Landscape at Play: Teaching Design as Rhetorical Action

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Landscape at Play: Teaching Design as Rhetorical Action

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Landscape at Play: Teaching Design as Rhetorical Action
Author(s) Hellström, Maria ; Lindholm, Gunilla
Date 2007-10
English abstract
Today, ’design’ is a ubiquitous concept, dispersed throughout disciplines and fields of professions. In this situation, what does it mean ‘to design’? Is it a problem solving activity still aiming at Vitruvian durability, functionality, and pleasure? Is it an enhancing activity, a matter of transforming raw matter into conspicuous forms? Or is design a matter of signification and meaning in a broader sense? Irrespective of how we choose to respond, the questioning as such reveals a widened scope for design, which stretches beyond problem solving and formal enhancement. In this respect, the notion of design might have regained some of its initial meaning expressed by the Latin designare, to signify. Fundamentally communicative, design is an intermediating kind of action, indispensable in order to bridge the gap between humans as well as between humans and a complex, surrounding world. As for the practices of landscape architecture and planning, this entails a significant shift. Rather than descriptive or representative, ‘design’ unfolds as an imperative. Not only connoting the accommodation of a physical structure to a given ideal or vision, design presents itself as the challenging as-if-space where visions and ideals are constantly being negotiated and reproduced. Accordingly, it is possible to assume a shift also in the professional or expert role of the landscape architect or planner, an equivalent widening of the scope of action to include not only bio-morphological or infrastructural interaction but furthermore interaction of a more linguistic kind. In an attempt to meet the need to explore this new designer’s role, 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 are offered the possibility to develop a self-reflective, dialogic and exploratory design practice. Pedagogically, this is achieved through the establishing of what could be described as a rhetorical awareness, an awareness of the intimate relationship between the professional language practice and the design action. We identify two levels of rhetorical interference or language games, where the design action unfolds either through communicative ‘props’ or as meta-communicative ‘stagings’, explored through different forms of rhetorical and spatial activities, such as conceptual modelling, language games, role plays, and storytelling. The main argument developed in this paper is that a playful and spatially conscious, professional language development is one of the most important success criteria in landscape architecture education. Furthermore, already acquainted with the composite notion of ‘landscape’, landscape architecture students have special opportunities to develop a combined linguistic and spatial sensitivity with great relevance for a complex and potentially conflictive future.
Publisher Faculty of Forestry, Belgrade, Serbia
Host/Issue PROCEEDINGS 18th International Annual ECLAS Conference, Landscape Assessment - From Theory to Practice: Applications in Planning and Design.
Pages 249-257
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) landscape
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
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