‘We are a landscape of all we have seen.’

  – Isamu Noguchi 

 Wait. What? ‘We’ ‘are’ ‘a’ ‘landscape?’ 

Sounds stupid but, who are ‘we’ and what is ‘landscape’? 

‘We’ are referred to as rational beings communicating, reproducing, and proliferating our intellect (intellectual abilities). However, today everybody is living the fast life and running the rat-race, melting the importance of the surrounding environment. Our daily routine blinds us inside the built refraining admiration of the landscape outside. Yet on a stolen glance, all we could see is a dense forest of bizarre trees or pastoral land with vibrant flowers we can barely pronounce!

Answering the latter question, Google infers that landscape is ‘all the visible features of an area of land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.’ Considerably valid to this definition, landscape architecture has been solely treating the aesthetic appeal of the land. The landscape merely seen as a residue, actually works as a labyrinth or inanimate nature instead of a trajectory to our intellect. 

A century to Olmsted coining the term ‘landscape architecture’, various aspects have yet been obscured to the intractable perception of designing the land. Many architects have fallen prey to this conception but have not realized the impacts of it, as the architect’s role doesn’t concern the after-effects of the design on users. 

It is very surreal to know that we live in a society where built and unbuilt architecture rarely seems to boggle our intellect. How can landscape make a person stop and think, decoding the enigmas ongoing in our mind, and help augment our intellectual capabilities? 

In conversation with our intellect: 

Overview of a few projects which would move you, mindfully! 

1. Crawick Multiverse: Charles Jencks 

Scotland 

‘Can’t you see, we are in a dialogue with the universe?’ – Charles Jencks

What is it to feel the abyss of our universe around us? The Crawick Multiverse features all possible galactic bodies on a coal mine beyond imagination. The physical nature of the ‘Milky Way’ and ‘Andromeda’ has been represented artistically by Jencks with the use of spiralling contours on adjacent hills. The two will inevitably crash, in around 4 billion years. These hills remind guests, on a more miniature scale, what a cosmic amalgamation truly is: monstrous spirals of stones.

This metaphor to the intangible universe has amazed the sense of order and nature amongst the viewers on a plausible scale. 

Crawick Multiverse: Charles Jencks - Sheet1
Crawick Multiverse ©Anne Mortier
Crawick Multiverse: Charles Jencks - Sheet2
Crawick Multiverse ©Anne Mortier
Crawick Multiverse: Charles Jencks - Sheet3
Crawick Multiverse ©Anne Mortier

2. Wavefield: Maya Lin

Storm King 

Losing contact with physical reality and perceiving our subjective sense of reality, Maya Lin’s Wavefield at Storm King transcends our conventional mindset. Conceptualizing principles of fluid dynamics, the waves wrap around our visuals and drive us to be a part of the curvaceous realm. The waves of about 305 and 368 feet in length and 10 to 15 feet in height represent the sea waves with the use of landform, gravel, sand, stones, and grass. The fact that makes the Wavefield alluring is the experience of the wavefield changes relative to the season, the climate, and the hour of the day and visit.

Wavefield: Maya Lin
Wavefield ©www.reddit.com/r/MasterofNone/comments/6bmtgk/one_of_my_favorite_shots_this_season/

3. Grand Canal Square: Martha Schwartz Partners

Dublin

Juxtaposed to the existing design by Daniel Libeskind, Grand Canal Square by MSP marks its statement by altering the landscape into utopian cyberpunk. The red zig-zag carpet extending up to the water, free-standing luminous posts, and granite blocks emitting a green glow excites the sublime within pedestrians. A contrast is created among the red and the green carpet, which balances the visual comfort. This place is whole on its own, irrespective of spectators to observe or feel the dark and the light. 

Grand Canal Square: Martha Schwartz Partners - Sheet1
Grand Canal Square ©www.archtalent.com
Grand Canal Square: Martha Schwartz Partners - Sheet2
Grand Canal Square ©www.archtalent.com
Grand Canal Square: Martha Schwartz Partners - Sheet3
Grand Canal Square ©www.archtalent.com
Grand Canal Square: Martha Schwartz Partners - Sheet4
Grand Canal Square ©www.archtalent.com
Grand Canal Square: Martha Schwartz Partners - Sheet5
Grand Canal Square ©www.archtalent.com

4. Panoramic awareness pavilion: Olafur Eliasson 

Iowa

One of the striking projects by Studio Olafur Eliasson, Panoramic awareness pavilion aims to move your worldview along with your motion. 

The inside is as astonishing as the outside! The 23 glass panes, opaque from the edges blurring into the coloured centre, wraps the viewer into a vibrant experience. Around evening time, a fresnel light mounted on a tripod at the focal point of the figure enlightens the work from inside, making a colourful rainbow impact, and cooperating with the city lights past. The subjective experiences neatly threaded into an articulated manner have willed viewers in drama! 

Panoramic awareness pavilion: Olafur Eliasson  - Sheet1
Panoramic Awareness Pavilion ©www.olafureliasson.net/archive/artwork/WEK108625/panoramic-awareness-pavilion
Panoramic awareness pavilion: Olafur Eliasson  - Sheet2
Panoramic Awareness Pavilion ©www.olafureliasson.net/archive/artwork/WEK108625/panoramic-awareness-pavilion
Panoramic awareness pavilion: Olafur Eliasson  - Sheet3
Panoramic Awareness Pavilion ©www.olafureliasson.net/archive/artwork/WEK108625/panoramic-awareness-pavilion

Off-track with our intellect: 

Overview of a few projects which would move you, physically! 

1. Reflecting absence: Michael Arad and Peter Walker

New York City 

A 9/11 memorial named ‘Reflective absence’ is quite a symbolic big name for the sake. It, however, seemingly lacks the adequacy of existing as a ‘memorial’ and instead consumes a huge portion of land, consuming energy needed for pumping water at the rate of 98,000 litres/minute. It is 30 feet deep initially and further 30 feet deep with a smaller square at its centre. The enormity of these fountains has in a literal sense ‘invaded’ the historic land, leaving people clueless and angry for undermining its vocabulary. It could have potentially been a great success and of pragmatic deliverance in an altered state. 

Reflecting absence: Michael Arad and Peter Walker - Sheet1
Memorial and museum ©www.911memorial.org/visit/memorial/about-memorial
Reflecting absence: Michael Arad and Peter Walker - Sheet2
Memorial and museum ©www.911memorial.org/visit/memorial/about-memorial

2. Northumberlandia: Charles Jencks 

United Kingdom 

Charles Jencks ‘Northumberlandia’ is skeptical of his theories. The lady shaped mountain created across 400 meters wide and 34 meters high is represented as goddess earth. The curved forms are deceptive to viewers on earth (Can be seen only if you are rich enough to afford a chopper fly)! The awkward position of the goddess earth exudes the very concept of its creation. Jencks here misplaces abstraction to literal metaphor while viewers are often left mind-boggling dumb! 

Northumberlandia: Charles Jencks  - Sheet1
Northumberlandia ©www.thelandtrust.org.uk/space/northumberlandia/
Northumberlandia: Charles Jencks  - Sheet2
Northumberlandia ©www.thelandtrust.org.uk/space/northumberlandia/

Landscape perceived is quite different from the potency it carries along.

There are no dogmas or equations for perfect landscape design. Not that I know of, there is no ‘perfect design’ either. There is just a triggering one and a less triggering one, intellectually. The one with articulated thoughts put in it and another one, without. There is neither a good design; there is just a bad design and a less bad one. 

A plethora of ‘liberal architects’ would still debate that there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ design or ‘bad’ architecture. Hereby, I would like to condense it down, perspectives are subjective but the lose ended injudicious idea at its core is evidently objective. 

There is no contest. 

It in-depth deals with our intellect subconsciously. In conclusion, I’d say that the landscape is much more than how we see it today. It’s beyond the materials we use and the species that beautify it. 

It is our mind which we stroll on!

Author

Sharayu, name of a holy river siding edge of Ayodhya is unknown to many yet exists with significant gravity. A metaphor to this fact is conscious architecture.Being a third-year architecture student pursuing an interest in writing, reading, cosmology and mythology, she aims to augment awareness for the same.

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