, fynbos, recognized as a unique ecoregion by UNESCO in 2004. However, if we think of the rose for a moment rather than what it replaced, we see that its provenance is also ambiguous. Originally from China, taken to England where it was bred to create a new cultivar unknown in nature, it ends up in a former English colony in Africa.
Right: Creator of the “best garden in Europe,” 48-year-old Sakhile Myeki.
Since, the process of decolonization is not simply about an emptying out of the colonists from the land and their replacement with descendants of its original owners, but “epistemic decolonization,” 2 the creation of new epistemologies based on the specific geo- and bodypolitic location, in this essay I will explore the idea of provenance in relation to both people and plants. Using a garden in the informal settlement of ‘Europe’ as a case study, I will show that regardless of provenance, living things—people and plants—make do with what is at hand as best they can, and that out of this novel identities are constructed.
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A European Garden A garden in an informal settlement known as ‘Europe’ situated near the Cape Town airport provides an interesting case study in relation to questions of provenance for both plants and people. ‘Europe’ grew on a former rubbish dump when the Group Areas Act of 1950 was rescinded in 1991. It was probably so named because many of its mostly Xhosa residents, economic migrants from 1,000 km away in the Eastern Cape, work at the nearby airport which receives many planes from Europe. The name of the informal settlement is also a kind of reverse colonization, a reappropriation of the colonizer. The garden is the work of 47-year-old Europe resident, Sakhile. Sakhile has worked as a gardener for the last four years and identifies himself by the title ‘garden boy,’ a moniker that continues to be used by white employers to describe garden workers who are black, regardless of age. This reflects a class difference between white garden owners and black laborers, such that it is difficult for a garden worker to ever receive professional horticultural training. Yet, in a ‘rainbow nation’ story that would make Nelson Mandela proud, the exchange of plants and expertise between two very different parts of South African society resulted in Sakhile’s garden. Kept separate by apartheid but spaced so that one services the other, ‘Europe’ (the poor informal settlement where Sakhile lives) and Pinelands (the wealthy garden city suburb in which he works 10 km away) are located on what is known as the ‘Cape Flats,’ a huge sand plain between Table Bay and False Bay, with mountains on two sides. It is notoriously difficult to grow plants on the sandy Flats, since winter rains cause it to flood and hot summers keep it dry. Cultivation is made even more difficult in Europe since the settlement sits on top of a landfill site with no soil profile. In these unlikely conditions Sakhile modestly claims to have “the best garden in Europe.” When asked about how he learned to garden, Sakhile credits his white clients in Pinelands, who taught him how to make compost with paper and leaves, a technique that he used to convert the barren sand of ‘Europe’ into a lush garden. It is from his client that the cuttings, which Sakhile propagated and which form the basis of his garden, also came. Since most of the plants are either weeds, not necessarily exotic but unwelcome, or vigorously growing species that would require heavy control, one imagines that the plant material Sakhile imported from Pinelands to ‘Europe’ would have otherwise ended up in the garbage.
a public bucket toilet outside, which he has locked up to make private. Sakhile’s garden is only possible because he has immediate access to free water: a tap is located three meters from his front door. Describing his morning ritual of watering his garden, Sakhile says that he first gives the plants water and then he gets a glass of water for himself and drinks it while the plants are drinking theirs, a moment of vegetal-human synchronicity. He likes the smell of the wet soil in the morning when he waters his garden.
Despite being an informal settlement, each shack in ‘Europe’ is part of a kind of real estate system and Sakhile bought his shack and lot from someone who had originally squatted on the site in the 1990s. Located at the junction of a dirt walkway and an unsealed road, a shack and a shipping container occupy two sides of the square lot with a makeshift fence on the other two creating a courtyard-like space. Sakhile has appropriated
Giving it structure and style, the garden has a pot in the center with a path and many succulents notable for their ‘sculptural’ qualities. Many of the plants in the garden are discards from gardens created in the 1970s, influenced by the Sunset garden books and Brazilian Modernism. These plants are tough and can survive in poor soil with little water, attributes that help them succeed in ‘Europe.’
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Almost none of the plants in Sakhile’s garden are endemic, with only 1% of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos remaining in Cape Town due to urbanization and informal development, as well as weed infestation. Two invasive trees, both from Australia, a Eucalyptus spp and the wattle Acacia cyclops, known as rooikrans in Afrikaans, provide a canopy over Sakhile’s garden. Though disliked by white conservationists, wattle provides a constant source of wood both for cooking for the poor and for the national obsession, the braai or barbecue. Despite looking exotic, some plants are surprisingly ‘African,’ such as Motherin-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata), which hails from tropical West Africa and Nigeria. Numerous Aloe spp appear in Sakhile’s garden, some originating from 300 km north of Cape Town in a semi-arid biome called the Succulent Karoo, named from the Khoi-Khoi word garo, meaning desert. The plant with provenance closest to the site is Plectranthus nicholii, which originates, like Sakhile, in the Eastern Cape. Since the ornamental garden is not a type that traditionally exists in Xhosa culture, other Xhosa residents of Europe cannot quite understand why Sakhile has made it. He is often asked by local people walking past the garden whether he is a sangoma, a witch doctor, or rather an inyanga, a male herbalist, to which he replies, “no, this is a garden.”3 This is also his response to enquiries about whether he grows vegetables. For Sakhile, the fact that the garden is comprised of plants that are from a garden provenance rather than the indigenous landscape is a symbol of pride, as is the fact that the garden is not functional but ornamental. In the context of South Africa’s current struggle with identity, Sakhile’s garden contains potent metaphors that demonstrate dialectical relationships between places and identity: a Xhosa man displaced 1,000 km to a site made of rubbish from other places chooses to make a European garden in a thoroughly un-European place called ‘Europe’ with unfashionable African plants rejected from a western garden 10 km away. At their base, however, questions of provenance are less important than having a home, which is ultimately the root for the struggle for land in South Africa, and a desire that unites everyone. The process of making a garden is not just a metaphor for taking root, but a practice of making a home shared with other organisms—plants—whose simultaneous growth with the gardener demonstrates a truth of belonging beyond the legality of land tenure.
1 Frantz Fanon, “Concerning Violence,” in The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1963), 40. 2 Walter D. Mignolo, “Delinking the Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality and the Grammar of De-Coloniality,” Cultural Studies 21, no. 2/3 (2007): 500. 3 Gitte Postel, “Media, Mediums and Metaphors: The Modern South African Sangoma in Various Texts,” Current Writing 22, no. 1 (2010): 109.
Acknowledgements “The Gardens of Europe” is a collaborative project of Julian Raxworthy (text), Amy Thompson (drawings), Jared Coetzee (photography), Thozama Mputa (Xhosa interpreter), and Michael Brown (plant research). The work will be exhibited in South Africa in 2017 and developed for publication into a book.
nature parks, memory, and identity “The very invocation of us is impossible without an appeal to some concept of memory. Memory is the engine by which the souls of folk acquire value, importance and normality. Is memory an essential prerequisite for being? Yes, absolutely.”1
Jim Igoe is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. He has conducted extensive field research on the social effects of Nature Parks in Tanzania and the USA, and is author of the book Conservation and Globalization: a Study of National Parks and Indigenous Communities from East Africa to South Dakota (2003). He has also collaborated on numerous publications on capitalist modes of nature conservation, including Nature Unbound: Conservation, Capitalism, and the Future of Protected Areas (2008).
Anthropology, Conservation, Cultural Studies
he foregoing quote from filmmaker John Akomfrah pays homage to W.E.B. Dubois’ groundbreaking treatise on identity: The Souls of Black Folk.2 Writing at the turn of the 20th century, Dubois was concerned with struggles of inhabiting two seemingly incompatible identities: being Black and being American. Although living in the latter half of the 20th century and an ocean away, Akomfrah readily recognized this struggle. A British child of Ghanaian parents, he was part of an unprecedented diasporic generation that came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. This experience, as he describes it, was one of being a figure without a legitimate—or even recognizable— identity in the dominant culture of the time. Akomfrah and his collaborators looked to film as a medium for articulating selfrepresentation and self-determined identities.3 Integral to their approach is the idea of a moving image archive that is also “the space of the memorial,” which attests to the historical existence
and experiences of culturally marginalized people. This space of memorial is typically fragmented and scattered throughout the dominant archive. With care and imagination, however, it can be excavated and reassembled to enliven memories that are essential to negotiations of identities.
maintains, may be accessed and revitalized in productions of emergent culture: new meanings, values, and relationships. In Akomfrah’s terms, residual culture remains available for practices of remembering essential human identities, or, echoing Dubois as he does, “the souls of folk.”
To illuminate what this may have to do with landscapes and identities, it is necessary to relate Akomfrah’s filmmaking to the broader Cultural Studies Movement of which it is part.4 In Marxism and Literature, Raymond Williams distinguishes three interrelated facets of culture: dominant, residual, and emergent.5 Dominant culture is the most visible and powerful mode of culture under given historical conditions, but never total or completely stable. Residual culture consists of less visible remnants of achievements, aspirations, and experiences of historically marginalized peoples. Such remnants, Williams
I write this essay in the spirit of such projects, as an experiment in applying Akomfrah’s approach to filmmaking to writing from the archive of my own research, and for the purposes of applying Williams’ formulation of culture to identity struggles in and around nature parks. Whereas my previous work has focused on parks as hegemonic spaces of dominant culture, this experiment speculatively reimagines parks as spaces replete with residual culture. My intuition is that these are compatible perspectives. For 150 years, modern nature parks have spread worldwide via colonialism and nation building,6
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Protected Areas Tarangire Selous
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and more recent modes of privatized globalization.7 These processes have consistently entailed displacements of local people, their land-based livelihoods, and their place-based identities. Culturally specific ways of valuing and relating to the world have thus been subsumed by a hegemonic vision of a timeless and universal nature. Lately it occurs to me, however, that the protection and curation of dominant culture in parks must likewise—though often inadvertently—preserve elements of residual culture. Such preserved residual culture must have significant potential for practices of remembering that would look and feel very much like what Williams calls emergent culture. To further operationalize this conceptual framework, I would like to say something of human bodies as “potent conveyors of meaning and memory.”8 Human remembering is necessarily relational (i.e. facilitated by interactions with mnemonic objects and environments) and inter-subjective (i.e. dependent on the affirmation of others and enlivened by collaborative ruminations).9 An old photograph or a forgotten song may activate unexpected bodily sensations and related memories. In revisiting my research notes and published writings for this essay, for instance, I was surprised to find myself recalling events and experiences that had not been part of my regular memory for a very long time. This kind of memory activation, through interactions with mnemonic objects, can moreover be amplified and elaborated by interactions with other people. People remembering together are enlivened and provoked by one another’s facial expressions, gestures, and tones of voice. Though I have yet to try this experiment, I have a strong hunch that the kinds of landscape memories I have activated in the course of writing this essay could become even more lucid and detailed through methodologies of collective remembering. As I have learned in the course of my research, it is even possible for an outsider to a group to become caught up in the flow and spirit of their collective remembering. The landscapes and seascapes of our planet are shot through with potential for activating meaning and memory for human beings in relation to one another. In Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, for instance, there is a wetland called Silalo. When I first saw Silalo 20 years ago, I recognized it immediately, and I vividly remember it today. I had spent months in the vicinity of Tarangire, interviewing Maasai elders for my dissertation research. Many of them had kept livestock in Tarangire, but were evicted in 1971.10 My interviews solicited memories of places to which they no longer had access. Memories of Silalo were especially powerful. Men who had been hunched over staring into space suddenly straightened up at its mention, smiles of excitement animating their faces. Together they would enthusiastically reminisce how the green expanses of Silalo stood out against the browns and grays of the surrounding landscapes. As long as they could go to Silalo, they knew their cows would survive even the
harshest of droughts. Some even said that it was one of those rare places where God breathed directly on the ground. In the wake of these collective remembering sessions, my actual encounter with Silalo felt charged with memory and meaning. I could practically hear the lowing of zebu cattle, the clunking of their wooden bells, and the whistling of Maasai herd boys. I could envision the deep blue robes of Maasai girls with plastic buckets of water on their heads, and the bright red robes of elders gathered under a nearby tree. I felt strongly that I was in the presence of something irrevocably lost. In official conservation terms, of course, the opposite is true: Silalo has not been lost, but preserved in perpetuity. What has been lost is much more subtly relational: intergenerational practices of meaning and memory-making so crucial to Silalo’s place in the lifeways and livelihoods of local Maasai. Relationships to the human and bovine bodies that made these practices possible have been foreclosed, while other kinds of relationships and practices have been established. Visiting tourists encounter Silalo as space of sacred nature that has been tragically destroyed and forgotten elsewhere. Tanzanian officials manage it as the heritage of present and future generations. As such, Silalo is imbued with meaning by the practices of diverse groups of people, next to whom the local Maasai figure as an almost invisible minority. For so long as the wetland remains materially intact, however, there remains a remote possibility that it may still one day become available for revisiting, remembering, reimagining, and renegotiation. This kind of potential is particularly salient in the intersecting experiences of rural people and African conservation officials. As a lecturer at the College of African Wildlife Management in 2005–2006, I met many students who were struggling with the paradoxes of inhabiting seemingly incompatible identities: rural villager and modern wildlife manager. Maasai students in particular were often called upon to prove their loyalty to wildlife conservation by meting out rough punishments to herd boys found in and around protected areas during college field safaris.11 However, it was also on a field safari that I glimpsed the potential of other possible identity alignments. The theme of this safari was community-based conservation, and it targeted a cluster of villages near Selous Game Reserve. Although it was my first trip to these villages, over 300 miles south of Tarangire, there was much about this context that I found familiar. I quickly made the acquaintance of a group of Parakuyo, a cattle herding people sharing a common ancestry and language with Maasai. The first thing that they wanted me to know is that they had recently been relocated from their homes near the boundaries of the reserve to make way for a new wildlife management area.12 Without access to adequate water and pasture, they claimed, their herds were dying, and they themselves were quickly becoming people without a place in the world.
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My job on this safari was to teach participatory research methods to the future wildlife managers. Participatory methodology is steeped in Freirean pedagogy,13 and designed to cast local people as hosts, teachers, and agenda setters. On the very first day, our hosts readily set the agenda around displacement and livelihoods. Next they drew maps and timelines for discussing ongoing disruptions to the economy and ecology of their herding systems. Although students initially appeared uncomfortable with these topics, by midmorning many of them had been caught up in the proceedings and actively socializing with local people. The following day a group of students suggested that actually visiting the former homes of our Parakuyo hosts would be much more instructive than drawing maps on the ground. The drive over took us through several miles of grassland, where our hosts used to graze their cattle, through a stream, where our hosts used to water their cattle, and over a rail line, where our hosts used to put their cattle on market-bound freight trains. Finally, we alighted near a large shady tree, where they used to hold their village meetings. The former village chairman made a short welcome speech and invited us to visit the village infrastructure: the remains of a cattle dip, a dispensary, and an elementary school. “Our cattle built this village,” he explained, “it doesn’t look like much, but it met our needs.” We then walked in an outward spiral to visit sites of former homesteads, which were discernable from the green patches of grass marking former livestock kraals. Our hosts emphasized repeatedly that the manure from their livestock still fertilized the ground, supporting the good health of wildebeest and zebra. Looking back on this experience, it strikes me that there was practically nothing that a passing stranger might find distinctive in this landscape. For this was no Silalo: just an overgrown rail line, a tree, and a handful of crumbling cinder block structures. No one would notice dispersed patches of greener grass, even if wildebeests and zebra were present. What imbued these sites with meaning and memory was the animated and animating presence of people who were intimately familiar with them. They called our attention to elements of that landscape that were practically invisible to us, and helped us to draw connections between them. Their gestures, faces, and voices conveyed warm appreciation of the modest prosperity they had made for themselves in that place; a prosperity which, even in its absence, continued to infuse their lives with value, importance, and normality. On the ride home, our hosts asked to be let down while we were still some distance from the village, so that they could walk together and continue to reminisce. They thanked us for helping them to revisit their homes. Even though it made them sad, they said, it was good to be there again. Students were also moved by this exercise. Several expressed confusion about the apparent conflict between their sympathies for the people with whom we had shared our day and their
dedication to a career in nature conservation. Others expressed outrage and openly questioned the value of conservation that denies local livelihoods and lifeways. Still others said that the whole project was out of bounds, and what we had been doing wasn’t even real research, since it produced no quantitative results or clear possibilities for future interventions. These kinds of conversations continued circulating in the safari camp for the rest of the afternoon. That evening several instructors convened a special session to talk about the purpose of research with local people. They had also invited a conservation official, who was a graduate of the college. It doesn’t pay to become too friendly with people, he explained, who you might have to arrest or even kill. He continued in this vein for about half an hour, and then students were invited to ask him questions. One student asked if he was aware that the people living near the road had been forcefully removed from their homes. The official responded that he himself had removed them, and that this was for the good of the greater community and ultimately the Tanzanian nation. Throughout this session students were repeatedly reminded that they were novices, and as yet unfamiliar with the difficult realities they would face as conservation professionals, whose job was to protect the nation’s parks from encroachment by criminals. While these outcomes clearly frustrate dominant cultural ideals of certainty and progress, those ideals do not inform the framework of this essay. At Selous we experienced how counter-hegemonic remembering in a park could become a catalyst for shifting identity alignments. Recognizing this potential, college instructors moved quickly to reassert dominant identities and cultural values. While I am almost certain that they would not describe their actions in these terms, they were keenly aware that the dominant cultural stories curated in spaces of parks are vulnerable to undoing and redoing. Part of the work of managing parks, therefore, is also about telling and retelling these stories. And that work is inherently unfinished and open to renegotiation, particularly in spaces (like parks) that are so replete with potentially accessible (for local people) residual culture. The short space of this essay will not allow me to elaborate further on these points. However, I hope that this small vignette will resonate productively with the experiences of others concerned with identity negotiations in landscapes. My fundamental point is that such negotiations have been greatly facilitated, if not dependent upon, interactions of human bodies and landscapes. While this may seem self-evidently simple, I believe that it has fundamental implications for current understandings of cultural and heritage landscapes, especially those imagined as nature or wilderness. In contrast to more radically transformed environments, such landscapes are likely to include significant elements of residual culture that may yet be reactivated in relation to remembering
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bodies. From the perspective of dominant constructions (of parks as wilderness) and radical critiques (of parks as spaces of dominant culture) such potential is rarely acknowledged and barely explored. Even more-collaborative models of landscape and heritage management are not typically attuned to the kinds of dynamics and experiences described in this essay. And though my description and analysis have been necessarily speculative, I hope that they may help inform more systematically operationalized engagements with parks and heritage as spaces with unexplored potential for emergent meanings, values, and related identities.
1 “Fourth Annual Princess Margriet Award: John Akomfrah,” European Cultural Foundation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePe_ e7qqk5A (accessed January 14, 2016). 2 William Edward Burghardt Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk (Chicago: Dover Publications, 1994). 3 Akomfrah was one of the founding members of the Black Audio Film Collective (1982–1998), a group of diasporic filmmakers who drew from ideas of cultural and subaltern studies, especially those of Stuart Hall and Homi Bhabha. The group was dedicated to “investigating black identity/culture within the British Experience, and rework(ing) the documentary to articulate new voices in British Cinema,” Black Audio and Sankofa Film Collectives Archive, https://cinemaproject.org/archive/ screenings/2004/fall/black-audio-andsankofa (accessed February 13, 2016). 4 Akomfrah’s Stuart Hall Project (2013) pays homage to cultural studies pioneer Stuart Hall as one of his primary intellectual influences, http:// player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-the-stuart-hallproject-2013/ (accessed February 2, 2016). Stuart Hall, in turn, described Raymond Williams as “the most formative intellectual influence in my life,” http://www.iniva.org/exhibitions_projects/2013/ keywords_investigations/ryamond_williams_ and_stuart_hall (accessed February 2, 2016). 5 Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 121–27. 6 Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native People (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), 2009. 7 Dan Brockington, Rosaleen Duffy & Jim Igoe, Nature Unbound: Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of Protected Areas (London: Routledge, 2009). 8 Paul Stoller, “Embodying Colonial Memories,” American Anthropologist 96, no. 3 (1994): 639. 9 Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (London: Cambridge University Press, 1989). 10 Jim Igoe, Conservation and Globalization: A Study of National Parks and Indigenous Communities from East Africa to South Dakota (Belmont, CA: Cengage, 2004), ch. 2. 11 Also see Elizabeth Garland, “State of Nature: Colonial Power, Neoliberal Capital and Wildlife Management in Tanzania” (PhD. Diss. University of Chicago, 2006). 12 For background on the recent and ongoing creation of WMAs (wildlife management areas) in Tanzania, see Jim Igoe & Elizabeth Croucher, “Conservation, Commerce, and Communities: The Story of Community-Based Wildlife Management Areas in Tanzania’s Northern Circuit,” Conservation and Society 5, no. 4 (2007): 534–61. 13 Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (1921–1997) dedicated his life to the promotion of critical pedagogy based on the foundational proposition that it is possible for people to learn to read the society around them. He moreover argued that it was possible and desirable to “link the identification of issues to positive action for change and development.” See Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Penguin Education, 1996).
+ You studied literature and history at Oxford then moved to Australia, which became the subject of your first book The Road to Botany Bay. The book is considered something of a post-colonial classic in its analysis of the way in which landscape is involved in the construction of national cultural identities. What was it about Australia that you found compelling with regard to landscape and identity?
When I was young and an aspiring poet, I was very much taken with Ezra Pound’s project of purifying the language, reminting our poetic coinage, as it were, to get a new ‘fit’ between word and concept. Through Pound I discovered the English writer and artist Adrian Stokes, who seemed to extend these ideas to architecture and landscape. There is a famous moment in his autobiographical essay “Inside Out” where he feels the sense of the Latin word mensa: learnt at school, it had always seemed abstract; then, emerging into the light of Italy, Stokes suddenly experienced the fit of the word. Well, like many Stokes acolytes I spent a lot of time wandering around Tuscany and Venice with his books to hand, and refining this supposed intimate relationship between language, landscape, and poetic form. So perhaps because of this I was set up to be shocked when I arrived in Australia in the early 1980s for, as I later documented in The Road to Botany Bay, nothing about the English language seemed to fit here! As place names like Mount Disappointment or Lake Illusion showed, early white colonists had had a similar shock. Anyway, instead of being a negative, I took this as a challenge to find out what an Australian poetics would be. With some naïveté, no doubt, I thought a landscape without a fixed colonial identification was a chance to rethink collective identity; and the medium would have to start with a new language of description.
IN conversation with
Coming to Australia in his early 30s, with an immediate background in European urbanism and poetry, Paul Carter’s engagement with Australian cultures and their modes of self production was likely to be unusual. In books like The Road to Botany Bay (first published 1987), The Lie of the Land (1996), Material Thinking (2004) and Dark Writing (2008) he has explored the mechanisms different cultures use under the impact of colonization to create new senses of place and new forms of sociability. Bringing together insights from such fields as anthropology, performance studies, and landscape architecture, Carter relates the project of sustainable multicultural and environmental coexistence to the advent of a meeting place where design and performance merge. LA+ interviewed him on the occasion of the publication of his mostrecent book Places Made After Their Stories: Design and the Art of Choreotopography.
+ You have positioned yourself in Australia as not only a public intellectual but a public artist working in territory that could be described as in-between indigenous and European cultures. Could you speak to what methods you use to act as an effective interlocutor in such a fraught and complicated space?
Well, essential to a new language of description is an appreciation of the way “places are made after their stories.” Geoffrey Bardon, the teacher associated with the beginnings of the Papunya Tula or Western Desert Painting Movement (1971–1972) used this expression to describe how central Australian Aboriginal cultures sing, dance, walk, and paint their country repeatedly into being. What attracted me to Bardon’s legacy was the way it depended on improvising a new cross-cultural language of place and place making. I was struck by the potential of creatively driven exchange to generate new meeting places, social performances that captured in performance (painting, talking, singing, designing) new possibilities of coexistence.
All of this greatly expands our idea of ‘language’; for instance, the primary language of Nearamnew, the public artwork I designed at Federation Square, is choreographic; the ‘global whorl pattern,’ as we called it, references Indigenous depictions of parts of the night sky, translating them into a kind of ‘movement form.’ I had the idea that in some way these spatial gestures would induce new patterns of walking and meeting. I don’t know if that claim is true but recently, with dancer/choreographer Soo Yeun You and video artist Dirk de Bruyn, I have conducted some feedback experiments at Federation Square to see how the ground patterns can influence the behavior of visitors and in this sense be realized as scores of sociability. Although such performances are wordless and gestural, I see them as describing a new kind of in-between place, where stories from different cultures ‘federate’ to produce a new kind of place identity.
in conversation with paul carter 52
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+ At the core of your design philosophy and methodology is something you have formulated as “choreotopography,” which is the intersection of choreography (locomotion) and topography. On the face of it, choreotopography could be another way of saying landscape architecture and yet you have also written of a desire “to develop a design language robust enough to withstand the linearism of conventional landscape architectural drawing.” Can you speak about this linearity, why it is problematic, and how your practice differs?
Yes, but the formulation of a bunch of material practices and collaborations stretching back to the mid-90s as a general approach to public space design has been pretty recent, and it partly responds to client pressure to simplify and codify. Trying to explain how storytelling, drawing together and exploring convergences of cultural practice and social expectation, can lead to new senses of place (and place making) is calculated to test the patience of the average client. So something snappier is needed. I mean, in terms of your question, one way to characterize the difference is by characterizing the new designer as a dramaturg, the person who, in continental drama at least, sits between the internal world of the theatre production and the eternal world of its reception. Landscape design, however emancipated from prescriptive programming, tends to operate within the envelope of its own project delivery timetable, whereas the through lines I record (evident in the physical traces of story lines that run through the site) certainly exceed this representation. To a large extent, I would say, the conventional definition of place as a fixed enclosure of land is a product of landscape design ideology. As a creative gathering of unlike trajectories—and therefore from the outset a place of translation likely to generate new metaphors—the places choreotopographical techniques materialize are edgeless, composed really of a pattern of vortical intensities and connected to regions that extend beyond the project site both in space and time. Here, in a way, the purpose of a public art work is not to strengthen sense of place but to lead away from it, to disclose other possibilities of encounter. This was the aim of “Golden Grove” (University of Sydney, 2007–2009), a distributed public artwork secreted, incidentally, within an elegant and functional public space redevelopment led by landscape architects Taylor, Cullity, Lethlean. There were many ‘affordances’ we used to choreograph passage through the site, including six involutes arranged to correspond to the stars of the Pleiades, but one featured a specially-designed typography whose messages, paradoxically, withdrew into the distance, suggesting a depth of field and a plurality of attachment that resisted linearization.
+ You insist on places as discursive constructions and say you are primarily interested in materializing the immaterial. How does this differ from Alexander Pope’s original exhortation to landscape architects to manifest the genius loci of place?
Left: Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia.
There’s rather a lot in that question. I mean, sure, Pope’s genius loci is a picturesque landscape that looks like a well-formed sentence, an artificial enclosure of nature that equips it to be eloquent. But that kind of equivalence is predicated on a massive act of class-based violence: the properties of the place are secured by making its preEnclosure inhabitants propertyless and placeless. As we know the privatization of the Australian commons (which belonged to Aboriginal peoples) precisely replicated the internal colonization of England; so in that sense the places made after their stories that interest me are related, both politically and historically, to the great land grabs of the 18th and 19th century, whose rhetoric of gentlemen’s parks is directly descended from Pope. I suppose a key point is that I take the term discourse rather literally, as a running between places, as the proliferation of threads or tracks, and the accumulation of centers and orientations. I am just as interested in where the lines have come from and where they are going as I am in the consolidation of one place. Also, of course, a genuinely discursive approach is at the very least composed of two voices (it is a conversation, a translation or carrying over) and, if this is not to be a coercive enslavement of the other’s voice, it is going to produce a third hybrid language of place description. I mentioned the early interest in the Modernists’ project to purify the language of the tribe, well, one thing I learned in Australia was the ill-groundedness of that ambition. Here, every prospect for sustainable coexistence begins in the negotiation of a meeting place where multiple voices, languages, and interests contract to a new reality. Here, it is the impure, anti-eloquent, and gestural expression that represents the most promising chance of a recognition across difference, leading to a new discourse of self-description.
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+ You state that “[w]ithout pressure, the encounter that brings the meeting place to life is impossible. The meeting place slumps back into a square drawn on a blank page.” Presumably this is a theory and a politics of urbanism, a vision of a public realm that enables encounter. How do you see choreotopography transcending orthodox urban design in this regard?
In relation to the last question, I was going to say that besides the experimentation with storytelling as a medium of place making and the design of distributed public artworks that often incorporate poetic tags, I had a radiophonic practice, and this exploited the distribution of speech across many voices to create an acoustic image of meeting. In some ways choreotopography is the landscape design equivalent of those radio works (most of which had as their fundamental theme the drama of encounter). It was only after the radio work began to attract the attention of German producers that I realized how like the early Schallspiel radio plays my work was with its rhythmic, dance-like, and abstract approach and my treatment of language primarily in terms of sound and structure. Transposed to the placing and timing of public space, this imagines the designer as dramaturg and identifies the revitalization of the public domain with a new poetics of communication. As for how you draw such arrangements, well, of course, it is necessary to strip out the jungle of lines that represent the ecology of sociability – this for the simple reason that lines in line drawings describe fixed positions. I like to draw process diagrams that try to communicate the ‘movement form’ I have in mind; and I find that creative communities working with us to reconfigure public spaces often find these ‘abstract’ concept sketches surprisingly legible. As regards pressure, I guess the first pressure is the breath pattern, the expulsion of air to make meaningful sound. I remember an Aboriginal friend trying to explain how revived ceremony helped her community ‘let off steam.’ In the context of endemic racism and ongoing misunderstanding, she described the experience as one of ‘decompression.’ So that’s the point: the public domain is not a level playing field, it is a zone of differential pressures where some get to speak and others don’t. But the pressure is not only, as it were, repressive: pressing people to communicate, it places the challenge of coexistence at the heart of design. I think this is a different view of place making from what is current in place-making rhetoric and urban design practice (which remains functionalist and seems to regard the complexity of encounter as an awkward exception to the rule of getting from one place to another as efficiently as possible).
+ If money and permission were not obstacles what project would you now like to undertake?
Left: “Loops Improvisation,” Soo Yeun You, Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia.
I have a project I would like to undertake. It would focus on the infrastructure of biodiversity. In my view cultural and biological biodiversity are inseparable. Particularly in the wake of the recent Paris Agreement, it is recognized that resilient Indigenous societies look after their own environments best. Where biodiverse hotspots are concerned, it is mythopoetic identifications—as much as local ecological knowledge and associated life practices—that create the meanings (the sense of place) essential to maintaining a selfsustaining culture. However, such local knowledges and their communities struggle to achieve regional governance models; they also lack the resources to recognize and implement a global network of cultural knowledge exchange. I am currently writing a book called Archipelago, that explores the idea that changes to global governance occur through the medium of creative communities that are locally constituted, regionally literate, and globally interconnected. I envisage a creative partnership with a selection of communities that would offer an alternative to the master-planning model in formulating an environmental conservation strategy. ‘Infrastructure’ in this context means two things: it refers to the development of techniques for translating traditional understandings of place into educational, employment, and governance strategies; but it also refers to design, the development of dwelling arrangements for fragile environments that manage a balance between local governance procedure and eco-tourism opportunity. At the heart of the infrastructure for biodiversity is always the meeting place. To assist in building an archipelago of biodiverse communities and environments requires a combination of listening and leadership, local mentorship, and international advocacy. I would be excited by the creative opportunity it offered to transform our definition of the dwelling place, and hence the scope of design. Is this an immensely expensive exercise? Probably not. It is, however, dependent on an extraordinary level of cooperation and coordination between international funding agencies, national governments (through international commitments enshrined in various climate change mitigation agreements), and Indigenous knowledge holders.
eDWARD S. CASEY
The complex identity
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a pHILOSOPHICAL FORAY Edward S. Casey is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York (Stony Brook). He is author of Getting Back into Place (1993), The Fate of Place (1997), The World at a Glance (2007), and The World on Edge (forthcoming). Casey has written intermittently on architecture, most recently in the essay “Finding Architectural Edge in the Wake of Merleau-Ponty” in Patricia M. Locke & Rachel McCann (eds), Merleau-Ponty: Space, Place, and Architecture (2016).
oes place as place have an identity of its own? Or does it require something else to give it a distinctive mark? A tree? A mountain? A building? Place, plain place, would seem to be an empty and flat space. The very root of the English word ‘place’ is plat, which means flat. ‘Flat’ signifies having no configuration – no distinctive curves or rills, nothing to distinguish it from other things. A curious etymological clue, as if place starts with having virtually no identity: with nothing but a bare surface. Such a surface, in its barreness, calls out for complication: whether by planting on it, building on it, etc. Still, a surface can hold something. It may be empty of its own specific content or singular identity, but it can present things and events by bearing up under them – literally supporting them. Let us call this function that of subtending. In its case, the less distinctive the identity the better: if a subtending surface were to be too conspicuously configured, its function of sheer support and presentation would be compromised. Hence the base of the Parthenon consists largely of cut slabs of stone set in place. It is only in the upper reaches of this temple that narration and depiction are allowed – in the friezes and pediments, ushered in by columns that move our gaze upward from base to capital. And it is largely by attending to, or remembering, these upper reaches that we find the characteristic identity of this archetypal building. When there is no separately identifiable base, as at Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, it is the earth itself that provides the flat surface of support: here an earth that is paved over by the surrounding sidewalks. This is the place that quite literally promotes the building’s appearing in our perception of it. As such, it is a largely functional element, having little interest of its own. Let us call this the place for the building’s identity, where the ‘for’ in this locution captures the functional character of the relationship between base and superstructure. In contrast, the question of identity concerns the place of the built structure. In this phrasing, place is no longer instrumentalized but valorized for its own sake. The identity belongs to the whole place, both sub- and super-structure. Not in any merely additive relationship but such that at least three elements are in play: the earth underneath, whether this is bare earth or is covered over by concrete or some other form of paving; the literal base of the building, whether evident (as in the Parthenon) or concealed (as with the Disney Concert Hall, where the substructure is literally under the ground); and the superstructure (the middle and especially the upper reaches of the Parthenon, the entirety of what is visible above ground in the case of the Disney Concert Hall). All three elements or levels, taken together, constitute the place of the built edifice. They act to complicate the otherwise merely flat and vacuous place with which we begin; this is the place in: the place in which, or where, the building as a whole structure
THE COMPLEX IDENTITY OF BUILT PLACE 58
arises. (But also any protuberance from this bare place, however slight: a single plant, a track left by an animal, a humble lean-to.) Even if Aristotle located the essence of place in the ‘in’ itself in his inaugural discussion in Book Four of his Physics, this is an unduly reductive sense of place that will never yield anything like a full-scale identity of the sort we experience when faced with the Parthenon or the Disney Concert Hall. Such replete identity is complex. It is the veritable deconstruction of the simple identity that has been both the passion and the bugbear of Western philosophy and science since Aristotle. Just as Jacques Derrida has insisted on deconstructing the “simple origin” of significant concepts—arguing that the origin of a concept is always split because it is created by differential marks or traces—so we can aver that architectural identity is essentially schizoid, being divided between at least three levels of analysis (other built structures may be constituted of four or more levels, as in certain elaborate pagodas to be found in China). “At least three”: meaning that this tri-level analysis is minimally necessary. Between these three levels there is no easy synthesis à la Hegel.1 Instead, we have to do with a disjunctive conjunction. For the conjunction itself, there is no easy formula or solution that can apply to all instances of building. Gehry hides the base while the Parthenon lets it show through proudly, along with the earth around the Acropolis – an earth wholly buried under the concrete sidewalks of Los Angeles. The classical Greek building establishes stages of architectural presentation, rising from columns to pediments and friezes, whereas the Disney Concert Hall is one monolith with no such upper stages. The heavy rectangularity of the Greek building contrasts with the billowly being of the Concert Hall. Yet each bears a distinctive identity – as evidenced in their being such exemplary cases located at the far ends of Western architecture. This basic identity is that of identity-in-difference: a singular identity forged from the difference between the very parts of that identity. The parts of these buildings are not just separate pieces but “total parts” in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s term.2 A total part is one that contains the whole of which it is a part: the whole exists there in condensed form, bringing its wholeness right into that part. The total part thus becomes integral, something without which the whole itself would not be complete: to be itself fully, it must be capable of expressing itself in that part. The whole is presented in the part, made to reside there. So too the place of building is a whole made up of just such integral or total parts – not by any simple addition, nor by any mere merging into a single synthetic being. The parts of a place differentiate the whole place – the place of the building itself. This place is not just the place where it is found—that is Aristotle’s mistaken emphasis—but the place that has been rendered unique by that which distinguishes it from above its otherwise sheer surface as a bare place, that is, as a plot of land (‘plot’ also derives from plat). The identity of a building cannot be reduced to the place whereon it stands. Or more exactly, its identity emerges from its place – the place it makes itself through the formative features of its being (not only earth/ base/superstructure but also its internal passages and its external apertures; and much else as well). It is a complex identity composed of parts that both generate and hold this identity: hold it up to the world, holding it out to those viewing and inhabiting it. A manufactured identity, of course, but one that is organic in terms of its ability to draw its inherent parts together in a being that is unitary enough to count as that identity/of that building/of that place. This is never a given identity but an identity to be achieved and always in flux – long after the building has been built and has transformed the place on which it is built into the three-in-one identity of a place that is always already coming into its own.
1 I refer to Hegel’s basic idea of a “dialectical” movement from thesis (i.e., in the form of a proposition) to its antithesis, and then to a synthesis that retains elements from both thesis and antithesis: elements that represent the truth of each. See Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Science of Logic, trans. A.V. Miller (London: Allen & Unwin, 1969). 2 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, trans. A. Lingis (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968), 251 (working note of May 1960).
66°33’n 66°33’n 66°33’n CANADA
“We are a northern country. The True North is our destiny – for our explorers, for our entrepreneurs, for our artists. To not embrace the promise of the True North…would be to turn our backs on what it is to be Canadian.”
66°33’n 66°33’n 66°33’n
Stephen Harper, Former Prime Minister
RUSSIA “With almost a third of the country belonging to the Far North, Russia has a special responsibility for the Arctic. One of our priorities is to keep balance between the economic activity and preservation of the unique environment, respect for the culture and traditional way of life of indigenous peoples.” Vladimir Putin, President
“America is an Arctic nation, thanks to the great state of Alaska. The Arctic is part of our national identity and pride, culture and heritage, and national opportunity. In this way, Americans are an Arctic people and Arctic issues are American issues.”
“[T]he High North has a special place in Norwegian hearts. The very name of our country is generally understood to mean “the way northwards.” Norway’s tradition of looking to the north forms part of its identity, and shapes the self-image and mind-set of its people.”
Mark Brzezinski, Director of the Arctic Executive Steering Committee
Jonas Gahr Støre, Minister of Foreign Affairs
DENMARK (GREENLAND) “The three parts of the Realm - Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands share…values and interests…in and for the Arctic region…which makes up an essential part of the common cultural heritage, and is home to part of the kingdom’s population.” Kingdom of Denmark Strategy for the Arctic 2011-2020
180 °E / W °W
135 e idg
0° E / W
Canada territorial sea and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) Canada potential claim beyond 200 nmi
USA territorial sea and EEZ
USA potential claim beyond 200 nmi
Russia territorial sea and EEZ
Russia claim beyond 200 nmi
Norway territorial sea and EEZ
Norway claim beyond 200 nmi
The Arctic Circle consists of frozen international and territorial waters, and land claimed by Russia, Norway, Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), and the United States. Since December 10, 1982, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) granted these countries an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles adjacent to their coasts with the opportunity upon ratification to make claims within 10 years to an extended continental shelf which, if validated, would give them exclusive rights to a resourcerich seabed, particularly the Lomonosov Ridge. Russia, Denmark, and Norway have submitted claims, while Canada intends to do so. Despite not yet having ratified UNCLOS, the US has begun scientific research to support its claim.
90 ° E
C CT I C
Climate change and the subsequent melting of sea ice has made the Arctic and its resources ever more accessible, intensifying countries’ claims. In addition to studying the geological extents of their respective continental shelves, countries have developed identity-based approaches to strengthen their claims. Russia has emphasized its land dominance and prominent population within the Arctic Circle (Murmansk counts a population of 307,257 residents), whereas Canada and Norway underpin their claims with historic and mythic indigenous narratives. With the success of these claims yet to be determined, the topic continues to heat up as the ice thaws.
Denmark (Greenland) territorial sea and EEZ Denmark (Greenland) claim beyond 200 nmi
Sources: IBRU Centre for Borders Research, Maritime Jurisdiction and Boundaries in the Arctic Region (2015), http://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/ resources/arctic; UNCLOS, Annex II: Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (1982); National Snow & Ice Data Center, Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis: https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews.
Paul Preissner runs Paul Preissner Architects, which is located in Chicago. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture and a founding partner of PaulorPaul.
Architecture, visual arts
unich is a very small town in North Dakota, USA, about 25 miles on the American side of the border with Canada. Munich is a very old town in Bavaria, Germany, about 50 miles on the German side of the border with Austria. Prior to 1904 there was no Munich. Munich was first written into history in 1158. This is the story of (a) Munich. The result of banking speculation and business opportunism, Munich has the most synthetic and American of origins. William Budge of Grand Forks purchased the 160 acres that constitute Munich’s city limits to be home to the next destination of the Great Northern Railroad. The railroad into the town was completed on December 27, 1904; the first train arrived the same afternoon and the first house was built later that month.1
Munich is a city with no limits while simultaneously identifying its 160 acres. The town might have been physically bound but was narratively free. This choice of name and lack of concern for any urban pre-requisites prior to founding somehow allows the city to be simultaneously strange and dynamic. Munich is simply open for business. There is only land and the choices to be made with the land. The town is uniquely unburdened by any organic origin or inherited purpose. It is a town that has no past, and therefore has only a future. Munich builds what it needs, when it needs it: a bank, a hotel, another hotel, another bank, a house, a store. The city is simple in this sense. It has a relaxed attitude about its form that differentiates itself from other cities and suburbs. It has a main street, and on that street is where everything goes that isn’t a house. This plain rule of order— combined with its remoteness and a very small population—produces an easy downtown populated by architecture constantly off balance. The buildings are somehow pure forms that reflect their context in weird ways: light, efficient in construction, and holding a deference of aesthetic to availability. No building is higher than a single story, with the exception of the single elevator building. This is a small city, and populated by the strangest collection of buildings. Each vaguely reminiscent of some obvious form of architecture, but much more hurriedly put together. The buildings are both close together and very spaced apart. They never touch, but they rarely space themselves so far away as to secede from the downtown, creating a skip-stop tempo to the streetscape that allows every architecture to be a solitary object defining its space.
1 Munich Area History Book Committee, United By Rail (Altona: Friesens, 2003), 1.
Munich is a city of doors. There are a lot of doors. Some of the buildings have only doors. There are a few windows, but those seem the result of accident rather than any kind of commitment to transparency. The door is the only feature of architecture with a clear purpose: invitation. These doors serve to evacuate the street, with their exterior expression of indifference a result of the apathy to the urban street professed through the invitation of architecture. This city is indifferent to composition. It’s scattered. It’s off balance. It’s a bit strange. It’s curiously familiar, but unlike anything. It’s vaguely attractive. It’s unconcerned with the market or Twitter. It’s not selling anything. It’s nothing special.
LA+ IDENTITY/SPRING 2017 65
Alaska Anchorage 99508 Juneau 99801 Sitka 99835 Soldotna 99669 Alabama Anniston 36201 Ashford 36312 Auburn 36832 Birmingham 35213 Birmingham 35228 Brewton 36426 Centre 35960 Decatur 35601 Las Vegas Demopolis 36732 NV Eutaw 35462 Evergreen 36401 Florence 35630 Fultondale 35068 Gadsden 35903 Gardendale 35071 Geraldine 35974 Greensboro 36744 Greenville 36037 Grove Hill 36451 Guntersville 35976 Hanceville 35077 Harpersville 35078 Headland 36345 Jasper 35501 Kennedy 35574 Leesburg 35983 Mobile 36605 Mount Vernon 36560Baytown Northport 35476 TX Opelika 36801 Rogersville 35652 Satsuma 36572 Sumiton 35148 Sylacauga 35150 Troy 36081 Trussville 35173 Tuskegee Institute 36088 Wilmer 36587 Arkansas Altus 72821 Batesville 72501 Bentonville 72712 Berryville 72616 Blytheville 72315 Bradford 72020 Cabot 72023 Calico Rock 72519 Carlisle 72024 Cave City 72521 Clarendon 72029 Oakland Corning 72422 Danville 72833 CA Decatur 72722 Dumas 71639 Earle 72331 Flippin 72634 Fordyce 71742 Forrest City 72335 Fort Smith 72904 Glenwood 71943 Harrisburg 72432 Heber Springs 72543 Lake Village 71653 Lincoln 72744 Little Rock 72201 Little Rock 72202 Little Rock 72205 Little Rock 72206 Lonoke 72086 Lowell 72745 Marmaduke 72443 Mc Gehee 71654 Monticello 71655 Nashville 71852 Oxford 72565 Paragould 72450 Piggott 72454 Pocahontas 72455 Prescott 71857 Rector 72461 Rison 71665 Sidney 72577 Springdale 72764 Star City 71667 Texarkana 71854 Trumann 72472 Walnut Ridge 72476 West Fork 72774 Wilson 72395 Arizona Buckeye 85396 Flagstaff 86001 Florence 85132 Holbrook 86025 Kingman 86401 Laveen 85339 Nogales 85621 Phoenix 85041 Phoenix 85042 Wickenburg 85390 California Alameda 94501 PARK St, USA Alhambra 91801 â€œParkâ€? Alturas 96101 Arcata 95521
Ballico 95303 New Canaan 06840 Bellflower 90706 New Haven 06504 Berkeley 94702 New Haven 06511 Boulder Creek 95006 New Haven 06513 Buellton 93427 New Haven 06519 Calipatria 92233 New London 06320 Calistoga 94515 North Grosvenordale Ceres 95307 06255 Cerritos 90703 Norwalk 06851 Chino 91710 Norwich 06360 Clearlake 95422 Plainville 06062 Concord 94520 Plymouth 06782 Eureka 95501 Putnam 06260 Fellows 93224 06484 Omaha Shelton Fort Bragg 95437 Stafford Springs 06076 NE Fortuna 95540 Stamford 06902 Grass Valley 95945 Stratford 06614 Gridley 95948 Thomaston 06787 Hayward 94541 Trumbull 06611 Hayward 94544 Vernon Rockville 06066 Hercules 94547 Wallingford 06492 Hollister 95023 West Haven 06516 Huntington Beach 92648 Westport 06880 Indio 92201 Willimantic 06226 Lakeport 95453 Delaware Lathrop 95330 Milton 19968 Live Oak 95953 Rehoboth Beach 19971 Livermore 94551 Florida Livingston 95334 Alva 33920 Lodi 95240 Archer 32618 Lodi 95242 Atlantic Beach 32233 Madera 93637 Auburndale 33823 Martinez 94553 Cedar Key 32625 Moraga 94556 Center Hill 33514 Sacramento Newhall 91321 Clearwater 33755 North Hollywood 91605 Clearwater CA 33756 Ontario 91761 Crescent City 32112 Ontario 91762 Crestview 32539 Orange 92869 Dade City 33525 Pacific Grove 93950 Dania 33004 Paso Robles 93446 Defuniak Springs 32433 Perris 92570 Defuniak Springs 32435 Pinole 94564 Dunedin 34698 Porterville 93257 Eustis 32726 Redwood City 94061 Glen Saint Mary 32040 Rosemead 91770 Grand Ridge 32442 Saint Helena 94574 Green Cove Springs Salinas 93901 32043 Samoa 95564 Gretna 32332 San Francisco 94107 Hobe Sound 33455 San Francisco 94110 Hollywood 33024 San Leandro 94577 Inglis 34449 San Luis Obispo 93401 Interlachen 32148 San Miguel 93451 Jacksonville 32204 San Rafael 94901 Jacksonville 32205 Santa Fe Springs 90670 Jacksonville Alexandria 32234 Santa Paula 93060 Jacksonville 32256 Santa Rosa 95404 Jensen BeachVA 34957 Seeley 92273 Jupiter 33458 Selma 93662 Keystone Heights 32656 Shasta Lake 96019 Kissimmee 34744 Simi Valley 93063 Lake Helen 32744 Soledad 93960 Lake Placid 33852 Stockton 95202 Lake Worth 33460 Stockton 95203 Lakeland 33803 Stockton 95205 Lawtey 32058 Susanville 96130 Leesburg 34748 Tehachapi 93561 Live Oak 32064 Torrance 90505 Marianna 32446 Turlock 95380 Mayo 32066 Visalia 93291 Melrose 32666 Weed 96094 Miami 33166 Westminster 92683 Monticello 32344 Whittier 90601 Naples 34102 Colorado North Palm Beach 33408 Arriba 80804 Okeechobee 34972 Bayfield 81122 Palatka 32177 BroomfieldWilmington 80020 Panama City 32401 Byers 80103 Panama City 32404 DE 32348 Carbondale 81623 Perry Port Charlotte 33952 Cascade 80809 Rockledge 32955 Castle Rock 80109 Safety Harbor 34695 Cortez 81321 Saint Petersburg 33707 Delta 81416 Saint Petersburg 33709 Evergreen 80439 Saint Petersburg 33710 Fort Collins 80521 Sebring 33870 Fort Morgan 80701 Seffner 33584 Fruita 81521 Seminole 33777 Golden 80403 Tampa 33612 Holly 81047 Tarpon Springs 34689 Kremmling 80459 West Palm Beach 33404 Lafayette 80026 Iowa Lamar 81052 Ainsworth 52201 Mancos 81328 Alton 51003 Manzanola 81058 Anthon 51004 Meeker 81641 Bellevue 52031 Merino 80741 Blencoe 51523 Rangely 81648 Blockton 50836 Springfield 81073 Cambridge 50046 Sterling 80751 Carlisle 50047 Trinidad 81082 Centerville 52544 Woodland Park 80863 Chester 52134 Connecticut City Kansas Clarinda 51632 Bridgeport 06608 Colo 50056 Bristol 06010 MO Conrad 50621 Cos Cob 06807 Ellington 06029 Coon Rapids 50058 Enfield 06082 Creston 50801 the most common in the United52101 States. Guilford 06437 street nameDecorah Hartford 06106 Des Moines 50309 Jewett City 06351 Des Moines 50314
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Marengo Merom Michigan City Monroe Morgantown Mulberry Muncie New Market Noblesville Oaktown Odon Orleans Patriot Pekin Plainfield Portland Remington Rising Sun Rochester Seymour Shelburn Shelbyville South Whitley Syracuse Terre Haute Terre Haute Trafalgar Van Buren Vincennes Wakarusa Wanatah Westfield Windfall Wolcottville Woodburn Worthington Kansas Alta Vista Arlington Atchison Bazine Beloit Bird City Blue Rapids Bonner Springs Canton Cherryvale Claflin Clearwater Coffeyville Dodge City Ellsworth Fall River Fowler Gardner Girard Greenleaf Hays Herington Hoisington Hope Hutchinson Independence Iola Jetmore Johnson La Cygne Larned Lenexa Liberal Lincoln Linwood Maize Mcpherson Meade Moran Ness City Norton Olathe Oskaloosa Ottawa Paola Parker Phillipsburg Pittsburg Pleasanton Pretty Prairie Quinter Salina Sharon Springs Shawnee Smith Center Spearville Stilwell Troy Wellington Wichita Winfield Yates Center Kentucky Ashland Auburn Bowling Green Bremen Burlington Catlettsburg Cave City Central City Clay 0 0.25 0.5 Cloverport Corbin
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Ft Mitchell 41017 Methuen 01844 Fryeburg 04037 Howell 48843 Elko New Market 55054 Gilbertsville 42044 Middleboro 02346 Guilford 04443 Hudson 49247 Emmons 56029 Grayson 41143 Middleton 01949 Hallowell 04347 Ionia 48846 Erskine 56535 Guthrie 42234 Milford 01757 Houlton 04730 Iron Mountain 49801 Excelsior 55331 Hazard 41701 Millbury 01527 Kennebunk 04043 Ironwood 49938 Fairfax 55332 Hickman 42050 Millers Falls 01349 Kingman 04451 Ishpeming 49849 Fairmont 56031 Louisa 41230 Milton 02186 Lagrange 04453 Jonesville 49250 Fergus Falls 56537 Morganfield 42437 Natick 01760 Lewiston 04240 Kalamazoo 49001 Freeborn 56032 Morgantown 42261 New Bedford 02740 Lincolnville 04849 Kalamazoo 49007 Fulda 56131 Pikeville 41501 Newburyport 01950 Lisbon 04250 Kaleva 49645 Georgetown 56546 Sacramento 42372 Newton 02458 Livermore Falls 04254 Kinde 48445 Glencoe 55336 Shelbyville 40065 Norfolk 02056 Madawaska 04756 Kingsford 49802 Good Thunder 56037 Versailles 40383 North Andover 01845 Madison 04950 Lake 48632 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49660 Nevis 56467 Kenner 70062 Pittsfield 01201 Rockport 04856 Manitou Beach 49253 New Germany 55367 Krotz Springs 70750 Pocasset 02559 Sabattus 04280 Manton 49663 New Ulm 56073 Livonia 70755 Quincy 02170 Saco 04072 Marquette 49855 New York Mills 56567 Marksville 71351 Randolph 02368 Sanford 04073 Mason 48854 Onamia 56359 New Llano 71461 Rehoboth 02769 Searsport 04974 Melvindale 48122 Ortonville 56278 New Orleans 70123 Rockland 02370 Skowhegan 04976 Montague 49437 Ostrander 55961 Opelousas 70570 Royalston 01368 South Berwick 03908 Montrose 48457 Owatonna 55060 Patterson 70392 Salem 01970 South Paris 04281 Mount Clemens 48043 Parkers Prairie 56361 Saint Martinville 70582 Salisbury 01952 Springfield 04487 Mount Pleasant 48858 Peterson 55962 Greenville Detroit Portland Baton Rouge Shreveport 71119 Saugus 01906 Sullivan 04664 Munising 49862 Pierz 56364 LA SC 70661 MI Starks Shrewsbury 01545 ME Van Buren 04785 Muskegon 49441 Red Wing 55066 Sulphur 70663 Somerville 02143 Waterford 04088 Muskegon 49442 Rochester 55904 Tullos 71479 South Dartmouth 02748 Waterville 04901 Muskegon 49444 Rockford 55373 Ventress 70783 South Deerfield 01373 West Paris 04289 Naubinway 49762 Rollingstone 55969 Ville Platte 70586 South Hadley 01075 Wilton 04294 Newaygo 49337 Rush City 55069 Walker 70785 South Hamilton 01982 Yarmouth 04096 North Branch 48461 Rushford 55971 West Monroe 71291 Southborough 01772 Michigan Oak Park 48237 Saint Clair 56080 Winnfield 71483 Southbridge 01550 Adrian 49221 Onaway 49765 Saint Paul 55103 Zwolle 71486 Spencer 01562 Albion 49224 Onekama 49675 Saint Paul 55110 Massachusetts Springfield 01103 Alden 49612 Otisville 48463 Saint Paul 55117 Adams 01220 Springfield 01105 Alpena 49707 Ovid 48866 Saint Paul 55126 Amesbury 01913 Sterling 01564 Ashley 48806 Owendale 48754 Sauk Rapids 56379 Andover 01810 Stockbridge 01262 Atlanta 49709 Owosso 48867 Sherburn 56171 Arlington 02474 Stoneham 02180 Au Gres 48703 Oxford 48371 South Saint Paul 55075 Athol 01331 Stoughton 02072 Baldwin 49304 Paw Paw 49079 Spring Valley 55975 Attleboro 02703 Swansea 02777 Bangor 49013 Pellston Stanchfield 55080 Auburn 01501 Taunton 02780 Barryton 49305 49769 Tracy 56175 Ayer 01432 Topsfield 01983 Bay City 48708 Pentwater 49449 Underwood 56586 Barre 01005 Turners Falls 01376 Belding 48809 Petoskey 49770 Walnut Grove 56180 Belchertown 01007 Uxbridge 01569 Bellaire 49615 Pierson 49339 Warroad 56763 Ardmore Iowa Bellingham 02019City Vineyard Haven 02568 Bentley 48613 Pigeon 48755 Wayzata Brooklyn 55391 Beverly 01915 Wakefield 01880 Benton Harbor 49022 Pinckney 48169 Wells 56097 IA OK NY Blackstone 01504 Waltham 02453 Bessemer 49911 Plainwell 49080 Missouri Boston 02108 Ware 01082 Big Rapids 49307 Plymouth 48170 Anderson 64831 Braintree 02184 Wareham 02571 Birmingham 48009 Portland 48875 Asbury 64832 Brockton 02301 Watertown 02472 Boyne City 49712 Prescott 48756 Ash Grove 65604 Brookline 02446 Webster 01570 Bridgman 49106 Prudenville 48651 Blackburn 65321 Charlestown 02129 West Roxbury 02132 Bronson 49028 Quincy 49082 Blanchard 51630 Chelsea 02150 West Springfield 01089 Buckley 49620 Reed City 49677 Bourbon 65441 Chicopee 01013 West Yarmouth 02673 Burr Oak 49030 Richland 49083 Brashear 63533 Clinton 01510 Westborough 01581 Cadillac 49601 Richmond 48062 Brookfield 64628 Danvers 01923 Westfield 01085 Caledonia 49316 Rockwood 48173 Browning 64630 Dedham 02026 Westminster 01473 Camden 49232 Roseville 48066 Burlington Junction 64428 Dorchester 02122 Whitinsville 01588 Capac 48014 Saint Johns 48879 Butler 64730 Dorchester Center 02124 Williamstown 01267 Carsonville 48419 Saint Joseph 49085 California 65018 East Brookfield 01515 Wilmington 01887 Caseville 48725 Saugatuck 49453 Campbell 63933 Eastham 02642 Winchendon 01475 Cassopolis 49031 Sault Sainte Marie 49783 Cape Girardeau 63701 Easthampton 01027 Winchester 01890 Cedar Springs 49319 Sparta 49345 Cape Girardeau 63703 Erving 01344 Woburn 01801 Central Lake 49622 Spring Lake 49456 Carrollton 64633 02093 Fall River 02721 Wrentham Chelsea 48118 Spruce 48762 Chillicothe 64601 Feeding Hills 01030 Clare 48617 Sturgis 49091 Clarkton 63837 Maryland Fitchburg 01420 Clio 48420 Sunfield 48890 Clinton 64735 Florence 01062 Coldwater 49036 Tecumseh 49286 Corder New York 64021 San Francisco Boston Chevy Chase 20815 Framingham 01702 Coloma 49038 Traverse City 49684 Crocker 65452 CA NY MA Cumberland 21501 65634 Framingham 01704 Coopersville 49404 Traverse City 49685 Cross Timbers Cumberland 21502 Curryville 63339 Franklin 02038 Crystal 48818 Twining 48766 Easton 21601 Dadeville 65635 Gardner 01440 Crystal Falls 49920 Union City 49094 Frostburg 21532 Doe Run 63637 Georgetown 01833 Dearborn 48124 Vassar 48768 Kitzmiller 21538 Doniphan 63935 Great Barrington 01230 Decatur 49045 Vicksburg 49097 Lanham 20706 El Dorado Springs 64744 Greenfield 01301 Deerfield 49238 Waterford 48329 Lonaconing 21539 Ellington 63638 Groveland 01834 Detroit 48215 Watervliet 49098 Wayland 49348 Westernport 21562 Excelsior Springs 64024 Hanson 02341 Dorr 49323 Maine Wayne 48184 Farmington 63640 Harwich 02645 East Tawas 48730 Bangor 04401 Whitehall 49461 Fordland 65652 Haverhill 01830 Eaton Rapids 48827 Bar Harbor 04609 Ypsilanti 48198 Gallatin 64640 Haverhill 01835 Elk Rapids 49629 Bath 04530 Zeeland 49464 Galt 64641 Hopedale 01747 Ellsworth 49729 Belfast 04915 Minnesota Garden City 64747 Hopkinton 01748 Engadine 49827 Bethel 04217 Ada 56510 Glenwood 63541 Housatonic 01236 Falmouth 49632 Biddeford 04005 Alexandria 56308 Granby 64844 Hudson 01749 Fennville 49408 Boothbay Harbor 04538 Annandale 55302 Greenfield 65661 Hyannis 02601 Fenton 48430 Bridgton 04009 Anoka 55303 Hale 64643 Hyde Park 02136 Flint 48503 Calais 04619 Barnum 55707 Hamilton 64644 Lawrence 01841 Frederic 49733 Camden 04843 Baxter 56425 Houston 65483 Lee 01238 Fremont 49412 Caribou 04736 Belle Plaine 56011 Independence 64054 Leominster 01453 Fruitport 49415 Cherryfield 04622 Boyd 56218 Independence 64058 Lexington 02421 Gaines 48436 Dexter 04930 Brainerd 56401 Jackson 63755 Lowell 01852 Glennie 48737 Dover Foxcroft 04426 Brooten 56316 Jasper 64755 Lynn 01905 Grand Ledge 48837 Durham 04222 Caledonia 55921 Kansas City 64117 Lynnfield 01940 Grand Rapids 49504 Diego Hartford Plano San East Boothbay 04544 Cannon Falls 55009 Kansas City 64152 Malden 02148 Grand Rapids 49525 East Livermore 04228 Chatfield 55923 Kansas City 64163 Mansfield 02048 Grand Rapids CT 49544 CA TX East Millinocket 04430 Clinton 56225 Kennett 63857 Marion 02738 Grayling 49738 Marlborough 01752 Eliot 03903 Hancock 49930 Cologne 55322 Keytesville 65261 Marshfield 02050 Ellsworth 04605 Harrison 48625 Cottonwood 56229 King City 64463 Miles st-popular-street-names-in-every-state/. Source: The Washington Mattapoisett 02739 FairfieldPost, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/03/06/these-are-the-mo 04937 Hastings 49058 Currie 56123 Lanagan 64847 2 Maynard 01754 Farmingdale 04344 Highland 48356 Dawson 56232 Lancaster 63548 Medfield 02052 Farmington 04938 Hillsdale 49242 Detroit Lakes 56501 Lathrop 64465
learning from skopje 2014 70
Andrew Graan is Assistant Director of the University of Chicago’s Center for International Studies. He earned his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2010 and has taught anthropology at the University of Chicago, the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University, and Columbia College Chicago. Graan’s research focuses on political communication and the cultural regulation of public spheres in the Republic of Macedonia. His writing on Skopje 2014 and the politics of nation branding has appeared in Cultural Anthropology and Signs and Society. Aleksandar Takovski is a Lecturer in the English Language Program at Southeast European University, where he teaches linguistics and literature. He earned his PhD in Philological Sciences from the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Republic of Macedonia, in 2014. Takovski’s research interests span critical discourse analysis, political communication, humor studies, multimodality, and semiotics. His writing on Skopje 2014 has appeared in Etnološka Tribina and Redefining Community in Intercultural Context.
Anthropology, Design Marketing, Urban Studies
ome wasn’t built in a day. During the past decade, however, it appears that many cities have been. Places like Dubai, Baku, Astana, Kuala Lumpur, and Shanghai have been built, or rebuilt, seemingly overnight and with spectacular flair. Amid this frenzy of building and promotion—of building as promotion—lies Skopje, the capital city of the Republic of Macedonia. Beginning in 2010 and continuing to the present, the city has been the subject of an extraordinary architectural makeover that its government sponsors named Skopje 2014. The project has brought a deluge of new buildings and monuments—most in baroque and neoclassical style—that obscure and replace the mid-century socialist and Ottoman-era architecture that once lent the city its architectural identity.1 The project’s centerpiece, an eight-story tall monument to Alexander the Great, inspires the sense that one has stumbled into a fantastic landscape that desperately wants to be noticed. And, indeed, Skopje 2014 has caught people’s attention, both inside and outside Macedonia. Project supporters praise both its strong statement on Macedonian national identity and also its potential to advance Macedonia’s international image and attract foreign investment and tourism. Project critics, however, rail against its massive expense, the exclusionary ethno-nationalist narrative that it presents, and the secretive manner in which such a city-redefining project was planned and executed. Furthermore, with its excess of monuments and infatuation with the neoclassical and baroque many critics have derided the project as kitsch, as a collection of already outdated copies of European elsewheres, and as some strange Balkan analogue to the simulacra city of Las Vegas. Yet, like Las Vegas before it, Skopje 2014 has drawn new audiences to marvel and gasp at its scale and extravagance.
In this essay, our goal is not to analyze, explain, or critique Skopje 2014, although we perhaps do all of those things. Rather, finding inspiration in Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour’s classic of architectural theory, Learning from Las Vegas, we seek to mine Skopje 2014 for lessons on the contemporary.2 Our task is not to repeat a strand of criticism that blindly valorizes modernist orthodoxies on originality and progress in order to dismiss architectural projects that appear to reside far from the cutting edge. We agree with the Venturi, Brown, and Izenour that “roadside copies of Ed Stone are more interesting than the real Ed Stone.”3 We also hold that Skopje 2014 is more interesting than that which it purportedly mimics. Thus, with Learning from Las Vegas as a guide, we work to understand Skopje 2014 not as copy or kitsch but as a testament to its time and place. Toward a Political Economy of Architectural Spectacle Architecture, as Umberto Eco states, is the art of shaping space, of making it both functional and meaningful, and it is a process that is necessarily governed by political and economic forces.4 The authors of Learning from Las Vegas understood this. One important contribution of their intervention was to link architectural form and communication to larger political
Learning from skopje 2014 72
economic conditions. According to Venturi, Brown, and Izenour, Las Vegas exemplified developments in American consumer capitalism but, in order to see how, one needed to attend to the city’s architectural symbolism. In contrast to modernist principles, which held that architectural form should follow from building function, Las Vegas’ architecture, they argued, elevated popular appeal, symbolic persuasion, and commercial utility over stoic functionalism and so signaled new varieties and scales of consumerism.5 The structures of communication incorporated into architectural projects reflect and perpetuate their underlying conditions. Similarly, we see Skopje 2014’s embrace of ornament, excess, and imitation as symptomatic of a broader political economy and of shifts in how nation, state, and economy are conceptualized and enacted in the early 21st century. We contend that careful attention to the project’s design and symbolism elucidates the logic behind these shifts. In its realization, Skopje 2014 combines unabashed nationalism with marketing savvy, presupposing a global economy and a political milieu in which identity is understood as inherently competitive.6 The result of this formula is a historically specific exercise in architectural spectacle: a form of urban planning that features signature architectural landmarks as a means to advance identity claims, to demand political recognition, and to catalyze economies. As we elaborate below, contemporary practices of architectural spectacle further hold that these goals are inextricably linked. Skopje 2014’s monuments and buildings therefore warrant an analysis in terms of what, how, and to whom they communicate and how the city’s social landscape is transformed in the process. Skopje 2014: A Visual Text on Macedonian National Identity With its parade of monuments and neoclassical facades, Skopje 2014 deploys architecture to craft a particular narrative on Macedonian national identity and also presents an image of the past that has been designed to be consumed both by foreign and domestic audiences. What shape does this narrative take? How does the project inscribe a chosen ‘competitive identity’ on the built environment, and to what effect? To answer these questions, we examine the visual grammar that emerges from the project’s use of space and symbol, and the way that its elements combine into a readable text on Macedonian national history and identity.7 Although the Skopje 2014 ‘improvements’ range across the Macedonian capital, the project centers on the city’s main plaza, Macedonia Square. In the square alone, the following statues of historical figures, listed in chronological order, have been added: Alexander the Great (356–323 BC); Justinian I (483– 565 AD), a Byzantine emperor born in what is now Macedonia; Tsar Samoil (958–1014), a medieval ruler of Macedonia; Dimitar Berovski (1840–1907), Dame Gruev (1871–1906), Goce Delchev (1872–1903), and Dimitrija Chupovski (1878–1940), fin-de-siècle revolutionaries who fought the Ottomans; the Gemidzii, an anarchist group who organized a famous terrorist attack in
pursuit of Macedonian independence; and Metodija Andonov Chento (1902–1957), the first president of the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia, which successfully led the resistance to the Axis occupation of Macedonia during World War II. Representing different and discrete historical periods, these statues claim to portray the core of Macedonian national history. (As critics have remarked, this core reflects an exclusively ethnic Macedonian and masculine view on Macedonian history, despite the country’s diverse population.) Within this pantheon, the place of honor is reserved for the Alexander statue. Rising to 24.5 meters, the monument depicts Alexander on a rearing horse with his sword drawn. His pose signifies a fearless readiness for battle. In contrast, the two other statues of horsemen on the square, those of Goce Delchev and Dame Gruev, are smaller and placed on much lower pedestals. While Gruev holds a gun, Delchev points to the horizon. Their horses are not represented in a battle position, but are shown in a slow walk. Together the Delchev-Gruev pair represent ideals of continued struggle and visionary leadership in the march of Macedonian history. By design, then, if Alexander and Bucephalus lead the endless charge of Macedonian history from ancient times, Delchev and Gruev calmly carry its spirit forward into the modern era. Elsewhere around the square can be found the other key, if supporting, characters in this grand story of Macedonian history. The two emperors Justinian and Samoil each sit on thrones. Calmly looking ahead, they signify rule rather than battle. The Gemidzii monument depicts six of the group’s members. While remembered for their revolutionary terrorist activity, the six men are portrayed as urbane and dispassionate: one reads a book, one wears a fedora, another sports a bowtie. The Chento statue stands with his right hand stretched and index finger pointing, as if further directing the forward path of the Macedonian nation. The statues each represent a different type of prized engagement in history – warriors, rulers, leaders, and intellectuals. Through their placement on the square, they present Macedonian history as an idealized, spiritual, whole. Each of the supporting figures faces the center of the plaza with a line of sight that rises above the head of spectators, presumably toward the ever-glorious horizon of Macedonian nationhood. The gazes of each statue then meet at the Alexander monument, which appears as the apotheosis of the national ideal, one that literally rises above all else. Hegemonic Nationalism and Skopje 2014 Of course, all nations and nationalisms are historical constructs, despite their claims to eternity.8 And, many a nation-building project has created monuments to its vision of national history and identity. However, in its particular melding of political and economic aims, Skopje 2014 exemplifies a growing affinity between nationalist politics and national
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promotion that targets global publics. As we see it, both conservative nationalist politics and global promotion initiatives are united by efforts to control how and by whom the nation can be represented and therefore often feed into one another.9 As a nationalist project, Skopje 2014 does more than concretize its narrative of national identity on Skopje’s built environment, it also asserts this narrative as exhaustive. Here, it is important to note that, as Atanas Vangeli describes, the narrative of Macedonian national identity that harkens back to Alexander the Great is a relatively novel one that first gained traction in the 1980s.10 Previously, and in parallel to many other European nationalisms, Macedonian national histories had centered on the so-called age of national awakening and specifically on the activities of late 19th- and early 20th-century revolutionaries, like Goce Delchev and Dame Gruev, who struggled for independence from the Ottoman Empire. The Alexander narrative thus marks a major shift in the popular historiography of Macedonian identity, a shift that is closely linked to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his own brand of Macedonian nationalism. Significantly, the Alexander narrative presents a Macedonian claim to autochthony that aggressively confronts Greek and Bulgarian challenges to the Macedonian identity as well as ethnic Albanian agitation for greater inclusion and autonomy within the Macedonian state. Yet, critics of the project inside Macedonia, and there are many, including ethnic Macedonians, ethnic Albanians, and others, have derided Skopje 2014 as an imposed program of nationalist artifice. In many senses, Skopje 2014, and the narrative of nation that it elevates, reflects a narrow political project despite the ambition to memorialize a total vision of Macedonian identity. Given this aspect of Skopje 2014’s nationalist project, perhaps not surprisingly, supporters portray it as a long overdue celebration of Macedonian national identity that “opens the forbidden, hidden pages of Macedonian history” that previous political regimes had denied.11 In classic nationalist fashion, this logic positions the nation as a timeless spirit, or even libido, that yearns for consummation. However, considering the novelty of this particular narrative on Macedonian identity, the project is performative in nature: its visual statement on Macedonian national identity is itself a social accomplishment. It presupposes as accepted fact an account of Macedonian history that it actively creates and propagates through its displays. In a more mythopoeic sense, the project can be seen as an invitation to its spectators not only to witness, but also to participate in its historical narrative. The project forms a site of immersion that seeks both to evoke politically motivated feelings of national pride among ethnic Macedonians, and also to secure world recognition. Capturing this mixture of national pride and the assumption of world historical meaning are statements like that offered by talk-show host Milenko Nedelkovski who declared of the project, “We have built a new Alexandria.”12 For many ethnic Macedonian nationalists and Gruevski supporters the newly designed city center functions similarly to a shrine. It is a myth-making space where the devout followers of the government’s discourse on national identity come to experience it in a densely articulated material fashion. One result of this, we contend, is a project that materializes nationalist myth in a way that is hegemonic. Through the sheer density, scale, and spectacle of Skopje 2014, the project has overtaken public space in central Skopje such that it limits any other signification outside of its nationalist narrative. As the project has unfolded, one is left with the impression that it casts a total vision for the city, that the project aims to leave no corner of the city untouched. In consequence, Skopje 2014 actively restricts what Roland Barthes described as the eroticism of cities, the dimension of cities that is experienced as "an exchange site of social activities" and as "the space in which certain subversive forces act and are encountered, forces of rupture, ludic forces.”13 Skopje 2014, in its aggressive statement on national identity and its effective grip on public space enacts an architecture of control. Under
1 See Armin Linke & Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Socialist Architecture: The Vanishing Act (Zurich: Codax, 2012), and Vladimir Kulic, Maroje Mrduljas, & Wolfgang Thaler, Modernism In-Between: The Mediatory Architectures of Socialist Yugoslavia (Berlin: Jovis, 2012) for recent studies of Yugoslav architecture that include notable profiles of Skopje’s modernist structures. See also Milan Mijalkovic & Katharina Urbanek, Skopje: The World’s Bastard (Vienna: Weiser, 2011) for a review of Skopje’s modernist heyday in light of the Skopje 2014 project. 2 Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, & Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977). Thanks go to Morgan Liu for mentioning Learning from Las Vegas in response to Graan’s presentation on Skopje 2014 at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, DC. 3 Ibid., 3. 4 Umberto Eco, “Function and Signs: The Semiotics of Architecture” in Neil Leach (ed.), Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 173–93. 5 Venturi, et al., Learning from Las Vegas, 7. 6 Melissa Aronczyk, Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). Cf. Simon Anholt, Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions (London: Palgrave, 2007). 7 On the concept of visual grammar, see Gunther Kress & Theo van Leeuwen, The Grammar of Visual Design (London and New York: Routledge, 1996). 8 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983). 9 Andrew Graan, “The Nation Brand Regime: The Semiotic Regimentation of Political Communication in Contemporary Macedonia,” Signs and Society 4 (2016): S70–S105. 10 Atanas Vangeli, “Nation-Building Ancient Macedonian Style: The Origins and the Effects of So-Called Antiquization in Macedonia,” Nationalities Papers 39 (2011): 13–32. 11 A statement by Todor Petrov, leader of the nationalist World Macedonian Congress, quoted in Kurir, May 5, 2013, “Macedonians proud of Skopje 2014,” http://arhiva.kurir.mk/ makedonija/vesti/115071-SMK-Makedoncitegordi-so-proektot-Skopje-2014(accessed February 8, 2016). 12 Milenko Nedelkovski, “We have built a new Alexandria”, Faktor, April 28, 2013, http:// faktor.mk/2013/04/28/za-skopje-2014milenko-nedelkovski-izgra/44878 (accessed February 8, 2016). 13 Roland Barthes, “Semiology and Urbanism,” in The Semiotic Challenge (New York: Hill and Wang, 1988), 199–200. 14 Aronczyk, Branding the Nation. 15 Nikos Chausidis, Project Skopje 2014: An Outline for Future Research (Skopje: Nikos Chausidis, 2013), 76–79.
Learning from skopje 2014 74
the auspices of enhancing Macedonia’s competitive identity, Skopje 2014 actualizes a partisan colonization of public space. From Nationalist Shrine to Tourist Attraction Remarkably, despite Skopje 2014’s intensive regimentation of public meaning inside Macedonia, the project also declares Macedonia as open for tourism and investment from abroad. Indeed, Skopje 2014’s design and aesthetics register this lamination of bold nationalism and global promotion. Like many nation-branding projects, Skopje 2014 combines signs of distinctiveness with signs of familiarity when issuing an appeal for global recognition.14 Tellingly, as art historian Nikos Chausidis argues, although the project attempts to accentuate “the ancient roots of the modern Macedonian nation,” the styles used on the new structures do not actually draw on archaeological knowledge about ancient Macedonian architecture.15 Instead, Skopje 2014’s presentation of an ancient Macedonian past is mediated by much later ‘European’ reconstructions and imitations of antiquity, namely, the neoclassical and the baroque. The project thus presents a version of Macedonian identity and of ancient history that has been prefigured as recognizable to outside observers in Europe and beyond. In one light, the ‘European’ draping that the project places around Macedonian history can be seen as an aesthetic and political effort to reclaim a pre-socialist past that locates Skopje and Macedonia within the perceived mainstream of European history. It is thus a claim for European belonging in the age of European integration. Such projects are not unique to Macedonia. For example, as Gendelman and Aiello show, similar strategies have been
undertaken in Dresden and Sibiu.16 In these cities too, building projects that ostensibly ‘reconstruct’ a missing past work to invent, by way of celebrating, a glorious pre-communist, European past. Such projects thereby advance a revamped historical narrative to locals while also packaging place-based identity for consumption by foreign tourists. The architectural spectacle functions to combine folklore and marketing, to link mythic pasts to future ambitions. In these contexts, monumental landscapes of overdetermined historical meaning and tourist paraphernalia commingle, reminding, as Michael Pretes states, that it is “through tourist spaces such as commemorative monuments that all national tourist organizations promote national ideologies and foster national identities.”17 Urban renewal projects like Skopje 2014 strategically tailor presentations of national distinctiveness to also attract outside recognition and capital. Thus, it is through its pretensions as a nationalist shrine that Skopje 2014 also sells itself as a tourist attraction. As we see it, this combination is not incidental but inheres in the project’s logic. Skopje 2014 posits tourist consumption as a primary way in which its claims on a Macedonian identity that is equally ancient and European will be ratified. Such is the condition that Derya Özkan and Robert Foster describe as “neoliberal nationalism,” which “promotes the integration of the national economy with the global marketplace; and it seeks the signs of this integration in the sphere of consumption.”18 With Skopje 2014, it is the nation itself that is presented as a luxury commodity to be celebrated by locals and validated by outside consumption.
LA+ IDENTITY/SPRING 2017 75
Conclusion The excesses of architectural spectacle, as shown here, can lend themselves to odd combinations: Skopje 2014 imbricates virulent nationalism, cosmopolitan pretense, and tourist promotion across the city’s built environment. In doing so, the project addresses Macedonian citizens, divisively demanding that they participate in its nationalist vision, while also seeking to appeal to imagined tourists and investors. The project claims to be both sacred, a shrine to Macedonian national identity, and profane, a tool to attract outside capital. In this miscegenation of principle, the project appears grotesque to some, brilliant to others. We see it as symptom of its time; of a world in which global competitiveness rankings include assessments of country “attractiveness.”19 Of a world in which the nationstate is being remade rather than abandoned by globalized finance capital. Of a world in which investment has displaced industry as the driver of economies. Such developments create the conditions for a patently 21st-century architectural nationalism, one that sees spectacle as a way to vindicate the nation while also peddling it to publics abroad.20 Where does this all leave us? Venturi, Brown, and Izenour said of Las Vegas and Rome that each city is “an exaggerated example from which to derive lessons for the typical.”21 We see Skopje as following suit. The Macedonian government’s embrace of urban renewal, as we have argued here, throws into relief the political and economic dynamics of national competitiveness in an age of finance capitalism. Yet, as Denise Scott Brown wrote in the preface to the revised edition of Learning from Las Vegas, the overarching moral of their study was “to reassess the role of symbolism in architecture, and, in the process, to learn a new receptivity to the tastes and values of other people and a new modesty in our designs and in our impression of our role as architects in society.”22 Architectural spectacle that is designed to amaze citizens and attract investment naturalizes the necessity of competitive identities in a globalized world. If Skopje 2014 is indeed any indication, this is a world in which nations are often narrated, enshrined, and branded from a narrow set of perspectives and goals. The extravagant populism of Skopje 2014 thus leads us to echo Brown’s conclusion, and to imagine a city and a world that is more receptive, more modest, more plural.
16 Irina Gendelman & Giorgia Aiello, “Faces of Places: Facades as Global Communication in Post-Eastern Bloc Urban Renewal,” in Adam Jaworski & Crispin Thurlow (eds), Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space (London and New York: Continuum, 2010), 256–73. 17 Michael Pretes, “Annals of Tourism Research,” Annals of Tourism Research 30 (2003), 126. 18 Derya Özkan & Robert Foster, “Consumer Citizenship, Nationalism, and Neoliberal Globalization in Turkey: The Advertising Launch of Cola Turka,” Advertising and Society Review 6 (2005). 19 Aronczyk, Branding the Nation, 47–52. 20 E.g., see Bruce Grant, “The Edifice Complex: Architecture and the Political Life of Surplus in the New Baku,” Public Culture 26 (2014), 501–28; Laura L. Adams, The Spectacular State: Culture and National Identity in Uzbekistan (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010) and Aihwa Ong, “Hyperbuilding: Spectacle, Speculation and the Hyperspace of Sovereignty,” in Ananya Roy & Aihwa Ong (eds), Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global (London: Blackwell, 2011), 205–26. 21 Venturi, et al, Learning from Las Vegas, 18. 22 Ibid., xvii.
The new Museum of the Macedonian Struggle with the reconstructed Nation Theater (destroyed 1963) in the background.
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? MARK RAGGATT
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Mark Raggatt is a director of ARM Architecture, Australia. He has worked on some of ARM’s most recognizable projects including the Melbourne Recital Centre, MTC Southbank Theatre, the Melbourne Central Shopping Centre redevelopment, the Hamer Hall redevelopment, and Orbis Apartments. A published writer, designer, teacher, and critic of architecture, Raggatt recently worked on Mongrel Rapture: The Architecture of Ashton Raggatt McDougall (2015) as contributing editor.
elbourne, Australia is currently ranked the most livable city in the world.1 It was designed as a grid by the surveyor Robert Hoddle in 1837 and was auctioned off in lots. Melbourne was a mercantile city from its foundation and by the 1850s it was the richest city in the world. Gold brought people—English, Irish, Germans, and Chinese—but for something like 40,000 years prior to this, the area had been occupied by Wurundjeri, Boon Wurrung, and Wathaurong people of the Kulin nation, one of almost 300 nations of peoples indigenous to Australia. Their relationship to ‘country’ (landscape) is not like those who came later, not defined by grids and auctions, or indeed by any urban artefacts. Their bond is with the land, not the city. The landscape is, for them, the surface expression of a deeper memory, beyond history, into the very origins of creation. Swanston Street is Melbourne’s scoliotic spine – it crosses the central business district catching institutions along the way: The National Gallery of Victoria, The Victorian Arts Centre (both designed by Sir Roy Grounds), Flinders Street Station, Federation Square by LAB Architecture Studio, St Paul’s Cathedral by William Butterfield, the (retrofitted) City Square, The Town Hall, the Capitol Theatre by Walter Burley-Griffin and Marion Mahoney, The State Library of Victoria, the Melbourne City Baths and the architectural experiments of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Along the way are shopping malls and laneways, cafes, and adult stores – the usual fascinating detritus of the modern city. Swanston Street stumbles off axis at the northern end skirting past the former Carlton United Brewery site, and to the south it trembles around the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance: a mausoleum built to memorialize the catastrophic events of World War I. The city is bookended by death and hops. ARM architects have been responsible for the reinvention of both. The brewery is now a 32-story residential apartment building called ‘Swanston Square’ built over the old malt store. With the usual mix of apartments and amenity, it is perhaps an unremarkable project but for the sinuous balustrades that carve between light and shade their ever-changing shapes to outline the contours of an 80-meter-high bearded face, a Mount Rushmore in fiberglass. The immediate question that comes to mind is “WTF?” And then, “Who is he?” It could be Karl Marx, Elijah, or Moses. Who do you say that I am? There is nothing to tell us, no helpful plaque, but for giant, silver braille glyphs, beyond reach or reading. The braille glyphs open the way to inquiry; first they require curiosity, investigation. Deciphered, these few lines read: Wurundjeri I am who I am
These are words that define identity. The first, Wurundjeri, the name of a people in country 40,000 years. The second, a sentence and a name: as God said to Moses: “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:13). Together they point to the ancient and the ageless, a conflation of cultures and time, of country and context spanning the possible universe of identity from an ancient and living people to the ‘ancient of days,’ but also expecting us to question our present identity and future ideas for our nation’s identity. How can these live together? It asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Above us, the mute face recalls a time before architecture had a name, before architectural language was turned to babble by idiosyncrasy and eclecticism. The face as form is in the fundaments of architecture – the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Moai made by the Rapa Nui, the smiling faces of The Bayon, or the destroyed Buddhas of Bamiyan; each face an individual but somehow representative of us all.
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Where we stand, at the foot of the building, somewhere near the tip of the big beard we are too close to see features clearly. It’s almost like sitting too close to the TV. Here we see another type of detail, we see the residents occupy a deep veneer: the black strips are voids within that mask of ornament. Ornament is traditionally applied to form in order to communicate content and meaning. At Swanston Square ornament is given depth and occupation, at this massive scale it is no longer supplemental but fundamental; it places the resident within the content, the meaning, the identity of the building. We see a neighborhood in that giant head, but to recognize the face we have to step back. Oddly, with distance comes focus. From the other side of the central business district standing on the steps of the Shrine of Remembrance we can see the significance of this face, its true scale. This Australian face looks back through the city eye-to-eye with the Shrine and with us, his features by some trick now clear. This Australian face is that of William Barak (1824–1903) the last traditional ngurungaeta (Elder) of the Wurundjeri and he is staring directly at the shrine, white Australia’s sacred site. The portrait of William Barak looking back at us (though blind, just as Washington, Crazy Horse, or Lady Liberty are blind) is not composed for the street, or to measure by some architectural rule, it is clear only at the scale of the city. William Barak is a central figure in Melbourne’s history, an influential spokesman for social justice and a visual artist recognized in his own time. It is said that Barak was present in 1835 at negotiations with the colonizer John Batman who claimed to have ‘purchased’ the land Melbourne now stands on. Barak recalled witnessing the treaty, which he called a tanderrum: a diplomatic rite that extends hospitality to foreigners and affords temporary access, safe passage, and use of the land’s resources. Melbourne, like so many colonial cities had a dubious beginning, one that gnaws at the conscience of the city and the nation and inspires competing claims of ownership. This building is intended to contribute to that unfinished process of reconciliation. Swanston Square, like the city, is contested. The site, even, seems imbued with appalling significance. A brewery, even a long abandoned one, for some seems a cruel accident, the fount of so much heartache in the Aboriginal community – how can this be the place for a monument? The architects, ARM, and the developer, Grocon, worked closely with the Wurundjeri people to develop the portrait, deploying a technique ARM conceived in 2005 for a similar project in Sydney.2 As former Grocon CEO Carolyn Viney said, the building was “designed to raise the profile of the Wurundjeri people,” adding that “the idea stemmed from our desire to do something very meaningful in the context of the project’s location opposite the Shrine of Remembrance.”3 Wurundjeri Tribal Land Council then CEO Megan Goulding also
Above: Swanston Square, Melbourne, showing William Barak’s image on the facade. Left: William Barak, 1876.
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commented that “[t]he Elders have noted that it’s Grocon’s intention to pay respect to both Barak and the Wurundjeri people as the traditional owners of Melbourne and the greater Melbourne region over many thousands of years. The Wurundjeri community is very moved by this gesture and appreciates the respect that both Grocon and ARM have shown in developing this exciting concept.”4 Swanston Square, however, cannot be understood, nor is it intended, as a work of Aboriginal architecture. The building is not universally accepted by the broader Aboriginal community. Aboriginal architect Linda Kennedy of future-black.com commented that “[t]he true irony of this project is the lack of substance delivered by the misdirected will of an all-white design team. The irony: that this building raises more questions about the relationship between white architects and Aboriginal Australia than it raises about the relationship between white and black Australian history, culture, identity.”5 This debate spilled into the mainstream press and public forums in which architecture and its practice was at the heart of the question of how we can live together, understand each other, learn from each other, and reconcile our history. And not only us, but the myriad nations that now make up modern Australia. Standing at the southern end of Swanston Street is the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance. Built to memorialize the men and women who served in World War I it was not completed until 1934, by which time the Nazis had seized power in Germany. It has been said that modern Australia was born on the battlefields of World War I; these were the birth pangs of a nation, sealed in sacrifice to an incompetent and indifferent colonial power. Soldiers went away calling themselves British and arrived home Australian. Bisymmetrical and austere, the Shrine of Remembrance was originally designed by Hudson & Wardrop as an unambiguous edifice to sacrifice and heroism. ARM Architecture recently completed a long-term project to extend and reimagine the Shrine. Whilst preserving its heritage, our goal was to find a new flourishing for the building, a new understanding of the memorial, a monument to wars with onetime enemies now our friends, neighbors, husbands, and mothers.
Above: View toward the Shrine of Remembrance from Swanston Square balcony. Previous: Aerial view of Melbourne showing Ashton Raggatt McDougall’s Swanston Square building at top of image and the Shrine of Remembrance at bottom.
The prosaic problem of the project was how to find a new way in, one that didn’t require aged knees and the disabled to climb nine meters upstairs to the entry portico, while also adding an exhibition space, student center, lecture theater, and offices. We did this by carving four irregular courtyards at diagonal axes to the original building creating new entries and perspectives of the old building. These courtyards are formed by an imaginary double-helix barreling down Swanston Street—a DNA strand, the very figure of identity—as if carrying the building blocks of creation with it. Standing in them is like standing in a foxhole or grave looking to the headstone above. One courtyard has an olive tree—the promise of peace—one a lush jungle with walls disappearing, one black beneath a giant poppy, and one red, inscribed as if by a giant’s hand “Lest we forget.”
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It’s as if we’re standing in the bodies of ancestors, inside the memory of the Somme or a sweaty jungle, or buried in Flanders Field marked only by a poppy. Or perhaps it is they living through us: the echo of ancestry, of a people for whom bloodshed and sacrifice were not learned concepts, for whom “greater love hath no man” rang true. For some, these are the distant murmurings that make a nation, even as it evolves; the pull of those stories, the longing for a time we never knew, remains. Contemporary forms of identity must somehow extend beyond nostalgia or patriotism. A single monument is no longer sufficient to capture identity—perhaps it never was— identity is a tangle of relations. Our roots are more complex and more entwined beneath the surface. Inside the Shrine, below ground, there is now a red theater – red like looking at the sun through closed eyelids. The room is lined with stained timber, each panel an origami crane recalling the Japanese legend in which a person who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish by the gods.6 These cranes honor Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and was inspired by the legend to make a thousand cranes of her own. The Shrine of Remembrance then is an empathetic monument: it now remembers the suffering of the innocent enemy, not the enmity of nations. Through empathy a new identity emerges. These two buildings, the Swanston Square tower and the Shrine, are neighbors across the city, both contested monuments spanning the shifting politics of identity in Australia: the face a mirage in the urban economy, the Shrine a talisman against forgetting. There is a critical difference between the two buildings: one is a civic monument—an authorized vessel for history—the other is an apartment complex built by private interests. Is it a monument at all? If it is, then for whom does it stand? It does not stand alone, but rather in an uneasy relationship with the Shrine and with a queasy complicity with the economics of the city. It is less a monument than a neighbor, one who stands amongst many. A building can’t tell us where the self resides, no more than it can surpass the worth of those who live in it. We bring ourselves to architecture, we create its meaning and its value. It won’t be long before Swanston Square is subsumed by the city, another tower jostling in the crowd. Perhaps by then there will be reconciliation for Australians; perhaps then shrine and tower will exchange glances across the city. These two buildings are shaped by memory, they are shaped by the belief that the material order of the city is the theater of our identity and that identity in Australia is contested ground. They ask “Who is my neighbor?” but they are still learning to be neighborly.
1 Economist Intelligence Unit, Liveability Report, Global Liveability Survey, http://store. eiu.com/product.aspx?pid=455217630&gid= 0&pubid=465217631 (accessed May 31, 2016). 2 King Street Wharf, Sydney (2005) (unbuilt). The façade by ARM Architecture depicted Max Dupain’s iconic photograph Bondi (1939). 3 Reported in The Daily Telegraph, http:// www.dailytelegraph.com.au/realestate/ news/a-31storey-portrait-of-indigenousleader-william-barak-has-been-unveiled-onthe-facade-of-a-new-city-tower/newsstory/c38dfbc261f1a9d7483cd514bdecd9f8 (accessed May 31, 2016). 4 David Hansen, “Headstone,” Griffith Review 36 (2012): 238–50. 5 Linda Kennedy, “Face the Irony,” http:// www.future-black.com/blog/13/2/2015/facethe-irony (accessed May 31, 2016). 6 “One Thousand Origami Cranes,” https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thousand_origami_ cranes (accessed May 31, 2016).
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Nicole Porter is the author of Landscape and Branding: The Promotion and Production of Place (2016). She has worked in academia, private practice, and the public sector, merging diverse interests in landscape, urban design, architecture, art, and environment. Porter holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and is currently assistant professor in Architecture and Landscape at the University of Nottingham, UK.
ow does the practice of place branding affect the way landscape identity is conceptualized, designed, and valued? Place—that sense of uniqueness, meaning, and identity associated with a particular locality—is generally valued by landscape architects, who are trained to interpret, conserve, and create landscapes that reflect the diversity and particularity of nature and culture. In recent years those same landscape qualities have risen in economic value too. Post-industrial economies have shifted from manufacturing and selling tangible products toward offering intangible identities, experiences, and emotive associations in the form of brands. In short, ‘place’ has economic value, and the strategic practice of place branding seeks to exploit that value. Brands circulate in every sphere of contemporary culture, be it in the form of political parties, universities, celebrities, products, or corporations. Casual usage of the word ‘brand’ conjures up the image of recognizable logos and advertising; however, branding represents a far more comprehensive and far-reaching set of processes and ambitions. As distinct from ad-hoc advertising, images, or projects, branding is a “professional, systematic and ubiquitous” marketing and management practice.1 Place branding scholar Mihalis Kavaratzis defines this process as “the creation of a recognisable place identity and the subsequent use of that identity to further other desirable processes, whether financial investment, changes in user behavior or generating political capital.”2 As publication titles such as Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions3 suggest, this activity occurs in an aggressive bid to compete for economic advantage in a global market place, at a variety of scales. By adapting the corporate branding model to the management of places (both public and private), a number of key typical features stand out. The process usually starts with the development of a unifying singular ‘vision,’ with the place branding strategy acting as an overarching long-term framework that defines an identity or set of values intended to capture and promote the positive qualities of the place. These visions are typically simplified and reductive versions of existing places, bringing “a certain order or coherence to the multiform reality around us.”4 The identity narratives they construct focus on the uniqueness of a place, sometimes called its ‘essence’ or ‘personality.’ Taking this raw essence, place brands then target certain markets using sophisticated market research to identify and interact with consumers. The resulting place identity formations are expressed through a coordinated network of traditional advertising, designed spaces, and interactive experiences produced by a range of professionals. Building the Brand The following examples of landscapes from different sides of the globe, Singapore and Norway, illustrate the construction of landscapes as place branded ‘objects.’ In both cases, a place identity based on selected local landscape qualities has been purposefully created and communicated in a systematic and coordinated way, with advertising images and PR being composed in tandem with the design of the physical spaces themselves. Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is the pre-eminent example of a designed landscape functioning as a place brand. When Singapore’s National Parks Board conducted an international design competition for a new urban park in 2006, the project brief expressly called for designs that would celebrate the nation-state’s ‘City in a Garden’ brand identity. This is an ambitious extension of the ‘Garden City’ place brand initiated by the Singapore government in 1967 as “a deliberate strategy to differentiate Singapore from other developing countries by turning the city into a tropical garden city,” an approach seen as “the most cost-effective way to impress upon visiting dignitaries and investors of the commitment and efficiency of the government.”5
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One hundred hectares of reclaimed land—a blank slate awaiting the projection of an identity—are now in the process of being transformed into the physical embodiment of a carefully planned brand. The iconic ‘Gardens by the Bay South’ phase (led by Grant Associates and completed in 2012) demonstrates how landscape design can be deployed to reify abstract brand values, with its photogenic SuperTree Grove promoting Singapore as progressively high-tech, tropical, and environmentally conscious. This is branding at its most pervasive, incorporating landscape design into a seamless process of promotion (advertising) and production (spatial design). The landscape comes into being through a simultaneous combination of governance, marketing, master planning, graphic design, architecture, engineering, and landscape design. The result is a cohesive and coordinated landscape identity which has been consciously cultivated and reinforced through online imagery and social media, and most of all it is embodied in the physical space of the Gardens themselves. Like any brand, this holistic product is carefully controlled for consistency: the narratives featured on the official free mobile phone app, the typography and graphic design featured on wayfinding signage, and the forms and details to be found within the design reflect a shared vision and speak with the same voice. A consistent Gardens by the Bay identity is achieved over time via a process that starts with the brief, continues with the multi-disciplinary design of the landscape and its market-friendly graphic image, and is maintained through rules and regulations controlling the reproduction of official brand communications (for example graphics), as well as the content of commercial (and visitors’) landscape photography.6 Similarly, the image and experience of Norway’s remote landscapes are conceptually and physically mediated via a system of advertisements and design. Norway’s spectacular landscapes are an integral part of the country’s national identity and its tourism economy. One of the government’s strategies to increase use of the country’s natural and cultural heritage for tourism purposes is the “[d]evelopment of a brand/ communications strategy for Norway’s national parks, including the continuation of the national park villages and national park districts schemes.”7 Snøhetta, a Norwegian design firm with an international profile and a track record of designing structures for Norway’s scenic tourist routes, was chosen to develop this strategy. Snøhetta defines itself as a trans-disciplinary studio where several design and other creative professions exchange roles and work across disciplines, including branding and landscape architecture.8 For this project, glacier-crisp photographs and graphic design frame an expansive natural landscape that is in turn framed by the branded interpretive signage that Snøhetta has produced for the whole of Norway’s national park system. The suite of graphics, based on a ‘portal’ shape, is intended to act as a common motif, “unifying” a vast range of landscapes and their stakeholders under a common brand identity.9 This standardized graphic device can be subtly modified to reflect individual parks whilst conforming to a nationwide identifiable symbol. How Branding Works Marketing the qualitative attributes of landscape is not a new phenomenon (this has occurred for as long as tourism has); however, place branding represents a shift in how the marketing and management of place image operates in today’s global socioeconomic context. We now witness the sophisticated self-conscious formation of identity and ‘brand values’ by authorities responsible for the economic management of places. Landscapes of all kinds—from urban gardens and development sites through to protected wilderness areas—are increasingly subject to a coherent and “forceful”10 system of identity construction. The point at which different expressions of identity (organizational, place, landscape) are intentionally brought together to express a predetermined image is, in effect, when a place becomes a brand. The two examples above illustrate a phenomenon of commissioning, designing, and
1 Aeron Davis, Promotional Cultures: The Rise and Spread of Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing and Branding (Cambridge: Polity, 2013), 1–5. 2 Mihalis Kavaratzis, “Place Branding: A Review of Trends and Conceptual Models,” The Marketing Review 5, no. 4 (2005): 334. 3 Simon Anholt, Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). 4 Hans Mommaas, “City Branding: The Necessity of Socio-cultural Goals,” in Véronique Patteeuw & Urban Affairs (eds), City Branding: Image Building and Building Images (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2002), 34. 5 Kenneth Er & Leong Chee Chiew, “Singapore’s City in a Garden: 50 Years of Greening,” Commentary: ‘The Idea of Singapore’ Issue, no. 22, (2013): 106. For a review of several of Singapore’s City in a Garden projects see Steven Velegrinis & Richard Weller, “The 21st-Century Garden City? The Metaphor of the Garden in Contemporary Singaporean Urbanism,” Journal of Landscape Architecture 2 (2007): 30–41. 6 Corporate and place brands are typically managed with in-house brand guidelines outlining the rules governing the use of color palettes, photographic strategies, and other copyright matters. Public guidelines for visitors to Gardens by the Bay are available at http://m.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/planyour-visit/visiting-guideline.html (accessed February 21, 2016). 7 Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry, “Destination Norway: National Strategy for the Tourism Industry,” http://www.regjeringen. no/pages/37646196/lenke_til_strategienengelsk.pdf (accessed February27, 2015): 78. 8 Snøhetta, “Transpositioning,” http:// snohetta.com/process (accessed February12, 2015). 9 Snøhetta, “Norway’s National Parks,” http:// snohetta.com/project/226-norways-nationalparks (accessed February 18, 2016). 10 The comprehensive branding of America’s National Parks Service was described as “forceful” by Andrew Gross et al, in “The Multiple Mandates of National Park Systems,” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 5 (November 2009): 285. 11 Robert Govers & Frank Go, Place Branding: Glocal, Virtual and Physical Identities, Constructed, Imagined, Experienced (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 255. 12 Mihalis Kavaratzis & Mary Hatch, “The Dynamics of Place Brands: An IdentityBased Approach to Place Branding Theory,” Marketing Theory 13, no. 1 (2013): 70. 13 Zenker & Braun, cited in ibid. 14 Celia Lury, Brands: The Logos of the Global Economy (New York: Routledge, 2004), 151. 15 Andrew Wernick, Promotional Culture: Advertising and Ideology in Late Capitalism (London: Sage, 1991). 16 Ibid., 16. 17 Davis, Promotional Cultures, 4.
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constructing or modifying a physical landscape to be in accordance with a prescribed (that is to say market-led) image. Place brand identities and narratives can—and, according to the place branding discipline, should—be realized in the actual design and management of physical landscapes. This is a process advocated by place branding experts Robert Govers and Frank Go, whose model asserts there should be no gaps between the brand concept, its communication, and the way it is experienced in reality, insisting that this alignment requires the physical construction of place to be consistent with its conceptualization in branding terms.11 As Kavaratzis and Hatch put it, place brand identities are “embodied through the aims, communication, values, and the general culture of the place’s stakeholders and the overall place design,”12 a claim clearly implicating the work of designers. When considering the implications for landscape users, it is clear that branding seeks to influence landscape perceptions and experiences (the extent to which they really achieve this can of course be debated, but the investment of time and resources made in the attempt is undeniable). Place branding literature expresses the very notion of place as “a network of associations in the consumer’s mind,” even referring to capturing market share as capturing “mindshare.”13 Place branding’s rationale is to produce landscape ideas that appeal to consumers, to affect what a given landscape potentially means at a deeply subjective level. It seeks to align the many potentially singular landscape impressions, place associations, and experiences with a common unified theme, a specific aesthetic frame, and a consistent image. It seeks to intervene in every stage of an individual’s engagement with place. First, by using carefully constructed copy and landscape images to frame expectations before a physical landscape has been experienced; second, by facilitating the experience through the design of the space itself; and finally, by influencing how we recall the experience afterwards, through invitations to share imagery and experiences online within a brand discourse (where, notably, social media interactions are used by site owners to obtain consumer data, which informs subsequent branding activities). Despite the determination to control the ways in which a person engages with a place, place branding discourse and practice repeatedly presents narratives of greater individual choice, either online or on-site, where consumers are repeatedly invited to ‘discover’ landscapes for themselves. Like the branded maps for Norway’s national parks or the aerial walkway in Gardens by the Bay, brands offer a number of landscape routes, themes, identities, and experiences from which to choose, but these inevitably lead the participant down carefully choreographed prescribed paths. Branding does not lead towards open-ended and direct engagement with the landscape, or to the openended making of place and identity over time. Within a strategic framework, place branding presents different options, from the most overtly commercialized and iconic landscapes through to others that are more subtle and ‘natural’ in their expression, but all are equally framed by the “indeterminacy within limits”14 that
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characterizes branding at its core. Snøhetta’s national parks ‘portal’ is an apt metaphor for all place brands – mediating devices that stand between individuals and the landscape being framed. The landscape metaphors, carefully composed images, and particular landscape experiences that are promised in conventional advertising lead to transformation at a physical landscape level, as seen through Singapore’s decades-long program to build its city-in-a-garden idea. The mutually constitutive influence of marketing publications, marketing events, websites, and ultimately the ‘object’ being marketed (that is to say the landscape and the experiences it affords) become difficult to disentangle. When this occurs, the physical landscape is truly incorporated into the brand nexus and is transformed into a “promotional object,”15 the term sociologist Andrew Wernick uses to describe things whose very function, substance, designed form, actions, and symbolic meaning are fundamentally shaped by marketing imperatives. This results in the instrumental “semiotic and aesthetic fashioning of objects…a matter for systematic and hard-headed calculation about what would maximise customer appeal.”16 This can occur in a knowing or unknowing fashion, for as Aeron Davis notes “promotional practices have spread to a number of occupations and settings which once had little or no promotional function… the need to promote has simply become unconsciously internalized by people and institutions.”17 Landscape Branding It is important that landscape architects are familiar with the aims of place branding because it potentially frames the design brief, project rationale, and design outcomes of projects. When a landscape design is influenced by branding imperatives, the design will inevitably have a limited number of place identities and place values to draw upon. The drive for market competitiveness (places competing with other places for investment) and positive place perceptions means that particular identities are privileged, others omitted. Those landscape values or unique qualities that are perceived (by governing authorities or brand consultants) as being desirable to future consumers are validated, reinforced, and reified through landscape design; this invariably marginalizes alternative heterogeneous identities and narratives. Anything that cannot be neatly distilled to fit the strategic brand framework will be removed.18 Here a paradox emerges. The more it appears that unique place identity is valued and its virtues promoted though place branding, the more homogeneous place becomes – because all such places serve the instrumental purpose of being products whose identities have been created to serve a common function. An urban park in Asia and a Scandinavian mountain are very different landscapes physically and culturally but both are reduced to functioning as commodified objects when refashioned as brands. With its eye always on the market, place branding practices tend toward a reduction of landscape
toward instrumental (economically driven), standardized, market-friendly narratives, identities, and experiences. Although individual landscapes are inherently unique by virtue of their ecologies, cultural histories, and spatial singularities, the repetitive conceptual branding framework that represents them is like a contemporary Claude glass,19 rendering everything encountered through its filter with a uniform branded color palette and promotional function. The irony of this is that producing place identities according to marketfriendly types can destroy their true uniqueness and inherent value at the same time that it reconstitutes that same identity as a ‘unique selling proposition’ in marketing parlance. By using landscape narratives and representations in a calculated and instrumental way, these qualitative landscape attributes are “emotionally, and existentially, devalued.”20 We live in a branded age where landscape qualities constitute an economically valuable resource that are extracted and refined and consumed in a manner not dissimilar to the extraction and refinement of quantities of economically valuable land resources in industrial times. Compared to physical resource extraction, this form of landscape consumption is sometimes presented as preferable insofar as it represents “a mode of economic development that does not compromise the land.”21 Alternatively, it constitutes a deeper infiltration of late-capitalist ideology and processes into human–nature relationships. Just as extracting a mineral resource from the land alters, threatens, and, at times, destroys its integrity, so too does extracting qualitative values from landscape for economic ends threaten the integrity of the landscape at that qualitative and intrinsic level. A diminution in the perceived value of a place, whereby its uniqueness is invariably equated with a single market value, is a perverse and frightening prospect. The dominance of one species of plant will destroy the balance of an ecosystem, and likewise the dominance of one idea or value system will destroy the balance that keeps human culture functioning and flourishing.22 Ideas about identity and experience are important, and a diverse range of ideas—beyond brands—needs to be encouraged, just as a diverse range of physical ecologies needs to be encouraged. It has been said that landscape is lost “through the loss of beauty, the loss of freedom, the loss of wildlife and the loss of meaning.”23 Place branding reduces a landscape’s identity and meaning to a single bottom line. Place branding is therefore a problematic process, for even though brands like Singapore’s City in a Garden or Norway’s National Parks can include ‘nature’s diversity’ and ‘visit and protect’ as environmentally responsible and ethical brand values, the process of place branding itself represents an ideology underpinned by competitiveness and consumption. By seeking to control and limit the way the landscape identity is imaged and imagined, place branding threatens landscape diversity, and landscape design risks being complicit in this process. Designers may protest that this is the reality of
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contemporary practice, but in that case, we are offering the public and ourselves no choice but to be consumers; every landscape we engage with will be the product of the same system and logic, and will perpetuate that system. Does place and landscape identity have to equate to the same thing as a profit-driven branding identity? All ideologies and belief systems operate by projecting the assumption that what they stand for is natural, correct, and inevitable; capitalism is no different. A critical landscape practice is one that challenges the assumption that landscape qualities are just another commodity, and values other, diverse ways of understanding space and place.
18 Kent Wertime, Building Brands and Believers: How to Connect with Consumers Using Archetypes (Chichester: Wiley, 2002), 46. 19 The Claude Glass, named after French landscape painter Claude Lorrain, is a tinted mirror used to view the landscape popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The viewer turns one’s back on the actual view and instead looks at that same view reflected in the Claude glass, seeing a framed and colored version of the landscape resembling Lorrain’s picturesque painting style. 20 Wernick, Promotional Culture, 188. 21 Sean Cubitt, Eco Media (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005), 10. 22 “There is an ecology of bad ideas, just as there is an ecology of weeds.” See Gregory Bateson, Steps to An Ecology of Mind (New York: Ballantine Books, 1972), 484. 23 Oliver Rackham cited in Robert MacFarlane, Landmarks (UK: Hamish Hamilton, 2015), 9.
IN conversation with
Martin rein-cano + You were born in Buenos Aires but have built your practice in Berlin, a city for which cultural identity is an extremely vexed issue. How do you feel this has informed your design philosophy and work?
Martin Rein-Cano is director of landscape architecture practice Topotek 1, headquartered in Berlin. The practice has developed a body of work in Europe that challenges landscape architecture’s tendency to ‘smooth things over,’ embracing instead social and programmatic conflicts as formative. By heightening, instead of repressing, the tensions and contradictions in places and working with, rather than against, banal regulations, Topotek 1’s designs attain a subtle and uncanny—at times even surreal—quality. As we discovered when we caught up with him in his Berlin studio, Rein-Cano not only challenges landscape architecture’s aesthetic traditions, he also rejects the professional identity of the landscape architect as global ecological steward and diviner of essentialist notions of genius loci.
To start, I would say I don’t see vexed as negative. In fact, every identity is conflicted; there always exists an underlying dialectic in people and places, the most extreme ones are often the most interesting. To think that Berlin was once the site of the worst dictatorship and war and now it’s a hipster capital is quite absurd. It’s as if someone told you Pyongyang was to be the next hip city! My point is that identity is not given, nor is it permanent. Identity is something that can be manipulated for both the positive and the negative. But where one imagines cities like Paris, London, or New York as having a defined and established character, Berlin never suffered from such assumption, the city’s identity through tragedy or otherwise has remained fluid. I think this has affected my approach to design as I’ve learned not to assume given realities – presumed reality often kills or poisons ideas. There is always a sub-reality, the ‘real’ reality that isn’t necessarily visible on the surface. As a designer your role is to understand and embrace this circumstance, landscape architecture is thus not only about reinforcing identity, but equally about redefining it as well.
+ When the Wall came down in 1989, Berlin seemed so full of possibility and there were many ideas competitions, yet the city’s public spaces don’t appear particularly innovative or experimental. Would you agree with this observation, and how can it be explained?
Well, yes and no. In Berlin after the fall of the Wall the entire city was set before you with all its wounds wide open. In this no man’s land you could see the overlapping of politics, ideologies, and desires all taking course, which is what made Berlin interesting and magnetic. Berlin was the experimenting grounds of all the failed ideologies of the 20th century, from fascism to communism. Everything that happened in terms of the European revolutions, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, post-communism, etcetera, all played out here in small scale. Berlin was the capital (though war torn), it was the East and the West, it was old and it was new – so many things at once. In this place that refused to be defined it created a spirit of experimentation. City building politics, however, sought the very opposite: they were tired of experimentation, they were fed up with failure. City officials wanted the city to be a proud ‘capital’ again. Berlin was thus not experimental on purpose. But when all normalcies have been lost, when a city has fallen out of the system—as did Berlin—how does one exert control and intervene with normal rules? In this state of limbo experimenters seeking new possibilities moved in. The free space, or what I refer to as the ‘wounds,’ became informally occupied and people played with possibility. This is what has made Berlin, Berlin. The opportunities that arrived and the identity of the city was not derived from the top down and given by the political program, which I believe doesn’t work anyhow, it was the opposite that prevailed. So many creative people would not have been drawn to this city if it were not for its blatant deficiencies and associated possibilities. But at some point it will be over. In this case I can’t help but be reminded of the famous adage associated with the French Revolution, la révolution dévore ses enfants (in English something like “the revolution devours its own children”). So in the end I wonder if, when the city is all filled in and sewn back together, it will still be a place worthy of interest. Will the city ever become the classic European capital some desire? Or will the momentum that was generated through appropriation and experimentation that has made the city so magnetic eventually kill the beauty?
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+ Landscape architects typically seek to reconcile antagonistic forces, yet you speak about the role of ‘conflict’ as a desirable force in relation to your work. Can you explain how this translates into your design work?
Landscape architects often seek to harmonize. To harmonize though, in my eyes, is to repress. I believe instead in reconciliation, which is a cultivation of conflicts not the repression of such. Conflict and tension if manipulated correctly can be positive forces, which can define the character of place. There is a common tendency to make everything ‘nice,’ to silence collision. I however have no interest in the muffling character of nice. Enticing spaces to me are places where culture, conflict, and beauty all collide. Public space is the battleground for testing social conflicts; if we don’t use this space for experimentation of the smaller conflicts we won’t be aware of what the bigger conflicts might be till they hit us. As such, public space is the social vent where conflicts have the chance to get out. If everyone is repressed in harmony it comes out in ugly ways. The key is to find a good balance. A direct example in our work is the boxing ring at Superkilen in Copenhagen. The community had expressed concern about neighborhood street violence. Rather than avoiding the issue we made aggression a spectacle, and literally put the problem on a stage. Within the confines of the ring, aggression is allowed a time and place and by context it is also given a sense of social civility. We thus took the problem and repackaged it through ‘acceptable’ cultural means. It is like a vaccination: with just a little bit of the problem injected you become stronger in fighting the larger issue down the line. Of course, where spaces lack conflict altogether they can be so dry as to suffer from perfection. A common Topotek 1 design strategy is to create conflict in such places. One such example is the football court we designed for a garden show in Germany. The proportions of the court were completely discombobulated and then the whole thing was dropped in ankle-deep water. With all normalcies lost, new rules of play needed to be agreed by users to guard against anarchy. So, in this case the insertion of conflict generated greater interaction among users and gave the place its character. In general, I would say landscape architects don’t have to be such good girls and boys, and instead we can stop attempting to harmonize and try our hands at mischief. Of course personal respect is a must, but political correctness in my book is repressive thinking.
+ Using a pastiche of various cultural icons, the Superkilen Park project in Copenhagen made ethnic diversity its primary subject. Reflecting on the project now, do you consider the overt use of cultural symbolism was successful in addressing the multicultural identity of the ‘conflicted’ area?
Symbolism is a shortcut to information, like a diagram or an icon. The migrant neighborhood of Superkilen is not of a singular culture: there is no long-term established identity. This identity crisis needed a fast answer. As an international way of communication we thought symbolism was the right strategy to communicate to the neighborhood. In symbolism there is a sense of immediateness, which was very helpful. Rather than an elitist approach, we worked with this mass cultural communication and pushed its superficiality. It is essential, however, that the symbolism was not just direct cultural appropriation. Symbols alone are too easy, too simple; straight symbolism would have been ‘cheap.’ Superkilen is thus not just a collection of cut-and-paste icons but instead the symbols by context and recreation are retranslated, readapted, and generated with a sense of humor, all in all taking the piss, really. But cultural pride can often be too serious, the best is to be able to laugh at yourself, to use humor to learn to tolerate each other – share in absurdity. As such we have a bus stop with a sign in Arabic where no bus actually stops. There is a giant sign advertising donuts where there are none. In this way the symbols too are also liberated from their original functionality becoming ‘confusers’ and even works of art. In addition, through the process of Danish redesign, the objects, like people in the community, are at once both foreign and Danish. This dialectic symbolism is what made this project successful. The neighborhood can’t be defined as just one thing and neither can our symbols. Of course parks have always been a place of symbolic meaning and a place between places, somewhere between the real and the surreal: we took these strategies and just turned up the volume.
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+ Landscape architecture is often explained or justified in terms of its apparent ability to express a distinct sense of place, and yet much of it looks the same the world over. How does sense of place inform your own work.
A distinct sense of place can be drawn from social, historic, geological conditions, etc., but to me the most powerful is often the narrative of place. A book by the Swiss sociologist Lucius Burckhardt comes to mind, he has a piece where he takes James Cook’s enticing description of the New World and couples the words with images of the most mundane sights in Germany—1950s shacks, cows out to pasture, etcetera— and somehow these seemingly inconsequential spaces are given intrigue and power. This is a wonderful illustration that narrative is not only a perspective but that narrative has the power to generate a sense of place from nothing, independent of the given reality. As another example, think about the story of William Tell and the shooting of the apple, the fabled location in Switzerland is visited by thousands of tourists every year. It’s just a lawn! There is nothing there, but still people have a desire to be there. A distinct sense of place can be drawn from narrative, some places carry their own narratives, which need to be translated into space, and others need new ones. This ability, in my opinion, could be stronger in the profession.
+ Ecological concerns have been a driving force in the modern development of landscape architecture and many design schools emphasize ecological processes and performance over the cultural aspects of landscape. What is your position vis-à-vis the ecological and the cultural roles of the landscape architect?
For me landscape architecture is a social venture. The often false academicization of the profession is, in my opinion, wrong. If we want to be ecological often doing nothing is the best thing one can do. The pseudo-scientific approach to landscape architecture is often manipulation, ‘green washing,’ or false romanticism rather than real and consequential action. Before, form followed function; now, form follows formula. Both are, in my mind, wrong. Sustainability is understood as progressive but we need to keep our eyes open as at times it can be the opposite. Many projects are just misusing it to make people feel good instead of taking real action – and the profession is cheapened by it. The process becomes simplified and one-directional. Of course an ecological approach can be part of the design but there is never one way for anything. For character and difference there can’t be a one-way strategy. In certain situations it is a necessity, but it is one of many approaches. Additionally, the do-gooder scare tactic gives an unnecessary restriction based on fear; we need a positive attitude.
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Previous: The design for Superkilen, Copenhagen (2012) incorporates references from the many nationalities that make up the local multicultural community. Above: Topotek 1 projects (clockwise from top left) Kindergarten Griechische, Berlin (2007); Castle Park State Horticultural Show, Wolfsburg (2004); Bahndeckel Rail Park, Munich (2010); Post-Industrial Park State Horticultural Show, Eberswalde (2002); Superkilen, Copenhagen (2012); Kaiak Market Parking, Berlin (2007).
Percent molecular composition of a human compared to the earthâ€™s crust. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26883/
VICTOR TÉNEZ YBERN + MIRIAM GARCÍA GARCÍA
Undoing Design, Producing
Victor Ténez Ybern is an architect and landscape architect based in Barcelona. He combines public and private practice with teaching landscape theory and design at the Universities of Barcelona and Milan. Ténez Ybern is currently chief of the Department of River Regeneration in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. Miriam García García is an architect and landscape architect and principal of LandLab, based in Madrid. García’s practice focuses on urban development and coastal regeneration processes, with projects awarded both nationally and internationally. She has been visiting professor at The University of Pennsylvania, and at universities in Barcelona and Madrid. She currently teaches at the University of Zaragoza in Spain.
Opposite: Martí Franch and Ardèvol Associates’ masterplan for Tudela’s Plain in Cap de Creus, Catalonia, previously the site of a Club Mediterranée resort.
pain boasts perhaps the biggest coastal-focused tourism industry worldwide. Winy Maas conducted an analysis of this high-density coastal tourism model in his 1998 book Costa Ibérica.1 There is a kind of fascination in the way the book unveils the complexity of the organization: the limited capacity of the beach can be boosted by the creation of a parallel offer of leisure products such as cheap shopping malls, theme parks, and an invitation to late night drinking and dancing. This last is not just another leisure offering; it is an essential organizational device that works to displace the schedule of the two main user groups – families and young adults. It allows the use of the beach in several turns, almost doubling the sand capacity that, in the end, determines the region’s occupancy limits. This orchestrated formula is in fact known in marketing as the ‘4S model’ (sun, sea, sand, and sex). It represents a coastal organizational scheme where the total control of the experience of the user is built in order to optimize the business revenues of a landscape. Maas’s research suggests that this “congestion poetics” could free ‘natural’ coastal places of occupation by concentrating the impacts in more multifunctional and dense urban areas.2 And it goes further, suggesting that even the perception of the landscape can be disaggregated in its elements to increase its capacity of performance.3 For instance, bigger skyscrapers with large panoramic pools on their roofs are recommended. This provides, under the sun, a synthetic sea where the water is unbounded by its view. Ultimately, this idea is at the core of any touristic process and its conversion of fragmentary perceptions into goods. But this also involves the destruction of the landscape concept itself and the loss of any possibility of this fragmented scenario to support any local, place-based narrative or identity. In Spain the destruction of the coast has been a common political issue almost since the beginning of the democracy in the 1970s. The discussion about its loss of identity has grown in recent years and laws have been promoted to change the tourism model and to defend a damaged seafront, but their results have been few and slow. This is why, in 2008, the Spanish Government proceeded to invest, buying and recovering a number of significant coastal sites in a desperate attempt to demonstrate to the general public, as well as to the powerful tourism sector, that a different coastal approach was possible.
430 buildings 11.2 acres of urbanization 3.7 acres of buildings 222 acres of exotic invasive flora
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One of these emblematic sites was Tudela’s Plain in Cap de Creus, Catalonia, the site of a Club Mediterranée resort established in 1962. It was a 500-acre resort with more than 400 bungalows and many facilities surrounded by an extensive exotic garden.4 Once Club Med was compensated for the land and facilities, and for the lost investments, a competition was held to demolish the resort and restore the ecological dynamics of the area. The competition was clear about its objectives: the idea was to recover exactly what Tudela was before any anthropic intervention. But, restoring a landscape to what it was doesn’t always recover its original meaning. As Gernot Böhme points out, when humankind has learnt to artificially create nature, the cultural values that nature once delivered us are no longer present.5 Hence, it could be said that returning an isolated and small piece of coast to its original state is an artificial distraction to the destruction that the coastline continues to suffer. And this seems to be the starting point to Martí Franch and Ardèvol Associates’ well-known work at Tudela, where the design seeks to enhance the relation between the uniqueness of the site and those who will visit it. This intention is fulfilled with the simple operation of tracing the visitor’s movement across the site. So, after removing the existing ones, a new path was delicately placed over the complex topography as a splice that reveals a jumbled display of the Earth’s strata (to paraphrase Robert Smithson),6 unveiling not only the unique geology of the site, but also its complex history and contemporary interpretations. This way, the path is inscribed in the landscape as revealing the influence of the site on the best years of the work and life of Salvador Dalí,7 the way in which the local fishermen used the stones as landmarks, and the manner in which hippie culture appropriated a site that receives the first rays of dawn of the entire Iberian Peninsula for yoga practices. Similarly, the path exposes the phantasmagoric presence of some of the remaining traces of the tourist resort, that appear not just as physical traces but also as clues to the manner in which the now-deleted constructions took over the landscape. With these operations, Franch’s design has produced doubtlessly a more meaningful landscape. The ‘nature’ that the competition guidelines asked for became a palimpsest to be openly interpreted. But strolling the main path is not the only way to experience the place: when the visitor leaves the path, an invitation is extended to experience the site in a more specific and intimate way. At both sides of the path, 20 cm high handrails have been placed. They provide a more intimate contact with the place, inviting an intensification of the body’s relationship with the environment. They also convey a special mood, forcing visitors to dance around the rocks and vegetation and becoming themselves a part of the spectacle to other visitors’ eyes.
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This approach through dance, understood as the intensification of the sensorial attachment to the landscape, brings to mind the work done by Anna and Lawrence Halprin, which founded a common space between contemporary choreographies and landscape design.8 Marti Franch himself acknowledged this reference in our encounter. In Tudela, when we see ourselves or others discovering the place, in bizarre positions and blown by the wind, we realize that our dance is not a real choreography, because there is not a previous ‘identity message’ to be transmitted from the place to our minds. It avoids any attempt to explain an epic history about past rooted identities. Instead, the visitors’ movement works to constantly produce new identities for this place.
1 Winy Maas et al, Costa Ibérica: Hacia la ciudad del ocio (Barcelona: Actar, 1998). 2 Ibid., 187. 3 Ibid., 182–95. 4 Victor Ténez Ybern, “Dancing in the Wind: Installations in the Natural Park at Cap de Creus,” Topos 79 (2012): 20–29. 5 Gernot Böhme, “Nature in the Age of Reproduction by Technical Engineering” in Anke Haarmann & Harald Lemke (eds), Culture/Nature: Art and Philosophy in the Context of Urban Development (Berlin: Jovis, 2009), 51–65. 6 Robert Smithson, “A Sedimentation of Mind: Earth Projects,” in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, Jack Flam (ed) (London: University of California Press, 1996), 100–13. 7 Salvador Dalí, Diario de un Genio (Barcelona: Tusquets editores, 1983). 8 Gilles A. Tiberghien, “Lawrence Halprin: danse el movement du monde,” Les Carnets du Paysage 13 & 14 (2006–2007): 49–63.
Nicole Lambrou + Eric Lum
The Sea Ranch
Policing the Picturesque
he Sea Ranch in Sonoma County, California, is an architectural icon drawing its identity from the landscape. So successful is this image of topography, buildings, and plants in harmony that the residents—through the agency of The Sea Ranch Design Review Board—must vigilantly protect it from change, paradoxically, even when that change is coming from the landscape itself. While The Sea Ranch prides itself on its incorporation of indigenous vegetation, its Design Review Board strategically cultivates a carefully manicured vision of the rural landscape. No doubt the encroachment of coastal forest presents a fire risk, but more than that it threatens to change The Sea Ranch’s renowned image of buildings set in meadows with picturesque patches of vegetation serving as backdrop. As with most instances of cultural landscape, rather than understanding the underlying motivations of the development at hand—in this instance an eco-community—the appearance is strictly controlled and enforced. Through The Sea Ranch’s Declaration of Restrictions, Covenants, and Conditions, which regulates all building and landscape activity, the Design Review Board and its allied Design Committee restricts and directs massing, footprints, heights, materials, colors, paths, plantings, and uses for both the architecture and the landscape. All utilities are hidden underground, cars and trash enclosures are lined in redwood, the 500,000-gallon water reservoir and treatment plant is located away from the development and painted green, exterior surfaces are color-regulated, reflective materials and exterior lighting are not permitted, and colorful curtains are out of the question.1 While such regulations prevent the area being overrun by generic suburban construction, they concurrently promote an artificial version of the natural, unable to move beyond its own legacy, propping up an image of The Sea Ranch as a wild landscape that in reality is defined by restrictions and hidden infrastructure.
Analyzing the conflict between industrialization and nature in America in The Machine in the Garden, Leo Marx saw Henry Thoreau’s hut on Walden Pond as the symbolic center of a ‘middle landscape,’ where “the village of Concord appears on one side and a vast reach of unmodified nature on the other.”2 In a similar manner, the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin
approached the design of The Sea Ranch community as an effort to ‘live lightly upon the land,’ inserting trees and buildings as intermediary interventions bridging civilization and the natural environment. The roots of this romanticized image of The Sea Ranch as a mode of the pastoral landscape are embedded within the American mythos of the pioneering West: the raw cliff edges of the coastline forming the westernmost boundary of the American frontier, buffeted by the Pacific Ocean winds. This archaic pastoral was a wild, untamed territory occupied by the native Pomo Indians, early settlers, and Mexican land-grant farmers. The modern Sea Ranch environment attempts to preserve this image of the pioneering ranch, perched at the edge of civilization. In reality, The Sea Ranch is hardly an isolated enclave but rather a highly planned and managed real estate development of about 2,400 homes over 3,500 acres and 10 miles of shoreline. While the original design team of Halprin and architects Moore, Lyndon, Turnbull, and Whitaker (MLTW) envisioned a development that reflected the organic, animate nature of its surroundings, the later 1968 master plan proposed a grander vision of a collective village based around a town square. Though their views resonated with what The Sea Ranch landscape architecture espoused, environmentalists opposed to The Sea Ranch development plans along the coastline championed the 1972 state ballot measure California Proposition 20, which proposed the formation of the California Coastal Commission to regulate access to public coastland, at a time when The Sea Ranch’s continuing development was inscribing private access to public land along California’s coast. The California Coastal Commission became the permit-granting authority for all coastal zone projects, and the first Sea Ranch building permit was denied in 1973 because coastal views were impeded. The California Coastal Act of 1976 extended the Commission’s authority permanently, and it is now comprised of 12 voting members and approximately 125 staff responsible for development and land use along California’s 1,100 coastal miles. With the withdrawal of the developer Oceanic California, a civil engineering firm was contracted in the late 1980s to subdivide
the unfinished northern section of the property. In contrast to Halprin’s planning concept of clustered buildings around a common meadow, the engineers laid out the lots in a more conventional suburban fashion with curving streets and cul-desacs. A design committee member during that time was quoted as saying that the development “at the north end has been financial planning, not land planning, carried out by accountants.”3 With such large-scale changes in policy, coupled with the market forces of the Bay Area and the residents’ insistence on maintaining their identity as an image of ecological living, The Sea Ranch moved away from a place of retreat for alternative living nomads to one of a vacation home neighborhood for a high-income aging demographic: the residents of The Sea Ranch are over 93% white, and over 45% are 65 years or older. The majority of The Sea Ranch inhabitants are city dwellers with the desire to step away from the urban landscape in favor of quieter and country-like dispersed habitation without changing their ecological footprint; they are isolated, but not disconnected. Nearby Gualala, just north of The Sea Ranch, houses the employees that service The Sea Ranch’s residents, with businesses providing cleaning and manicuring services that extend from home to land, including goods and services from grocery stores to pet grooming. The ‘natural’ processes that once governed this place, and which drew the initial interest of the original developers and architects, are intrinsically linked to urban ones. The bifurcation of natural and artificial, and of urban and rural, is no longer possible. What we previously referred to as the rural is simply a continuation of the urban with a different backdrop. Weekend warriors leave the natural process of the urban in order to enter the urban production of the natural. The Sea Ranch and nearby San Francisco are both artificial and regulated landscapes, though the former attempts to appear as untouched, while the city’s landscapes are explicitly constructed. Nature that is untouched by human appropriation is extinct as it continues to evolve into an urban experience, just as the pervasive urban becomes increasingly more natural in its ubiquity and self-organizing cycles. The Sea Ranch’s insistence that this process of urbanization and containment be subdued has, paradoxically, transformed the development from an inclusive community to an exclusive ensemble of isolated weekend homes. The Sea Ranch does not tread lightly. Its nature depends on complex physical and social organizational systems, not unlike the ones that permeate our urban landscape, and its iconic architecture defines the boundary between disciplined interior dwelling and the domesticated performance of the landscape outside.
Nicole Lambrou is founder of tinkercraft, an architectural practice based in San Francisco, and has been involved in a number of residential projects in The Sea Ranch. She holds a masters of architecture from Yale University and teaches in the graduate architecture program of San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. Eric Lum holds a PhD in architectural history from MIT and architecture degrees from Harvard University and University of California, Berkeley. He teaches in the graduate architecture program of San Francisco’s Academy of Art University.
ARCHITECTURE, PLANNING, PUBLIC POLICY
1 “The Sea Ranch Restrictions, A Declaration of Restrictions, Covenants and Conditions,” http://www.tsra.org/photos/Restrictions.pdf (accessed December 3, 2015). 2 Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden London: Oxford University Press, 1964), 245. 3 Donald Canty, “Origins, Evolutions, and Ironies,” in Donlyn Lyndon & Jim Alinder (eds), The Sea Ranch: Fifty Years of Architecture, Landscape, Place and Community on the Northern California Coast (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003), 30. Previous: Lawrence Halprin’s original sketch for The Sea Ranch. Above: Coastline of Sea Ranch. Opposite: Water reservoir and treatment plant.
Kerri Culhane + Molly Garfinkel
A Tale of Two Bridges
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ith an urban renewal mandate and funding incentives from the Federal Housing Acts of 1949 and 1954, New York in the 1950s and 1960s was dominated by Robert Moses’ top down modernist planning projects. As city planners under Moses sought to clear old neighborhoods and assemble superblocks of regimented and architecturally bland ‘towers in the park,’ previously unorganized and heterogeneous communities began asserting neighborhood identity as a form of resistance. The story of struggle to preserve places rich in history and architectural character is well known, but what is less well understood and appreciated today is just how strong the identity of communities who come to live in urban renewal housing developments can be. This article tells such a story through the Two Bridges community on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which has weathered the storms of urban renewal and now faces the equally intractable threats of gentrification and climate change. A History of Change The Two Bridges neighborhood, wedged between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges on the East River waterfront, is among the oldest settled areas in Manhattan. Over the course of 400 years it has been transformed from tidal marsh and meadow to a densely built extension of New York’s Chinatown, passing through several incarnations including a wealthy Dutch brewer’s estate, an elegant late-18th-century mixed-use neighborhood dominated by shipping and related industries, and a seedy 19th-century sailors’ skid row and brothel district. Between 1939 and 1976, nearly 200 acres—over 70 square blocks from 14th Street in the north to the Brooklyn Bridge in the south—were cleared and redeveloped.1 By the 1970s, the Lower East Side was home to one of the greatest concentrations of low income housing in New York. The Lower East Side has been the traditional way-station for many immigrant groups entering America. As the 1924 Immigration Act reduced the previously reliable flow of poor immigrants into the country, demand for the area’s old tenement housing decreased correspondingly. Vacancy rates rose, and after the 1929 Multi Dwelling Law imposed more rigorous tenement housing regulations, many landlords boarded up their properties or had them demolished. Widespread vacancy called into question what could and should be done with the Lower East Side “slum.”2 New York City’s first large-scale slum clearance projects began in the Two Bridges area in the 1930s, when Knickerbocker Village (1932–34) replaced the notorious Lung Block, a reference to the area’s high tuberculosis mortality rate, in the heart of neighborhood. As part of the Depression-era New Deal, in 1932, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) was established as an independent federal agency authorized to provide loans to private developers erecting housing, often as part of slum-clearance initiatives. With funding from the Public Works Administration’s Housing Division (which took over for the short-lived RFC) and the New York State Board of Housing, Knickerbocker Village, developed by the Fred F. French Companies, was New York City’s first private housing project erected with the help of federal funds. Situated between Cherry, Catherine, Monroe, and Market Streets, the Knickerbocker Village complex is comprised of two 13-story perimeter block buildings with only 46% site coverage, including 1,590 apartments. A concrete playground separates the two low-rent housing units, each of which surrounds its own ‘introverted’ courtyard. The fortress-like façade is foreboding, but crenellated exterior walls permit maximum light and air circulation.3 To the east, Vladeck Houses (1939–40), designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon as a low-rise take on the towers in the park typology, was the first municipal-federal joint housing project, and the second public housing project in lower Manhattan (after First Houses, a municipal project from 1935). Begun in 1949 and opened in 1953, the sprawling Alfred E. Smith Houses was the first federally-funded public housing
Kerri Culhane holds a master’s in architectural history and a master’s in ecological design. She leads Two Bridges Neighborhood Council’s environmental planning work in collaboration with residents, city agencies, designers, and communitybased organizations. Beginning in 2011, Culhane spearheaded an initiative to reconnect public and private uplands to the waterfront through ecological design and economic development opportunities. Many of the initiative’s goals are embedded in post-Hurricane Sandy planning and development projects. Molly Garfinkel directs the Place Matters project, a public history and community advocacy initiative of City Lore. She has worked in cultural resource management, museum education, exhibition curation, and traditional arts presentation. Her research explores Western and non-Western building traditions, theories of cultural landscapes, and histories of urbanism and city planning.
ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY, PUBLIC POLICY
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project erected in the heart of the Two Bridges neighborhood. The largest development in the area, Smith’s twelve 17-story buildings house approximately 5,700 people over 22 acres; located across Catherine Street from Knickerbocker Village, the neighborhood’s first true towers in the park loom over the remaining two- to six-story townhouses and tenements around it. Other public housing developments constructed in and around the Two Bridges neighborhood include the LaGuardia Houses (1957), and the Rutgers Houses (1965). Mid-century discriminatory housing policies elsewhere in the city pushed minority households into areas like the Lower East Side, which had the largest concentration of government-subsidized housing projects below 96th Street. By the 1950s, as housing projects brought large numbers of African American, Puerto Rican, and Chinese families into the predominantly Jewish and Italian neighborhood, Two Bridges had become a neighborhood of distinct working-class communities with limited communication between groups, or with the rest of the city. The racial conflicts sparked by this new neighborhood composition inspired the creation of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council in 1954–55. Two Bridges Self-Renewal Plan In 1955, local residents incorporated Two Bridges Neighborhood Council in an effort to encourage individuals and organizations to assume greater responsibility for improving race relations and securing public services for the neighborhood. The community group quickly formalized into a dynamic framework for citizens to engage with and guide efforts to change their physical and social environment. In 1960, the Council published the Two Bridges Self-Renewal Plan.4 The 30-page document called for a mix of strategies to preserve the existing housing stock and, significantly, a sense of place, noting that:
new housing and commerce in place of one of the oldest streets in the neighborhood; and a participatory study of the potential for a commercial district north of Canal Street. Not all of these plans came to fruition. Before the Council was formed, the neighborhood did not have its own name: ‘Two Bridges’ was selected by members of the Council’s Housing Committee to encourage neighborhood cohesion and, possibly, to enhance the credibility of the Two Bridges Self-Renewal Plan.7 In 1961 the city approved the plan, largely because the Council was able to present a united neighborhood front to city agencies.8 The City Planning Commission adopted a portion of the plan’s proposal for the Dock Area along the East River. In 1971, the Council joined forces with Settlement Housing Fund, a non-profit affordable housing developer, to form the Two Bridges Settlement Housing Corporation (TBSH). Moving forward, TBSH would sponsor housing development in the Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area. Approval and sponsorship were considerable achievements, but the hard work was just beginning. Over the next several decades, the TBSH would encounter scores of barriers to bringing its plans to fruition. Significantly, the affordable housing policy and financing mechanisms undermined the master plan for the area, negating its intended architectural cohesion. But by 1997, when the last building in the urban renewal area was completed, Two Bridges at last succeeded in creating nearly 1,500 units of low- and moderate-income housing along the East River waterfront. Housing at Risk
[R]edevelopers have uprooted families and destroyed neighborhood ties. In our opinion this unhappy situation has often resulted from reliance on a single approach to the solution of neighborhood rehabilitation problems, usually characterized by the bulldozer.5
Forty years in the making, Two Bridges’ housing now finds itself under threat. Subject to encroaching development pressure from neighboring gentrified areas, the low-lying area is also facing increasing threats of sea-level rise. Unanticipated in the 1960 plan, the neighborhood’s coastal location and socioeconomic conditions place nearly 40,000 residents in a position of economic and environmental vulnerability. Not only are lowlying affordable housing sites at immediate physical risk, but the expense of hardening and insuring waterfront property implies that only the rich might afford to subsidize the risk of waterfront development in the future.
Developed over the course of five years, the plan benefited from the input of hundreds of citizens, as well as representatives of numerous neighborhood organizations and institutions. It was a rare and impressive illustration of how a neighborhood can organize, mobilize, and revitalize itself to meet its own needs. Predating the writings of Jane Jacobs, whose Death and Life of Great American Cities was published in 1961, the Two Bridges Self-Renewal Plan appears to represent the first comprehensive participatory planning document in New York City.6 The Council’s proposal recognized the importance of history, scale, and mixed uses, while it called for new campuses of towers in the park replacing a largely industrial strip outside of the historic tenement core (the ‘Dock Area’); a pedestrianized corridor of
In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene (August 2011), which caused minor localized flooding along South Street, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council began a stakeholder engagement process to discuss the future of the waterfront community, while promoting strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation. Through Making Connections: The South Street Stakeholder Initiative, Two Bridges proposed green and blue infrastructure for the vast amounts of open space upland of the waterfront created by the much-maligned towers in the park landscape. Considered by Jacobs to be anti-urban and dangerous spaces, NYCHA-owned campuses could now be rehabilitated as environmental assets that provide ecosystem services critical to urban resiliency.9
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a tale of two bridges 114
When Hurricane Sandy made landfall in October 2012, Two Bridges was among Manhattan’s most heavily impacted neighborhoods. Particularly devastated were areas along the shore, like the Smith Houses, where high-rise multifamily affordable housing stands on low-elevation fill, barely above sea level. By many accounts, Sandy’s overwhelming impact on the Two Bridges neighborhood was the result of a lack of integration of the waterfront into neighborhood planning and failure to address vulnerabilities on the landscape scale. The Two Bridges Self-Renewal Plan criticized “piecemeal planning,” but even the Council failed to account for the East River—its most imposing neighbor—in its plans.10 In response to Hurricane Sandy, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched a regional design competition in June 2013 to solicit ideas for redesigning the landscape to accommodate and manage climate change. Among the project areas was the Lower East Side, selected by a team led by the architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). BIG proposed ‘the BIG U,’ a predominantly passive barrier around lower Manhattan that would function as park and community amenity space. An elegant and amenity-filled solution to the problem of flooding, the BIG U received only partial funding, thus leaving Two Bridges still vulnerable. City, state and federal governments recently allocated additional funds to achieve some of the goals proposed by Two Bridges: the incorporation of green infrastructure into upland NYCHA campuses. Four years after Hurricane Sandy and at least 10 years from the partial realization of the BIG U, residents on the East River Waterfront are no safer today than the day before the hurricane hit.11 Despite an intensive community engagement and feedback process lead by the Rebuild by Design BIG U team, there has been entrenched resistance to some of the large-scale landscape modifications that would provide passive flood protection but reshape and configure both public and private land. This resistance may have been heightened by two undercurrents: a concurrent lawsuit against the city’s plan to build infill market housing on NYCHA lands, lead plaintiffs being the residents at Smith Houses whose development would also be most directly transformed under scenarios presented by the BIG U (however, with no loss of affordable units); and the perception by some residents that educated planners and designers are agents of gentrification who should not have control in planning the future of low-income communities of color. Thus, a dichotomy emerges – communities desiring protection, but resistant to the major transformation and mechanisms required to effect it. To ensure that the community and its interests are reflected in the ultimate plans, the Council has embarked on a new stakeholder process to guide the comprehensive planning of the East River Waterfront and adjacent upland neighborhoods, including Two Bridges and Lower Manhattan, currently left out of the BIG U’s funded project area. As articulated in the Two Bridges Self-Renewal Plan in 1960: “With foresight and planning with the community, our neighborhoods can be redesigned, redeveloped, and improved without undue hardship to our neighbors and without complete transformation of the neighborhood character.”12 Early into the 21st century, the Two Bridges area remains one of the last bastions of ethnic and economic diversity and affordability in Manhattan. While it weathered the storms of urban renewal—which in fact helped cement a new identity for the neighborhood—increasingly evident social and environmental challenges will galvanize or erode community bonds in response to the physical reshaping of its environment. It took 40 years to build out the Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area; given the accelerated pace of change brought about by the twin threats of climate change and gentrification, its future will be determined within a decade.
1 This includes over 115 acres of NYCHA public housing campuses, and the remainder of publicly subsidized cooperatives and rental housing. Acreage calculations from New York Department of City Planning Dataset PLUTO 15v.1. 2 Christopher Mele, Selling the Lower East Side: Culture, Real Estate, and Resistance in New York City (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2000), 83. 3 Richard Plunz, A History of Housing in New York City: Dwelling Type and Social Change in the American Metropolis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992), 210. 4 The Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (TBNC), The Two Bridges Self-Renewal Plan, Second Edition (New York, 1960), 1. 5 TBNC, 1. 6 Jane Jacobs, Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House, 1961). 7 Harold H. Weissman, Community Councils and Community Control: The Workings of Democratic Mythology (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970), 70. 8 That year, the Council won the Metropolitan Committee on Planning’s Merit Award for “a pioneer effort by a citizen’s group.” The Social Welfare History Project, “HamiltonMadison House (1965),” http://www. socialwelfarehistory.com/?p=8674 (accessed February 1, 2016). 9 Kerri Culhane, “Making Connections: Planning for Green Infrastructure in Two Bridges,” Urban Omnibus (blog), August 8, 2012, http://urbanomnibus.net/2012/08/ making-connections-planning-for-greeninfrastructure-in-two-bridges/ (accessed January 16, 2016). 10 TBNC, 1. 11 Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) et al, “The BIG U,” http://www.rebuildbydesign.org/project/ big-team-final-proposal/ (accessed January 16, 2016); New York City Office of Recovery & Resiliency (NYCORR), Lower Manhattan Protect & Connect, Application submitted to HUD’s National Disaster Resiliency Competition (2015), http://www.nyc.gov/html/ cdbg/downloads/pdf/nyc_ndrc_phase2_ english.pdf (accessed January 16, 2016). For reference to “Stormwater Management Through Placemaking” see NYCORR 2015, 58–59. 12 TBNC, 1.
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Rui Yang + Xiaodi Zheng
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in 中国 Now C
hina has a long and rich history of garden design, but it is only over the past three decades that the education and profession of landscape architecture has boomed in this country. The first undergraduate landscape architecture program in China was founded in 1951 at Tsinghua University, but programs really began to proliferate in the 1980s when China opened culturally and economically to the world and when its process of urbanization developed momentum. According to data from 2012, 184 institutions in China now offer a landscape architecture undergraduate degree, 65 offer a master’s degree, and 19 offer a doctoral degree.1 Additionally, in 2012 landscape architecture was formally ranked by the government as an academic discipline of high importance. By 2005 there were already over 5.66 million practitioners in gardening, landscape architecture, and related fields in China;2 however, only 3.5% of these practitioners have received higher education in landscape architecture or related fields.3 Further, because China lacks a professional registration system for landscape architects, the profession remains unregulated. Landscape architecture covers a wide range of practice in China—from small courtyard design to large national park planning and management—and relates to many disciplines, such as social science, ecology, economy, architecture, urban planning, geology, and hydrology. Thus, a number of Chinese institutions with very different disciplinary backgrounds compete to be the most qualified entity to offer degrees in landscape architecture. The latest national guideline issued in 2012 noted that students enrolled in landscape architecture graduate programs may receive a master’s degree in engineering or agriculture. Reflecting the dominance of engineering in contemporary China almost all of the programs chose to offer landscape architecture as an engineering degree. As many programs were established in a rush, the quality of landscape architectural education varies greatly. As a general observation, while students trained in architecture schools show a deeper understanding and penchant for spatial composition, those in agricultural schools are more knowledgeable in vegetation and planting design, and those in fine arts schools tend to display good representational skills. This variety prompts questions about what we think should be the core knowledge and skills mandated for accredited landscape architecture programs and how much flexibility can be given to individual institutions to shape the profession’s identity. These questions are germane to landscape architecture everywhere, but in China the situation is particularly acute because of the dramatic social and ecological consequences of the nation’s accelerated urbanization. The bigger question for Chinese landscape architecture is then how can our fledgling profession best influence China’s political and economic development toward a more sustainable and ecological direction? On one level this is a question of political influence, but it is also a question of aesthetics.
Rui Yang is Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He is Director of China’s National Landscape Architecture Education Supervisory Committee, Vice President of the Chinese Society of Landscape Architecture, and Chairperson of the Society’s Theory and History Committee. Yang has extensive interest in the fields of landscape architecture education and heritage conservation.
Xiaodi Zheng holds a BArch and PhD from Tsinghua University, China, where she is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture. After completing her MLA at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Zheng practiced in the USA for five years at OLIN and SWA. Her current research focus is on brownfield regeneration, and landscape architecture practice and education.
Left: Chenshan Quarry Park, Shanghai, China.
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1 “Advisory Discipline Guidelines for Higher Education Landscape Architecture Undergraduate Programs,” China National Landscape Architecture Education Supervisory Committee, China Architecture and Building Press, 2013. 2 “Demonstration Report on Adding Landscape Architecture as the First Level Discipline,” Chinese Landscape Architecture 5 (2011): 4–8. 3 Ibid. 4 Yufan Zhu interviewed by Xiaodi Zheng (May 5 & 22, 2016). 5 Xiangrong Wang interviewed by Xiaodi Zheng (May 5, 2016). 6 Ibid.
The aesthetics of landscape architecture in China has been strongly influenced by both traditional Chinese garden legend and western design theories and built projects. Images of award-winning projects in the United States and Europe flood the desktops of design students and professionals, becoming one of the main sources for design inspiration or, as is often the case, imitation. Alternatively, traditional Chinese garden design remains as one of the most commonly adopted styles in park design and is easily appreciated by the general public. Debates center on whether such work reflects a true understanding of the essence of traditional Chinese garden design and how we develop it. Many designers and design firms have been exploring and testing various approaches, with some success. For example, the Chenshan Quarry Park in Shanghai designed by Professor Yufan Zhu at Tsinghua University and the West Lake Westward Expansion Project designed by Professor Xiangrong Wang at Beijing Forestry University both demonstrate high degrees of local specificity. Speaking of these projects, both designers claim that they didn’t purposefully seek to manifest a definitive sense of Chinese identity. Yufan Zhu explains that “[t]he Chinese identity embedded in the project came from the site itself and from my way of viewing the world as a designer which is rich with Chinese philosophy and aesthetic taste.”4 He describes Chinese spatial experience as meandering, introvert, and implicit. For a post-industrial project such as the Quarry Park, the spatial characteristic of the original site and the engineering process that created it are somewhat universal; however, the specific design approach adopted by Zhu is Chinese and emphasizes entering the sunken waterbody rather than just viewing it from a distance. “Being part of the landscape is important for Chinese to experience the world,” Zhu states. For Xiangrong Wang, “Chinese art and garden design is full of mystery and uncertainty.”5 He cites “the Chinese traditional agricultural wisdom to manage the land and water at a regional scale” as a source of inspiration for the West Lake Westward Expansion Project.6
Right: West Lake, Hangzhou, China.
The depth of thinking in these two projects serves, perhaps, as models for a more reflective and original practice of landscape architecture in China. As China enters a period of slower economic growth and greater environmental concern, it is important now for us to take stock of the growing profession in this country.
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Charles WaldHeim Charles Waldheim is a North American architect and urbanist. His research examines the relations between landscape, ecology, and contemporary urbanism. Waldheim is author and editor of numerous publications on these topics, including Landscape as Urbanism: A General Theory (Princeton University Press, 2016). Waldheim is John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where he directs the School’s Office for Urbanization.
“The natural sciences are concerned with how things are… design, on the other hand, is concerned with how things ought to be.”1
number of recent publications revisit the origins and etymologies of landscape and landscape architecture.2 This literature revises the origin myth and founding identity of landscape architecture as a ‘new art’ in the 19th century, particularly with respect to the new profession’s choice to establish its identity as an explicit extension of architecture.3 The decision to identify architecture (as opposed to gardening, engineering, or art) as the proximate professional peer group is significant for contemporary understandings of the identity of landscape architecture. This new reading of the origins of landscape architecture also sheds significant new light on the historical development and current status of planning as a distinct professional identity spun out of landscape architecture in the first decades of the 20th century. The formation of landscape architecture as a liberal profession and academic discipline in North America came only a few decades after the consolidation of architecture itself as a profession. The first coursework and academic programs in architecture emerged in the second half of the 19th century, as American universities moved toward specialization through the sciences. The majority of these schools referred to themselves as schools of architecture, applied arts, or fine arts. A small number developed identities composed of laundry lists of their constituent professional fields including architecture, landscape architecture, and planning.4 By the mid-1930s, a third alternative identity for the modern American school of architecture was formulated around the European conception of design. This rhetorical shift from architecture to design might be read as revealing the limit or end of architecture’s ability to span the depth and breadth of knowledge required to deal with the city as an object of study. In 1936 Harvard University reformulated what had been (since 1914) its School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture as the Graduate School of Design.5 It is notable here that the reformulation of the identity of the School did not occur when the cognate fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and planning first came together, as they had always been taught side-by-side in the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard. The formulation of design as the identity for a school of architecture was a significant rhetorical shift, rather than a simple administrative one, signaling the limits of architecture to describe the increasingly multi-scalar ambitions of the modernizing institution. Equally, the rhetorical shift was intended to signal the rupture with the previous tradition of the Beaux-Arts in favor of a more modern, continental, and collaborative future for the disciplines arrayed around architecture. This was particularly true in the formulation of design as conceived by Joseph Hudnut and embodied in the experiences of Walter Gropius, which was sufficiently broad to span the scope of professional engagements from the scale of the industrial object through the totality of urban environments. In the face of this expanding scale and scope of work, and its attendant social and environmental contingencies, architecture alone could not hold. In this expanded field of practice, from the object to the city, Hudnut found the double valance of design as both noun and verb useful, offering a productive ambiguity by avoiding any one of the specific professional identities associated with the activities arrayed around architecture. Hudnut argued for a new understanding of the school’s identity founded on the conception of design as process.
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The word â€˜designâ€™ is to be understood as including all those processes by which the visual arts are created: the processes by which materials are assembled and shaped in such a way as to afford aesthetic satisfactions. Design therefore includes Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Regional Planning.6
Since the formation of the Graduate School of Design, the concomitant pressures of specialization and professionalization have continued. As the range of academic disciplines, degree program, and sub-disciplinary subjects continues to expand around architecture, an increasing number of North American schools concerned with the built environment have self-identified as schools of design. This suggests the need for future scholarship on the origins, etymology, and aspirations of design as distinct from those of architecture, landscape architecture, or planning.7 The work of Nobel laureate economist and political scientist Herbert Simon offers one such compelling case study. In his 1969 The Sciences of the Artificial, Simon offered a distinction between the sciences and design.8 For Simon, design offered a productive means of distinguishing those disciplines concerned with the empirical description of the world, as opposed to those primarily concerned with intervention in the world: Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing the existing situation into preferred onesâ€ŚDesign, so constructed, is the core of all professional training; it is the principal mark that distinguishes the professions from the sciences. Schools of engineering, as well as schools of architecture, business, education, law, and medicine, are all centrally concerned with processes of design.9
Over the past half-century, various conceptions of design thinking and design research have been articulated, with many authors claiming design as its own unique epistemological form. In these formulations, design research most often refers to the process and products of knowledge produced about and through design, as distinct from knowledge produced by methods associated with the humanities and sciences. Beginning with discussions of design methods in architecture and urban design, design research emerged as a formulation now found relevant to a range of cognate disciplines. Often these fields of inquiry are characterized by their interest in and capacity for intervention in the world. Design can be characterized by its methods and media, as well as by its sites and subjects for work, and the dissemination and reception of its findings. Design is synthetic, incorporating information relative to a particular project from a diverse
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array of disciplinary, professional, social, and culture sources. It is often characterized by its capacity to organize and visually represent complex arrays of information. Design is most often propositional, rather than simply empirical or descriptive. This projective condition for design is most often concerned with material, spatial, or temporal interventions in the world, rather than simply describing the world as found. In this respect, design is characterized by its capacity to propose alternative and better futures, particularly in contexts where traditional forms of knowledge production are found inadequate to complex, non-linear, open-ended, multi-variant, wicked problems. Design’s capacity for simulation and scenario-based planning is often effective as a form of critique, by revealing the latent potentials for future conditions through various forms of representation. These capacities render design particularly well suited to the examination of the contemporary city, as the challenges of urbanization and its societal impacts rarely respect traditional disciplinary boundaries associated with research methods in the university. Design projects for urban sites and subjects exhibit a dual valance, at once standing as propositions for future intervention in the world on the one hand, and simultaneously standing as a form of knowledge about the world on the other. In this sense, schools of design produce their own unique bodies of knowledge in and of the world, irrespective of the implementation of their projective proposals for changing that world. This double coding of design propositions for urban sites and subjects remains a source of considerable confusion between the disciplines responsible for the shape of the city. As architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning have articulated their own distinct bodies of methods, media, and modalities of meaning with respect to their urban commitments, schools of design face the challenge of rearticulating a compelling and contemporary account of what these fields share, and how they might be something greater than the sum of their distinct disciplinary parts.
1 Herbert Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial (MIT Press 1969; third edition 1996). 2 Among these, see for example John Stilgoe, What Is Landscape? (Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2015); Gareth Doherty & Charles Waldheim (eds), Is Landscape…? (London: Routledge, 2015); and Edward Eigen & Charles Waldheim (eds), “Landscape Architecture,” Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes 34, no. 3 (2014). 3 Olmsted decried the “miserable nomenclature” of the new profession and preferred the French terms of art to describe landscape practices. Olmsted referred to the new profession as variously the “new art” or the “sylvan art.” 4 MIT and Cornell University formed schools of architecture; the University of Pennsylvania and University of Illinois formed schools of fine and applied arts, respectively; while Harvard University and Columbia University formed schools identified by a list of their cognate disciplines including architecture, landscape architecture, and planning. For more on the professionalization of architecture and architectural education, see Mary Woods, From Craft to Profession: The Practice of Architecture in Nineteenth Century America (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999). 5 Anthony Alofsin, The Struggle for Modernism: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and City Planning at Harvard (New York: Norton, 2002). 6 On Joseph Hudnut’s conception of the Graduate School of Design, see the memo he drafted for Harvard President James Conant on the founding of the new School, “Memorandum on the Proposed Graduate School of Design,” January 14, 1936, Harvard University Archives, Papers of James B. Conant (1862–1987). 7 On the etymology and origin of design, see Kostas Terzidis, “The Etymology of Design: Pre-Socratic Perspective,” Design Matters 23, no. 4 (2007): 69–78; Vilém Flusser, “On the Word Design: An Etymological Essay,” trans. John Cullar, Design Issues 11, no. 3 (1995): 50–53. 8 Herbert Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial (MIT Press 1969; third edition 1996). 9 Ibid., 111.
A Case of Mistaken Identity
Robert Zhao Renhui is a Singaporean visual artist who works mainly with photography but often adopts a multidisciplinary approach by presenting images together with documents and objects. Renhui’s work addresses man’s relationship with nature, paying close attention to how our attitudes and opinions shape our assumptions about the natural world. His work can be found at www.criticalzoologists.org.
VISUAL ARTS, ZOOLOGY
he following images, from Singapore-based artist and Director of the Institute of Critical Zoologists, Robert Zhao Renhui, are taken from his 2013 artwork Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World. These works seek to document and reflect on the myriad ways in which human action and intervention are altering the natural world. The guide presents a catalogue of curious creatures and life-forms that have evolved in often unexpected ways to cope with the stresses and pressures of a changed world. Organisms documented in the series are the results of human intervention, mutations engineered to serve various interests and purposes ranging from economics to aesthetics. Some specimens in this project are based on fact, while others are based on proposals, hypotheses, and papers written by scientists. The line between these two is often an indistinct one, as scientific advances within the last half-century have made possible what was previously believed to be impossible. While drawing on the basic human desire to catalogue and to order knowledge so as to better understand (and command) the world, the project also questions the limits of these systems by blurring the lines between fact and fiction, and oscillating between the modalities of science and art. Through his alter ego as a scientist, Renhui captures the pathos of the Anthropocene – an epoch in which human identity is now written into everything.
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Square Apple ------------------------------------------------Sold in a department store in South Korea, these square apples were created as gifts for students taking the College Scholastic Ability Test with some inscribed with the words ‘pass’ or ‘success.’ A similar square watermelon was developed in Japan in the 1980s. The cubic fruits are created by stunting their growth in glass cubes.
Unbreakable Egg ------------------------------------------------A company in Japan has developed a technique to create eggs that are so strong they cannot be broken. The only way to access its contents is to puncture a hole in its shell with a pointed tool. The egg was created by adding the plant protein of a banyan tree to a chicken, thus creating an egg with a barklike texture.
Fake Beef ------------------------------------------------It has recently been found in China that pork has been made to aesthetically look like beef. ‘Beef coloring’ and ‘beef extracts’ were added to pork to make it look and taste like beef.
Oriental White-Eye Killed by Light Pollution ------------------------------------------------Scientists used to believe that light pollution affected only nocturnal birds. In recent years, diurnal birds have also been found dead as a result of flying into brightly lit towers. Whole flocks have also been reported to collide with buildings. Diurnal birds are often woken up by sudden loud noises, causing them to fly in confusion towards these bright lights as they believe dawn has arrived.
Fish Strawberries ------------------------------------------------Most plants need sunshine and cannot thrive in freezing temperatures, which is why agriculture is severely limited in spring and fall. To maximize crop production, antifreeze protein from the Arctic flounder was introduced into sweet corn in 1990. Subsequent experiments with this antifreeze gene have been conducted with tobacco plants, tomatoes, watermelons, strawberries, Atlantic salmon, and rainbow trout.
Blood Bee ------------------------------------------------Due to a declining supply of nectar in their natural habitat, a community of bees in Singapore has been raiding a local factory producing sodas. The red dye from a certain brand of soda remains in the bees’ bodies even after they have processed their food into honey. Both the stomachs of the bees and the honeycomb in their hives have turned a shade of blood red.
Moon Dust ------------------------------------------------Less than 4% of Singapore exists in total darkness after 10 pm. Insects are attracted to artificial light sources, though no one knows exactly why. The insects are usually killed by exhaustion or through contact with the heat from lamps. After being incinerated, their bodies become a heap of ash, collected in the covers of street lamps. The ash, also referred to as ‘moon dust’, is used by scientists to study the ecological impact of light pollution on insects.
Three-Eyed Goliath Beetle ------------------------------------------------In 2012, Japanese scientists created a Goliath beetle that could be controlled by generators wirelessly generators connected to the beetle’s flight muscles. The scientists implanted electrodes, a radio, and a camera into the beetle during different pupal phases. The first photograph by a Goliath beetle camera was taken in December 2012, remotely controlled by researchers in a facility 200 km away.
World Goldfish Queen ------------------------------------------------China organized the first International Goldfish Championships in Fuzhou in 2012. Over 3,000 goldfish from 14 countries competed for different titles including the World Goldfish Queen crown. Goldfish are judged by five criteria: breed, body shape, swimming gesture, color, and overall impression. The show stealer was a giant goldfish weighing around 4 kg. Goldfish have been bred out of generations of genetic mutations since the Jin Dynasty and their exact origins are unknown.
Remote-Controlled Cockroach ------------------------------------------------In 2011, American researchers developed the first remote-controlled cockroach. They fitted the cockroach with electrodes that sent small electrical pulses to its brain stimulating neurons that controlled the creature’s navigation. Researchers believe that these cockroaches can be used for tasks ranging from surveillance in hard-to-reach spaces to detecting humans trapped under earthquake rubble.
Zhou’s Migration Turtle ------------------------------------------------Zhou’s Box Turtles were thought to be extinct in the wild for more than 20 years. In 2004, a breeding pair were found in a small village market in Indonesia and, after an intensive breeding program, a secret population was released back into the wild. The first batch of hatchlings died because they failed to migrate during the monsoon season. Subsequent hatchlings were taught to migrate with robotic turtles remotely controlled by scientists.
Fluorescent Zebrafish ------------------------------------------------A zebrafish encoded with a green fluorescent protein originally extracted from jellyfish was developed by a team of scientists in Singapore in 1999. The goal was to develop a fish that could detect pollution by fluorescing in the presence of environmental toxins. They are the first commercially available genetically modified fish and are widely sold as novelty pets in the United States.
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D a f o o m r c e S s ticus s u S
RED BLOOD CEL LS
SM BOWALL EL
Since the first successful human organ transplantation over 50 years ago, demand for organs has outstripped supply. In the US alone, more than 123,000 people await organ transplants with approximately 20 each day dying from lack of compatible donor organs. In recent years advances have been made in 3D-bioprinting of human tissue; however, the reality of 3D-printed transplantable organs remains decades away. Meanwhile, the humble domestic pig (sus scrofa domesticus) has emerged as a viable surrogate for ‘human’ organ cultivation. To date, the largest barrier to porcine xenotransplantation has been the rejection of the transplanted organ by the human immune system. However, in October 2015, Professor George Church and his colleagues at Harvard University successfully utilized a genetic engineering technique called CRISPR to completely eliminate porcine endogenous retroviruses from pig cells. Since then, further advances have been made using CRISPR to replace portions of a pig’s DNA with human genes, increasing organ compatibility. With these advances comes concerns about the consequences of mixing human and animal DNA. We may soon be grappling with bioethical questions of identity related to the hybridization of humans with an animal that is not only widely consumed, but also held in low esteem.
Sources: M. Roberts, “GM could make pig organs for humans,” BBC News (October 12, 2015); S. Derbyshire, “Why pig-human organs are nothing to fear,” Spiked (June 8, 2016); American Transplant Foundation <http://www.americantransplantfoundation.org/>.
Nature Parks, Memory, and Identity
“Narcissus” (“Narciso alla fonte”) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1594– 1596) via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
p. 40–41: “Maasai Herding” by Sakke Wiik, used with permission (cropped and altered).
p. 42: “Africa Protected Areas Map” by Claire Hoch, courtesy Richard Weller (color altered).
p. 4: “Visualization of DNA Nucleotide Sequence” by Gregory Podgorniak, used under CC BY-SA 4.0 license via Wikimedia Commons (color altered).
Whose Land? p. 46–47: Image by, and courtesy of, Ellen Guanlee Xie.
Identifying the Anthropocene p. 6–7: “Reflections on Planet Earth” by Michael Fossum, STS-121 Mission, NASA, public domain.
In Conversation with Paul Carter p. 48: Portrait and sketches by, and courtesy of, Paul Carter (color altered).
How We Became Aliens
p. 50: “Federation Square” (2003) by Dominic O’Brien/Fairfax Photos, courtesy Paul Carter.
p. 10–11: “Piel Humana” by TechnologiaORT, used under CC BY-SA 4.0 license via Wikimedia Commons.
p. 52: “Soo Yeun You, ‘Loops improvisation,’ Federation Square, Melbourne” (2013) by, and courtesy of, Paul Carter (cropped).
p. 13: “The Marshall Star 160106#57” by NASA, public domain. p. 16: “Cyanobacteria” by Matthew J. Parker, used under CC BY-SA 3.0 license via Wikimedia Commons (altered).
The Complex Identity of Built Place p. 54: “Parthenon Foundation Stone” by, and courtesy of, Luke van Tol. p. 57: “Walt Disney Concert Hall Logo” by Justerfrain, used under CC BY-SA 3.0 license via Wikimedia Commons.
p. 18–19: “Kudzu” by Lance Apple, used with permission (color altered).
66˚33’N Wait, Where are You? p. 20–21: Screen capture from “The Trial” (1962), directed by Orson Welles, public domain. p. 24–25: Screen capture from “The Trial” (1962), directed by Orson Welles, public domain.
Identity is a Verb p. 26–27: Selection of images from The Dutch Landscape Canon by Henk van Blerck & Harry Harsema (Wageningen: Blauwdruk, 2009), courtesy Dirk Sijmons. p. 29: Images of the Zandmotor succession (2011–2015) by Rijkswaterstaat, public domain.
p. 58: Image of the Arctic from space (2010) by NASA and Jeff Schmaltz, Goddard Space Flight Center, public domain. p.59: Diagram of Arctic interests by, and courtesy of, Luke van Tol.
Munich p. 60–63: Images of Munich, USA, by, and courtesy of, Paul Preissner.
Park St, USA p. 64–65: Drawings by, and courtesy of, Jinah Kim.
Learning from Skopje 2014 The Best Garden in ‘Europe’
p. 66–67: "Statue of Nikola Karev" by, and courtesy of, Andrew Graan (color altered).
p. 33: “Portrait of Sakhile” by, and courtesy of, Jared Coetzee.
p. 69: Images by, and courtesy of, Andrew Graan and Aleksandar Takovski (cropped).
p. 34: “Pinelands–Europe” by, and courtesy of, Amy Thompson.
p. 72–73: "Museum of the Macedonian Struggle" by, and courtesy of, Andrew Graan.
p. 35: “Context Plan of Sakhile’s Garden” by, and courtesy of, Amy Thompson. p. 36–37: “Garden from Above” by, and courtesy of, Jared Coetzee. p. 38: “Plan of Sakhile’s garden” by, and courtesy of, Amy Thompson.
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Who is My Neighbor?
The Sea Ranch
p 74–75: “Swanston Street Intersection” by Peter Bennetts, courtesy of Mark Raggatt.
p. 104–5: Sketch of The Sea Ranch (1964) by Lawrence Halprin, courtesy of The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.
p. 76: “William Barak” (1876), photographer unknown, Collection of the National Archives of Australia, Canberra, used with permission. p. 77: “Swanston Square” by Peter Bennetts, courtesy of Mark Raggatt. p. 78–79: “Aerial View of Swanston Street, Melbourne” by John Gollings, courtesy of Mark Raggatt (desaturated). p. 80: “View from Swanston Square Balcony” by Shannon McGath, courtesy of Mark Raggatt.
Branding Landscape p. 82–83: “Gardens by the Bay” by CPG Consultants, used with permission (color altered).
p. 106: “Wastewater Facility at The Sea Ranch” by, and courtesy of, Nicole Lambrou. p. 107: “Sea Ranch Panoramic” by John Lambert Pearson, used under CC BY 2.0 license via Wikimedia Commons.
A Tale of Two Bridges p. 108: “Smith House Construction” from the University of Minnesota’s Social Welfare History Archives, courtesy of Molly Garfinkel. p. 109: Maps by, and courtesy of, Ellen Guanlee Xie. p. 111: “Knickerbocker Village Entrance” by, and courtesy of, Ellen Guanlee Xie.
p. 86: Branding of Norway’s National Parks by Snøhetta, courtesy Nicole Porter.
p. 113: “Recreation by the East River” by, and courtesy of, Ellen Guanlee Xie.
p. 88: Proposed signage for Norway’s National Parks by Snøhetta, courtesy Nicole Porter.
Landscape Architecture in China Now
In Conversation with Martin Rein-Cano p. 90: Image courtesy of Martin Rein-Cano/Topotek 1. p. 93: Images of Superkilen Park in Copenhagen by Iwan Baan, courtesy of Martin Rein-Cano/Topotek 1. p. 95: Images of Topotek 1 projects by Hans Joosten and Iwan Baan, courtesy of Martin Rein-Cano/Topotek 1.
Molecular Man p. 96–97: “Molecular Man” by, and courtesy of, Josh Ketchum.
Undoing Design, Producing Identity
p. 114: “Chenshan Quarry Park” by Yufan Zhu, courtesy of Xiaodi Zheng. p. 117: “West Lake Expansion” by Xiangrong Wang, courtesy of Xiaodi Zheng.
On Design and the Ends of Architecture p. 118: Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris (Le Corbusier) by Nina Leen for LIFE magazine (1946) (cropped and altered). p. 120–21: “Bauhaus, Dessau” by MHDE, used under CC BY-SA license via Wikimedia Commons (cropped and altered).
A Case of Mistaken Identity p. 122–23: Portrait of the artist courtesy of Robert Zhao Renhui.
p. 98: “Cap de Creus” by, and courtesy of, Victor Ténez Ybern.
p. 125: Images from Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World (2013) by, and courtesy of, Robert Zhao Renhui.
p. 99: Masterplan for the restoration of Tudela’s Plain by EMF Landscape Architecture, courtesy of Miriam García García.
Sus Scrofa Domesticus
p. 100–1: “Ghosted buildings of Tudela’s Plain” by Luke van Tol created from before and after site images by EMF Landscape Architecture, courtesy of Miriam García García. p. 102: Image by, and courtesy of, Victor Ténez Ybern. p. 103: Design detail by EMF Landscape Architecture, courtesy of Miriam García García.
p. 126: “Sus Scrofa Domesticus” by, and courtesy of, Colin Curley.
IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF RISK is many things. It can invoke fun, temptation, or danger; it can be laced with uncertainty, fear, or hope. But most importantly for the design professions, risk is the engine of art and innovation. Complicating the risks inherent in every act of environmental design are two now dominant threats to humanity: climate change and social inequality, both of which are expected to make Earth a more volatile, dystopian planet. Risk reductionâ€”under the rubric of resilienceâ€”is the new paradigm for landscape architecture and urbanism. LA+ RISK invited contributors to consider the relationship between design and the evolving landscape of risk, to explore the ways in which risk shapes our behavior and impacts our experiences of designed environments. Contributors include: Robert Olshansky Guy Nordenson + Catherine Seavitt Kristina Hill Mark Kingwell Jon Coaffee + Jonathan Clarke Jacky Bowring Allison Lassiter Billy Fleming Mark Alan Hughes + cornelia colijn thomas oles + phoebe lickwar Andrew Zolli David Waltner-Toews + Matthew Waltner-Toews Matthijs Bouw Sean Powers + steven scyphers Eric Klinenberg James Timberlake + Stephen Kieran bernard spiegal
OUT FALL 2017
WILD Spring 2015
pleasure Fall 2015
tyranny Spring 2016
Interdisciplinary Journal of Landscape Architecture
SIMULATION FALL 2016
IDENTITY SPRING 2017
imagination Spring 2018
LA+ (Landscape Architecture Plus) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design
is the first truly interdisciplinary journal of landscape architecture. Within its pages you will hear not only from designers, but also from historians, artists, philosophers, psychologists, geographers, sociologists, planners, scientists, and others. Our aim is to reveal connections and build collaborations between landscape architecture and other disciplines by exploring each issueâ€™s theme from multiple perspectives.
LA+ brings you a rich collection of contemporary thinkers and designers in two issues each year. To subscribe follow the links at www.laplusjournal.com.
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clive hamilton ursula k. heise mark kingwell dirk sijmons julian raxworthy jim igoe paul carter edward s. casey paul preissner andrew graan aleksandar takovski mark raggatt nicole porter martin rein-cano victor tĂŠnez ybern miriam garcĂa garcĂa nicole lambrou eric lum kerri culhane molly garfinkel rui yang xiaodi zheng charles waldheim robert zhao renhui
Ever since the 18th century when Alexander Pope advised his peers to “consult the genius of place,” the idea that designers could interpret...
Published on Oct 18, 2019
Ever since the 18th century when Alexander Pope advised his peers to “consult the genius of place,” the idea that designers could interpret...