Frederick Law Olmsted Lecture: Rod Barnett “Nonlinear Encounters: Emergence in Landscape Architecture”

As emergence theory is invoked and operationalized in a wide range of projects and studios, cities are becoming adaptive in ways they never were before. But the concepts mobilized by systems thinking require us to reexamine the very nature of our human encounter with the world, whose complexities are not often considered in landscape architecture. With the aid of key concepts of emergence such as difference, disturbance, and assemblage, this lecture will attempt to situate designers within the systems they intervene in while acknowledging that the systems are within them too. The Olmsted Lecture is an annual honorific lecture in landscape architecture.


Rod Barnett is Chair of the Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University.

Formerly at Unitec New Zealand, where he was director of the Unitec Landscape Unit, the research wing of the Department of Landscape Architecture, he has devoted the last ten years to experiments in emergence and nonlinear design.

A strong advocate of research by design, Barnett has investigated emergence in landscape architecture across a range of academic and professional venues, including design studios, professional practice and publications. This has included field work in the islands of the South Pacific, explorations of nonlinearity in imagined gardens and, currently, the reformulation of forgotten urban and rural landscapes in the South.

Barnett’s recent book, Emergence in Landscape Architecture, explores these issues, arguing that the open, uncertain condition of all landscapes places them at the heart of 21st century design practice.

Principal Speaker: 3597

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