FORGETTING URBANISM

S├ębastien Marot will give a view of the territories which Landsape Urbanism has traditionally dealt with, outlining current research on a tale superimposing the trajectories of architects, artists, writers, geographers and geologists who somehow crossed paths in a little city in upstate New York, and which confronts the different ways in which they related to that particular landscape. Among the characters of the tale are Colin Rowe, O. M. Ungers, Rem Koolhaas, Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark and Vladimir Nabokov.

FIGURES, SWARMS AND MULTITUDES: THE SUBJECTS OF LANDSCAPE URBANISM

The question then became whether molecular or atomic “populations” of all natures…would continue to bombard the existing people to train it or control it or annihilate it—or if other molecular populations were possible, could slip into the first and give rise to a people yet to come
Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

The conditions addressed by the AA’s Landscape Urbanism programme — the nascent tourist economies of the United Arab Emirates, sites of environmental and so-called ‘natural disasters’, and the phenomenal scale and speed of industrialisation and urbanisation underway in China — invite other formulations of urban morphology, environmental dynamics, and socio-economic process to those employed in the decampment model by Charles Waldheim in his account of a post-industrial, post-Fordist North American city like Detroit.
These other sites are not abandoned and depopulated zones produced in the wake of mobile capital, but territories in the thick of the turbulent conditions of urban transformation and realignment it produces as it moves across the planet. In these zones mobile capital runs head on into the resistance and friction of existing ecologies, which are always, as Guattari has outlined, environmental, social and subjective. As such they render questions of building, architecture, inhabitation and populations a place of importance absented from other currents of Landscape Urbanism.
If such conditions, and the opportunities they present, are to be addressed through the medium of landscape, in its fullest sense, then some account of how landscape can be thought in relation to the subject and the built environment is required.
This lecture addresses these conditions through their historical precedents and a critical account of how they have been modelled and how they might be thought and practised.

LANDSCAPE URBANISM AS RESISTANCE

Although landscape urbanism is most often referenced with regards to post-industrial sites of the West, an argument will be made for landscape urbanism as a strategy for the new colonization of territories in the poorer, developing world. It will explicitly confront the ‘generic city’ discourse of Koolhaas and – through several projects in Asia – reveal how landscape urbanism strategies can serve as a form of resistance to the otherwise homogenizing forces of the prevailing ad-hoc project modus that is driven by the near-universal endorsement of the neo-liberal urban development paradigm. The projects will reveal how urban visions and strategic urban design projects can make more evident the area’s inherent qualities and creatively marry ecological, infrastructural, flooding and programmtic issues by solutions that cut across sectoral divisions. They underline the present-day possibilities for landscape urbanism and point to a basic challenge for designers – to recognize and build upon the existing landscape intelligence and nuanced micro-logics and develop (infra)structures that can guide urban growth.