Landscape architecture

From ArticleWorld

Landscape architecture can be defined as the architecture of the outdoor environment, whether urban or rural. Today landscape architects deals with more than just gardens. They are involved in conceptualization, planning, siting, designing, managing, restoring, and conserving the lie of the land, with its natural and man-made elements. Like urban planning, landscape architecture is considered a vital profession for the improvement of the quality of life by creating a positive 'collective landscape' to alleviate the tedium and stress of living in places comprising arbitrary and often unattractive blocks of housing, industry, office blocks, agriculture, denuded coastline and regulated forests. Landscape architecture seeks to design spaces that augment the positive stimuli ideally available outside buildings. The profession draws on a range of specializations from transportation systems design to park management to urban planning.


The term landscape architecture was coined in the 1820s and based on the skills of the classic garden designers, who had the ability to create a well-functioning, aesthetically pleasing landform using water, vegetation, and built structures. The numerous planned gardens through history suggest that landscape architecture in some form has been of interest to most complex societies. Persian paradise gardens, Nebuchadnezzar's Hanging Gardens of Babylon and Japanese gardens are ancient endeavours that serve as touchstones for aesthetics and planned public spaces to to this day. The Renaissance was Europe's time to produce the gardens at Tivoli and Versailles.

England holds a major place in garden and landscape design. Country homes with massive estates, called parks, were designed and managed down the micro-level, from the 'formal English garden' to the patches of carefully planned wilderness near lakes that were sometimes man-made. The books of Jane Austen contain numerous detailed descriptions of early 19th century country house parks, while P.G. Wodehouse explored the comic and tea-time possibilities of hyper-planned estates. English landscape gardeners such as Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and ]William Kent are considered 18th century masters.

The 19th century was that of the United States and urban landscape architecture. The parks of Fredrick Law Olmsted revolutionized urban possibilities. Olmsted's classic works are fundamental to the lives and identities of New Yorkers and others. Central Park and Prospect Park in New York, Jackson Park and its World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, Asheville's Biltmore, Boston's Emerald Necklace and parts of Stanford University in California are enduring models for urban landscapes.

Landscape architecture thrives today, with innovative work in Australia, parts of the United States, and the Netherlands.

Professional possibilities

Landscape architecture includes such specializations as landscape management, landscape science, landscape design and engineering, and landscape planning. Landscape architects' contributions include: