L.A Convention - Field Landscape Architecture

Departure from landscape architectural convention . arrival of academic + practice as a model for landscape architecture

The field of landscape architecture in New Zealand is one that strives for the 'big jobs', one that is focused on the corporate world of business and money, and one that has little connection to the landscape architectural education providers. By definition, landscape architectural convention has or is becoming something that can be described as both conventional and generic.

In the USA, there has been a long tradition of practising landscape architects who preside over educational programmes. Not so in this country. Departure from (the representation of) conventional landscape architecture lies largely within educational practice, ie the agreement, acceptance or behaviour of landscape architectural practice. Adjusting socially agreed conventions and representations relies heavily upon the departure from landscape architectural convention.

It is our hope that field landscape architecture can depart from this convention and arrive at a place where students and lecturers can practise and feed back into the education of landscape architects in this country, laying bare its practise and publishing its methods, projects and philosophies: dialogue.

Environmental concerns with regard to plant selection are a given. Design is essentially collaboration between partners who alternate between mark-making and critique: between praise and interrogation. Play, excitement and curiosity are essential components in the day-to-day methodology of the design process.

Through being experimental and thinking in an abstract manner about a problem, the whole notion of design in combination with academic endeavour is being engaged, and put to use. Aspiration for places and plants that inspire, excite, resolve, reconcile, reveal, persist and work.

For practising landscape architects, the educational process begins with our ability to comprehend the medium with which we work: landscape. Landscapes are controlled neither by the generically aesthetic nor by convention or money. Landscapes are ephemeral, transitional and temporal, a series of independent yet enigmatically connected forces, fluctuations and conditions. In this sense, landscape architecture can be sensitive, passionate and profoundly accurate with regard to the site, and the rich and complex systems that course through it. Landscape architecture cannot be bound by anything other than landscape conditions.

field is currently interested in abstraction as a tool to achieve these aims: abstraction (of site information) is an important part of learning, testing, and finding things out. In the discipline of landscape architecture abstraction is a process of emphasis, a selection of things that are chosen to be dealt with. This emphasis can be described as a mechanism. is interested in a departure from brief-driven methodology, instead using an approach that allows the landscape to provide the programme for projects that emerge through an engagement with enquiry by design... a focus on an integration with/and response to, the relevant circumstances: context. design process is dominated by drawing and is essentially a conversation, a dialogue where propositions are tested and critiqued. A studio approach persists where peer review and discussion perform a vital generative and evolutionary function.

Through the process of abstraction, a mechanism such as wind-blown seed, or a particular type of space, which allows for 'gathering', can be explored in terms of its mechanical, or 'how does it work' capabilities.

This understanding opens up opportunities to work creatively with the soft, organic elements of landscape architecture: to exploit a rich variety of species and of course on occasion respond either dynamically or more subtlety to the pot-pourri of New Zealand architectural idioms.

The predominant themes that permeate my Fine Art practice and manifest in the landscape architecture of field are to do with the biota of this place, the culture and history of our land. These Threads are woven together by an aesthetic sensibility heavily influenced by Renaissance and Classical notions of composition. Plant selection is therefore heavily influenced by characteristics such as texture, chromatic qualities, formal aspects and their affect as a result of context in-situ.

This comprehension, ability, education and application of landscape architecture becomes the arrival of academic plus practice as a model for landscape architecture. not to mention lots of other mother-fucking flaky malarky.