Landscape Urbanism is an evolving field of study and practice that views landscape rather than architecture as the basis of contemporary urbanism. For landscape urbanists, a city’s landscape is both the lens through which the contemporary city is viewed and the method through which it is created.
Harvard’s Graduate School of Design has become the epicenter of the landscape urbanism movement, with three of the four ‘founders’ of the concept, Charles Waldheim (who coined the term), Alex Krieger, and Mohsen Mostafavi working there. The fourth, James Corner, teaches at UPenn, and principle of Field Operations, the notable for the design of High Line Park in Manhattan.
Instead of taking built volume as the determining characteristic of the city, landscape urbanists looks at cities as dynamic process characterized by fluidity, spontaneity and randomness. By doing so, they are breaking down the traditional disciplinary and cultural opposition between natural and city spaces. They recognize that nature exists in densely built-up environments and affects not only the current well being of inhabitants, but also the long term prospects of the built form of the city itself.
By restoring nature’s restorative cycles in urban areas, landscape urbanists hope that society will be better able to deal with the exploding urban growth around the world. Some also see promise for helping shrinking rustbelt cities like Cleveland and Detroit.