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Landscape at play: Teaching design as rhetorical action

Hellström, Maria; Lindholm, Gunilla


Today, ’design’ is a ubiquitous concept, dispersed throughout disciplines and fields of professions. In this situation, what does it mean to ‘design’ a socially and physically composite surrounding, a landscape? Is it simply a matter of proposing a an interesting topological form? Does it still answer to the Vitruvian ideas of durability, functionality, and pleasure? Or could it be a matter of adding, of expanding, of expressing ‘something more’ or ‘something beyond’? In this perspective it is possible to assume a somewhat widened professional or expert role, possibly a landscape architect, whose expertise lies not only in material forming, but in alternative forms of designing actions, related to an existing situation. In relation to conventional planning, this entails a significant shift. “Designing action” is here a demanding imperative, not only connoting the accommodation of a physical structure, but the deliberate interfering with social and communicative structures, in order to generate change. In order to meet the need to discuss these and other related questions, we have at the Dept. of Landscape Architecture Alnarp during a number of years offered the seminar course, “Design as Action”. In this course, the students get the possibility to develop a self-reflective, dialogic and exploratory design practice. They are introduced to conceptual frameworks, in relation to which design is seen as active and collaborative inquiry, and thus also as a continuous interrogation of ‘the natural’ or ’the given’. Pedagogically, this is achieved through the establishing of a rhetorical awareness, an awareness of the intimate relationship between language and design. We identify to levels of rethorical interference as ‘thinking tool’ and as ‘meta thinking tool’, the last denoting the ‘thinking about thinking’. The course is therefore organized around different forms of rhetorical activities or language games, such as conceptual modelling, text analyses, role plays and storytelling. The main argument developed in this paper is thus that a playful and spatially conscious linguistic development is one of the most important success criteria in landscape architecture education. Furthermore, already acquainted with the complex notion of landscape, landscape architecture students have special opportunities to develop an intermediary sensitivity and competence with great relevance for the future


design; action; rhetoric; language games; conceptual awareness; thinking props; meta-thinking enactments

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Titel: PROCEEDINGS 18th International Annual ECLAS Conference, Landscape Assessment - From Theory to Practice: Applications in Planning and Design
ISBN: 978-86-7299-137-6


18th International Annual ECLAS Conference, Landscape Assessment - From Theory to Practice: Applications in Planning and Design