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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Meaning versus signification: towards a more nuanced view of landscape aesthetics

Gustavsson, Eva


An informed and rigorous approach to aesthetics will offer vital and distinctive ways to understand complex and multifaceted landscapes. How is it, then, that landscape aesthetics are so often simplified in order to be easily-recorded and handled instrumentally, often as just one of many (physically obvious) parameters for analysis? At a time when universities must educate students on the basis of academic research, the author suggests that it is increasingly important that we make the basis of how we employ landscape aesthetics explicit. A more fundamental connection to the philosophical field of aesthetics will contribute to an increased consciousness of aesthetic considerations in education and the professional field. Giving a brief overview of modernist and later post-modern trends in landscape aesthetics, the author argues for an approach based on the theories of Benedetto Croce and others, which roots 'meaning' as dialectical 'language acts' (1967). From this perspective, all aesthetic practice might be considered as intentional acts for the expression of meaning. Regarding aesthetics as an 'expressioning' activity will thus lay the ground for an agency-oriented-attempt to offer more philosophical relevance in methods for evaluating landscapes and practicing design than is currently the case.


aesthetics; design theory; ethics; meaning; signification

Published in

Journal of Landscape Architecture
2012, volume: 7, number: 2, pages: 28-31

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Landskapsarkitektur

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG4 Quality education

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)