Landscape Urbanism Francisca Salinas, Daniella Dibos Tramontana - cartography depicting the fluctuating conditions of the UK archipelago together with potential locations of sand-scaping projects by the Crown Estate and the New Blue Deal proposals by the New Economic Foundation, 2016-17

Directors: Alfredo Ramirez, Eduardo Rico
Design Tutor: Clara Oloriz Sanjuan
Seminar Tutors Douglas Spencer, Tom Smith
Technical Tutors Giancarlo Torpiano, Gustavo Romanillos

Landscape Urbanism explores the emergence of "territory" as a field of design praxis. Through this lens the programme operates within contemporary conditions to understand urban environments not as discrete independent collections of objects, but as interconnected landscapes with far-reaching implications both for the environment - ie, climate change, energy debates and widespread pollution - and for social and political spheres. 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.

Spatial Design within a Territorial Praxis

The current production of treaties, networks, government plans and other local policies and agreements with the potential to shape specific geographies has come out of the high demand for synchronised responses and projects at the scale of territory. But given the potential impact on the spaces they address, these formal interventions are rarely seen as opportunities for research-led design projects. It is in this rift - between the utilitarian and the cultural practices of European policies - that Landscape Urbanism aims to locate a space for research, considering architecture and landscape design in relation to the problem of a territorial praxis. A sensitivity towards materials and an appreciation of scale, horizontal space and the processed-based approach of design can offer unique insights into the ways we read, define and manage territories.

The course is concerned with both the geomorphological formations of land and the actual cultural, political and economic forces that shape them socially. The primary outcome of these concerns is the production of a set of radical and experimental cartographies to serve as new forms of documenting the future of European environments. These cartographies are seen as projective machines with the capacity to unveil the glitches between conflicting systems - tectonic landscapes, political governance, land administration and their material and spatial organisation - and to put forward projects and design proposals, from the territorial to architectural, as future alternatives.

Course Methodology

Territorial Formations Terms, 1 & 2
During the first two terms Landscape Urbanism weaves together research into geomorphological processes, social structures and design intentions to explore the idea of a necessary synthesis - a utilitarian hybridisation that imagines 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.

Cartogenesis, 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 vice versa. This term's aim is to generate an atlas of similar and relevant territories across Europe, tracing the geographies of the pan-European problematic posed by the social and geomorphological formations outlined and researched by the student.

Tectonic Grounds / Territorial Documentation, Terms 3 & 4

The final section of the course will explore modes of documentation that extend beyond the idea of stability of masterplanning to operate projectively and subversively. Following the development of the atlas, students will produce a territorial manual describing the procedures and guidelines behind their projects in order to extrapolate principles to 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. Using relevant software, such as GIS, Phyton, Rhino, as well as land form modelling students will exercise their capacity to introduce intention and design criteria into decision-making processes.

Landform Dynamics, Lecture Series, Term 1

Directly linked to the Landscript workshop, this series of lectures will address processes of territorial formation. The sessions will be presented by engineers and scientists currently researching the use of computational tools in the study of geomorphology.

Social Formations, Workshop, Term 2

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

Landscape Urbanism Core Seminar, Terms 1 & 2

In this seminar series questions of process, matter, becoming and objecthood are set alongside landscape and urban modelling, creating a platform for discussing design and territorial concerns in tandem with the work in the studio.

LU History and Theory Seminar Series: Models, Methods and Histories,

Term 1

Designed to provide students with an understanding of the potentials and problematics of landscape urbanism, this series of lectures and seminars is concerned with how the intersections of landscape and urbanism have been thought, modelled, designed and analysed.

Cartogenesis Workshop, Term 2

The workshop will generate a series of cartographic representations of the projects with the aim of drafting a cartogenetic manifesto that declares their pan-European intentions.

LU History and Theory Seminar Series: The Rhetoric of Mapping, 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 Series, Terms 2 & 3

The series introduces construction techniques related to the design of landscape projects that adopt a "machinic" approach to technical practice. Over two terms the seminars explore a range of construction techniques in order to build up an understanding of the complex relations defining contemporary urban dynamics.

MSc - 12 months
MArch - 16 months


Alfredo Ramirez is 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.

Eduardo Rico studied civil engineering in Spain and graduated from the AA's Landscape Urbanism programme. He has been a consultant and researcher in the fields of infrastructure and landscape in Spain and the UK. He works with the Arup engineering team and is also part of Relational Urbanism.

Clara Oloriz Sanjuan 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.

Douglas Spencer has studied design and architectural history, cultural studies, critical theory and has taught at a number of architectural schools and his work has been widely published.

Tom Smith is a landscape architect and urban designer. At EDAW AECOM, he worked on projects such as the masterplan for the Chelsea Flower Show and developments in rural communities in Portugal.

Giancarlo Torpiano holds an MArch in Emergent Technologies and Design from the AA. His main interests are algorithmic design focused on emergent behaviours, natural structures, structural engineering and computational techniques.

Gustavo Romanillos is an architect and researcher interested in the spatial analysis of urban and territorial dynamics. He completed his degree in architecture at the ETSAM, and a Masters in geographic information technologies at the UCM.

Programme site

Projects Review 2017


Graduate Admissions Team AA School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

T: 020 7887 4067 / 4007

Links & Downloads


Prospectus 2017-18
AA Prospectus

Graduate Prospectus
Graduate Prospectus


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