Landscape Urbanism Reviving Agrarian Sandscapes: an atlas of the tourist and abandoned landscapes of Lanzarote, 2017


Directors: Alfredo Ramirez, Eduardo Rico
Design Tutor: Clara Oloriz Sanjuan
Tutors Claudio Campanile, Gustavo Romanillos

Landscape Urbanism explores the role that design and designers (from architects, landscape architects, urban designers and planner's perspectives can play when confronted with large-scale territories (metropolises, cities, rural environments, infrastructural and productive landscapes). At these scales of intervention, territories are configured by sets of economic policies, political decisions, socio-cultural structures and engineering solutions and design inputs are left out or moved to the fringes. Landscape Urbanism at the AA explores design not only as the source of aesthetic and performative proposals necessary to offer alternatives to today's acute urban and environmental problems but also as a mechanism to orchestrate, choreograph and negotiate their implementation at large scales over time. The programme is constantly evolving. It seeks to integrate critical thinking with practice, such as cartographic representation, scripted simulations and GIS mapping, all of which are widely available in geographical research but relatively untapped within design disciplines interested in large territorial projects.


This year, the AALU programme will continue exploring the UK and similar territories in partnership with the British Geological Survey and the New Economic Foundation. As a case study, UK landscapes and cities reflect best the disorienting conditions of the contemporary world. Political uncertainty is a part of daily life – whether part of a European framework or outside of it – whilst existing socio-economic structures directly affect built and natural environments and their human engagement. For example, agricultural and land ownership policies have exacerbated flooding in the lower cities and London's central power has depressed development in coastal towns, leaving areas unable to transform their economies – tackle the threat of rising water levels – and adapt to the demands of climate change. These and other instances have prompted us to question the potential role a designer can play in a contemporary UK and similar territories across Europe. Using design as our main skill, landscape urbanists from the AA will speculate and imagine potential designed policies, tools and scenarios that could offer the UK alternatives with which to navigate and negotiate current spatial problems for potential futures by:

  • exploring cartographic practices with the capacity to influence the public sphere and decision-making processes, such as interactive and participatory maps built by local people with data gathered on site
  • revisiting concepts such as commons, public participation, platform cooperativism, etc., through the lens of design, and its implications to build and collect design frameworks and manages shared resources that are neither public nor private
  • implementing the latest technologies to simulate the behaviour of cities, landscapes and territories, using software and scripts to foresee possible future scenarios with the help of partner scientists and researchers
  • understanding the use of space, from both a UK and an international perspective, by diagramming and proposing new spatial configurations of public space in accordance with twenty-first century challenges


Terms 1 & 2

During the first two terms, Landscape Urbanism 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 hybridization – we will imagine new forms of territory where physical and social processes are transformed into new spatial conditions. These settings will draw upon the historically established capacity of landscapes to host and modulate the struggles between physical, environmental and human forces within specific geographical and geological points in space and time.

Term 2

The assemblages of geomorphological processes and social formations will be re-traced and re-described in the light of historical and contemporary forms of cartographic representation. This will serve as the basis from which to fabricate a description of 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, tracing the geographies of the pan-European problematic posed by the social and geomorphological formations outlined and researched by the student.

Terms 3 & 4

The final section of the course will consist of the exploration of modes of documentation that extend beyond the idea of the fixity and stability of master planning to operate projectively and subversively. Following the development of an atlas, each student will produce a territorial manual that will describe the procedures and guidelines behind their project in order to extrapolate principles for similar and relevant locations across European territories.


Term 1
Students will start the course learning through practice all the necessary skills to develop Landscape Urbanism projects. Rhino and Grasshopper skills will be acquired alongside communication and representational drawing skills. GIS software and programming will be introduced, enabling students to script basic procedural modelling and to understand the ways in which physical interactions of materials and processes produce recognisable morphologies in the landscape. The use of relevant software, such as GIS, Python, Rhino as well as land-form modelling will be used to exercise each student's capacity to introduce intention and design criteria into a decision-making process.

Terms 1 & 2

This series of sessions will be taught to raise questions about the main concepts and ideas behind Landscape Urbanism methodology.

Terms 1 & 2

A series of lectures addressing territorial formation processes from researchers, professionals and practitioners will be organised through the first two terms. These sessions will be presented by artists, economists, engineers and scientists among others currently researching projects of a similar scale and scope to those at AALU but from different professional perspectives.

Term 2

This workshop will seek an understanding of processes of social formation, their multiple forms of organisation, and the ways in which they produce specific spatial configurations. Students will use their design practice to diagram and ultimately employ their knowledge of the ways in which specific groups have historically organised themselves into productive communities alongside trade unions, local associations, guilds, cartels, and cooperatives and ultimately impact on the land morphologies.

Term 1

This lecture and seminar-based unit is concerned with the ways in which the intersections and interactions of landscape and urbanism have been thought, modelled, designed and analysed. It is designed to introduce the student to a critical engagement with these matters that will inform an understanding of the potentials and problematics of Landscape Urbanism. This, in turn, is designed to support practice and development within the studios, workshops, field trips and other seminars.

Term 2

The aim of this workshop is the generation of a series of cartographical representations of students' projects. The workshop will introduce the idea of projective cartographies with a critical input in order to produce a cartogenetic manifesto of the pan-European intentions of the project.

Term 2

This seminar addresses key points and practices in the historical development of cartography as a representational device. Methods of mapping are explored in terms of their uses, implications and potential so as to critically inform the drafting of a cartogenetic manifesto and the writing of the final project thesis.

Terms 2 & 3

This seminar integrates knowledge principles of a range of landscape techniques to understand, consider and address the complexity of the relations among contemporary urban dynamics adopting a machinic ethos for technical practice.


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 and workshopped 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. He has been a consultant and researcher in the fields of infrastructure and landscape in Spain and the UK. Currently he is working within the Arup engineering team as well as being part of Relational Urbanism. He has taught at Harvard GSD and the Berlage Institute (Netherlands).

Claudio Campanile
is an engineer and computational designer. His main interest relies on developing computational tools and integrated pipelines to synthesise complexity within design problems, namely, within the domain of complex geometries, structural systems and digital manufacturing to deliver innovative design technology models for the built environment. After taking jobs in both China and the UK, Claudio obtained his MSc in the Emergent Technologies and Design programme at the AA.

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

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 titled Urban Prototypes.

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