Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Program Principles of Landscape Architecture


Course Co-ordinator: Robert Hotten

1998 Semester Two, Number: 01.421


Aim/Course Description:

This course introduces landscape as a field focused on the intersection of general design principles and theories with the specifics of a site and its cultural and environmental context.

Each of the studio's projects explores the interrelationship of form, space and meaning relative to a particular situation. Individual projects are discussed by the class with visiting faculty and professionals as a means of developing student's critical as well as creative abilities.

Learning Outcomes/Pedagogic Objectives:

1. To introduce the principles, materials and operations of landscape architectural design.

2. To define and describe cultural and environmental issues that inform and can be represented through the landscape.

3. To begin an investigation into the role of site as a generative influence on landscape architectural design.

4. To develop the ability to express design intentions formally and spatially through the use of diagrams, plans, sections, elevations, axonometrics, perspectives and models.

5. To develop observational, analytical, creative and critical abilities as a means to evaluate and refine one's own design proposals.



Lectures, guest lecturers, discussions on design theory and methods, field trips and three studio projects with crit sessions and invited jurors.

Visual Thinking

"He asserts that all thinking (not just thinking related to art or other visual experiences) is basically perceptual in nature- and that the ancient dichotomy between seeing and thinking, between perceiving and reasoning, is false and misleading. Far from being a "lower" function, our perceptual response to the world is the basic means by which we structure events, and from which we derive ideas and therefore language... By "cognitive" I mean all mental operations involved in the receiving, storing and processing of information: sensory perception, memory, thinking, learning... No thought processes seem to exist that cannot be found to operate, at least in principle, in perception." Rudolph Arnhiem (1969)

The Landscape

"[An] old-fashioned but surprisingly persistent definition of landscape: "A portion of the earth's surface that can be comprehended at a glance." (Jackson 1984)

Cultural Landscape, Dwelling

"As I have mentioned earlier, for a number of years I taught an undergraduate course at Harvard and at Berkeley that was called "The History of the American Cultural Landscape." It dealt with such commonplace things as fences and roads and barns, the design of factories and office buildings, the layout of towns and farms and graveyards and parks and houses, and toward the end of the course I talked about the superhighway and the strip and certain new kinds of sports which I referred to as psychedelic... I can think of no better way for landscape studies to achieve academic respectability than for it to formulate a new and American way of defining housetypes based not on the 19th Century concern for regionalism, use of local materials, local craftsmanship, and local agriculture, but on throughly contemporary notions: the dwelling defined in terms of its longevity, of its relationship to work, to the family, to the community, and of its psychological relationship to the natural environment ....we can only start to understand the contemporary landscape by knowing what we have rejected and what we have retained from the past. I doubt if there is any other part of the modern world where the contrast between the traditional landscape and the contemporary landscape is so easy to observe; where the two exist in relative harmony, untroubled by class or race identification." J.B. Jackson (1980)

Design Theory

1. Principles of Design

2. Distributed Systems Theory

"Out of nothing, nature makes something. First there is hard-rock planet; then there is life, lots of it. First barren hills; then brooks with fish and cattails and red-winged blackbirds. First an acorn; then an oak tree forest. I'd like to be able to do that. First a hunk of metal; then a robot. First some wires; then a mind. First some old genes; then a dinosaur. How do you make something from nothing? Although nature knows this trick, we haven't learned more by our failures in creating complexity and by combining these lessons with small successes in imitating and understanding natural systems. So from the frontiers... I have compiled The Nine Laws of God. Distribute being; Control from the bottom; Sow increasing returns; Grow by chunking; Maximise the fringes; Honour your errors; Pursue no optima, but multiple goals; Seek persistent disequilibrium; Change changes itself... I believe that one can go pretty far as a god while sticking to these nine rules." Kevin Kelly (1995)

Course Schedule

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



Lecture and Forum: The Cultural Landscape(22 Jul, 9-10:30, Room #27), Exercise 1 (Perception, image and visualisation), Tutorials.

Week 2 (29/31 Jul) Guest Lecture: Rod Barnett(29 Jul, 9-10, Room #27), Tutorials

Week 3 (3/5 Aug) Tutorials

Week 4 (12/14 Aug) Studio Crit and Forum, Exercise 2 (Landscape assessment), Exercise 1 due


Week 5 (19/21 Aug) II. ANALYSIS

Lecture: Data Analysis(19 Aug, 9-10, Room #27), Tutorials

Week 6 (26/28 Aug) Guest Lecture: tba (26 Aug, 9-10, Room #27), Tutorials

Week 7 (2/4 Sep) Studio Crit and Forum, Exercise 3 (Park Design), Exercise 2 due


Week 8 (9/11 Sep) III. DESIGN

Lecture and Forum: Design Methods(9 Sep, 9-10:30, Room #27), Tutorials

Week 9 (16/18 Sep) Guest Lecture: Ted Smyth(16 Sep, 9-10:30, Room #27), Tutorials

Week 10 (23/25 Sep) Tutorials

Week 11 (14/16 Oct) Guest Lecture: Design Methods(14 Oct, 9-10:30, Room #27)

Week 12 (21/23 Oct) Tutorials

Week 13 (28/30 Oct) Tutorials

Week 14 (4/6 Nov) Studio Crit and Forum Exercise 3 due


Time: Wed 9-1, Fri 9-1 (Landscape Room #27, Pump House unless otherwise noted)


Exercise 1

A drawn, photographed, printed, painted or collaged poster. Size: A3-A2 Weighting 10%

Exercise 2

Landscape assessment. A critical analysis of two sites. Why are they popular? Weighting 30%

Exercise 3

A landscape plan and design of a park Size: A3-A2 Weighting 60%


Principles of Landscape Architecture

Arc en rive centre d'architecture, 1996. Yves Brunier, Birkhauser-Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.

Arnheim, Rudolph, 1977. The Dynamics of Architectural Form, University of California Press: Berkeley, CA.

Arnheim, Rudolph, 1969. Visual Thinking, University of California Press: Berkeley, CA.

Bachelard, Gaston, 1969. The Poetics of Space, Beacon Press, Boston.

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

Jackson, John B., 1980. The Necessity for Ruins, The University of Massachusetts Press: Amherst.

Kidron, Michael and Segal, Ronald, 1995. The State of the World Atlas, Penguin, London.

McHarg, Ian, 1970. Design With Nature, Doubleday, New York.

Lynch, K., 1960. The Image of the City, Harvard University Press.

University of Minnesota, 1979. Earth Sheltered Housing Design, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York.

Robert D. Hotten, MLA (