new directions

I am on a quest for new directions for landscape architecture. As we witness rapid changes in the physical, economic, and professional environments, what exactly can landscape architecture hope to achieve in the future? Budgets for public projects are dwindling, not to mention budgets for cultural projects, and the national frameworks for environmental projects are being frozen or removed (I’m talking about The Netherlands here, where I live.)

A year ago I thought landscape architects were really poised to take on a leading position in large multidisciplinary projects, but now I am not so sure. We definitely have to think and act differently than five or even one year ago. But how? Towards what?

A big source of inspiration in my research toward sustainability within landscape architecture, and thinking about the future in general, is the work and musings of John Thackara, author of ‘In the Bubble.’ I met John when I was working on the the FOODPRINT series of events in 2009 at STROOM in the Hague. John travels the world speaking, and he is able to keep his finger on the pulse of many things.

As I was reading his blog, Doors of Perception, I came across the following four points he lists as essential to a new kind of design. This quote is taken from a talk given at the UNBOX lecture in Dehli earlier this year entitled “Life’s Work: Opportunities in the Restorative Economy.”

This new kind of design…

– is based on the new core value of a restorative economy;
– engages with the next economy, not the dying one we have now;
– focuses on service and social innovation, not on the outputs of extractive industries;
– is unique to its place – and therefore infijnitely diverse – but is also globally networked.

The idea of restorative or regenerative design is incredibly relevant right now, as we not only have the physical environment to restore in so many different ways, but must do so while creating new economic and spatial possibilities.