Landscape Studio 3-01: Speculations

Pattern Potentials: bridging utility and aesthetics

Coordinator: Associate Professor Jillian Walliss

There is increasing concern that landscape architecture is losing its disciplinary position as designers. Karen McCloskey  (2013, 16) highlights how ‘much of the professional conversation revolves around problem-solving, instead of how these predominant environmental concerns are equally significant in terms of expression and experience.’ Similarly, Chang Huai-yan comments that while solving problems if not inherently a bad thing, it is the replication of solutions ( for example technical solutions for the cleansing of water) that is a major issue for him. He exclaims ‘Being a designer is becoming a rare thing’ ( Ninsalam + Walliss, 2020; 267). This studio focuses explicitly on design and pattern. Pattern is defined as the repetition of geometries that combine to establish an overall spatial organisation. While pattern continues to play a critical role for many Asian designers, pattern and surface has been met with suspicion in Western landscape architecture, considered variously as superficial, reductive, monotonous, static, and most critically, not site specific. However pattern offers much to designers.  As McCloskey (2013: 26) writes
‘patterns, as diagrams of process, carry the potential to bind together oppositional  categories that still seem to plague discussions in landscape architecture—system versus composition, representation versus performance, matter versus symbol, vision (distance) versus immersion (multi- sensory).’

Drawing on theoretical writing on pattern and design, along with techniques of photography, parametrics, model making and drawing, students will explore the potential of pattern for generating a new urban space of retreat for Melbourne’s China Town, reflective of our COVID era.

Image: Bancho Niwa by Earthscape from The Big Asian Book of Landscape Architecture

Landscape Architecture 2021_winter