Transformation of Nature and the Nature of Transformation

The topic of this seminar is how do landscape architects ‘transform” the materials they invoke.  We all use the lazy term ‘nature’, but its treatments across centuries and cultures are both different and yet (sometimes) strangely familiar. Such reworkings, reformations, or transformations of the materials landscape architects customarily use are the very essence of design. We shall focus essentially on a range of modern sites, but with some exploration of the origins and meanings of reworked ‘natures’ that they may (or may not) inform them.

The seminar’s objectives are to understand how designers work in response both to their materials and to their application to specific sites, so that better, more nuanced and more thoughtful analysis will sustain design thinking in the future.

The seminar will procced with presentations first by the instructor and then by pairs of students who will select, identify and explain transformations of ‘nature’ in selected modern built works.  The establishment of a glossary of these transformations will be the first assignment, established by individual students as a cooperative venture. The second assignment will be an extended examination by individual students at the end of the course: this will focus on a modern site (though older ones may be accepted), where the reformations and transformations of a site are explored in detail, and with a recognition of why and when (culturally, historically) these emerged. With permission, a student may opt to present and analyze his/her own project provided it is not that one in a current studio. Students will present early approaches to this final exploration in class discussions.