What Makes a Landscape: Imagining the Role of AI and Computer Simulation in Landscape Practice

The course aims to imagine and critically investigate the role of AI and computer simulation in landscape practice, considering the perceptual, intangible and context-sensitive aspects that transform a space into a landscape. A critical review providing the introductory knowledge related to the fields of complexity science, complexity theory of cities, and landscape design will guide the process.

Over the past decades, design practices related to globalization shaped an emergent international style for public places, a “new generic landscape” (Jakob, 2017) characterized by highly repetitive patterns. At the same time, innovation in the field of computer science introduced the automation of behavioral analysis, and the simulation of human actions in space through AI, a technology that could be potentially integrated into the most common design and representation tools, such as BIM.

The coeval existence of such technologies and the new “generic” style suggest a dystopian future in which these instances will reinforce each other mutually, fostering the birth of increasingly homogeneous forms. This condition could lead to a potential loss of the diverse and sometimes very particular quality of designed landscapes that take advantage of local specificities. Many questions arise from these considerations, such as: Which will be the designer’s role in the future? How could such technology support the design of culturally relevant landscapes? What is the real function of these tools in the world of contemporary design?

The course will be held in the form of a limited-enrollment seminar, including lectures and class discussions. Students are expected to read the course materials in advance to take part in the debate. Critical opinions, doubts, and ideas are most welcome. The course is open to all the GSD community, and there are no specific prerequisites.

The evaluation will consider active class participation as well as the quality of the delivered materials, two 1000 words essays and a final 3000 words essay, elaborating personal thoughts on the class topic. Based on each student’s individual creative attitude, both pieces could include visuals, videos, prototypes or any other media aiming to support the argument.