BLA Program- Landscape Architectural Design

Course Co-ordinator: Rod Barnett, Lecturer: Robert Hotten


A representation of the respective areas of the earth's surface in descending area: ocean 69%; desert 8%; forest 8%; grassland and pasture 8%; fresh water and ice 3%; agriculture 3%; urban 1%. Areas in a state of degrading metamorphosis are indicated with an X. Each square represents 2% of the earth's surface, or 10,000,000 square kilometres, in round figures.

Course Description:

This course will reinforce and build upon the range of conventions of landscape architectural production introduced in previous studios and papers.

The emphasis of the studio will be placed on conceptual, schematic, and design development abilities in landscape architecture and on the elaboration of strategies to address the complexity of context, site and program.

Pedagogic Objectives:

1. To gain a critical understanding of the issues, influences, and generative possibilities in landscape design and planning within the contemporary urban environment.

2. To provide a bridge between the concerns of landscape theory and individual design practices. The need for a theoretical basis for action within the shifting and complex nature of the communities we form and inhabit, will be explored. Investigations of the nature, meaning, and social role of public and private spatial orders will be examined.

3. To identify concerns for human settlement within the dynamics of urban ecology. The processes of growth, transformation, and the complex layering of ownership, density, distribution, and territoriality will be explored.

4. To develop and refine both analytical and analogic skills in the interpretation, representation, and production of landscape architectural design and planning. (Hargreaves 1997)


Makings Tracks

Sam Hunt

The fishingboats are all out, dinghies on the moorings. The long-liners will be back later. The trawlers won't be in till all bins are full it could be days

And you ask, how long does it take a track to be a path! Like- the first time the grassland is explored the track left is the track of one man,

the gentle tread of a lightfoot, say. Another person comes another day to the edge of the grassland. Or down to the bay a morning like this, the fishingboats out, the dinghies on moorings.

When ever they come, they stand, they see the track of the first man (the dinghy keel down the wet sand) and if there's no better option, follow it. (It's a track by then.)

It has something to do with the long-liner, Silver Spray, we watched this morning motor out from the bay for the groper reefs of Cook Strait.

The old man aboard is ninety, fished with his father from French Pass, went to sea when he was twelve. They go back, father to father, fishermen. There's a rock named after one of them. Some says it's him.

And if that's not a track, the naming, in honor, of a rock, I don't know what is! No worry though, the sea is calm, there's no one on the grassland.

We are the first ones here, that's right, the first ones born. So let's start making tracks.

Introduction: Site Visit

I. The Image

Studio Exercise 1, First Impression Art

The objective is to broaden the palette of New Zealand cultural landscape elements and patterns and then to express a design vision.

Production objective: Poster art of the vision, the dream derived from the ideal. To be juried and published on World Wide Web site.

May be photograph, print, painting, collage, etc. Size: no smaller than 450 x 500mm and no larger than 650 x 750mm. Due Mar 11 for Studio Crit.

Lecture: The Cultural Landscape

How development gradually took form, grew and changed. First line, tree cut, stone marker. Boundaries, spatial divisions. Dwelling most important element. Not only regionalism, local materials, local craftsmanship, local agriculture. But also longevity, relationship to work, to family, to community and psychological relationship to the natural environment. Everyday sensory experiences, road experiences.

II. The Park

Studio Exercise 2, The Park vs. The Virtual Park, Design Paradigms

The objective is to broaden the palette of landscape elements and patterns with an exploration of real world and VRML landscape environments. An aim will be to provide a bridge between the concerns of landscape theory and individual design practices. The site will be an existing park, on Henderson Creek, or a newly defined one. The product will be a real park design, a virtual park design, or a combination.

Production objective: Park Design. To be juried and published on World Wide Web site.

May be drawings, CAD or VRML images, etc. Size: A3. Due Apr 8 for Studio Crit.

What is Virtual Architecture?

There is a lot of talk in the VR community about VRML, the scene description language that allows people to create their own 3d representations and then share them on the World Wide Web. VRML holds unknown potential, allowing ordinary people to create unique places and share them with the world. With this democratization of creation comes some responsibility. By the Age of three most children are able to understand the basic premises of spatial systems. The spatial elements that define a "space" are as natural as the concepts of the culture which define it. Ideas like "hall" and "room" are a common part of our daily lives whereas abstract informational terms such as "download" and "directory tree" create abstractions that are only for the informational elite. It is my belief that by symbolizing informational systems with attributes that the virtual informational interface would give the users vast landscapes of meaning. Just as the artist uses the language of symbolism to communicate the stirrings of the soul, the new architect or designer will communicate through a sculptural and architectural language. For this reason I have chosen to isolate this from the vast landscape of discourse on design and style to some of the primary pillars of virtual architectural and sculptural theory: Space, Place, Symbol and Sign. (Clay 1997)

Introduction to Virtual Architecture

A new dawn is unfolding for human environments. Virtual Architecture will become the art of creating "human" experiences for a digital reality. Does the human psychology require "place" in order to function properly? Will virtual architecture allow designers to leave physicality behind and deal totally with the issues of space and form? Will the virtual architectures interact with real spaces? This topic is a door into the issues of the cyber active experience and its interaction with architecture.

Developers creating virtual environment applications are venturing into uncharted territory. Unlike 2D computing environments where there are clearly defined standards for the user interface, there is no formulated set of standards or guidelines to help the programmer create an interface paradigm. (Clay 1997)

Lecture: Integration of Landscape and Architecture

The field of architecture and landscape has a new theory called "passages". An artist, James Wines, in response to the unprogressive recent movement in architecture- "folding", defines "passages" as the "interpretation of architecture and its context as a system of passages linking buildings, landscape and social/contextual/environmental communication. Buildings conceived as integrations of structure and landscape are mutable and evolutionary, constantly conveying new and metamorphic levels of information. Whereas folding suggests a design process of methodical, geometric, formal strategies, the notion of passages aims for organic and informal connections between buildings and landscape."

III. The Landscape

Studio Exercise 3, The Cyborg Creek and Landscape Architectural Design

The objective is to describe the complex context, of a largely human modified or cyborg creek, in interaction with a community center located around the Waitakere City Council facilities. Includes governmental, reserve, parkland, residential and industrial uses. The interaction and concerns for human settlements within the dynamics of urban ecology are to be identified.

Cybercities: Bodies, Machines and Urban Form

"...draw a sharp comparison between the immateriality of the postmodern body- and thus by analogy between the modernists' engagement with the city and the postmodernists' withdrawal from the city, which left it emaciated, evacuated, and disappearing. These two separate processes of embodiment and disembodiment involve the fear and promise of quite separate technologies, each acting as a metaphorical device to further illustrate what is at stake in this transformation from the modern to the postmoden city." (Boyer 1996)

Production objective: Postmodern landscape architectural design. To be juried and published on World Wide Web site.

May be drawings, CAD or VRML images, etc. Size: A2/A3. Due May 13/Jun 3 for Studio Crit.

The Ethical Function of Architecture

"Can architecture help us find our place and way in today's disorienting world? Can it return individuals to a whole, to a world, to a community? ...if architecture is to meet that goal, it must first free itself from the dominant formalist approach, ...[and consider] the relationship of building to the idea and meaning of dwelling." (Harries 1997)

Lecture: Conservation

The forester Gifford Pinchot redefined conservation as a comprehensive and well-planned management of natural resources of every character, based on sound ethical and economic grounds. Modern definitions: a. Conservation means all that man thinks and does to soften his impact upon his natural environment and to satisfy all his own true needs while enabling that environment to continue in healthy working order b. Preservation implies an effort to keep in existence unchanged things or situations which have been inherited from the past. c. Protection is defense against interference, damage or destruction d. Withholding from exploitation or use and resources which it is felt ought to be held back either against future needs or because they are best kept as they are, or because currently available resource managers cannot be trusted to use them with discretion, is reservation and the areas so treated are reserves e. A refuge for threatened animals is reinforcing a geographically or otherwise isolated and undisturbed area by conferring on it the status of a guarded sanctuary f. Resource management is to safeguard the future of renewable resources through giving paramountcy to the principle of sustained yield, or on securing a balanced multi-purpose use.


"... based on the concepts in the recently published "Alongshore", and this year focused mostly on representations of the seacoast environment as expressed in visual media ranging from contemporary photo-realist painting (the work of John Stobart, for example), to advertising imagery (say the label illustration commissioned by micro-breweries), the use of that imagery in larger cultural paradigms (investment banking, for example), and the growing division between the beach as passive, essentially video environment and the beach as active, essentially three-dimension immersion environment (the last especially as it impacts images of women and roles of women)... focuses on the seacoast as package image... The seashore is rapidly becoming the crucial zone of landscape and social change, of environmental awareness, of economic difficulty, and of design opportunity." (Stilgoe 1997)

Course Schedule


1 Feb 18 BLA Orientation week

2 Feb 25 Introduction: I. The Image, Exercise 1. Lecture: Cultural Landscape, Robert Hotten. Lecture: Introduction, Rod Barnett . (Intensive/Urban Stream/Horizontal Design)

3 Mar 4 Site Visit. Tutorials

4 Mar 11 Studio Crit: The Image: First Impression Art. II. The Park: The Park vs. The Virtual Park, Design Paradigms Exercise 2.

5 Mar 18 Lecture: Integration of Landscape, VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language), Robert Hotten. Tutorials

6 Mar 25 Lecture: Garden Art, Rod Barnett. Tutorials

7 Apr 1 CAD (Photoshop, MacGis, VRML). Tutorials

8 Apr 8 Studio Crit: The Park vs. The Virtual Park, Design Paradigms. III. The Landscape, Exercise 3. (Project/Ecological Factors/Urban Design/Human Environment (Dwelling/Creek)).

9 Apr 29 Lecture: Conservation, Ethical Function, Dwelling/Community, Robert Hotten Video: Cyborgs (Blade Runner)(Urb/Reg/Neighbor/Reserve/Vertical). Tutorials

10 May 6 Lecture: The Cyborg Creek and Landscape Architectural Design, Rod Barnett. CAD (GIS). Tutorials

11 May 13 Studio Interim Crit: The Cyborg Creek and Landscape Architectural Design

12 May 20 Tutorials

13 May 27 Video: Ethics (Manon of the Spring). Tutorials

14 Jun 3 Studio Crit: The Cyborg Creek and Landscape Architectural Design

Note: These times are offered as a guide but may change. Check the notice area in the studio base for more details on a regular basis.


Banham, Reyner, 1997. A Critic Writes: Essays by Reyner Banham, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Barnett, Rod, 1993. Garden Style in New Zealand, Random House, Auckland.

Damasio, Antonio R., 1994. Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, Putnam's Sons, New York.

Dawson, Hohn and Lucas, Rob, 1993. Lifestyles of New Zealand Forest Plants, Victoria University Press: Wellington.

Harries, K., 1996. The Ethical Function of Architecture, Yale University Press.

Meier, Richard L., (draft 1993). Ecologic Planning and Design: Paths to Sustainable Communities, Center For Environmental Design Research: University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

Milne, J.D.G., 1995. Soil: Descriptive Handbook, Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.

Morton, John, 1993. A Natural History of Auckland, Auckland Regional Council, Auckland.

Schama, Simon, 1995. Landscape and Memory.

Sim Van Der Ryn, 1996. Ecological Design, Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Thompson, George E. 1997. Ecological Design and Planning, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Weilacher, Udo, 1996. Between Landscape Architecture and Land Art, Birkhauser-Verlag, Basel.

Robert D. Hotten, MLA (