After seven years of travel, research and investigation, Christophe Girot has given birth to a voluptuous book on the history of landscape architecture. Unlike other publications in the field, Girot’s intent is to show that landscape architecture has a wider horizon and is broader in scope than the horizon of architecture. This is why he shows connections between various artefacts over the course of human culture, from the first gardens in Iran to recently designed projects such as the 9/11 Memorial in New York.
The author puts the focus on the culture that has shaped and reshaped the landscape: »Our manipulation of space and settled exploitation of the land have created a range of artefacts, each with their own atmosphere…«. Landscapes always mirrored the political and religious forces in society; they are tied to cultural context. By reflecting on different stages of landscape transformations, Girot wants to stress the importance and significance of cultural specificity and identity over systemic thinking.
These are crucial statements considering that landscape architects are asked to deliver responsible designs with productive landscapes as product, recognizing ecology as a highly relevant science and a basis for our future engagement. Girot’s book is a plea for a new culture of landscape wherein landscape architecture plays an important role by implying the importance of aesthetics in any design process related to landscape. With over 670 illustrations (if you read the acknowledgments you will understand the importance of the many helping hands) the 12 chapters form a precious source of inspiration. They include 3D models for the many case studies produced in the Design Lab at the Department of Architecture of the ETH in Zürich where Christophe Girot is Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture. This book will become essential to our discipline, encouraging not only those in academia to experience landscape architecture as a multilayered profession.
Christophe Girot: The Course of Landscape Architecture. A History of our Designs on the Natural World, from Prehistory to the Present. Thames & Hudson, London 2016, ISBN 978-0-500-34297-8
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Published on July 5, 2016