Often regarded mockingly, as the extension to gardening science, landscaping is a far more extensive and elaborate form of art, administering the natural elements of a space, present in hand. The opening statement might come off as a negative connotation towards the importance of landscaping, but the idea is to rather address the misinformation around its importance. Landscape architecture in broader terms is the culmination of environmental design and ecological science addressing the physiological and psychological needs of the users. The answer to why landscaping is important is, one just has to realise that Landscape Architecture exists at the crossroads of individual and collective natural experiences. It is a responsibility on the part of the designer to account for the dual nature of the user experience the space would have to offer.
Delving into the compendium of natural elements and playing around with its components is what a landscape architect is tasked with. Residential units, parks and recreation, monuments, urban design, public spaces, waterway restoration, and reuse, hospitality, and resorts, institutional, academic campuses, corporate and commercial complexes are just some of the projects that landscape architecture is involved in.
Landscaping as Complementary Means
Tracing back to the times of early human civilisation alongside rivers, the art of landscaping has evolved from its pristine form into much intricate composition of technical and aesthetic features. Although it did not become a mainstream profession until the mid-19th century, the accomplishments of much earlier landscape architecture have ousted time itself to this date. The major task that modern landscaping is deemed to address is the increasing urbanisation of space. Keeping up with the toll the ever-building edifices take on the microenvironment, landscaping is put into action to substantiate the losses incurred. Landscaping is one of the major tools used in modern commercial and residential projects for putting sustainability on board. Even a small niche treated with optimised landscaping solutions helps bring down the overall footprint of the projects.
Not just in terms of reimbursement to the environment, landscaping has much to do with the aesthetic appeal of the built forms as well. The addition of landscape architecture to the “whole building design” process has a significant impact. A building, in its ideal state, is not an intrusion on the landscape, but rather a necessary extension of it. Hence, landscaping is a complementary piece rather than just a filler to the site.
Landscaping as Transition Element
Some projects are so big, in terms of the vast area they take up, and there has to be a transcending phase for the design elements. From the built mass to the unbuilt nature, the slow and smooth transition is facilitated by landscaping. Huge mansions built on compounds with acres and acres of land spreading through the valleys and often hills can only take up a certain part of the site; the rest of the area has to be treated for aesthetics, in alliance with the architectural style adopted. As mentioned earlier, landscaping rather facilitates the transition of space from private to semi-public and then to a public space, hence is cohesive with the architecture of the built mass and avoid all sorts of friction in design principles.
18th-century European palaces are the best examples illustrating this transition. A few examples to mention would be the Ludwigsburg Palace located in Baden-Württemberg, Germany; The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso in the small town of San Ildefonso in Spain; and the Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England, which many of us might know from the Bollywood movie “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” (2001). In all such kinds of architectural marvels, the design process as well as the aesthetic appreciation starts from the built mass and transcends into the outdoors and at one point, it becomes all about that garden, or the vineyard, or the parterre.
Landscaping as the Central Masterpiece
So far we have discussed the importance of landscaping in light of general architecture, but one need not forget that there are certain distinct categories of standalone projects, where landscaping is the sole show stopper. Riverfront development projects, individual large-scale gardens sanctioned for public use, and heritage conservations, are a few of the types which solely depend on the excellence of landscape architecture. From the planning of space to picking out the material to put into use, everything is done in accordance with the organic properties of the site. The extensive knowledge of the principles and elements of landscape design is a must, for these projects to be delivered successfully. An optimised landscaping solution looks out for the surrounding natural resources and at the same time exercises their availability.
Anyone who has been to Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh at Srinagar, Kashmir can vouch for the claim that they are indeed a piece of heaven on earth. For those who are not familiar with them, Nishat Bagh is a terraced Mughal garden with views of the Dal Lake beneath the Pir Panjal mountain range, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop. Shalimar Bagh is a famous Mughal garden located on the right bank of Dal Lake in Srinagar. These pristine gardens are the epitome of the excellence of landscape design and a masterpiece in their own sense.
Landscape architecture is concerned with the creation of healthy settings and communities, as well as the protection of people’s health, safety, and well-being. Landscape design, at its best, highlights the beautiful views and covers up the poor ones, therefore a magic wand against the aesthetical challenges. The multifaceted importance of landscaping cannot be overlooked. And just like any other discipline of arts, no amount of acknowledgement and appreciation is enough to do justice to the serenity it brings into human life.