Grounding the Site: Uncovering Concepts in the Landscape Architecture Design Process

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Landscape architecture is a design field that creates landscapes both as concepts and constructions; that is, we imagine landscapes and we build them. Understanding the relationship between concepts and constructions is essential since the impact and effects of landscapes in their constructed form—their physical and experiential manifestations—are both rooted in, and generative of, cultural, artistic, and productive ideas about our relationship with land. This fundamental relationship between society and land and its resulting artifacts—“nature […] reshaped by human culture throughout history”—has been foundational to the work of the field and has evolved over millennia in response to changing social, cultural, and ecological agendas, desires, and contexts. In recent decades, landscape architecture is working to respond to persistent contemporary concerns such as rapid and unchecked urbanization, planetary alteration and disturbance, the loss of a sense of place (and site) in everyday life, and diminished social and ecological diversity.

This chapter outlines three key themes of “ground” in the contemporary design process that are both practical and generative for students of landscape architecture: Recovering Ground which stakes a contemporary purpose for the field to address the issues outlined in the opening, Differentiating Ground which distinguishes the materiality of landscape and ground for performance and experience, and Drawing Ground which identifies the techniques through which ideas for these are presented. I end the essay by briefly acknowledging that Constructing Ground is the final intended purpose of translating concept into form.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConceptual Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationFundamentals in the Beginning Design Process
EditorsSimon M Bussiere
ISBN (Electronic)9781003053255
ISBN (Print)9780367513030, 9780367513047
StatePublished - May 15 2023


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