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MSc02 | Oana-Maria Paraschiv

Site Morphology and Landscape Techniques

What is NATURE? What is AESTHETICS?

Cities are constructed as urban assemblages “as a multiple object, to convey a sense of its multiple enactments”( Farias, 2010:14), based on the direct interaction between two important sides of urbanite: cityscape and citylife. Based on Farias’ study about urban assemblages, the city is the co-existence of multiple realities, enacted in “networks of bodies, materialities, technologies, objects, natures and humans”(cf. Mol 2002:13), that is why the city is a system composed of various natural and urban sites. Regarding this fact, the essay is my attempt to unfold the notion of nature into cities and to frame the process in which the subject experiences and perceives it, through the aesthetics of atmosphere. People often tend to think that ‘the city’ is basically the antithesis of nature. However, even if the most of the people associate the nature only with the green layer of the cities, I intend to contradict this approach by thinking in an overall perspective of the fact that the nature is everything that surrounds us. Furthermore, through the ecology lens, the processes that take place in a city, starting with the motion between buildings - the pulse of the city-, defines the reason why ‘the city’ can be easily associated with a “living organism”, a complex ecosystem which works based on its own rules (Corner,2006:29). In order to frame this attitude, we need to define, from an urban perspective, the nature through its aesthetics, highlighting the bridge between them which is illustrated by “the atmosphere”( Böhme, 1998a:112).

What is NATURE ? “Nature means the sum of all phenomena, together with the causes which produce them; including not only all that happens, but all that is capable of happening; the unused capabilities of causes being as much a part of the idea of Nature as those which take effect” (Mill, 1874:114). Based on this approach and on Peter’s Coates definition, which illustrates the perception of nature as a physical assemblage, which includes places and things, touched and untouched by people, the term nature is defined as a versatile component of cities, being in this way “the moral as well as practical antidote to the corrosive environmental and social qualities of the modern city” (Corner, 2006:25). Moreover, based on the idea of James Corner that the “landscape drives the process of city formation”, it is illustrated that the nature is firmly attached to this concept of landscape, being in this way projected and introduced into the cities. “Here, the term landscape no longer refers to prospects of pastoral innocence but rather invoke the functioning matrix of connective tissue that organizes not only objects and spaces but also the dynamic processes and events that move through them. This is landscape as active surface, structuring the conditions for new relationships and interactions among the things it supports” (Wall, 1999). Regarding this extract, the landscape is an active site inside the city which has the power to activate the areas that are in surroundings.

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MSc02 | Oana-Maria Paraschiv

Site Morphology and Landscape Techniques

With other words the ‘nature’ takes place in sites. What are sites? Sites are defined like spaces that are imagined through three viable directions: relationality, heterogeneity and process. These are spaces that host a variety of existences, linked through a different hierarchy of relations in a complex system which is in a continue process of construction (Massey, 2005). Because of this unpredictable feature and of the fact that the nature into the city is a site in continue process of construction, this needs to be experienced by the subject starting with the reception of the space and continuing with the production of his own perception. This process of perceiving the nature is the key start up for defining the aesthetics. What is AESTHETICS

?

The natural systems are reflected by the “diversity of biological life and physical conditions” (Rottle&Yocom, 2010:10) and sensed through the aesthetics of atmosphere. With other words the aesthetics of atmosphere are introduced through shifting the attention from ‘what is it?’ to ‘how?’ the nature is perceived (Böhme, 1998a:114). Thinking of the fact that the term atmosphere “concerns a spatial sense of ambiance”, in theory this concept is placed “between-phenomenon” – “between subject and the object”. Regarding to this and the fact that in the past the aesthetics were like a branch of philosophy, expression and perception of primarily art, nowadays the aesthetics are defined more pragmatic by an logical equation in which the aesthetics of atmosphere is the result – ‘mediation’ of the sum – ‘link’ between the aesthetics of reception and the aesthetics of production. Therefore, the aesthetics is a specific feature concern with the nature and appreciation of beauty that evokes emotions, so in the same time affects our senses or feelings. Moreover, the atmosphere as an aesthetic concept creates an expression of the picturesque setting of nature and it “cannot be defined independently from the persons emotionally affected by them” (Böhme, 1998a:144). So, from a spatiality perspective, the aesthetics becomes “the study of the relations between ambient qualities and state of mind” (Böhme, 1998a:144), main focus being on spaces and spatiality. However, in terms of city as our work field, the atmosphere “is the explicit object and the goal of aesthetic action” (Böhme, 1998a:145), where the aesthetics is defined as urban scenery that is affected and changed by the motion and mobile users’ interactions. This feature has an important word to say, in terms of spatial and temporal perception of nature in the city, for the simple reason that the aesthetics affords new subjectivities and new ways of perceiving the natural aspects. From this point of view, aesthetics represents a bridge between perceiving the space from bellow to above. Actually, is defined as the way in which the choreography between the entities (seeing from below – eyes view) is drawing the scenography of a space (seeing from above – bird view). However, the choreography in this context is referring of the ‘ballet’ between the dynamics of the nature and how people interact with it, their embodied performances (Jensen, 2012:31). Furthermore, the biological and urban motion (both the life cycle and peoples’ movement) afford new aesthetic experiences. The experience in motion has to do with the fact that the mobile embodied perception can create new aesthetics through new systems, features, patterns. So, this means that through the aesthetics changings in time and space, the nature and its features will be also modified. Therefore, the link between nature and aesthetics is

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MSc02 | Oana-Maria Paraschiv

Site Morphology and Landscape Techniques

illustrated through atmosphere and is really strong, in terms of modifying each other in space and with time. Concluding, this essay has an important role in presenting a logical course of theoretical terms nature and aesthetics. Through this discourse, I wanted to highline the fact that the nature is not only the untouched landscape, is more than that, is the natural environment described by its aesthetics that we experience in the city everyday through the atmosphere. This theoretical part of my reflection was expressed also through a pragmatic attitude by the development that I have proposed for creating a connection between the Botanical Garden and the Ring Road of Aarhus. The main objective was to emphasize the existing natural environment of the Garden by modeling the garden’s aesthetics, through creating these “Garden Balconies” and also changing the atmosphere through orientating the subjects’ view towards the main natural spots of the park.

REFFERENCES          

B ö hme , G. (1998a), Atmosphere as an Aesthetic Concept , Daidalos, 68, pp. 112115; Farias, I. and Bender, Th.(Eds.) (2010), Urban Assemblages: How Actor NetworkTheory Changes Urban Studies, mentioned in Site Morfology and Landscape Techniques, Lecture 2, 2015; Coates, P. (1998), Nature: Western attitudes since ancient times, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 3–10; Corner, J. (2006),Terra Fluxus, in Charles Waldheim (ed.), The Landscape Urbanism Reader, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, pp. 22-33; Jensen, Ole B.(2012), Staging Mobilities, Aalborg (non-layout version); Massey, D. (2005), For Space, London: Sage; Mill, John S. (1874) Platonic Heritage: Happiness through Character, United Kindom: Lexington Books; Rottle, N. and Yocom, K.(2010), Basics Landscape Architecture 02: Ecological Design, Switzerland: AVA Publising; Wall, A. (1999), Programming the Urban Surface, in J. Corner (ed.) Recovering Landscape, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, p.233; Waldheim, C. (2010), On Landscape, Ecology and Other Modifiers to Urbanism, Topos: The International Review of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design.

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GARDEN BALCONIES | Site Morphology and Landscape Techniques  

Theoretical Paper + Design Project, Sem.2, Master Thesis, AAU, Aalborg, Denmark

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