Landscape as Urbanism in Latin America

Schedule updated to 8:30-11:30 on Tuesdays.

The discourse and practices of landscape as urbanism as developed over the past two decades can be found in Europe, North America, and Asia. Over the past several years the question has emerged as to the status of this project in Latin America. On the one hand Latin America has inherited an Iberian tradition of the strong architect as urbanist, and a cultural tendency toward traditional urban form. On the other hand, a number of contemporary urban practices are presently invoking landscape in the context of Latin America. This course will survey this work, and examine the relevance for the discourse and practice of landscape as a form of urbanism in the contemporary Latin context.

In Latin America it is difficult to identify strong professional or academic communities committed to landscape architecture as an intellectual project, however Latin America’s tropical landscapes have been inspiration and geographic origin for some of the most intriguing, creative, organically constituted and even self-taught forms of landscape architecture practice.

Without strong affiliations to North American landscape theories, and under truly interdisciplinary proximity to arts, architecture, botany and natural sciences, some young practices have been trying to retrace the foundations of landscape architecture as an autonomous professional field in Latin America.

This impulse is rooted in avant-garde tropical landscape architecture schools that had an intellectual peak at mid point of the XX century. At that time these schools extended their influence outside Latin America and were recognized globally. From Rio de Janeiro, Mexico to Caracas, the alliances between landscape architecture and tropical modern design practices where clearly impactful and global. At the turn of the 80’s, these landscape schools and professional groups seemed to have weakened due to political instabilities and in some cases, the weight of watered-down post modern design culture arriving to Latin America

The capacity of Latin American architects to design public spaces is now been challenged due to an increasingly ecologically conscious political class, and more importantly, the complexity of the rapid process of urbanization happening at the edge of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. It is time for a re definition and identification of the current state of the art of landscape architecture in Latin America and its key XXI century practitioners and intellectuals.

This advanced research seminar will identify, uncover and contextualize the practices, methods and players of contemporary Landscape architecture in Latin America. Ultimately it also seeks to prepare landscape architects with an appetite to practice in tropical contexts where the field is still messy yet fertile and full of opportunities.