Dealing With Change in Fixity and Fixity in Change
Sinkneh Eshetu-Ethiopia
Some scholars argue, a field characterized by inconsistencies and contradictions such as landscape architecture cannot be framed in particular theoretical frameworks, much less borrow conceptual foundations from other disciplines to do so. This work attempts to do exactly that – borrow a theoretical foundation from perceptual psychology and propose a conceptual framework for landscape design and evaluation particularly proposing tools and procedure to incorporate change as an essential element of landscape design and evaluation. This is a Master's Thesis in Landscape Architecture (Urban Planning and Design) at Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in China. It is later published as a book by Lap Lambert academic publishing, Germany. I did not do architectural design courses as a bachelor's degree. So, this work began in an effort to understand what landscape architecture really means for me as an aspiring landscape architect and as an individual who believes there is a tangled relationship between a person and the entire creation, both physical and metaphysical. My research led me to James J. Gibson's affordance theory in perceptual psychology, which he called ecological perception. This theory has significantly influenced product design in technology and other disciplines. Maier, J.R.A. & Fadel, G.M. have tried to apply it as a conceptual framework in engineering design and architecture. Even though I found the theory very compelling, I didn't find any significant effort to apply it in landscape architecture. Particularly the theory's power to provide a conceptual foundation for landscape design was not sufficiently explored. I took this as an opportunity to both enable myself understand landscape architecture as well as find a way of dealing with critical issues and concerns in landscape design and evaluation. I grew up among diverse African communities who established very intricate relationships with nature and systems to maintain the balance of everything tangible and intangible. For me, landscape constituted both aspects of reality. As I grow up, I tried to systematize this lived experience and belief in worldviews such as Ubuntu. Borrowing concepts from Ubuntu, for example, I would summarize my thoughts about landscape in statements such as these: 'I am because my landscape is. My landscape is not something out there. It is in me too. When it changes, I change…' Critical among the questions I was trying to answer was the question of change and fixity. How, in such a complex system, could I incorporate change systematically and keep the naturally and culturally changing, changing; and the naturally and culturally fixed, fixed in designing landscapes all or most of which are to me already designed. This book, in addition to trying to construct a model to systematically incorporate change in landscape design, proposes procedures, and tools that could help landscape architects in their landscape design and evaluation. Given the complexity of the issue and my academic limits, I cannot say this is a theoretically sound and rigorous work. It however, could initiate a fruitful dialogue and research for scholars in the field who might want to take the effort steps further.
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