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American Society of Landscape Architects


May 2004 Issue

Six approaches to landscape architecture. 

By Ann Forsyth and Katherine Crewe

Photo by Peg Skorpinski

Is the practice of landscape architecture differentiated mostly by style and project type, or are there other important differences in approach among members of the profession?

By examining the work of contemporary landscape architects, we have discovered six distinctive approaches to practice. They vary on many dimensions apart from project type or even specific styles. These include design process, client or audience, scale, knowledge base, ethics, nature, and power. These help shape differing approaches to form and aesthetics.

The acronym "landSCAPES" summarizes the six approaches:

S     design as Synthesis
C     Cultivated expression
A     landscape Analysis
P     Plural design
E     Ecological design
S     Spiritual landscapes

These approaches to landscape architecture can be examined further in eight categories: (1) the goals, (2) the process used in design or analysis, (3) main clients or audiences, (4) the scale of concern, (5) the intellectual or knowledge base, (6) the ethical approach, (7) relation to the natural world, and (8) the analysis of power relations or the larger role of landscape architecture in society.

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