Static and dynamic

Raxworthy, Julian R. (2006) Static and dynamic. Architectural Review Australia, 95, pp. 102-107.

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Contemporary architectural discourse seems dominated by largely unbuilt projects said to be concerned with process, dynamism, unpredictability, self-organisation, flexibility…‘change’ generally. At the same time, the general media is dominated by the notion of change: changing oneself through diet, through lotteries, through education and personal development, or securing oneself against change through insurance or superannuation. James Gleick in Fastersuggests a technology driven acceleration of ‘stuff’ in our lives, and contra-indicatively, a ‘slow’ movement has also developed to combat this intensity, most notably in slow food. This is also present in architecture, in the reactionary return to the drawing as a legacy technology, after the computer takeover. Thinking about the last 300 years, or even history generally, time has always been the continuum in which people have lived their lives and change is the most obvious manifestation of time. Because our lives are so ‘now’, it must be part of the human condition to become increasingly preoccupied with change as we age. Thinking about this preoccupation with change in architecture, perhaps there is no real acceleration of change, but rather the access that computers have given us to represent change in different media seems to give the designer the ability of ‘engaging’ it.

For landscape architecture, the notion and term ‘change’ is fundamental to the definition of the discipline, and is often cited as its raison d’être. In the postwar period in English-speaking landscape architecture texts, there are three main contexts in which this pivotal role of change in landscape architecture is discussed: its design palette of changeable things, its connection to a changing landscape and its apparent dynamism in contrast to a static architecture.

The palette argument goes that, because landscape architecture has grown out of gardening (via a circuitous route) its basic materiality comprises things that change, most obviously plant material. Both the qualities and form of plants change as they grow: they are different now than they will be at maturity. This argument is fundamentally materialistic. After noting this ‘changeability’ of the material (plants), the use of that material tends to be substituted into an architectonic formal surface. This view was articulated with sophistication by modernist American landscape architect James Rose. This view of change sees a tree as a regularly growing tree circle on the page, rather than an organism transforming over its life, which may be chaotic and varied, and plagued by catastrophes.

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ID Code: 20398
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Landscape architecture, European landscape architecture
ISSN: 1323-367x
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Landscape Architecture (120107)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Niche Media Pty Ltd
Deposited On: 08 May 2009 01:08
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 13:38

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