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Cultural Landscapes as the Complex Meta-texts of Clashing Metaphors : a critical perspective

Yigit Turan, Burcu; Stiles, Richard; Hellström Reimer, Maria


“Landscape”, the European Landscape Convention tells us, “an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors”, irrespective of whether “natural, rural, urban [or] peri-urban.” Yet, the vast majority of the areas referred to in the Convention are designed, organically evolved or associative cultural landscapes outside of an urban context. This induces us to ask how people may perceive and interact with the urban cultural landscape and how this may influence the Convention’s aim of promoting landscape protection, management and planning. As an important part of recent identity politics, cultural landscapes are often associated with more or less stable communicative contents, symbolisms and messages (Inglis, 1987; Lowenthal, 1991; Daniels, 1993). In popular discourse, they are often romanticized and considered natural assets, affecting also the development of professional normative frameworks, whether in the field of cultural heritage, environmental planning or design. Even though there is a significant research on the complexity of meanings that landscapes involve (Daniels & Cosgrove, 1988; Schama, 1996), as well as a considerable critique associated with the social processes behind these complexities (Barthes,1957/1993; Mitchell, 2002); the active ‘reading’ of landscapes as a basis for landscape architectural operations remains an exception. Yet, landscapes, and especially urban landscapes, have continuously been encoded as everyday as “meta-texts” to operate and govern multiple interacting layers of economic, political, ecological, cultural and psychological realities of life. Many phenomena and problems emerging through landscape as multilayered power structure are usually not comprehended and touched by landscape architecture. There is thus a necessity to read and expose these complexities in order to find original, critical and reflective planning and design interventions that answer to the problems and realities emerging in and as urban landscapes. To question and re-construct the role of landscape architecture is necessary, requiring a critique of its knowledge construction and the conditioning of its cognitive, critical and creative skills ultimately defining the profession. This study will attempt to present some critical viewpoints, highlighting the theoretical debates on the ‘reading’ of ‘cultural landscape’. It will elaborate the subject asking following questions: - What could be learned from the landscapes emerging outside of the frameworks of the normative values and codes of the environmental planning and design disciplines? - What could be derived from critical theories of landscape as for the development of a reflexive landscape architecture? - How could the role of landscape architecture in the larger context of geographical realities be analysed, criticized and re-envisioned? - How should landscape architectural education be reconstructed/deconstructed according to the arguments of this study? These questions form the core argumentation along with theoretical arguments and exemplifications from different cases


Cultural landscape; urbanism; landscape theory; political geography; semiotics; aesthetics; landscape architecture

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Titel: 27TH ECLAS conference in istanbul 29 September-2 October, 2010 : "Cultural landscape" : conference proceedings
Utgivare: Cenkler


27TH ECLAS Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, 29 September-2 October, 2010