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Landscape Architecture; a Quick Insightful Review

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Which one would you pick? A plate with a piece of grilled steak chucked on it and nothing else; or a table that starts off with a mouthwatering appetizer, excites with the stirring smell of the main course that is handsomely presented onto the table, and leaves you chasing the dessert’s sweet taste that is slowly fading away in your mouth. It cannot be likely, but close the tab if you’re the first type of person! We are here to see how landscape architecture can make all the difference in creating a comprehensive experience from the moment you lay eyes on a building, to the time you enter it, look out from the inside, and eventually leave it.

What is Landscape architecture?

Landscape architecture sets the scene.

a green Japanese garden

It makes a building way more appealing from the outside by weaving it to its surrounding and adds visual interest and excitement when you’re in, looking out from the window that carefully frames a touching scenery outside.

Almost all types of landscape architecture incorporate natural elements into the outer design of a building. Items like hedges, bushes, trees, ponds, lakes, cascades, rocks, grass, flowers, pavements, fountains, plazas, and so on, can be used to add smell, visual, and functional appeal.

There is a vibrant, continual sense of change to plants. Throughout the day and all year long, an ever-changing stage is put up by the sky and green natural elements around a building as landscape architecture.

An Indian garden

Historic study on all types of landscape architecture shows two major approaches to exterior design.

It is always a confrontation between two opposing forces. One as man-made symmetry and order, and the other one seen in natural organic forms.

A Japanese House with a Zen yard outside

Renaissance in Italy marks the time when formal gardens with their classical geometry dominated natural landforms and started to be considered as an extension of their classical-inspired buildings.

Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, Italy

Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este in Italy, are great examples where classical forms and geometric shapes outdo natural environment.

Logical Euclidean lines and curves mandates where each element, whether a pond or a line of trees or hedges or bushes, were to be put.

Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, Italy

Later in the 17th century, the French picked up on this originally-Italian style in the gardens of Versailles outside Paris. As you can see, Versailles garden consists of simple, strong lines and forms of the Classical period; imitating what you would see in Renaissance buildings.

gardens of Versailles outside Paris

But somewhere in the British island, Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington and other figures like Humphrey Repton and William Kent scrapped formal and orderly design of the past centuries and embraced informal and organic forms in nature.

The Stourhead Garden, designed by Henry Hoare, is where what he called “higher order” is well portrayed by using free forms in a natural setting to emphasize an architectural focal point.

The Stourhead Garden in Britain

Through Britain’s close cultural and artistic relationship with the United States, later in the 19th century, this free and organic take of the British on Landscape architecture was employed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the design of Central Park in Manhattan, New York.

Central Park in New York City, United States

The story of different types of Landscape architecture meanings over in the East is not far from what we saw in Europe and the US.

The Far East has witnessed Chinese’s serene and organic gardens being taken to perfection by the Japanese. The details in the nature-dominated design of Japanese gardens blend with religious roots and tries to evoke certain feelings.

Dowlat Abad Garden in Yazd, Iran

Much of the change toward free and irregular forms in the British gardens in the 18th century was inspired by what the movement’s pioneers had seen in Japan.

On the other hand, what you see in Persian and then Indian gardens show the orient’s obsession with geometric orders and straight lines to bend nature to their own spectacular version of landscape architecture meaning for aesthetics.

The quadrilateral form of Persian gardens that is believed to have been initiated first by Cyrus the Great in Chahar Bagh gardens of Pasargadae is replicated throughout the country’s landscape architecture history to this day.

A Persian Landscape architecture in Mahan, Iran

The style was later picked up by Indians. Taj Mahal Tomb is where the endpoint building that honors Mumtaz Mahal, the deceased wife of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, is perfectly complemented by the Charhar Bagh garden in front of it.

We want to present a visual catalog of different Landscape architecture narratives from all around the world and accompany their pictures with short cues that point to the philosophy behind the design of each one.

They might be gardens, plazas, urban arenas, or other green public or private platforms.

Taj Mahal in Agra, India

A modern example of landscape architecture can be Apple Campus 2.

There’s not a single straight piece of glass in this building; not even the iPhones in the employees’ pockets! But that’s not the only lavish feature about Apple Park.

Steve Jobs envisioned the tech-giant’s aspirations in a ring-shaped campus with four floors.

But it is what tops it all off that makes the building a true landscape architecture. Photovoltaic panels free Apple Park from the need to connect to the city’s power grid.

Apple Park rendering in Palo Alto, California

Each floor is highlighted by a white canopy that has jutted out all round across. Aside from protecting the employees against the sun-kissed Californian town of Cupertino, these canopies have built-in ventilation ducts that let natural air flow in and out of the building.

They both help with a more efficient passive conditioning inside and also create a closer dialogue for a perfect landscape architecture.

The ring form of the campus is both approached by a foliage of trees. So, the fully glazed exterior of the building creates an immersive visual connection with the natural scenery outside.

Parc de la Villette in Paris

With its deconstructive roots, Parc de la Villette in Paris has been designed to detach from the public historical conception of an ordinary park. For example, visitors won’t feel the same as when they enter Central Park in New York City.

Bernard Tschumi has placed these red iconic structures known as Follies across the park to create a sense of direction and navigation in the landscape architecture. These exploded structures are intended to prevent any portrayal of familiar, historical archetypes.

All this strangeness helps create a vacuum space named by the architect as “non-place”, and it is meant to create a direct relationship between the visitors and the park; getting rid of all background expectations when they face the park.

High Line in New York City

High line in New York City is an elevated greenway that is flanked by apartments and high-rises around it. It gives its visitors a chance to overlook New York’s skyline from within and mingles the scene with natural green elements; a rather strange and new take on the city’s modern outlook.

A minimal Landscape architecture effort by Keeo4Design is the spiral elevation situated in the middle of a vineyard field. It both gives a reference for navigation when one stands in the vineyard and also an overlooking view to the infinite fields of grapes.

High Line in New York City

Mohamadreza Nikbakht’s Niavaran residential complex in Iran has exploited atrium architecture to create the icon of his own. Located in upper Tehran where buttonwood trees are abundant, Nikbakht has preserved all the tall trees on the site.

To the benefit of the building’s sole and inspired by Iran’s traditional central courtyards, he has hollowed curvilinear atria in the volume of the six-story apartment.

Mohamadreza Nikbakht’s Niavaran residential complex in Tehran, Iran

The building is defined not by what it is, but by where it isn’t; it is the void of the atrium that steals your gaze.

Let’s wrap up by Ryōan-Ji Garden in Kyoto, Japan. Stone is revered as a religious symbol so you can see the dominance of rocks and their genuine place as the main design theme of landscape architecture in Japan.

Ryōan-Ji Garden in Kyoto, Japan

Even if you run a full modern urban life, there is sometimes the urge to escape the city and lose yourself in the calmness that natural scenery, man-made or organic, promises. Tell us about a pleasant experience you’ve had in landscape architecture.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Mitchel Sardy
Author: Mitchel Sardy
I am a Computer Engineer and an architecture enthusiast, graduated on both majors up to the master's degree from the University of Washington; I'm an advisor to early-stage architecture startups all around the globe; the ones using computer-based solutions to design in architecture.

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