Is There Still Room For Poetics?
Barbara Prezelj

Understanding And Responding To The Language Of Designed Landscape

Is There Still Room For Poetics?


In 1981, an article by Stephen Krog for Landscape Architecture significantly titled “Is it Art?” expressed the author’s fear that “the art in landscape architecture in experiencing  uspended animation”[1]. His point was that twentieth-century landscape architecture cannot be viewed equally among other forms of art as it lacks a critical and theoretical forum within the profession and is heavily dependent on a design program, function and client’s needs. As a response Catherine M. Howett wrote in 1985 that at the turn of the century works of landscape architecture should accommodate our needs while giving expression to shared values, something that cannot happen isolated from larger currents of ideas and influences in contemporary society or from creative collaboration between different art fields. “Art alone, after all, can make those new places meaningful and memorable”[2]


What we can observe in the recent years with the more and more complex environmental issues that we are facing is that the concept of sustainability is actively promoted, which clearly shows in landscape architecture as well. Many projects deal with diverse environmental challenges in the fields of sustainable development, environmental planning, urban forestry, landscape urbanism, energy conservation, water management, landscape ecology, and so on. Given the current situation of the global environment it would seem irresponsible or even ethically questionable not to do so. But one could still question where did all the art and the meaning behind a design go, the poetics of landscapes that established the profession as a form of art and made some of the greatest works of landscape architecture relevant to society while using artistic means to respond to the social, cultural, economic and environmental conditions of that time.


When describing and debating gardens and landscapes throughout the history, meaning that they convey is often one of the main points of discussion. In order to properly understand what landscapes can express and how and why the message they carry is different, we first have to look at what we understand under the word meaning. When describing what a certain thing means we usually talk about what it expresses or represents, what it stands for, what is its purpose or significance. Apart from that, many texts devoted to the history and theory of landscape architecture argue that the expression of meaning does not come solely from an object itself, but it consists of an interaction between people and nature.[3] Just as in 1945 Merleau-Ponty identified in his work Phenomenology of Perception that there are no events without someone to which they happen (“Time is not a real process, not an actual succession that I am content to record. It arises from my relation to things… Let us not say that time is a datum of consciousness, let us be more precise and say that consciousness deploys or constitutes time”[4]), so there is no landscape without the presence of human consciousness and viewer’s own experience of a landscape, and consequently there is no meaning. Gardens and landscapes are addressing individual experience, interaction and perception, the relationship between the viewer and the viewed. Besides, they can be regarded as visual maps hiding complex meaning behind mere functionality and relatively simple landscape elements: “The most overtly metaphysical Japanese garden, Ryoan-Ji at Kyoto, of all the world’s landscapes most like a philosophical text, takes a strictly controlled number of elements and arranges them in a stultifyingly clear pattern like a map …”[5]. Harbison mentions that landscapes can be read as texts as well. It has nothing to do with writing the stories, plots and especially not definite conclusions but it has a lot to do with the autonomy of interpretation, projecting individual experiences to the landscape in order to understand it. What happens if we do not know the right language to read the landscape or we do not know how to find the hidden message on the map? Do we get lost? Do we have to entirely understand the landscape in order to respond to it or does that happen in an automatic and subconscious way?


Rod Barnett states in his paper Gardens without meaning that “meaning is encoded in the garden, and if the observer/visitor cracks the code the true of fundamental significance of the work is revealed”[6]. From his opinion we could question whether we really have to project our own experiences and memories to the landscape in order to relate to it or is there one ‘fundamental significance’ which reveals to us if we figure out the code. While looking back on the history of landscape architecture, certain landscape styles, Baroque gardens or 18th century English landscape style for instance, stand out with the power of message they were able to carry. We could say that the meaning was carefully encoded into the landscape and the designs in their enormity were mastered into perfection, something which was impossible to execute either before or after the time they were created. Individual experience was more or less put aside, the main aim was to tell one, clear and believable truth. What stood behind the strongly representational landscapes, were there particular design ways in which the landscapes were constructed and how was the message conveyed? What happened with the understanding of landscapes nowadays in our global society and is it even possible to tell one story and one truth or are there always many?

This paper will look at the English landscape style of 18th century, particularly at the design of Stourhead. The background and the relation to the social and cultural context as well as the message and the design means with which the message was told will be examined. Garden elements, their origin and the way they contribute to the overall story will be described. For comparison and contemporary view on the topic Peter Walker’s Tanner Fountain will be discussed in the same manner as Stourhead, pointing out the differences and potential similarities. After Marc Treib’s Meaning and Meanings: An Introduction up until 1980s discussions of meaning in landscape architecture held little interest. Modernism was busy in denying historical styles, grounding its work in debating form, function and zeitgeist and while in late 1960s architecture was eagerly searching for its theory, borrowing and applying external ideas and resources to include in its own theoretical framework, landscape architecture was occupied by embracing ecology as the main guide on how to design spaces. Ian McHarg’s ground-breaking book Design with nature, published in 1969, set a ground on which designers built and justified their work. It was seen as its own ‘theory and concept’, but different than in architecture, it was using resources from its own field to form a new ground and a set of criteria on which landscapes were evaluated. Ecology was much more important than place making or implementation of meaning and for more than a decade ecology was the only active topic of discussions, letting meaning and significance aside[7]. After the dark period in debating landscape meaning, in 1988, Anne Whiston Spirn guest-edited an issue of Landscape Journal which was entitled Nature, Form, and Meaning. The essay which at that time represented a rare interest into the topic, but was seen as a reference for discussions that followed, was Laurie Olin’s Form, Meaning, and Expression in Landscape Architecture. The paper is based on the starting point that “Historically landscape design derived a considerable amount of its social value and artistic strength from three aspects of the endeavour: richness of the medium in sensual and phenomenological terms, thematic context, the relationship of society and individual to nature, and the fact that nature is the great metaphor underlying all art”[8]


Olin points out that sensual aspect of the design is important, it’s through our senses that we first experience landscape, we see it, smell it, hear it and are able to touch it. It’s the prime, instant feeling that we get when we find ourselves in a new environment, something that happens in a rather subconscious way. It’s from here on that we decide whether we find the place pleasurable or not, whether we like what we see, hear, smell or touch. If we look at landscapes as texts again then we can say we can find the pleasure when only flipping through the pages, evaluating what we see, looking for an aesthetic value of the landscape. It’s something that can affect our senses directly, without even looking deeper into what does the text tell us. We can talk about ‘the pleasure of reading’ when we are closely examining what we see, exploring and evaluating with our mind, trying to figure out the message behind the text, the deeper meaning that the author was trying to carefully insert between the lines. And if we have the sufficient knowledge and experiences, paired with our social and cultural background that affects the way we interpret and perceive the things around us, then we find even greater pleasure when we figure out what the text is trying to tell us and what is the message behind it. It is hard to talk about pleasure or aesthetic value and meaning as being completely unrelated, one has a lot to do with how we see the other one, and what is clear is that they are hardly the same. They are dependent one of each other, complementing and sometimes opposing, but never interchangeable. Yi-Fu Tuan gives an interesting example on the topic when he debates the differences between architectural impact and the impact of literature, comparing Chartres Cathedral and Dante’s Divine Comedy: “Whereas a devout man ignorant of architecture can enjoy the cathedral unreflectively as a landmark or an ambiance, the Divine Comedy will reward the reader only if he is able to make a sustained imaginative effort in line with that which enabled Dante himself to create his masterpiece”[9]. Architecture and landscape can offer something literature can’t give us – provide pleasure when simply being there, affecting our senses directly and therefore addressing our mind even when we don’t feel like reading.


Pleasure is an aspect of design that certain authors believe is missing from contemporary landscape architecture. For instance, Marc Treib argues at the end of his essay Must Landscapes Mean? that pleasure and its appreciation was an important part in the gardens of the past, but nowadays we prefer to ground landscape architecture work in meaning and significance rather than in pleasure or rarely in both, even though pleasure is something which is easier to address than meaning. We all share roughly similar senses and how through them we perceive the space around us might be partly dependent on our culture, but not at all as much as understanding what the meaning behind a certain landscape is[10]. Designers seek to find ways to carefully tell their stories, hide secret messages into their works and provide clues for understanding of their designs, rather than designing spaces only for pleasure, something which might seem less worthy when compared to some of the greatest works of landscape architecture. According to Peter Walker: “Being appropriate or pleasant is not sufficient to sustain interest. Once a work of landscape design is visible it is dependent on its exhibition of conceptual strength. It must have something to say or be about”[11]


Second aspect of endeavour in order to achieve ‘social value and artistic strength’ that Olin touches is the thematic context and the relationship of society and individual to nature. Context is the way in which we link places to one another and make comparisons. It is connected to our previous experiences, enabling us to see the place, interpret it and construct meaning from it[12]. According to Taylor, cultural context is something a design idea and action should consider in order to have the opportunity to gain, over time, layers of symbolism, meaning and significance. If taking 18th century England as an example, society back then, or better, the wealthy upper class who commissioned the new gardens, was relatively homogenized, they shared the same beliefs, values and ideas and the task of an artist designing a new landscape was at least from this point of view clearer than it is today when there are many semantic channels and not many symbols commonly agreed upon. To design a landscape that will or could over time acquire significance is in our diverse society with people coming from different cultures with various experiences, personal views, knowledge, feelings and relationships towards nature, certainly more puzzling than it was when connections between form and intention were commonly understood. Or as Robert Riley argued: “Such a lack of shared symbolism does not rule out the garden as a carrier of powerful meaning but it does discount the likelihood of meanings that speak strongly to the whole society”[13] Semioticians would say that even though ‘the signifier’ can over time stay the same, ‘the signified’ greatly varies between people and contexts. The signifier is stable, it’s a form that designer creates and the signified is content, concept or meaning behind it. It’s created in the perceiver and is therefore individually created mental image behind the signifier.

While Saussurean semioticians have talked about the arbitrary relationship of the signifier to the signified, many postmodernist theorists claim that there is no connection between the signifier and the signified: “An ’empty’ or ‘floating signifier’ is variously defined as a signifier with a vague, highly variable, unspecifiable or non-existent signified. Such signifiers mean different things to different people: they may stand for many or even any signifieds; they may mean whatever their interpreters want them to mean”[14]. On the other hand Jane Gillette argued in her paper Can Gardens Mean? that the idea that the more user-interpretations of a landscape the better is not the position we should take when debating meaning in gardens and that of course a design can mean anything a person wants it to mean but why would it? She continues that humans share physiological and intellectual mechanisms which enable us to experience all artistic media, landscape architecture being one of them, and from that we could question if user interpretations are really that different[15]. Is it really that difficult to design a landscape with one fundamental idea behind it, a place clearly and fully understood? In response Susan Herrington wrote in her essay Gardens Can Mean that “the meaning we take from things is culturally constructed, it is unstable, like language, and subject to multiple interpretations or meanings”[16]. Based on that we can conclude that without the differences in the cultural context we find ourselves in, in our previous experiences, knowledge and in our relationship towards nature the comprehensions and interpretations of landscapes would not greatly differ among different people and, like in 18th century England, without the lack of shared symbolism one fundamental idea behind a design would much easier be commonly understood.


Apart from that, Treib nicely put that designers should always keep in mind the resulting difference between “the intended perception and the perceived intention”[17]. In order to interpret the work in the right way, one should be familiar with the artist’s intention in the first place and in order to tell a clear story both, artist and its audience, should share a common knowledge so that the design and the idea behind it is not only an expression, but a successful two-way communication and therefore a clear representation of a concept. “Any symbolic system demands education for comprehending both the medium and the message”[18]. What is in favour of landscape architects when they try to tell a clear story is the palette of natural materials they use to express their ideas. The signifier (grass meadows, clumps of trees, water elements…) stays the same, but the signified changes – “we can still decipher the original garden elements and translate them into our own contemporary terms”[19]. And even if we do not try or we are not able to connect what we see with our knowledge and experiences in order to correctly respond to the representation of ideas we still read landscape in a way we couldn’t read other design or artistic works. Ann Whiston Spirn debates that the language of landscape is our native language, landscapes were the first texts, read well before the invention of other sings and symbols and therefore patterns of shape, structure, material, formation and function should be clear to read by most of us[20]. Besides, natural elements have been with us for so long that they by itself carry a certain meaning, they are not entirely abstract. Water, for example, is by itself already a meaning carrier – we associate it with purity, fertility, life, cohesion, motion and so on. But just like with the meanings of words also the meanings of landscape elements contribute to the overall story only if the context shapes them in the right way.


Last aspect that Olin addresses in his paper Form, Meaning, and Expression in Landscape Architecture is nature being the great metaphor underlying all art. Throughout history we can observe that man started to understand, respond, to relate and explain the world around him by different forms of art. Landscape has been one of the constant themes in art as “Nature provides us with the essential metaphors for life and an understanding of our existence”[21]. At the same time landscape designers have looked to art as an inspiration and foundation for their designs, creating new worlds inside their own medium. “Humans express ideas to other humans through the physical world, whether ink and paper, paint and canvas, or mud and stone.”[22] It’s the collaboration or the exchange of ideas between the two fields that produced some of the greatest works in the history of landscape design, Stourhead as one of the study cases of this paper being only one of them.


Until the eighteen century landscape architecture was based on formal principles of forms and symbols dictated by the style, cultural and social background of that time[23]. In the 1700s the shift from the formal to the naturalistic occurred, with the changing of the political climate as the main cause. Aristocracy was removed from power and in England there were long and intense discussions on how the new English landscape should look like, with Joseph Addison and Alexander Pope writings and works that highly influenced the course of the English landscape movement. The social and cultural guidelines of the previous periods had been rejected and changed and there was the growing need of an applicable and appropriate way in which the new landscape should be constructed. They borrowed and reshaped to their own purpose ideas from previous cultures, especially ancient Greece and Rome with its classical traditions. Literature and art were the main source of inspiration, with Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin being renowned for their landscape paintings which depicted melancholy and untamed nature with sentimental images of classical architecture set in an idealized Arcadian landscape where all creatures lived in harmony.


English upper class reshaped their land in order to express the integration of agriculture, art, property, power and politics. It must be clear that garden designers that transformed the land at the time were not trained in landscape architecture design skills, composition and representation; at best they were educated as painters, gardeners or architects at later age. Therefore they looked for inspiration in older disciplines of art, creating landscapes that can still be seen as the three-dimensional realization of an artist’s idealized vision of nature[24]. Miles Hadfield wrote on the new conception of gardening that “horticulture and (except incidentally) architecture played no part in it; most of its early practitioners were concerned with poetry, philosophy, aesthetics, painting and historical or literary allusions… Their aim was to create illusions of ideal worlds, which they professed to think was inspired by irregular nature herself”[25]. English landscape gardens were therefore designed in a series of different landscape pictures and in a thoughtfully planned way the visitor moves from one picture to another, carefully observing and examining it like a painting. Palette of elements used to imitate nature was very limited and basic, they used existing elements known from previous periods or from agricultural landscape – undulating lawns, curving paths, irregular water elements, tree clumps and later on new plant species introductions. It was the recombination and transformation of them, the vastness of their works and the correct response to a particular moment in the economy and social structure of that time that enabled the designers to design unique, influential and representational pastoral compositions that still speak to the visitors today.


Stourhead is one of the best examples of a garden designed in English landscape style with a clear story behind it and probably the most clear example of a picturesque garden inspired by the landscape painters of the seventeenth century. It is filled with meaning, some of it accessible only to those who made it, some of it available to their contemporaries and some of it revealed to those with sufficient knowledge about eighteenth century cultural, social and economic background. It embodies the Enlightenment thinking that “there was only one possible answer to any question implied and that the world could be controlled and rationally ordered if only we could picture and represent it correctly”[26]. Apart from that it evokes feelings, thoughts and possible uses unintended by its authors and for an average visitor today it could quite simply only represent “a huge and beautiful visual and sensory extravaganza”[27]. For making it possible to read, English landscape gardens were designed as a carefully ordered, self – contained world, a coherent system of signs and references, using different landscape structures, sculptures, buildings and written Latin inscriptions to tell the story (see Fig. 2). Stourhead, designed by Henry Hoare II and laid out between 1741 and 1780, is one with the most complex narrative, strongly controlled routing and sight lines.


The elements and garden structures such as a grotto, a miniaturization of the Pantheon, the Temple of Apollo, a five – arched stone bridge, Temple of Flora and the rest of them all tell the story of Virgil’s Aeneid, a Latin epic poem which was back then completely clear and familiar to Hoare’s contemporaries. The Aeneid starts when you first enter the garden and look at the panorama, a composition in a manner of Claude Lorrain (see Fig. 3). There are six paintings by Claude illustrating episodes from the Aeneid and they were the main inspiration behind Hoare’s creation[28]. His intention was to “paint with nature” or as he put: “The greens should be ranged together in large masses as the shades are in painting: to contrast the dark masses with light ones, and to relieve each dark mass itself with little sprinklings of lighter greens here and there”[29].


Relation to art was of great importance for eighteenth century England and its aristocracy; it provided the appropriate language for the transformation of landscape as it reflected beliefs and values of the ruling class and therefore affected the way people perceived landscapes and how we still interpret them today.


It was not only in England where art was a means in landscape design by which man attempted to understand, explain and reshape the world around him. Our relationship with nature has changed dramatically over the centuries and so has art which landscape architecture took as an inspiration and a starting point for the designs. After Jellicoe and Jellicoe man came to truly understand himself as part of nature in the second half of the twentieth century[30]. People started to realize that the Earth’s natural resources are finite and that along with the increase in population and the growing rate of resource’s usage since the Industrial Revolution we will eventually exhaust them. Garrett Hardin’s essays The Tragedy of the Commons in 1968 pointed out the problem of the depletion of shared natural resources by individuals, acting independently and accordingly to one self’s interests while realizing that the constant usage of a common resource is not in favour of the group’s long-term best interests[31]. Along with that came the realization that scientific man was living inside a theoretical frame that was eventually leading to self-destruction. A new system of values and beliefs was introduced, giving artists a new focus and the need to express themselves.


Environmental art and the environmental movement grew in the 1960s. Along with environmental issues of the time, artists rejected museums and galleries as settings for their works and as a way of protest against the ruthless commercialization of art at the end of the 1960s in America. Artists were moved out into nature, creating public works and large scale landscape projects, often inspired by minimal art and conceptual art. They wanted to show that a piece of land has much more potential than merely solving technical and functional problems of a site. In the same year as Ian McHarg published Design with Nature the film LAND ART was made to introduce the new artistic movement to the public. As Gary Schum described the land art movement’s artistic means presented in his film: “It was no longer the painted picture of a landscape, but rather the landscape itself of the landscape marked off by the artists that became the actual art object… the studio – gallery – collector triangle, within which art had previously been played out, was disrupted[32].


The environmental issues that art was trying to address were the same in landscape architecture which became clear with McHarg’s Design with Nature in 1969, combining hydrology, geology, ecology, etc. to set a new ground in the profession. Landscape architecture at that time was dramatically changing, on one side it strictly dealt with ecology, regional and suburban planning, spatial analysis and land uses and on the other side landscape architects responded to artist’s works of environmental art with works of their own, which became even more evident in 1980s. As the diversity and difficulty of projects was increasing landscape architects had to combine both – technical knowledge and design and artistic skills to solve complex problems. They were combining many fields in order to address them, looking to a large number of sources for inspiration.


Peter Walker, one of the most significant landscape architects of the twentieth century, began his practise in the period where modern vocabulary of free form and space prevailed, then he continued through the time when ecological concerns were dominating landscape architecture and was very close to environmental art when looking to artistic sources for inspiration. His work is often seen as a more adventurous form of landscape art combined with mystery, classical concepts and past traditions, challenging conventional ideas about space, form, material and symbol and responding, appropriating or arguing with the prevailing trends while providing intellectual engagement[33].


From the beginning his works clearly show his on-going dialogue with modern art, but as Lisa Roth, a former senior designer in the office of Peter Walker and Martha Schwartz, states: “Different then artists (who may create works of art without social justification), we accept the constraints of function, client, and context as integral to the creative process”[34]. Function and the relation to the surrounding context is something that distinguishes landscape architecture from being solely seen as art. Landscape is both, used and seen, and is therefore a functional space and an artistic expression.


In Walker’s landscapes we often find references to minimalist artists and minimal art, a form of artistic expression which is at the same time very abstract and very representational. “I consider minimalism, with its emphasis on reduction to an essence, one approach toward achieving mystery”[35]. For Walker gardens should be more than beautiful and useful – they should be moving and mysterious as well. Besides, what interests him is that minimalism has many compelling affinities with classicism and classical thought, it leads to examination of the abstract and the essential, design and function become equally important. With its artistic expression and reduction of form to its essential perfection, drawing inspiration from minimalism provided Walker with the right approach to make environments that are “especially needed at this time in human history: environments that are serene and uncluttered, yet still expressive and meaningful”[36].


The Tanner Fountain, designed and built by Walker in 1984 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the most popular places on the Harvard campus, is a clear example of how the admiration of minimalist art was translated to the work of landscape architecture and how the message behind it is closely related to the minimalist reduction of form, abstraction of materials and the use and placement of its elements. The fountain was designed in collaboration with sculptor Joan Brigham and it consists of 159 granite boulders, randomly positioned in concentric circles (18 meters in diameter), overlaying existing asphalt pathways and parts of the lawn, creating an open geometric form (see Fig. 10). Water emanates from the centre, visually dematerializing the central stones. In spring, summer and autumn water appears in the form of mist and in winter as steam from the university’s heating system. During the day, when the mist is refracted by sunlight, rainbows can appear and at night lights illuminate the mist and the stones lay under a mysterious glow (see Fig. 6 & 7). The fountain was designed to be inhabited and explored and as the ASLA jury stated when handing out the 2008 Landmark Award: It is one of the first examples of a landscape architect creating public sculpture. It set a precedent for the profession and has stood the test of time remarkably well, retaining the full power of the original idea. The landscape architect designed it to be accessible and recognize the four seasons and to celebrate water without a traditional body of water. Transformational. It lives in your memory” (ASLA, 2008).  As one of the few open spaces on campus the area is much used and therefore the designers’ challenge was “to make people aware of the place and its identity, without hindering their normal movement through it” (Sasaki, 1989, p.94). With the selection of stone, which was cleared from local farms at the turn of the century, Walker recalled a memory of rural New England and the hard process by which the first settlers cleared the fields. Apart from the stone he used water, which is in contrast transitory, it appears and disappears, it is “of the moment” and in that way connects the memory of the past with the present. Besides that it is engaging, it attracts and especially in the form of mist brings the mystery to the design (see Fig. 8 & 9). Artificial materials such as asphalt, on which the stones are placed, have an association in our culture “with the mechanistic and artificial, even to the point of abhorrence, whereas, stones and water are quintessentially “natural” and are almost universally enjoyed by people, both old and young” (Olin, 1988, p.153). There are many associations one could think of when considering Walker’s work – from the relationship between nature and man’s work to the change of seasons, the power and energy of water, the natural landscapes of violence and erosion, the mutability of matter, and so on. It is a powerful, successful and engaging work of landscape architecture, it draws people into its inner circle, while staying sophisticated in its simplicity, abstracting the material and employing traditional artistic devices for the representation of meaning. The circular configuration of the stones cites the work of artist Richard Long and especially the public work of the minimalist sculptor Carl Andre, Stone Field Sculpture in Hartford, from 1977[37]. For Treib, “from sculpture, the designer receives both the instigation of ideas and, to some degree, of validation”[38]. In that way landscape design correlates with art forms of the time, it becomes part of the culture and the character of the era and after time establishes its own identity as an art from.


Even though being built in two very different periods of human history, responding to completely different set of values and beliefs, both case studies show that it’s not only the vastness of the design, the use of various materials or numerous landscape elements that can bring meaning to a landscape; it’s the strong representation of ideas, complexity and richness of work seen in the possible uses, interpretations and associations that can add an additional value to a landscape. Stourhead, as well as the Tanner Fountain, use a very basic palette of elements, but it’s with their recombination, abstraction, relation to the socio – cultural background and art forms of the time (being 17th century painting or minimal art), that they permit different readings and provide intellectual engagement. “In the end, it is the synthesis of social purposes and artistic expression that may give the landscape meaning”[39]. Apart from that, they give pleasure to both, an educated visitor who can read the hidden message behind the design and someone who isn’t able or doesn’t wish to put sufficient effort into revealing the story and conceptual side of the design, but can still enjoy the landscape merely because of its sensual aspects, aesthetic value and the feeling of participation. Moreover, people find pleasure in solving puzzles, in figuring out the message behind the design, in landscapes that still pose questions after the first examination but in return engage users intellectually and emotionally, provide certain mystery and address individual experience, interaction and perception.

We’re not living in a period similar to 18th century England anymore, where gardens and landscapes were immediately understood by people who owned them and by others in the same social class. After John Dixon Hunt (1991) they represented a commonly shared view of seeing landscape as ideology and political entity, whereas today society consists of different groups with different ideals, beliefs and values[40]. But nonetheless, as previously stated, meaning is connected with the representation of ideas, physical signs and symbols which are capable of interpretation by users through associations. Therefore designs can have meaning for those who understand the language of signs and symbols, being either part of a shared system of beliefs or signs that lead the user to investigate more about the intellectual origins of a landscape that he can later on relate to his own sense of place.

Stourhead and Tanner Fountain both dealt with complex issues which were part of the period in which they were created. What we can learn from them today is that if the intention of landscape architecture is to be relevant to society, to gain after time layers of meaning and significance and to raise awareness of human relationship towards nature, then it should focus itself not only on the ability to mediate environmental disasters but on a more balanced integration of science and art, combining artfulness and environmental responsibility in order to create expressive experiences of our time, where, as Garrett Eckbo proposed, “the critical attribute to be looked for is the ‘qualitative experience’ that art generates, measured by memorability, intensity of response… degrees of pleasure, emotion, inspiration, aspiration, new relations between known elements (which brings out previously unnoticed qualities in those elements), and so on” (Eckbo, 1981, p.440).


vir slik:

1 I Prezelj, B. Sheme Feeling, Meaning and Significance), 2013

2 I Moore, C. et al. Stourhead major points of interests, in: The poethics of Gardens, The MIT Press, 2013, str. 136

3 – 12 I spletni vir


[1] Krog, S. Is it Art?, Landscape Architecture Magazine, 1981, n. 71, pg. 37–-376.

[2] M. Howett, C. Landscape Architecture: Making a Place for Art, Places: A Quarterly Journal of Environmental Design, 1985, 2 (4), pg. 52–60.

[3] Olin, L. Form, Meaning, and Expression in Landscape Architecture. Landscape Journal, 1988, 7 (2), pg. 149–168. / Corner, J. The Hermeneutic Landscape. 1991. in: Swaffield, S. eds. Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader. 2002, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, pg. 130–131. / Treib, M. Must Landscapes Mean?: Approaches to Significance in Recent Landscape Architecture, 1995. in: Treib, M. eds. Meaning in Landscape Architecture and Gardens, 2011, New York: Routledge, pg. 82–133. / Taylor, K. Design with meaning. Landscape Review: A Southern Hemisphere Journal of Landscape Architecture, 1997, 3 (2), pg. 3–21. / Whiston Spirn, A. The Language of Landscape. 1998. in: Swaffield, S. eds. Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader. 2002, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, pg. 125–129. / Herrington, S. Gardens Can Mean. 2007. in: Treib, M. eds. Meaning in Landscape Architecture and Gardens. 2011, New York: Routledge, pg. 174–213.

[4] Merleau-Ponty, M. Fenomenologija zaznave. Študentska založba, Ljubljana, 2006, pg. 418, 420–421.

[5] Harbison, R. The Built, the Unbuilt, and the Unbuildable: In Pursuit of Architectural Meaning. 2001, 4th ed. The MIT Press, pg. 26.

[6] Barnett, R. Gardens without meaning. Landscape Review: A Southern Hemisphere Journal of Landscape Architecture, 1997, 3 (2), pg. 22–42.

[7] Treib, M. Must Landscapes Mean?: Approaches to Significance in Recent Landscape Architecture, 1995. v: Treib, M. eds. Meaning in Landscape Architecture and Gardens, 2011, New York, Routledge, pg. 82–133.

[8] Olin, L. Form, Meaning, and Expression in Landscape Architecture. Landscape Journal, 1988, 7 (2), pg. 149.

[9] Tuan, Y. Thought and Landscape. The Eye and the Mind’s Eye, 1979 in: Meinig, D. eds. The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes. 1979, New York: Oxford University Press, pg. 100

[10] Treib, M. ibid., pg. 82–133.

[11] Walker, P. and Sasaki, Y. ‘Landscape as Art’ A Conversation with Peter Walker and Yoji Sasaki. 1989 in: Sasaki, Y. eds. Peter Walker: Landscape as Art. 1989, Tokyo: Process Architecture Publishing, pg. 10.

[12] Taylor, K. Design with meaning. Landscape Review: A Southern Hemisphere Journal of Landscape Architecture, 1997, 3 (2), pg. 3–21.

[13] Riley, R. From Sacred Grove to Disney World: The Search for Garden Meaning. Landscape Journal, 1988, 7 (2), pg. 142

[14] Chandler, D. Semiotics: The Basics. 2nd ed. 2013, New York: Routledge, pg. 78.

[15] Gillette, J. Can Gardens Mean?. 2005, v: Treib, M. eds. Meaning in Landscape Architecture and Gardens. 2011, New York: Routledge, pg. 171.

[16] Herrington, S. Gardens Can Mean. v: Treib, M. eds. 2011. Meaning in Landscape Architecture and Gardens. 2007 New York: Routledge, pg. 197.

[17] Treib, M. ibid., pg. 114.

[18] Ibid., pg. 110

[19] Ibid., pg. 110

[20] Whiston Spirn, A. The Language of Landscape. 1998. in: Swaffield, S. eds. Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader. 2002, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, pg. 125–129.

[21] Matilsky, B. Fragile Ecologies – Contemporary Artists’ Interpretations and Solutions. 1992, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, pg. 5.

[22] Herrington, S. ibid., str. 190.

[23] Jellicoe, G. and Jellicoe, S. The Landscape of Man: Shaping the Environment from Prehistory to the Present Day. 3rd ed. 1995, London: Thames and Hudson, pg. 155.

[24] Matlock, E. The Search for Appropriate Form: The Relationship Between Landscape Architecture and Art in Three Time Periods. 2008, Master of Landscape Architecture thesis. The University of Texas at Arlington.

[25] Hadfield, M. The Art of the Garden. 1965, Dutton: Studio Vista, pg. 80

[26] Barnett, R. Gardens without meaning. Landscape Review: A Southern Hemisphere Journal of Landscape Architecture, 1997, 3 (2), pg. 23

[27] Olin, L. Commentary: What Did I Mean Then or Now. 2011, in: Treib, M. eds. Meaning in Landscape Architecture and Gardens. 2001, New York: Routledge, pg. 75.

[28] Moore, C., Mitchell, W. and Turnbull, W. The Poetics of Gardens. 1993, The MIT Press, pg. 136–144

[29] Laird, M. The Flowering of the Landscape Garden: English Pleasure Grounds, 1720–1800. 1999, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, pg. 45.

[30] Jellicoe, G. and Jellicoe, S. The Landscape of Man: Shaping the Environment from Prehistory to the Present Day. 3rd ed. 1995, London: Thames and Hudson

[31] Hardin, G. The Tradegy of the Commons. Science, 2013, 162 (3859), pg. 1243–1248.

[32] Lailach, M. Land Art. 2007, Taschen.

[33] McCue, G. Overview: Design in American Regions. Introduction. v: Sasaki, Y. eds. 1989. Peter Walker: Landscape as Art. Tokyo: Process Architecture Publishing, pg. 8–9.

[34] Roth, L. The Office of Peter Walker and Martha Schwartz, 1983-present. v: Sasaki, Y. eds. Peter Walker: Landscape as Art. 1989, Tokyo: Process Architecture Publishing, pg. 17.

[35] Walker, P. and Sasaki, Y. ibid., str. 27.

[36] Walker, P. Minimalist Landscape. 1997. v: Swaffield, S. eds. Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader. 2002, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, pg. 88

[37] Walker, P. in Sasaki, Y. ibid., pg. 94.

[38] Treib, M. ibid., pg. 94.

[39] Roth, L. The Office of Peter Walker and Martha Schwartz, 1983-present. 1989. in: Sasaki, Y. eds. Peter Walker: Landscape as Art. 1989, Tokyo: Process Architecture Publishing, pg. 17.

[40] Dixon Hunt, J. The Garden As Cultural Object. 1991. v: Wrede, S. and Adams, W. eds. Denatured Visions : Landscape and Culture in the Twentieth Century. 1991, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, pp. 19-32.