"Landscape Architecture" was first loosely tied to the relationship between built and natural forms in the early 1800's. George Oskar redefined the concept in the mid 1800's through his design of Central Park in New York. Not only did it then become a professional title, but it now referred specifically to the composition of landform, paving, and construction. While we tie the title and more "scholarly" applications to this more recent history, Roman Gardens have been around since 60BC. Originally born of necessity, these gardens were a function of life providing water, food and shade. The aesthetic aspect of gardening advanced rapidly in Japanese and Chinese Cultures with substantially different takes on design process. Chinese Gardens continue to be designed as natural, reflective and interactive environments. While Japanese Gardens are often designed for a specific outside viewing points, Chinese Gardens are meant to be viewed from within with centralized structures. The Renaissance brought the use of proportion and line to the private garden. Not surprisingly, this formal use of spacing was furthered by the founder of analytic geometry, Renee Descartes. The rich history of landscape architecture has provided design theories which we still use today. What has changed is the methodology and materials used in today's landscapes.
Landscapes of the past focused heavily on growth while the future will focus on sustainability. The future of landscape design will also continue to focus on our ability to blend. We blend art and science, morphology, size, the built and the natural worlds. The use of new products and technologies are not only changing how we design and how we construct, but how we live. The last 10 years have brought the indoors out with the evolution of outdoor living. While this has been profoundly focused on entertainment and comfort, it has included more shade structures, shade trees, permeable paved surfaces, and has effectively created spaces where we spend more time outside in the fresh air rather than in indoor, air conditioned environments.
The next ten years are filled with aesthetic awe and functional regeneration. The line between structure and environment will continue to be obscured. Slowly, you are already seeing the evolution take place all around you. Whether you installed LED lights in your landscape this year, visited one of the many green roofs in Madison, or took notice of the changes in parking lot design of newly constructed stores in our area. Plant selection, island layouts, and rainwater capture are drastically different from parking lots constructed even 5 years ago!
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