Is landscape surface?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concept of surface, associated with landscape urbanism, has been used to constitute the abstract, horizontal urban plane connecting elements and structures of cities. However, surface has less frequently been used in the field to refer to the vital, physical medium of landscape—the ground itself. Yet, in the context of twenty-first-century discourse on urban adaptation, expanding the concept of surface might elevate the role of landscape architecture in regenerating cities and a planet at risk. In this paper, I explore the concept of surface across disciplines as a critical medium within landscape, to expand our understanding of and potential for surface-based design practice. I draw connections between surface and four fundamental aspects of landscape design: site context, materiality, sectional depth and design narrative. By looking at three landscape projects, I discuss how these aspects are instantiated through their surface designs, and make suggestions for further research and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-31
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Landscape Architecture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • Surface
  • design medium
  • design strategy
  • interface
  • landscape urbanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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