An affirmative open systems conception of how to design landscape

Connolly, P 2012, An affirmative open systems conception of how to design landscape, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Design, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title An affirmative open systems conception of how to design landscape
Author(s) Connolly, P
Year 2012
Abstract Landscape architectural writers consider that there has been a ‘recovery’ of landscape design since the early 1990’s. This research found that ‘open-systems’ thinking has been centrally influential in this recovery and started to have a determining impact on landscape design by the end of the 1990’s, influenced by a series of explicitly open-systems-oriented writings. These writings contributed to the rise of ‘landscape urbanism’, now considered the dominant design approach and generally assumed to be the leading edge of the ‘recovery’. This tradition tended not to be interested in past landscape design practices, often positioning themselves against such practices. It originated from academia, promoted ambitious practice and made claims for landscape urbanism’s abilities to positively impact on the built environment.

Results of initial fieldwork into how real landscapes function carried out by this researcher agree with these writings that open systems thinking is the best way to understand how landscapes function. However, this fieldwork led to a significantly different conception of how landscape function than found in the dominant conceptions. Gilles Deleuze’s open-systems notion of ‘affect’ has been found to best explain and most affirm this work. So, this research then undertook a theoretical examination of Deleuze’s notion of ‘affect’, how to understand it (‘expression’), and the process of its production (‘assemblage’). This study then informed further fieldwork. The results of these two studies were then used to examine a series of late 1990’s writings that I term the ‘empirical research’ tradition: produced by European landscape architects who, from a practice perspective, wanted to affirm how existing landscape design practice functioned. They were obsessed with the determining role of the pre-existing landscape in the design process and the ‘intuitive’ processes of the designer, and were not explicitly interested in open-systems. Their devotion to precisely understand the processes of practice, I would argue, led certain of these to develop conceptions that aligned strongly with Deleuzian open systems notions, and included a conception of practice which did not rely upon preconceptions or outside abstract notions to evaluate how a project proceeds – making their writings the first ‘immanent’ (Deleuze) conception of landscape design. All of these studies were then used to examine the conception of design process found in the explicitly open-systems-oriented design writings of the 2000’s, strongly associated with landscape urbanism, to understand and account for the negative tendencies these writings promoted: which including uncritical translations of architectural practices to landscape design and questionable theoretical conceptions of open-systems. These conceptions were also found to promote a series of dominating design preoccupations that deferred attention away from what the human landscape does and from the role of the pre-existing and how to engage with it. They also promoted deferral away from the development of landscape-specific critical tools and, hence, strongly tended to rely on preconceived and abstract notions and very ‘traditional’ visual means of evaluation. The findings of these studies were brought together to construct, for the first time an affirmative (immanent) open-systems landscape design assemblage aimed at redirecting the recovery of landscape.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Design
Keyword(s) Landscape architecture
urbanism
urban design
landscape urbanism
landscape design
open systems
complex systems
landscape design assemblage
landscape assemblage
urban space ecology
design assemblage
Deleuze
Deleuze and Guattari
design process
design method
technique
assemblage
pre-existing
site
affirmative
affect
landscape affect
expression
sense
intuition
intuitive
practice
empirical research
aesthetics of affect
Claramunt
Mosbach
Corner
representation
heterogeneity
openness
immanence
affirmative open systems landscape design assemblage
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