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60 401 Landscape and Urbanism

Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Landscape and Urbanism
Course code: 
60 401
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2019 Spring
Assessment semester: 
2019 Spring
Language of instruction: 
Person in charge
Zaccariotto Giambattista
Course content

The course explores ideas and techniques of a landscape oriented approach to urbanism, a rich field of knowledge for interpretation / modification of cities and territories which identity is related to the palimpsest of traces overlaid throughout history. Detecting their meaning and illustrating their potentials is the task of the designer. Scope of the course is improving the interpretative toolkit of the designer as `reflective practitioner´.

The contemporary city, with its processes of upscaling and rapid mutation that question the very idea of a city. Geographers have described the changing configurations of European and global urbanization. Many terms have been coined to describe urban forms emerged in different parts of Europe and elsewhere during the 20th and 21st century: Ville-Territoire (Corboz, 1990), the Citta Diffusa (Indovina, 1990), the Desakota (McGee, 1991), the Radiant Periphery (Smets 1986), the Zwischenstadt (Sieverts, 1997). These concepts are diverse, coming from different perspectives with different methods and case studies. But there are shared themes: build-up areas and open space areas that intertwine over vast regions - with the dissolution of clear distinction between city and country- and the formation of mixed whole that used in all parts.

Urban form and process create critical aesthetic, environmental, social conditions that are related, increasing uncertainty. Conventional urbanism repertoire is limited. How can a project absorb present contradictions by creating new, meaningful physical orders? Landscape architecture, a heterogeneous field of knowledge that embrace garden, horticulture, public spaces as well as agriculture, civil and military engineering, cartography and town planning, offers a set of tools - conceptual and operative – that allows for disclosing new possibilities for an integrated approach (transdisciplinary, multifunctional, multi-scalar and processual).

In most of its traditional variations, the `landscape’ is seen as the discipline of interpretation of the existing situation meanings or identities which it will be the designer’s task to detect, to underline, to enhance, to articulate or modulate.  Landscape reading views the area and the public space as a land of ancient culture or as a palimpsest which has accumulated traces of all activities which are remembered as having contributed to that particular landscape and no other. In the tracks which have been overlaid by the march of time, which contradicting or corroborating one another, it construes intentions and detects potentialities to be nursed and passed on (Marot 2010).

Interpretation leads to new forms of description and prefiguration. As cultural construct, landscape is made and remade. The interpretation of landscapes imply - using the terms of Umberto Eco - the distinction between the “intentionality of the author”, that is what the designer wants to communicate; the intentionality of the “reader”, that is what the user interpret and use. And the “intentionality of the work itself”, that is what - independently from the intentionality of the author – the constructed landscape suggests remaining open to new interpretations.

Learning outcome

The course will explore themes and tools (conceptual and practical) throughout a sequence of critical operations that complement each other and take place both in the studio and as fieldwork. In particular, the students will be engaged in three types of critical reading; reading of essays of relevant authors, reading of real-world place and reading of spatial projects.

Form of assessmentGroupingGrading scaleComment
ReportIndividualPass / fail
Form of assessment:Report
Grading scale:Pass / fail
Workload activityComment
Attendance Attendance in the studio and at fieldwork is expected
Forventet arbeidsinnsats:
Workload activity:Attendance
Comment: Attendance in the studio and at fieldwork is expected