Scale in Landscape Architecture

This seminar studies concepts of scale in landscape architecture and critically assesses how they are operative in the planning, design and making of historical and contemporary landscapes. The class has two objectives. First, that the class participants fully grasp the vital role that a sense of scale has and does play in landscape design conceptualization and second, that they individually learn to work with and in scale in their developing landscape design practices at the geographic, site and detail scales.

Scale is size contextualized . The dimensions of a region, a site landscape or a detail element are always experienced within a surrounding context. Understanding and gaining proficiency in the manipulation of landscape scale – the specific practical and expressive relationship of proposed dimensions to a context – is a crucial aspect of design proficiency in landscape architecture but it is the most mercurial of those skills to grasp and use to intentional ends at the beginning of a design career . Cries of: ‘wrong scale, out of scale, no sense of scale’ echo in critiques of student work but often with no explanatory gloss as to how to rectify this deficiency. This seminar seeks to overcome this perceived pedagogical void by introducing practices of the historical analysis of, the observation of, and modes of design speculation about scale as an instrument of landscape architectural design.

The class will explore how and why scale has changed historically in landscape architecture. What were the ideological, scientific and economic reasons for the changes in the size and dimensions of landscape spaces and how did landscape scale intervene to mediate these changes in the designed landscape? Parallel to this enquiry the seminar will test how practices of projective geometric drawing – specifically the interrelationship of plan, and the perspective as a thick, haptic section  – can provide a design instrument with which a student can learn and think critically with and about scale in landscape architecture.