Page 1


ENGAGEMENT Rosana Busby-Cozic Landscape Architecture 2012 Leeds Metropolitan University

Fig. 1_The Weather Project Visitors reflected in the mirrored ceiling.


Context & Aims Method & Content

p 1-4

CHAPTER 2 - A NEED FOR ENGAGEMENT - How do we experience spaces? • • •

Engagement The Issue Landscape Engagement

p 5-10

CHAPTER 3 - a removal from the ‘everyday’ - alienation & stimulation of thought • • • • •

Design Driven by Viewer Experience The Weather Project - 2003 The Forked Forest Path - 1998 Green River - 1998 - 2001 Application to Landscape

p 11-18

CHAPTER 4 - sensory engagement - materials, spatial relations & interaction • • •

EANA Park Gardens - 2008 Qinhuangdao Botanic Garden - 2009 Application to Design

p 19-24

CHAPTER 5 - narratives - immersion in the story/experience • • •

Lost In Paris The Fairytale of Burscough Bridge Application to Design

p 25-30

CHAPTER 6 - richer experience, deeper understanding •


p 31-34

conclusion p 35-36



CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION Landscape architects are assigned the task of designing places that promote engagement, interaction and connection with the audience. However, despite countless principles and guidelines on how to create functional and durable design, there is a void in guidance and direction when it comes to the task of engaging (L.Clements, 2011). In Spectrum Matrix: Landscape Design and Landscape Experience, Terry Clements identifies a gap in design guidelines towards creating an engaging landscape. His paper provides a matrix that is intended as a prompt to remind designers to consider the audience experience at all times throughout the design process (2011). It provides examples of projects that successfully engage, and briefly examines how. However, it does not delve deeper into the methods used to do so. This thesis builds upon the initial arguments posed by Clements, and explores further methods that could be adopted during the design process in order to create interesting and engaging environments.


CONTEXT & AIMS There is countless evidence, throughout history, illustrating the healing and positive effects of experiencing green space or ‘nature’. So how can built or designed landscapes be used to maximise these benefits? Firstly, it’s important to highlight the importance of using landscape or the natural environment as a tool due to its powerful capabilities and potential for engaging activity. Richardson brings attention to the outside environment being a place where there is a high level of emotional sensitivity, and humans are more perceptive and responsive to their surroundings.

“Outside, we are physically and emotionally vulnerable and therefore more sensitive to our surroundings” (Richardson, 2009). It is undeniable that any interaction with the natural environment (be it a single tree or a forest) is beneficial to the human mind, spirit and well being; but

the aim of this paper is to explore how these positive effects can be utilised to their full potential, seeking to maximise engagement and interaction in a variety of forms, in the design of landscapes, parks and gardens. The importance of engagement can be applied to almost all experiences in human life. When engagement is achieved in any context, it brings richness and value to a given situation. This can be applied to designed landscapes and gardens thus for a deeper understanding of place, it is vital that the experience engages with the viewer; the place holds a stronger significance and importance, and holds the capability to stimulate thought and provide an educational interaction.

landscape experience, and the methods by which engaging design can be achieved. There are two questions that this thesis will address in order to do this… How does engaging the audience lead to a richer experience and a deeper understanding of landscape design? What methods could be adopted to create a more engaging and interactive landscape experience?

The following study will form an exploration of options, and various methods that could be adopted in order to achieve the necessary engagement. Ultimately, seeking to find ways to use the landscape as a tool for engagement; and This paper aims to investigate the make best use of its capacity to stimulate, importance of engagement in the enrich and inform.

“Engagement cannot be directed or commanded, but it can be nurtured. Favorable conditions can be created for it to flourish, much as favorable conditions usually induce plants to grow and flourish” (W.Marcum, 2011).


METHOD & CONTENT To approach the questions posited, various information and examples are explored, drawn from theories, literature, and case studies (ranging from architecture, landscape architecture, garden design and installation projects). First exploring how place and space is experienced, looking into existing theory and literature on the importance of engagement; some of which offers ways in which it might be tested or measured. Using this theory and literature as a basis for discussion, the subject matter is explored further, aiming to gain a deeper understanding of what provokes an audience to engage with design. Following discussion on the issue of engagement within landscape architecture, three categories form the main body of the analysis. These categories (or chapters) are formed by the analysis and evaluation of a variety of case studies that encourage a high level of engagement. •Removal from the everyday – Alienation and stimulation of thought

projects that set a distinct theme or story through which a space can be experienced. Case studies are analysed and evaluated in order to identify the benefits that immersion in the ‘story’ of a place bring to an experience. Be it an existing or constructed, narratives can offer an interactive and engrossing way of reading a landscape, giving a strong sense •Sensory engagement – Materials, of connection and meaning to a place. The explorations into this category form spatial relations and interaction the final illustrations (in this paper) of Building upon the previous chapter, this methods that can be adopted to promote section draws on information derived an engaging design. from the analysis of Eliasson’s work, with more emphasis on landscape projects; The findings of the three chapters/ forming an investigation of how similar categories are summarised and linked principles function in the context of into a final discussion to the thesis. All landscape and garden design, and how information deduced will be brought they can enrich the viewer experience, together to identify the relevance and allowing for a deeper understanding of implications of the research, and form landscape projects. Various case studies a selection of methods for maximising that provide sensory and engaging engagement in landscape design. experiences are analysed in order to Information is reviewed in order to bring gain an understanding into what factors clear resolution to the questions posed at encourage this type of interaction; and the beginning of the paper. Furthermore, how these could be used as design tools to simply clarify the end result of the paper, a conclusion discusses possible from the start of the design process. continuation of the theme and reiterates •Narratives – Immersion in the story/ the possible application of thought in the wider landscape design process. experience experience, creating illusion and playing with the perceptual capacities of the audience. Although Eliasson’s work does not take the form of landscape design as such, his methods of engagement can be analysed in order to provide principles that can be applied to the design of landscapes.

The main focus of this section is the work of Olafur Eliasson, best known for large-scale installation and public art interventions that often encapsulate unusual, highly interactive experiences. This chapter looks at projects that The work is very much driven by viewer use narratives as a form of engaging;


Fig. 3_Lost In Paris Material choices heighten the experience.




ENGAGEMENT In the context of this paper, the definition of engagement is: 1. [with object] occupy or attract (someone’s interest or attention) 2. [no object] (engage in or be engaged in) participate or become involved in -(engage with) establish a meaningful contact or connection with (Oxford Dictionaries, 2012) Engagement is a term associated with a huge variety of activities. Most commonly linked with learning in educational institutions and the workplace, when an activity successfully engages it brings a greater value and deeper understanding to a situation, place or activity, through meaningful participation and interaction. Marcum discusses these ideas The term of ‘engagement’ is linked directly to the design of landscapes and gardens. By narrowing the scope of existing theories, it is possible to generate here a deeper comprehension of the methods, which can be used to engage users in the landscape experience.

“Engagement occurs when an individual or group undertake tasks related to their interests and competence, learn about them continuously, participate freely with (equal) associates, immerse themselves deeply, and continue the task with persistence and commitment because of the value they attribute to the work” (W.Marcum, 2011).


THE ISSUE The importance of landscape architecture is steadily growing in the current world, with major issues such as climate change, the need for renewable energy and a rapidly increasing population taking the forefront. Landscape architecture plays vital part in confronting these issues and making changes to the way in which the world operates at present. The Landscape Institute bring attention to these issues, discussing the role that landscape design plays in promoting a more sustainable and cohesive future. There is constant emphasis on the major role that it plays in the wider world; which is inevitably, a vital consideration (Landscape Institute, 2012).

Whilst it is necessary to always consider the macro scale of design, the micro scale is equally as important. Whatever role a designed landscape may play, (to promote sustainability, food growing, community spaces, etc.) it is fundamental that engagement with users occurs. Although a place can still function and be used without a sense of engagement, it may lack the potential to fully connect and interact with the audience. A space that engages has a strong ability to educate and bring greater value to its purpose. In considering the engagement potential of design throughout the design process, it is possible to maximise the benefits that a said design can bring to its situation.

“Any action that changes the appearance and condition of a place must consider its effect on the wider landscape. It is vital to see the bigger picture. This is the role of landscape architecture� (Landscape Institute, 2012).


Richardson discusses how place is experienced on an emotional John Simmonds reiterates this point, level, writing about the importance of the effect that designed “what must count then is not primarily the landscapes have on their users. It is not only the built elements or ‘features’ that hold importance in design; the greater factor designed shape, spaces, and forms [of all to consider is how the audience will perceive built design great planning and design]. What counts (Richardson, 2009). He states that

is the experience” (Simmonds, 1961).

“It is clear that the object of the landscape architect and garden designer is not simply to fill up spaces with ‘features’ which may or may not affect the minds and emotions of those who experience them. The cumulative effect of the designer’s work on the space constitutes much more than the sum of its parts” (Richardson, 2009).

Sutcliffe also identifies this in his study of user engagement maintaining that,

“High quality aesthetic design will evoke pleasure and mild arousal; however, interaction is probably a more important influence” (Sutcliffe, 2010). He reinforces the notion that richness of experience can be initiated through providing interaction and engagement in design.


LANDSCAPE ENGAGEMENT In Pyschotopia, Richardson (2009) explores how meanings in conceptual landscape design are communicated. At the outset of the essay, it is suggested that it is not purely the built forms that hold importance in landscape design. He discusses the appropriation of the word ‘place’, and offers a new term to describe the experiential qualities of a place and how an audience perceives them. He states

“I offer up a new, more specific term – ‘psychotopia’ – as a shorthand for a way of describing places as they are actually experienced in life, not how they are ‘objectively’ assessed, described later, or assimilated into existing theories” (Richardson, 2009).

Richardson focuses on the strong psychological interaction that humans share with the outside world and how the way in which gardens and landscapes are perceived cannot be broadly categorised. His examination of place explores the significance of landscapes holding meaning. It provides the term, ‘psychotopia’, which can be used as an approach to assessing engaging qualities in designed landscapes; however, it falls short of further analysis to discover how landscape engagement can be implemented to its full potential. The content of his essay approaches the primary question of this paper, and reiterates the emotive and perceptive capacities that an interaction with landscape can hold. So why is it so important to have a sense of connection or engagement in order to understand a space? Fenner (2008) describes the act of full engagement as

“In the absence of such tools, this paper presents a matrix of design considerations relating an individual’s perceptual and cognitive capacities to the design and programming “When all of my sensory of landscapes” (L.Clements, modalities are engaged, 2011). and when my thoughts looks at the relationship and feelings are likewise Clements between Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow engaged, then I am totally Theory and Gardner’s theory of Multiple immersed, I can have the Intelligence. deepest, richest, most FLOW: achievement of flow includes… highly unified experiences with tasks we have a I am capable of” (Fenner, •Confrontation chance to complete 2008). •The ability and opportunity to the utmost that can be gained from an experience. Not only in a qualitative sense, but also the recognition that the more time spent with as many senses as possible engaged, can bring greater value to an experience; the viewer is actively involved in becoming part of the activity as opposed to merely observing (Fenner, 2008).

From this evidence, the importance of engaging with a space to gain understanding is illustrated. Without engagement the understanding and experience will not be at its full potential. Applying this to designed landscapes, it is evident that with user experience at the forefront of the design process, a richer landscape experience can be created. Spectrum Matrix: Landscape Design and Landscape Experience, also builds upon a similar argument, but takes a step further in analysing and evaluating ways in which place is perceived. Clements identifies a gap between resources for designers and the issue of engagement. Existing “design and evaluation tools” are limited and generalized and do not take into account people’s individual experiences and perceptions. Many design guidelines pushing for function and performance driven design, fail to consider the user experience and opportunities for engagement (L.Clements, 2011).

concentrate on what we are doing •The ability to concentrate because we have clear goals •Tasks that have immediate feedback •Deep but effortless involvement away from awareness of everyday life •A sense of control over one’s actions (whether possible or actual) •Disappearance of concern for self, although this is stronger after the flow experience is over •An altered sense of time (Csikszentmihalyi 1990, 49-50) MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES: the intelligence domains… • • • • • • • •

Logical-mathematical Musical-rhythmic Bodily-kinesthetic Verbal-linguistic Visual-spatial Naturalistic Intrapersonal Interpersonal

“As visitors at gardens or landscapes, I would argue we are not just passive observers” (Richardson, 2009).


In combining the activation of people’s intelligences, in order to achieve flow (otherwise described as being ‘in the zone’) Clements provides a matrix; not as a means of measuring engagement, but instead to measure the opportunities for engagement. Engaging the various intelligences with elements in designed landscapes will lead to achieving flow in the given experience (L.Clements, 2011). The matrix provided (see Figure..) is intended to ‘prompt’ designers to provide opportunities for challenge, interaction and engagement, and can also be used as a method of critique during the design development. The matrix is developed upon assumptions reached through the research conducted by Clements. 1. Offering challenge at a range of levels relating to a variety of intelligences allows more opportunities for the user to engage. 2. Achieving flow is part of engaging the multiple intelligences, and achieving this is the goal in order to create a more meaningful landscape experience. 3. On site critique informed by the two theories allows a deeper understanding of the potential to engage in built landscape (L.Clements, 2011). Clements continues by illustrating case studies that demonstrate the qualities discussed, summarising that the matrix should act as a reminder of people’s varied perceptive capacities. Furthermore, it prompts the designer to constantly reassess work in relation to providing challenge and user engagement. Building mainly upon Clements ideas, this paper is conducting a deeper exploration of this topic, investigating more precisely the methods for engagement that could be applied during the design process. Three categories have been derived for research in this study; these categories illustrate a broad range of engagement possibilities, whilst allowing flexibility in the way in which they may be implemented. •Removal from the everyday – Alienation and stimulation of thought •Sensory engagement – Materials, spatial relations and interaction •Narratives – Immersion in the story/experience These categories are explored below through analysis and evaluation of various case studies to provide a selection of design tools or methods that can be adopted in the process of achieving successful engagement in the design of landscapes.

“Landscapes that include site elements that support a range of activities at a variety of levels of challenge are more likely to appeal to a wider population of users and provide more opportunities for meaningful experiences” (L.Clements, 2011).


CHAPTER 3 - A REMOVAL FROM THE ‘EVERYDAY’ - Alienation & stimulation of thought DESIGN DRIVEN BY VIEWER EXPERIENCE This chapter explores the idea of being removed from literal surroundings, or a removal from the ‘everyday’. In this context ‘everyday’ refers to a routine or usual experience of something, be it a place, space or object. How can creating an unusual experience heighten the level of engagement with an audience? What methods can be adopted in order to create a non-routine experience?

“Without the user, all that’s there is material – and no space. I’m not presenting any sort of utopias, but rather, simply the possibility of how the space in front of my nose might be seen differently” (Eliasson, 2004).

The ideas, projects and literature of Olafur Eliasson provide the primary source with which to explore the subject of this section; he represents a pioneer in creating engaging and interactive experiences. Much of his work is art/research based installation projects, although not typical designed landscapes; Eliasson provokes intensive engagement and interaction with his work. Much of the work experiments with a variety of methods; including spatial, material and sensory aspects that interact and play with the perceptions and experience of the viewer. The work is very much driven by the audience, and relies on the viewer experience to function as installations.

The idea of using alienation to stimulate thought in the audience, is one that Eliasson is famous for implementing. Large-scale art installations, in which the use of natural elements merges with man made interventions, create fully immersive and engaging experiences. Much of the work might be referred to as spatial research, as much of the thinking behind it revolves around metaphysical experience and the ‘alteration of perceptions’. Eliasson experiments with physics, illusions, natural phenomena and elemental materials; the projects are extremely varied in their nature and topic, but the work is constantly driven by the viewer experience.

“What effect will this attempt have in a room full of visitors?” (Eliasson, 2004)


“In fact, all that is required of me is to absorb, feel, and interact where I am tempted. Once inside Olafur Eliasson’s installation, I am entirely seduced into a realm of pure perception” (Engelmann, 2008).

Eliasson describes this process of engagement as ‘seeing yourself seeing’. Through participation and interaction, the viewer is forced to realise the engagement occurring, allowing participation and engagement to flourish side by side, thus influencing a deeper thought process. The audience animate the projects, and the engagement that occurs is, in effect, the absorption of one’s surroundings (Eliasson, 2008). Combining these methods with unlikely scales, locations and experiences, Eliasson transforms the role of the audience, from onlooker to participant, encouraging a fully immersive experience. Alienation from the ‘everyday’ combined with the challenge that the projects present (challenge in terms of the thought process required), provokes an intense perceptual experience, heightening awareness of the viewer. The work is also thought provoking in its themes, not solely as an experience itself. Eliasson brings cultural and environmental themes into his work, in some respects

asking the audience to question their perceptions on a variety of themes. This stimulation of thought on a variety of levels leads to a richer experience and a deeper understanding of the projects. Despite the work not being typical landscape design, case study investigation can identify principles employed by Eliasson, in order to formulate a palette of tools that can be translated for the design of landscapes. Three projects (each very different in their nature) are analysed to illustrate the variety of ways in which Eliasson transports his audience; from the formalised idea of being in a gallery or exhibition, into the realm of perception and immersion that the pieces create.

“As far as I’m concerned, then, I’m first creating an experience. But above all, I’m prompting awareness” (Eliasson, 2004).

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THE WEATHER PROJECT - 2003 This project was exhibited in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London in 2003. Using the weather as a central topic to this piece, Eliasson experiments with experience and representation. The large space of the turbine hall was transformed with the use of mirrors, light and mist. At the far end of the 500ft long space a large semi-circle constructed from 200 lights behind a translucent screen. The ceiling was covered entirely by mirror, and mechanisms on the walls created a fine mist that hovered in the large space. The reflection of the semi circle created a vision of the sun that dominates the room. Eliasson brings the natural phenomenon that is the sun, into a gallery setting, evoking the senses through experimentations in material, atmosphere and light. Despite creating a vast illusion, the project does not hide its mechanics; the audience is allowed to discover the workings behind the piece. The project allows the viewer to interact in a variety of ways, evoking the senses, providing challenge and discovery, and using materials that allow for interaction. The unexpected experience removes the audience from the gallery setting, and a high level of engagement provides a complete immersion in the experience. The piece encourages the audience to question their perceptions and provides a thought stimulating engagement.


THE FORKED FOREST PATH - 1998 The Forked Forest Path is owned by the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, and was shown at the Whitworth Art Gallery as part of The Land Between Us, (place, power and dislocation) Exhibition. The project consists of 2500 saplings and tree branches, sourced from local and sustainable sources, stripped of their leaves. The trees crammed between the ceiling and the floor of the exhibition space created the illusion of a dense forest setting. In amongst the ‘forest’, a winding path forked into two, leaving the audience with a decision to make. Eliasson employed the use light, shadows, and scent alongside material to enhance the experience; this combination of elements created the illusion of being somewhere completely foreign to the gallery in which it was situated. In this project, Eliasson brought the outdoors into a gallery setting, engaging the audience by creating an unusual and thought provoking experience. The simple yet effective choice of materials stimulated the senses, and transports the viewer to the ‘forest’. The fork in the path allowed the viewer to determine their experience. One door led out of the building, the alternative to another part of the gallery. Regardless of where each door may lead, this moment of the experience provoked an engagement with the audience. Which path to choose? Where will they lead? This was a relatively simple project in terms of its materials, scale and concept. However, it still provided opportunities for a high level of interaction and engagement with the audience; via both removing the viewer from their surroundings, and fully immersing them in the experience of the installation.


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GREEN RIVER - 1998 - 2001


“I develop the idea mostly as I go along, and I guess the one thing guiding me is the question of how viewers see themselves in a given space. It’s basically a very open formula for almost all of my work” (Eliasson, 2008).

Green River is a series of public space interventions that and on a most of the occasions, it encouraged people to took place in five different cities over a period of 3 years: take a moment to stop and take it in. This project was very much an experimentation of reaction, and how people - Tokyo, Japan, 2001 interact and perceive the water in their cities. This project - Stockholm, Sweden, 2000 both provoked an engagement as well as illustrating a - Los Angeles, USA, 1999 lack of engagement between people and the cities they - Moss, Norway, 1998 live in, (which also reflects the lack of engagement with - Bremen, Germany, 1998 landscapes in a wider sense). A harmless pigment called uranine was used to dye the Whether the reaction to this project was one of telling the major rivers in the cities green and was delivered authorities or appreciating the spectacle, it did, in some without warning: way or another, engage the audience. Out of the usual of an exhibition or gallery, this intervention “it was a hit-and-run project, so to speak” confines challenged the audience to re-assess how they view the (Eliasson, 2008). city. It stimulated thought and an interaction by once again The reactions varied depending on the cities in which ‘removing’ the audience from their literal or ‘everyday’ they occurred. In some places people paid no attention surroundings. at all, in some instances, people reported it to the police,

APPLICATION TO LANDSCAPE Although some of the projects are very different in nature to that of landscape design, the methods of engagement employed can be adapted to fit a variety of design themes. Taking the methods that Eliasson uses to engage the audience, (which is in effect, by creating unexpected and unusual encounters that alienate the audience from the ‘everyday’ surroundings or circumstances), and applying these to the design of landscapes. The scale or drastic nature of some of these projects can be adapted to provide interesting landscape experiences of challenge and discovery. Although the analysis of case studies is mainly

focused on the experiential engagement of Eliasson’s work, it is also important to note the way in which pertinent issues can be communicated alongside engagement. This method of engagement should be highly considered in the landscape design process; design content and elements should be driven by the user experience and providing plenty of opportunity to engage and interact. Whatever the theme, scale or location of a design, these principles can be adapted to provide stimulating and engaging experiences on multiple levels.



As illustrated in the previous chapter, engaging with the senses is a vital factor in forming a full engagement. A large proportion of Eliasson’s work is an experimentation of this. This chapter provides further investigation into this form of engagement, in the context of designed landscapes. This exploration consists of the analysis and evaluation of case studies. This demonstration explores the use of materials


and spatial relations, place and interaction, and how this contributes to creating an interactive and immersive landscape experience. Two case studies that illustrate varied forms of engagement are examined; EANA Park Gardens in France and Qinhuangdao Botanic Gardens.

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EANA PARK GARDENS - 2008 The following case study, EANA Park Gardens, was designed by BASE Landscape Architects in 2008; and is situated within the grounds of a 12th century abbey in Normandy, France. The grounds of the building, as well as the gardens, contain a leisure park, conference centre and facilitate outdoor events based on sustainable development, all part of an on-going restoration of the abbey and its grounds (BASE, 2009). The project


is based upon an “interpretation of the monks” relationship with their environment”, consisting of a variety of themed gardens including an elemental garden, a fog/mist garden, dew garden, textile garden and other experiential spaces (BASE, 2009). This project also provides an extremely varied and rich experience for the user with multiple opportunities for engagement and

interaction in a variety of ways. The park is made up of a range of different themed environments and experiences; various paths meander through the space leading from intimate gardens to larger expanses, incorporating challenge and variety in the landscape. Plants, materials and forms in this project are used to their full potential to allow for a close interaction and full engagement with the space and all of its elements.

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This project is a large-scale public space, designed by Turenscape in 2009, located in Qinhuangdao City alongside the Tanghe River in China. The park is divided into various different settings and environments. The space is designed as an experiential landscape that forms an engaging and educational experience, accommodating both local community and tourist use (Turenscape, 2012). The design acts as a sequential journey through various different settings, illustrating the surrounding regional landscapes, transforming a previously degraded environment (Turenscape, 2012). This project achieves engagement and interactivity in a variety of ways, providing a varied and informative landscape. Several different environments are created, including orchards, herb gardens, valleys and hills, in which the path is constantly varied, moving from sheltered to

open spaces, and from bridges to paths amongst rich planting, and within these settings, there are communal and more private areas. The variety of different environments created in this park allow for a diverse and interesting journey. Material and plants create changing spaces of contrast and harmony; sculptural metal structures combined with considered planting create further elements of interest with light and shadow. The methods of engagement used in this project create an interactive and immersive landscape, creating a removal from the ‘everyday’ through the varied experiences that the park provides. A close interaction with plants and materials combined with the environmental and educational aspects of this project create a richness of experience; the engaging qualities of the design allow the audience to gain a deeper understanding of the place and project.

APPLICATION TO DESIGN The two case studies explored here illustrate designed landscapes that successfully provide opportunities for engagement and interaction on a variety of levels. Sensory engagement, challenge and stimulation within varied environments allows for a rich and educational experience. The projects examined are on a relatively grand scale, but the principles and methods deducted can be applied to the design of gardens and parks of multiple scales and themes. In creating the rich engagement opportunities illustrated in designed landscapes, the audience can be removed from the routine experience and provided with a rich, interesting and immersive experience.

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Following on from the previous chapters, this chapter explores the use of narratives in landscape acting as a tool for engagement. Narratives can take a variety of forms in landscape, including historic, mythical, cultural or entirely fictional themes. Whatever the theme may be, using narratives as a means of designing and communicating a space can allow the audience a richer and more meaningful experience of a landscape. Furthermore, a strong narrative can lead to a fully immersive involvement with a place or space. This chapter is formed by the analysis and evaluation of two further case studies that employ narratives as a basis for engagement. This provides additional evidence of how engaging the audience can lead to a deeper understanding of place and how in conjunction with previously discussed methods, narratives can provide further opportunities for engagement within designed landscapes.


“Narratives are also there in landscapes. They intersect with sites, accumulate as layers of history, organize sequences, and inhere in the materials and processes in landscape. In various ways, stories “take place” (Potteiger & Purinton, 1998).

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“It s the story of an urban witch living behind a rear windows designed as a duck cabana. As alchemist, she feeds the plant with drop by drop hydroponics system watering liquid substances coming from the bacterian chemical preparation in 200 beakers disseminated in the ferns surfaces. The neighborhood is both attracted by the green aspect and repulsed by the brewage and the process to produce it” (R & Sie(n), nd).

LOST IN PARIS - 2009 The following project takes a more fictional approach to a design lead by narrative. Lost In Paris, is a small private garden designed by R & Sie(n) in 2009, located in Paris, France. Although this is a private project, the creative use of a scenario in this design illustrates another way in which fictional narrative can be used to strengthen a design and increase opportunities for engagement. The project is based upon a fictional narrative of an urban, alchemist witch, living within the space and feeding the plants with the product of the chemical preparation in the beakers dispersed within the ferns. (R & Sie(n), nd) R & Sie(n) have combined the use of a narrative in a project alongside a simple, yet effective palette of materials; provoking an immersive engagement with the design. The

narrative experience heightens alienation and ‘removes’ the audience from the literal surroundings for an intense engagement with the space. The narrative/scenario of this project introduces a very different way of reading the space. All the components have a complex, practical purpose in the design, simultaneously; they also represent the laboratory and world of the urban witch. The use of a scenario in this design brings new meanings to its audience; the viewer is allowed to place their own interpretations and meanings onto the objects and elements, whether these are appreciations or repulsions, the audience can engage in an entirely individual and imaginative way. Lost In Paris explores an alternative way of reading a designed space, and offers the opportunity for a total immersion in the ‘story’ of a place.


THE FAIRYTALE OF BURSCOUGH BRIDGE - 2008 This case study is a public realm project in the village of Burscough Bridge in Lancashire, UK. Designed by BCA Landscape and Smiling Wolf in 2008, the design employs a strong historical-mythical narrative, renewing the identity of the village and allowing the audience an immersive journey through the design. The project forms the regeneration of the village, incorporating the rich history of folklore, WW2, medieval abbey and nature reserve to communicate the story of the village in a creative and interesting way. (BCA Landscape, nd) (Smiling Wolf, nd) The Fairytale of Burscough Bridge combines a careful consideration of materials and elements, combined with a strong narrative to create an engaging and exciting experience. The audience is provided with an alternative way to read and understand the village; the design provides both an educational and engaging experience as well as strengthening the identity of a somewhat ‘forgotten’ place. A thorough and inventive design process ultimately creates a space that engages both the local community with their rich heritage, and allows the wider public to learn and interpret the story of the village in a stimulating and unusual way.


APPLICATION TO DESIGN The case studies here demonstrate that narratives can be employed in a variety of ways to form a stronger sense of experience and ‘place’ to a design. The two examples explore a more fictional and mythical response, but it is also possible to apply similar principles to many themes of design. As illustrated, the use of a narrative can allow the audience a richer experience and a deeper understanding of a design. This method can be employed to strengthen the concept or ‘story’ behind any designed space; and offers the audience another level with which they can engage, and learn. Narratives can be used in conjunction with previously discussed methods, to provide rich and diverse opportunities for engagement.



DISCUSSION Bringing together the topics discussed, this chapter summarises the findings of the paper and discusses the relevance, implications and recommendations that the process has formed. By revisiting the initial questions posed, more definitive summaries of the research conducted can be reached.

the forefront of issues to address, it is possible to heighten the awareness and perceptive capacities of the audience (Eliasson, Experiencing Space: Olafur Eliasson, 2004). In doing this, the underlying theme or message of a design can be clearly communicated, allowing the audience to gain a deeper understanding alongside an immersive and engaging How does engaging the audience lead to a richer experience experience. From the review of existing thinking, the qualities and a deeper understanding of landscape design? that engagement brings to an experience are illustrated. It becomes evident that the viewer experience should be a constant From the research conducted in this paper and previous other consideration throughout the landscape design process. investigation, it is evident that engaging in any form can lead to a richer and more meaningful experience (Fenner, 2008). This The existing literature and theory on this topic provides the information forms evidence of a need to relate this thinking basis with which this paper is built upon. The gap in design to the design of landscapes. By creating an environment that guidelines is identified in The Spectrum Matrix: Landscape provides opportunity for engagement, there is added value to Design & Landscape Experience, in which Clements offers up a the environment (L.Clements, 2011). In applying this to the matrix to act as a reminder and prompt for landscape architects. design of landscapes and gardens, it is possible to utilise the The matrix offers up brief examples of how various intelligences landscape to it’s full potential by creating a more immersive can be engaged with; the purpose of this paper was to further experience. When the experiential qualities of a design are at explore, in more detail, three themes that encapsulate the


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majority of the methods described in the matrix. The process landscape. The immersion in the ‘story’ of a place also acts as of researching these themes, relates to approaching the second another method of engagement, and allows the audience to question posed at the beginning of the paper: have an individual experience, be it sympathetic or not. It has become clear that the three themes explored are all closely What methods could be adopted to create a more engaging related and if used in conjunction with each other, could lead to and interactive landscape experience? the creation of highly engaging designed landscapes. Landscape can be used as the tool for providing stimulating and fully The variety of options for engagement explored in this paper immersive experiences and in doing so it can also act as the tool illustrates the vast array of opportunities and possibilities for for communicating themes, concepts or educational messages creating engaging and interactive experiences in designed to their full potential. The audience are provided with more than landscapes. just observing or being in a space. Engaging the audience in a designed landscape or garden, can ultimately lead to a richer Eliasson’s work shows how ‘removing’ the audience from experience (be it on an emotional, physical or educational level) the literal surroundings or everyday routine and providing allowing the audience a deeper understanding of the place. a stimulation of thought allows engagement. The projects analysed also show how sensory engagement combined with By using the matrix provided by Clements, in conjunction with providing challenge and opportunities for discovery can create the information deduced from this paper, it is possible to see a fully immersive experience. how multiple levels of engagement can be offered in landscapes. Qinhuangdao Botanic Gardens and EANA Park Gardens Although the case studies explored take a more conceptual illustrate how these methods do not have to be reserved for use or ‘fictional’ approach, if the methods used are adapted to in temporary installation and art projects. Pertinent themes and meet particular design requirements or briefs, the nature of issues can be communicated through engagement; the audience the themes researched can still allow the viewer individual can have an educational and rewarding experience; alongside interpretation and discovery in the design experience. If these a considered selection of elements, material, and form which methods are considered during the design process, it is possible heighten the interaction possibilities of the design. to offer multiple levels of varying engagement to the audience, The Fairytale of Burscough Bridge and Lost In Paris illustrate thus creating a fully immersive landscape experience. how narratives can offer another way to ‘read’ or interpret a

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CONCLUSION It is evident that creating engaging environments in landscape design can ultimately allow the audience a richer and more meaningful experience, as well as a deeper understanding of a place. With consideration of the experiential qualities and opportunities for interaction that a space provides, a given space can hold more value than fulfilling a singular function or purpose. There is no fixed formula or way to employ the methods of engagement investigated in this thesis; but it was not the intention to define a singular recommendation. The purpose of the paper was simply to explore themes and ideas that encourage a high level of engagement; that also allow for adaptation and variation when implemented. The analysis and evaluation of examples has provided a range of methods or thought processes that should be adopted during the design process to make full use of landscape as a tool for creating stimulating and immersive environments. It has been interesting to discover the vast range of ways in which engagement can be encouraged in any activity and it is a particularly pertinent subject in the realm of landscape design. Exploring this subject has revealed a range of possibilities that can provide more immersive environments. The research could be explored further to provide additional examples of the extensive ways in which engagement can be achieved. If the audience experience is considered carefully throughout the entire design process, it is possible to create multiple opportunities for engagement; and in doing so; the theme or ‘story’ of any design can be better communicated. In relating the results of this research to the wider world of landscape architecture, it is necessary to revisit a quote cited at the beginning of the paper.

“Any action that changes the appearance and condition of a place must consider its effect on the wider landscape. It is vital to see the bigger picture. This is the role of landscape architecture” (Landscape Institute, 2012). As previously discussed, it is vital to always consider the wider effect of actions in the designing of landscapes. It is the role of the landscape architect to address some of the wider issues that exist in our environment today. If landscapes provide engaging and immersive experiences, these issues can be more clearly communicated. An interaction with landscape design is vital in both the wider and narrower context. In first addressing the micro issues that exist with engaging the audience in landscape design; the macro issues that face outdoor environments can subsequently be tackled. Here lies the opportunity to approach the local and global, as well as personal and emotional issues, by widening perceptions, provoking thought, questions and answers.

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references BASE. (2009). EANA. Retrieved Dec 09, 2012, from BASE Landscape Architects: BCA Landscape. (nd). Burscough Bridge. Retrieved Dec 11, 2012, from BCA Landscape: burscough-bridge/ Bessing, J. (2004). Experiencing space: Olafur Eliasson. Retrieved 12 5, 2012, from 032c: Cooke, R. (2003). The brightest and the best. Retrieved Dec 08, 2012, from theobserver/2003/oct/19/features.review17 Eliasson, O. (2004). Experiencing space: Olafur Eliasson. (J. Bessing, Interviewer) Eliasson, O. (2004). Experiencing Space: Olafur Eliasson. (J. Bessing, Interviewer) Eliasson, O. (2008). The Conversation Series. (H. U. Obrist, Interviewer) Eliasson, O. (2006). Your engagement has consequences. Basel: Lars Muller Publishers. Engelmann, S. (2008). Breaking the Frame: Olafur Eliasson’s Art, Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology, and the Rhetoric of Eco-Activism. Stanford Undergarduate Journal . Engelmann, S. (nd). Breaking the Frame: Olafur Eliasson’s Art, Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology, and the Rhetoric of Eco-Activism. Retrieved Decemember 8, 2012, from Art & Education:’s-art-merleau-ponty’s-phenomenology-and-the-rhetoric-of-eco-activism/ Fenner, D. E. (2008). Contextualist Theory. In D. E. Fenner, Art in Context: Understanding Aesthetic Value (pp. 122-167). Gilbert, C. (2004). Olafur Eliasson by Chris Gilbert. Retrieved 12 08, 2012, from Bombsite: Hardscape. (nd). The Fairytale of Burscough Bridge. Retrieved Dec 11, 2012, from Hardscape: L.Clements, T. J. (2011). Spectrum Matrix: Landscape Design and Landscape Experience. Landscape Journal , 30 (2), 241-260. Landezine. (2011). EANA Park by BASE Landscape Architecture. Retrieved Dec 09, 2012, from Landezine: Landezine. (2012). Qinhuangdao Botanic Garden by Turenscape. Retrieved Dec 09, 2012, from Landezine: Landscape Institute. (2012, March). Landscape architecture - A Gudie for Clients. Retrieved Dec 06, 2012, from Landscape Institute:


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image references


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Landscape as a tool for Engagement  
Landscape as a tool for Engagement  

Critical Study as part of Landscape Architecture course - Leeds Metropolitan University_2012