Landscape Urbanism MA Anastasia Kotenko and Niki Kakali - a GIS cartography of a comprehensive and seamless understanding of Europe through the dynamics of sand dune landscapes along the entire continental grounds

Alfredo Ramirez, Eduardo Rico, Clara Oloriz Sanjuan, Douglas Spencer, Tom Smith, Giancarlo Torpiano, Gustavo Romanillos, Vincenzo Reale

2014/15 Academic Year - MA*, 12 months (three terms, plus thesis work)

Landscape Urbanism is a 12-month design course that explores how the techniques, dynamics and discourses of landscape-based disciplines can be reappropriated as a means to ask fundamental questions about the contemporary city. It investigates the how the intersection of physical and social processes of territorial formation generates new forms of urban typologies, governance and knowledge.

The course combines material explorations of landscape evolution (facilitated by digital simulations) with the development of critical perspectives and studio work. It is aimed at professionals - architects, landscape architects, engineers, urban planners and geographers - who are engaged with territorial disciplines.

A Pan-European Atlas of Radical Cartographies
In October 2000 the European Landscape Convention in Florence became the first pan-European project with the ambition of defining the entirety of the European territory from a cultural perspective. It promised a collective sense of the appreciation of territorial specificity supported by comprehensive studies of charters and tailor-made recommendations. However, the decidedly encyclopaedic spirit of the Florence Convention trumped a stubborn reality where the practises of property developers, and, perhaps more importantly, a set of labyrinthine policies were never translated into meaningful systems of space production.

It is in this rift between utilitarian and cultural practices of European policies that Landscape Urbanism has focused its research. For the second year the course seeks to explore how productive and natural formations can generate the basis of a pan-European project of territories neither generic nor iconic, neither conventional nor touristic. As such the course concerns itself with both the geomorphological formations of relevant landforms and the actual cultural, political and economic forces that drive and choreograph the social formations of these landforms. The outcome of these concerns will entail the production of a set of radical and experimental cartographies that form a Pan-European Atlas as the basis of new ways of documenting the future of European environments. As projective machines with the capacity to unveil the glitches between conflicting systems at stake, these cartographies put forward projects and design intentions at territorial scales as future alternatives.

Course Methodology

Land/Territorial Formations
Terms 1 & 2
During the first two terms, the course aims to thread geomorphological processes, social structures and design intentions into land and territorial formations. Exploring the idea of a necessary synthesis - a utilitarian forced hybridisation - opens up the possibility of discovering new forms of territory where physical and social processes are transformed into new spatial conditions. These will draw upon the historically established capacity of landscapes to host and modulate the struggles between physical/ environmental and human forces within specific geographical/geological points in space and time.

Term 2
The assemblages of geomorphological processes and social formations will be retraced and redescribed in light of historical and contemporary forms of cartographic representation. This will serve as the basis for describing territorial space in architectural terms, and, at the same time, a territorial description of architectural space. The final aim of this term is the generation of an atlas of similar and relevant territories across Europe, which traces the geographies of the pan-European problematic posed by the social and geomorphological formations outlined and researched by the student.

Territorial Documentation
Terms 3 & 4
The final section of the course explores modes of documentation extending beyond the idea of the fixity and stability of master planning to operate in projective and subversive ways. Following the development of an atlas, students will produce a territorial manual describing the procedures and guidelines behind their projects in order to extrapolate upon principles of similar locations across European territories.

Course Components

Landscript, Workshop
Term 1
An introduction to software programming will enable students to script basic procedural modelling and understand how physical interactions of materials and processes produce recognisable morphologies.

Territorial Processes, Lecture Series
Term 1
Directly linked to the Landscript workshop, this series of lectures, given by engineers and scientists currently researching the use of computational tools, addresses territorial formation processes.

Social Formations, Workshop
Term 2
This workshop explores processes of social formation. Students investigate how groups, such as trade unions, guilds and cartels, have historically organised themselves into productive communities. These findings will then be diagrammed and applied to design projects.

Core Seminar
Terms 1 & 2
This seminar series is taught alongside the studio, where questions of process, matter, becoming and objecthood are set alongside landscape and urban modelling, thus forming a means for discussing design and territorial concerns.

Models, Methods and Histories Seminar
Term 1
This lecture and seminar-based unit is concerned with how the intersections of landscape and urbanism have been thought, modelled, designed and analysed. It is designed to provide students with an understanding of the potentials and problematics of Landscape Urbanism.

Cartogenesis, Workshop
Term 2
The workshop will generate a series of cartographical representations of the projects with the aim of drafting a cartogenetic manifesto that declares the pan-European intentions of the project.

The Rhetoric of Mapping, Seminar
Term 2
This seminar explores the ways in which maps authorise and contest territorial claims, construct forms of knowledge, project certain scenarios and operations and reveal political, social, economic and cultural processes. The conception of cartography as a form of argumentation will support and inform design practice in the making of the manifesto and in the final thesis.

Machining Landscapes Seminar
Terms 2 & 3
The lecture series introduces construction techniques related to the design of landscape projects that adopt a ‘machinic’ ethos to technical practice.

2015/16 Academic Year - MSc* (12 months) / MArch* (16 months)

Landscape Urbanism explores how the techniques, dynamics and discourses of landscape-based disciplines can be re-appropriated so as to ask fundamental questions about the contemporary city. It explores the ways in which the intersection of physical and social processes and dynamics of territorial formation generates new forms of urban typologies, governance and knowledge. The course combines material explorations of landscape evolution (facilitated by digital simulations) with the development of critical perspectives and studio work.

For the 2015/16 academic year Landscape Urbanism will offer a 12-month MSc* and a 16-month MArch* aimed at a wide range of professionals engaged with territorial disciplines ranging from architects and landscape architects to engineers, urban planners and geographers to explore a cross-disciplinary research by design approach to these practices.

The MSc course develops students? ability to abstract complex territorial formations in order to generate a set of territorial guidelines (Manual) that can be potentially deployed in comparable territories (Atlas). The 16-month MArch produces site-specific design thesis projects that work as an operative test bed to inform the Atlas and Manual of territorial formations. Students? work is based on a combination of team-based studio, workshop and seminar courses. At the end of September (MSc) and January (MArch) the projects are presented to a panel of distinguish visiting critics in order to finalise the design thesis in the form of a book.

* Please note that for the 2015/16 academic year the degree of this programme will change to a 12-month MSc and a 16-month MArch in Landscape Urbanism, subject to approval and validation by The Open University.

Unit Staff

Alfredo Ramirez s an architect and director of Groundlab where he has won and developed several competitions, workshops, exhibitions and projects. He is director of the AA Visiting School in Mexico City and has taught workshops and lectured internationally on the topic of landscape urbanism and the work of Groundlab.

Eduardo Rico studied civil engineering in Spain and graduated from the AA's Landscape Urbanism programme. Currently he works within the Arup engineering team and is part of Relational Urbanism. He has taught at Harvard GSD and the Berlage Institute.

Clara Oloriz Sanjuan is a practising architect who received her PhD from the ETSA Universidad de Navarra and the AA. She has worked for Foreign Office Architects, Cerouno, Plasma Studio and Groundlab. She teaches at the University of Navarra and is co-director of the AA Visiting School in Bilbao. She co-directs an AA research cluster Urban Prototypes.

Douglas Spencer has studied architectural history and critical theory. His recent writing include contributions to the collections The Missed Encounter of Architecture with Philosophy (2014), Architecture Against the Post-Political (2014) and New Geographies 6: Grounding Metabolism (2014). He is writing a book titled The Architecture of Neoliberalism, to be published in 2016.

Tom Smith is a landscape architect and urban designer. He was instrumental in the design of the London 2012 Olympic and Legacy Masterplan and is developing the practice of SpaceHub in London.

Giancarlo Torpiano holds an MArch in Emergent Design and Technologies from the AA. His main interests are algorithmic design focused on emergent behaviours, natural structures, structural engineering and computational techniques. He has led workshops on digital architecture in Malta and at the AA.

Gustavo Romanillos is an architect and researcher interested in the spatial analysis of urban and territorial dynamics. He complet- ed his degree in architecture at the ETSAM, and an MA in Geographic Information Technologies at the UCM. His research and teaching activities are being developed in different Spanish universities, Nicaragua and the UK.

Vincenzo Realegraduated in 2010 from the University of Bologna (MA Building Engineering and Architecture) and has been a Euro-chartered engineer since 2011. He holds an MSc in Emergent Technologies and Design from the AA. 

Programme site


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