Conference timetable, abstracts and posters for 'Future History: Teaching History in Landscape Schools', which will take place in Sheffield on 8 and 9 September

Future History: Teaching history in landscape schools


Thursday 8 September


Chair’s introduction
Dr Jan Woudstra, The University of Sheffield

9.30 Whose? Why? What? How? - Why learn landscape history?
Marc Treib, University of California
10.15 The past as productive country in teaching garden history and landscape architecture
Catharina Nolin, Stockholm University
11.00 Coffee break
11.30 Re-shaping a course on the history and theory of designed landscapes for a diverse community of students
Anette Freytag, Rutgers University

Is a social history of gardening possible?
Brent Elliott, UK

13.00 Lunch
14.00 Cultural landscapes and the colonial project: the role of landscape architecture education in correcting false histories
Alayna Pakinui Rā, New Zealand
14.45 A cultural landscape perspective to teaching landscape architecture
Nancy Pollock-Ellwand, University of Arizona

Tea break

16.00 The World Heritage List: a viable bank of cultural landscapes for teaching?
Elizabeth Brabec, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
16.45 Landscape, values and change: dynamics past and future
David Jacques, UK
17.30 Keynote: From transactional to transformational: reframing landscape history
Kofi Boone, NC State University, U.S.A

Friday 9 September


How should we engage students in the history of their chosen profession?
5-minute presentations: Anne Katrine Geelmuyden, Ås, Norway and Tom Robinson, UK
Followed by a discussion, chaired by Joseph Claghorn, The University of Sheffield, UK


What methods and tools can be devised to improve student engagement?
5-minute presentations: Zannah Matson, University of Guelph, Canada and Annegreth Dietze Schirdewahn/ Ramzi Hassan, Ås, Norway
Followed by a discussion, chaired by Luca Csepely-Knorr, Manchester School of Architecture, UK

11.00 Coffee break

What resources do we need to improve history teaching?
5-minute presentations: Jill Sinclair, The Gardens Trust, UK and Roo Angell, University of Greenwich, UK
Followed by a discussion, chaired by Laurent Châtel, University of Lille, France

12.20 Lunch

Presentation of Declaration on Teaching History in Landscape Schools
Followed by Discussion


Vote on Declaration on Teaching History in Landscape Schools
To be developed into a Manifesto for Teaching History at Landscape Schools

Speakers' abstracts

Marc Treib

Whose? Why? What? How? - Why learn landscape history?

Teaching history as a vital component of the education of landscape architects was never in question until the arrival of modernism. Until then history was believed to meaningfully inform professional practice as well as offer a reservoir of ideas and case studies—not to be copied, but to inspire. Creative invention was seen as a continuance of tradition, hence an understanding of tradition through history was required. Modernism’s utopian attempt to restart the world anew reduced the significance of history in the curriculum to a substantial degree, or even dismissed it entirely. Of late, renewed pressures have been placed upon the learning of history, this time questioning its subjects and audiences.

History involves—or can involve—the study of factors, principles, examples involving generalizations as well as formal case studies specific to an environmental and social context. The first develop a thought process; the second, the solutions to specific conditions. Style or manner plays a lesser part, but the artifact as catalyst remains critical in the making of landscape architecture.

Studying the history of a landscape answers four basic questions, but not necessarily in any order, lessons both syntactic learning and semantic. First: Whose history is this, not only in terms of the actual landscape, but also in terms of a social history? Why study this landscape and who benefits from it? Next questions the nature of what is being studied. In Western landscape study we first need to determine what type of landscape might this be: a natural landscape, a cultural landscape, or a subset of the designed landscape that may fall under the category of landscape architecture. Lastly is the question of how, which governs the perceived environment, its forms and its spaces. These are the case studies of specific places, not to be emulated but filtered and abstracted to produce generalized knowledge.

We then may try to answer why, the reasons for making this designed landscape and the sources of its significance, i.e., why does it merit study? Does it tell us about the management of the environment, or a social attitude toward space, or perhaps a scientific review of vegetation and its applications?

If for the moment we put aside the specifics of learning landscape history, we might say that understanding history—to be able to position our own time within the greater flow of life past and present—contributes to our status as educated beings. Presumably the landscape architect is a professional, and among the characteristics that distinguish a profession from a trade is a greater emphasis on values and ethics. We can learn these from history. Architect Philip Johnson once said that we “can not not know history.” Well, it is possible of course, but both personally and societally it wouldn’t be beneficial. We might also phase it this way: Although certainly not impossible, it’s more difficult to get where you are going without knowing where you have been.

Catharina Nolin

The past as productive country in teaching garden history and landscape architecture

Some people might look upon the past as a foreign country (compare with David Lowenthal’s The Past is a Foreign Country, 1985), but for me it is rather a condition or an ongoing process that we as historians and researchers, landscape architects and planners carry with us, and a productive country that we regularly get in dialogue with. Teaching history of landscape architecture is so much more than presenting a chronological overview of gardens and characterising them as belonging to period styles like Renaissance, Rococo, and Baroque. Avoiding history is not a solution. If students don’t get introduced to history, they will not be interested in it by themselves. The question is rather how can we make history pertinent to them?

As an art historian specialized in garden history and landscape architecture, I have had the opportunity to teach students taking courses in art history, heritage studies and landscape architecture. I have discussed especially 19th and 20th century garden history and landscape architecture from different angles and with different objectives in mind. History can be used as a tool, a point of reference and a way of understanding the present while looking into the future, and to show that several periods or layers of history often exist side by side as an ongoing continuum. Urban parks were once royal parks and can be regarded as parts of democratization processes. Cemeteries show us different ways of engaging with the dead. Playgrounds open up for discussions on attitudes towards children’s play and what type of freedom grown-ups have given them in regard to moving around on their own.

No landscape architect works in a vacuum. On the contrary: many landscape architects work in public sector, and it is hard to design or develop new urban areas without considering history. To engage students in history is a way of preparing them in reading, analysing and relating existing design and traces of history to their own ideas and creativity. Besides, historiography has often placed male landscape architects and commissioners in the centre, constructing a narration of heroes, while the heroines still are rare. We need to broaden the canon to include a wider range of landscapes, authors and users to get a more diversified narrative. This means that gender is still on the agenda, as well as politics, especially if we want to make sure that also work by women landscape architects will exist in the future. The first works to disappear are spaces not attributed to well-known names. Sustainability and ecology are other topics that could benefit from a historical perspective as many landscape architects were engaged in these questions at least from the mid 20th century, also in professional organisations like IFLA. To conclude: teaching students history is a way of giving them tools to understand our present time and the role of gardens, parks and landscape in politics and society.

Anette Freytag

Re-shaping a lecture series on the history and theory of designed landscapes for a diverse community of students

In my contribution to the conference, I would like to share my experience from teaching my History and Theory of Designed Landscapes Survey Course in Europe (ETH Zurich, University of Basel, University of Innsbruck) and the necessary changes I had to mak when transferring to Rutgers University in New Jersey in 2016, with my appointment as tenured associate professor (since 2020 full professor). Rutgers University has one of the most diverse student bodies in the United States. Every third student is a first generation student. White students only make up 50% of the student body. I teach Western History of Designed Landscapes and added very successful segments of “Counterhistories” into the course, in an attempt to teach the canon but also break it. Counterhistories are parallel histories- Black Histories, Indigenous Histories, Women practitioners histories. In my next attempt, I hope to weave these even more into the general survey course.

The History and Theory of Designed Landscapes course is the backbone of my teaching. Designed for third year undergraduate students, it explores the evolution of the Western Landscape (with a focus on Europe and North America) from the Minoan Culture to the contemporary period and discusses related issues and challenges. Influences of cultures originating from the Arabian world, India, and Asia are naturally discussed across the periods. From the large scale of natural or cultivated landscapes to small-scale gardens, the lectures present the historical periods of different types of designed landscapes and their general cultural and historical contexts. For every period, the lectures analyze the design of landscapes, settlements, and the connected gardens and open spaces, which often result from economic needs or spiritual traditions. The lectures also analyse people’s understanding of nature, and their attitude toward nature in the respective periods, as this is very important for the way landscapes and gardens are designed. Students shall grasp the history of humans shaping their environment.

The core assumption is that our environment (landscapes, designed landscapes, built environment) has been shaped over time in a way that form, function (agricultural and other practices), and meaning (spiritual practices, traditions, cultural values) go together. They cannot be dissociated from each other.

The focus of the post-war period is placed on the environmental movement and the impulses of postmodern design, as well as on the theory and practice of landscape urbanism and topology. Integrating my experience from teaching a very diverse student body at Rutgers, I have modified the lecture course to still teach the "Canon" of Western Landscape Architecture but to also break and question it at the same time. The colonial and suppressive structure of how the Western Culture claims to be the guiding principle is laid open and the course now also accommodates diverse experiences, especially the landscape and open space experience of African American students. The African American population is very much driven to urban and rural agriculture – “to grow things” – but struggles with a traumatic past in this regard. One central question is how to reconquer this past in a positive way. Also, these students feel very much excluded from the “Great outdoors”– The National Parks and Natural Reserves as well as urban parks and open spaces. Again, a traumatic past and the oral history of lynching being very vibrant in their communities coins their perception of spaces that in Western style landscape history are painted altogether positively. The Native American population struggles with different trauma when it comes to land use and the shaping of landscapes. But it is especially Native Ecological Wisdom that the Western Culture could so much profit from. To address these issues in a sensitive but very straight forward and critical way and to reconquer the place these populations have in the landscape history and theory of the US and in the Western World in general is my current preoccupation.

In brief, the challenge of the course is to introduce srtudents to the canon of forms of Western landscape architecture and at the same time to break the canon by inserting the "counterhistories" of oppression and exploitation that are also mirrored in Western landscape architecture history.

Furthermore, I take the principles of Topology as a theoretical framework and method to recall the potentials of landscape architecture to guide students through the centuries. Topology aims to have an effect on how one perceives the current natural and built environment and provides students with the opportunity to tie in with a continuity gained from centuries of learned skills and care with regard to the shaping of nature and landscape. By taking the framework of Topology, we learn to critically analyse our environment. During the course we investigate which designed landscapes enhanced the well-being of people over the centuries: why do some places work well for people? Why do others not? Topology is about a return to the terrain, about understanding a designed landscape as a product of historical and cultural interaction, and about integrating meaning into design.

The survey course on the History and Theory of Designed Landscapes is certified as History Core Curriculum Course, which means that all Rutgers students can take it to meet their Undergraduate History Core Requirement. It aligns with the Historical Analysis Core Learning Goals 1. “Understand the bases and development of human and societal endeavors across time and place.” 2. “Explain the development of some aspect of a society or culture over time, including the history of ideas or history of science.

Brent Elliott

Is a social history of gardening possible?

Gardens have been, for some, a means of creating an ornamental or decorative area; for far more, a practical necessity, as a means of food production; for a few, the basis of a trade or profession.  By far the majority of studies of the history of gardening have been devoted to that first category, with a consequent emphasis on the relations between gardens and other art forms, and on the dynamics of stylistic change in gardens.

Much recent writing has moved away from this, to concentrate on the social backgrounds and consequences of garden ownership and means of production. Social history is regarded as of greater importance than art history as a model for understanding gardens, but social history has all too often been regarded as an opportunity for the promotion of ideological interests rather than as a tool for analysis. There has been little assessment of what a genuine social history of gardening would require.

Social history can be seen as beginning with the third chapter of Macaulay’s History of England (1848), which provided an overview of English life in the late 17th century. Many readers at the time were disconcerted by it: the purpose of history, they said, was to provide us with moral examples to study, so what was the use of describing everything from the state of the roads to women’s hairstyles? By the end of the century, social history had become established as a discipline, its function being to describe and understand how the common people lived in earlier times. George Macaulay Trevelyan once described the result as “history with the politics left out”, but in more recent times, the politics has been put back in.

In the second half of the 20th century, much of what was published under the name of social history consisted of exercises in successively fashionable political theories, most notably traditional Marxism and social construction theory. The discovery and assembly of evidence frequently took second place to debates over its interpretation. As a result, the idea of history as a moral barometer returned, the difference being that today it is not individuals but societies or social classes that are held up for moral judgment.

These conditions are a potent breeding ground for myths. Among those that have flourished in subjects relating to garden history are: the identification of witches with herbalists; the claim that the use of digitalis for cardiac conditions was discovered by herbalists; the exaggeration of the extent of the enclosure movement; the exaggeration of the scale and success of the Dig for Victory campaign.  

What would be required to produce what could genuinely be considered a social history of gardening?  I would suggest four questions, or groups of questions, to provide the necessary foundations of such a social history:

  1. At any given period, how many gardens were there, and how large were they?
  2. How many gardens were devoted to cultivation for food – or, in the case of great estates, what proportion of the gardens? How much food production took place in private, how much in communal, and how much in commercial gardens?
  3. What differences were there between the gardens of large estates and the gardens of the poor – in design, in ornamental planting, and in culinary planting?
  4. Who were involved in creating, and afterwards in maintaining, gardens? What was the size of gardening staff in large estates, and how was it organized? Were there jobbing gardeners, and if so, how did they work?

Can these questions be answered? If not, what basis is there for generalising about gardens?

If the questions cannot be answered, why not?  Lack of documentation is the obvious answer for most of history, and sometimes the neglect of sources (as the Victorian gardening newspapers were ignored a generation ago). The first requirement of any genuine social history of gardening must be to explain what sources are available, what can be legitimately inferred from them, and what questions are ruled out by the gaps in information.

Alayna Pakinui Rā

Cultural landscapes and the colonial project: the role of landscape architecture education in correcting false histories

With Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand having recently celebrated 50 years of Landscape Architecture, professional institutes, academics and practitioners have been reflecting on the history of the discipline. This ‘celebration’ of the profession’s history comes at a time when Indigenous rights are in a global media spotlight. Movements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ have also forced society to become more questioning about power balances and injustices. As part of this, both Australian and Aotearoa-New Zealand education systems have recognised that a false history has been taught for the last 200 years. This includes a history that framed the discovery of these landscapes as being by colonists and early settlers, when in fact Indigenous peoples had occupied these lands for approximately 60,000 years prior. As a result, many landscape architecture university courses have sought to rectify these false histories by integrating content that speaks to first people’s rich tangible and intangible associations with the cultural landscape.

This presentation is on the Decolonised Design masters level course at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, which was taught as part of the landscape architecture curriculum in 2021. It is believed to the first course of its type in both Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. It was created and curated by this abstract’s author, Dr Alayna Pakinui Rā (nee Renata), who’s design, research, advisory and academic work focusses on Indigenous agency in design and planning processes. The course was centred on the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers and community members who spoke to Australia’s often dark history and what this means for contemporary landscape architecture, so to ensure that the profession is not further perpetuating The Colonial Project.

Nancy Pollock-Ellwand

A cultural landscape perspective to teaching landscape architecture

Cultural landscapes are a heritage resource combining natural and cultural environments, from the local to the global.  Teaching landscape architectural students about these places of significance and how to understand them, interact with them, and protect them involves a distinctive pedagogical perspective that broadens the study of landscape history.  It demands the acquisition of new language to describe them; and new sources and authorities to fully comprehend them.  It variously foregrounds the identities, memories and environmental challenges found there.  Cultural landscapes can thus become the stage upon which educators are able to engage students in the most vexing issues of the day- climate change and the drive for social justice.  

This presentation will critically examine a graduate course that has been launched by the University of Arizona as part of a new on-line Heritage Conservation Certificate program at the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.  This exploration of cultural landscapes is founded within the field of heritage conservation—but it could just as well be delivered in diverse fields such as environmental studies, law or political studies.   In fact, the range of disciplinary areas these graduate students come from show the diverse perspectives and multidisciplinary relevance of these places of significance.  It is clear, the interest in cultural landscapes extends beyond the history of landscape architecture. It bridges from history to many other fields, including the natural and social sciences as well as arts and culture.  

Just as diverse academic fields are engaged in this examination so too are different worldviews and valuing of a landscape. Whether it be smaller, well-defined sites with tangible historic elements or vast landscapes with intangible associations that embody a sense of place and identity of a people.  In this context, the student of landscape history quickly discovers challenging terrain.  They will variously encounter places of conflict and dark histories; including the fight for indigenous rights; impacts from climate change; the need to reconcile past injustices, and so much more. 

Traditional approaches to landscape design history are challenged in this context.  It is the object of this paper to engage some of the difficult questions historians are now facing in their scholarship. Who has the authority to tell the narrative of a landscape?  What is the role of traditional knowledge? Does the telling of that history have a place in reconciling past injustices?  Can a more integrated view of the natural and cultural world be adopted and embraced? 

Elizabeth Brabec

The World Heritage List: a viable bank of cultural landscapes for teaching?

The discipline of landscape history, and therefore the teaching of landscape history, suffers from a number of issues. From textbooks that are still largely focused on a Western European paradigm and an ascendant timeline for cultural landscapes (e.g. Barlow Rogers 2001; Pregill and Volkman 1999; Jellicoe 1995), to a lack of materials that present diverse and contested landscapes, to the definition itself, we are stuck in a form of teaching that was (perhaps) valid 30 years ago.

The way we currently teach landscape history has a number of key impacts on the future of the profession. It is out of date with current discourses of decolonization, equity and inclusion in other aligned fields including archaeology, anthropology, and geography among others, causing a dissonance with predominant cultural narratives in the current public discourse. They way the historical basis of landscapes is taught also reinforces a predominantly aesthetic approach to landscapes, an approach that is increasingly untenable in a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic world, where even the concept of cultural landscapes may be non-existent. Therefore, the focus on form-building, aesthetics in the landscape and a lack of cultural nuancing renders the landscape architectural profession at best out of touch and at worst irrelevant in a quickly changing world. The answer to this disconnect is obvious, but also problematic – the need for every landscape historian to rethink and re-work their curriculum. The question is, is the material available to support that paradigm shift? From theoretical bases to the actual sites as thematic examples, the materials are difficult to find and access.

This paper directly addresses a part of this discussion, in terms of the availability of World Heritage sites to provide the raw materials to remake our cultural landscape/landscape history curricula. The data that forms the basis of the paper has been collected over the past three years, through a developing effort at comprehensive curriculum change. The collected data reflects a close reading of cultural landscape sites on the World Heritage list (WHL 2021) and evaluates the statements of outstanding universal value (OUV), the available mapping and documentation of the landscapes and their contributing features, and assessments of their viability as continuing landscapes. Since there are many sites that are, in fact, cultural landscapes, but have not been designated as such on the World Heritage List (e.g., for an obvious one, the Taj Mahal), the paper distinguishes between those that have been specifically designated as cultural landscapes, and those that have not, for a variety of reasons, received this designation.

The paper will end with the exploration of the advantages and constraints of using the World Heritage List as a bank of reference landscapes. Issues explored will include how changes to OUV can improve the teaching value of sites; areas and themes poorly represented by the WHL, and how the type and format of site data affects an understanding of a four-dimensional world in two-dimensional media.

Barlow Rogers, Elizabeth. 2001. Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History.
Harry N. Abrams.
Jellicoe, Geoffrey and Susan. 1995. The Landscape of Man: Shaping the Environment from
Prehistory to the Present Day. Thames and Hudson.
Pregill, Philip and Nancy Volkman. 1999. Landscapes in History, 2nd Edition. John Wiley and Sons.
World Heritage List. 2021. World Heritage List, UNESCO World Heritage Center,

David Jacques

Landscape, values and change: dynamics past and future

The organised teaching of garden history started in the 1980s as part of the rising interest in the conservation of the wider built environment, and usually accompanying historic building conservation courses. In France there was the Versailles course run by Janine Christiany and Monique Mosser, in London there was the course at the Architectural Association run by Ted Fawcett, and in York there was the MA in the Conservation for Historic Parks and Gardens, with a primarily international student body, run by Peter Goodchild.
At the time there was the assumption that the teaching was to train the future conservers of historic gardens, giving them an understanding of the people, philosophies and styles that guided the making of the most historically important gardens over the last 400 years.
Times change. The need today is not so much to preserve the top echelon of the great monuments like the Boboli Gardens, the Versailles and the Hampton Courts of this world, but to give new life to smaller, more public, spaces, for example urban parks. In such work the skill of divining the design intentions and true history of the place has to combine with practical management skills, public relations, and the ability to educate and persuade decision makers of the values and importance attached to it.

Another change has been a shift in garden history away from being an adjunct to architectural history towards gardens as an aspect of cultural landscapes. In 1993 UNESCO accepted historic gardens as a class of properties within its wider definition of ‘cultural landscapes’. These can be seen as the product of cultures adapting their environments for economic and religious purposes with the social organization and technology available and within the constraints of the capability of the land itself. They tell us about the world of our ancestors and are often described as the unwritten history of mankind. Gardens have a special place as the product of aesthetic choice, but otherwise share many of the characteristics of cultural landscapes including the need to accept considered change.
With these thoughts in mind, the notion of garden history as a stand-alone topic seems rather limited in scope. Nevertheless, the academic discipline behind it is far from redundant. Standing at the intersection of landscape, values and change, students learn about the forces and dynamics of creation and alteration. The landscapes themselves become the database of how humans interact with the world around.

This skill might be applied to the analysis of future landscape change as a result of, or to combat, climate change. Who is going to prepare for the period of greatest landscape change seen by modern humans? Can the outcome be landscapes that the future population will appreciate and enjoy?

The paper will address these issues and sketch out a proposal for desirable learning outcomes and a teaching strategy that could achieve them. 

Kofi Boone

Keynote: From transactional to transformational: reframing landscape history

Landscape architecture history generally documents an archive of places resulting from the agency of extreme power and wealth. This framing often disassociates the aesthetics of historic places from their political and economic underpinnings; some of which exploited people and the land to achieve their design and planning aims. It mutes the voices and lived experiences of those without power and wealth and excludes values out of the transactional boundaries of capitalism and resource exploitation. This transactional approach to history limits the accessibility and utility of landscape history. This paper presents the potential for a transformational approach to landscape history that encompasses a fuller understanding of the power of transformational narratives to enable more critical and impactful landscape change.

Conference posters

M. Elen Deming
Teaching Future Landscape Histories Deming
Teaching Future Landscape Histories Deming
Teaching Future Landscape Histories Deming
Alexandru Mexi

Hands-on Landscape History, Protection and Preservation. A Romanian Case Study on the History of Parks, Gardens and Landscapes


Landscape architecture is a young profession in Romania. The first school was opened in 1998 and the profession was officially recognized in 2014. Although landscape/ garden history is part of the curricula of most landscape architecture schools in the country, there are few researches and publications in this field. Most deal with the history of private gardens, while the history of public parks and, beyond that, the evolution of urban or rural, natural or man-made landscapes is almost nonexistent. A garden inventory from 1958, some manuals on the management of green spaces, mostly from the communist era, some printed volumes, old monographs and some PhD theses (not all published!) form the basis for teaching Romanian garden/landscape history. This leads to inadequate teaching materials and also to inappropriate tools for the conservation, restoration and even management of parks, gardens and landscapes. Thus, although the Romanian landscape heritage (historic parks and gardens, and cultural landscapes) is very rich and includes hundreds of historic monuments out of which over 150 individually listed parks and gardens; cultural and historic urban landscapes, some of which inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and the UNESCO Tentative List, landscape architects do not yet have sufficient materials to preserve and protect these sites and teachers have little research to base their courses upon..

A contribution to Romanian landscape and garden history

To supplement the sparse bibliography on the history of Romanian landscapes, parks and gardens and to contribute to better future management of landscape heritage, archival research, in situ garden/landscape archaeology, surveys and observations, and new technologies for scanning and mapping are now used by a few private and public institutions throughout the country. One such programme is the "înFlorești" (Romanian: to blossom ) Landscape Heritage Summer School[1], which has been held annually since 2019 at the Cantacuzino estate in the village of Florești, Prahova country. The programme is dedicated to students and young professionals from Romania and abroad[2] who are studying or already working in the field of landscape architecture and/or cultural heritage protection and management. It consists of both theoretical debates and presentations held by renowned Romanian and European scholars, as well as hands-on interdisciplinary workshops.

The aims of the school are to inspire students about the history of gardens and landscapes and to train future professionals in heritage conservation and protection, as well as to explore and better understand the complex history of one of Romania's largest, yet poorly researched, historic private estates and its natural and man-made surroundings.

Materials, methods and tools

The programme was created after thorough research in Romanian and European libraries and archives[3], as well as in the private family archives of the local community, where maps, correspondence, photographs, written and oral memories, etc. were collected, studied and then used to descifre the history of the Cantacuzino estate and its surroundings[4]. The research revealed numerous inconsistencies and contradictions in overlapping information, long periods of time not covered by the archival documentation, etc. Thus, the idea was born to continue the research and involve the students in the process to help them better understand the history of the property and its surroundings by involving them in hands-on interdisciplinary workshops such as archival research and interpretation, garden/landscape archaeology, tree survey, drone photography and 3D landscape mapping, conservation and restoration of garden features, vegetation and water management, garden and landscape restoration. This gave students the opportunity to work alongside professionals using traditional and digital tools such as archaeological equipment, tree management tools, microscopes, georadars, drones, 3D scanners, etc. to work and study the evolution of a 150 hectare historic estate, to determine the age of ancient planted trees, to understand the history of the landscape, its topography and waters, the way the estate was built and how it related to the surrounding landscape in different periods, to observe and debate upon the discrepancies between archival materials and in situ finds, and to discuss the challenges of cultural heritage interpretation and use, landscape and garden restoration, water and vegetation management.


Since its first edition in 2019, the Summer School has gathered and trained more than 100 students and young professionals, some of whom are now working in the field of cultural heritage conservation and protection and/or green space management. It has contributed to the development and recognition of the profession of landscape architecture and, above all, to an increase in interest in landscape and garden history, restoration and management. Through the hands-on workshops, both students and lecturers were able to discover a number of buildings and garden features for which there was little or no archival information. This was the case with some of the old alleys, garden vases, piping, dried-up water channels, a grotto and a fountain that were uncovered, mapped and researched during the garden archaeology workshops, or the historic planting patterns that were investigated with digital tools and in situ surveys. Through 3D mapping of the landscape, presentations and theoretical debates, all summer school participants were able to better understand how to protect, conserve, restore and manage a historic estate and its surroundings. In workshops such as the restoration of stone garden elements, vegetation or water management, students also learned about the procedures and practical solutions for the conservation and management of the planted and artificial components of historic gardens.

Through its findings, the school has also expanded knowledge of Romanian garden and landscape history, successfully testing various means to study the evolution of a parkland and of the landscape in which it was created.


Through its interdisciplinary approach, the school has brought together many students and young professionals from Romania and abroad, giving them the opportunity to work alongside professionals and research the history of an ancient estate and its surroundings, understand its evolution and decline, and debate how it can be conserved, restored and valued. It has also helped to increase interest in landscape and garden history, restoration and management. To this end, the educational programme in Florești has been presented at national and international conferences and exhibitions, and described as an example of good practise in European heritage conservation and protection programmes such as INNOCASTLE - INNOvating policy instruments for historic CASTLEs, manors and estates.

The "înFlorești" Summer School thus proved to be a leading example of research into garden history and the protection of landscape heritage in Romania and could serve as a source of inspiration for other programmes dedicated to the study of historic gardens and cultural landscapes and/or conservation and restoration programmes in Romania and beyond.

Photo selection:

2019_photo Alex Mexi 1: Historic alleys discovered during the garden archaeology workshops, 2019. Source: Alexandru Mexi
Alex Mexi Abstract

2019_photo Alex Mexi 2: In situ discussions related to landscape heritage preservation, special gues arch. Maria Auböck, 2019. Source: Alexandru Mexi
Alex Mexi Abstract

2020_Mihai Culescu: Aerial view with the estate and its surrounding landscape
Alex Mexi Abstract

2021_photo Stefan Stoica 1: Aerial view with a small part of the estate, its palaces and villas, 2021. Source: Ștefan Stoica
Alex Mexi Abstract

2021_photo Stefan Stoica 2: Grotto and water channels discovered during the garden archaeology workshops, 2021. Source: Ștefan Stoica
Alex Mexi Abstract

2022_Stefan Stoica: Aerial view with the participants of the 4th edition of the Summer School and with the restored wall (behind), 2021. Source: Ștefan Stoica
Alex Mexi Abstract

Doina Bamberger private family archive 1949: Nymphaeum (behind) and garden vases (vanished) in 1949. Source: Doina Bamberger private family archive
Alex Mexi Abstract

[1]  The programme is run by the Cantacuzino Florești Foundation and ARCHÉ Association in collaboration with the National Institute of Heritage, the Romanian Order of Architects (Prahova county branch), the Romanian Association of Landscape Architects (Bucharest-Ilfov branch), the Brukenthal National Museum, Graphein Topo company and the Zeppelin magazine. The Summer School was funded by the Romanian Order of Architects (2019, 2021 and 2022) and the Romanian National Cultural Fund (2019 and 2020).

[2] Since the first edition in 2019, students and professionals from Austria, the United Kingdom, Morocco and the Netherlands came to the înFlorești Summer School..

[3] The British Library in London, Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, Österreichisches Staatsarchiv in Vienna and Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Rome.

[4] A summary of the research of the estates’ history was published in Alexandru MEXI, Delia BĂLĂICAN, Carmen TĂNĂSOIU, Mihaela CRITICOS, Matei BOGOESCU, Domeniul Cantacuzino Florești. Despre trecut, prezent și viitor, Bucharest, SIMETRIA publishing house, 2018.

Tom Turner
Nejla Kilinc
Nejla KILINC abstract
Nejla KILINC abstract
Nejla KILINC abstract
Nejla KILINC abstract
Jill Sinclair

Daring to Jump: A rudimentary approach to making garden and landscape history more inclusive

Roo Angell

History in the present tense: resources for taking history forward in the design studio

The questions of how we engage students in landscape history, and what methods and resources we should use, need to be contextualised within clear purposes and aims. What impacts should be considered valuable in the schemes these students go on to design in practice, and what role does landscape history play in achieving these? I will be speaking from my experience fighting for the future of one historic landscape, and from working with students to develop projects within the design studio.

John Evelyn’s 17th century garden at Sayes Court is securely situated in the canon of landscape history. Amongst older residents in its neighbourhood of Deptford, its significance is part of local culture, identity, and legend. Yet, arguably due to the area’s latter fall from prosperity and power, the site of the garden was forgotten under concrete, and in 2012 under threat of permanent destruction beneath a large housing development. This development further threatened to exacerbate already severe inequality in the Inner London neighbourhood, and a community project was formed to find within Sayes Court’s history the threads which would support its communities into the future. However the design response of the developers’ landscape architects to date could be seen at best as reducing a complex history to a pastiche supported by a handful of images which could easily have been cribbed from a quick Google search, at worst, total destruction.

The questions of how such a site had become so devalued, and the failure of contemporary landscape architects to develop and grasp its compelling historical narratives, are central to how we reevaluate the role and methods of landscape history. In contrast, with Sayes Court now secure, telling its history will be an ever-growing process, embedding its future in the many communities who will take it forward.

The resources required to develop a living pedagogy of landscape history include both human and material. At the University of Greenwich we have been developing an approach which starts with the students themselves. Through exploring students’ own landscape histories and cultures, and challenging them to critically analyse the power relations attached to every landscape, we expect each student to define and support their own position. The aim is to equip students to recognise their personal entanglement within landscape history, and thus make informed decisions, taking responsibility for the agenda which they intrinsically bring to each site as a designer.

The second human resource is that of the communities within which design projects are situated. Many aspects of landscape history are chronically under-researched and many stories have been left untold: I argue that this deficit is best addressed by starting with these contemporary communities, their heritages, cultures and values. Like any resource however, communities are vulnerable to exploitation by capital. Given the short life-span and competing requirements of student design projects, I propose that universities work to establish long term, well planned, joined-up relationships with community organisations, with mutually agreed goals and outputs. From a teaching perspective, this will allow the contextual development of design projects to be more ambitious; from a learning perspective, it raises expectations of meaningful reciprocity with communities, which students can take forward into practice.

As has been stated, the material resources in terms of a codified landscape history are incomplete for every site. The urgency of rectifying these omissions presents an exciting opportunity for students to become directly engaged in original research, contributing to knowledge creation. Taking students beyond the completed versions of history they can access via their phones, active investigation can whet the curiosity and critical skills which drive independent, self-directed research. Individual research projects within an established university-community relationship might involve recording oral histories, gathering artefacts, or digitalising original source material from less well-thumbed archives. Through research data management training, students could be supported to create an accessible repository of this material as a tangible project output, under ownership of the communities involved in its production.

As we take this forward into design, the aim is to develop a proposal which takes place within the cultures and histories of the site’s communities - past, present and future. Through approaching landscape history from the perspective of contemporary communities, narrative offers a valuable tool in creating an understanding of site which is both sustainable and sustaining. An ecological approach to landscape history, with its multiplicity of contexts and scales, always in the process of becoming.

Our histories help build the bases from which we draw our identities, cultures and values. If we seek to educate future designers who will create places capable of supporting these — as living things — we must broaden our understanding of the resources we have, and how we nurture them.

Annegreth Dietze-Schirdewahn & Ramzi Hassan

Towards a new apporach for engagin students in studies on historical gardens

This presentation discusses an innovative approach to engaging with the history of landscape architecture and shows ways in which future generations of landscape architects can be introduced to working with historical studies. Our approach combines historical information with new digital media and visual technologies, which enable us to develop new methods by which to engage with the history of our own discipline landscape architecture.

Traditionally, courses about history of gardens have been organized as lecture series, where students get information through lectures accompanied by screen presentations, literature, websites and sometimes excursions or study tours. Students are usually asked to complete assignments connected to the courses in the form of a written essays, posters with drawings, imagery, text descriptions, and physical mockup model. However, the history courses must fight with several other new and highly relevant subjects related to e.g. ecology and sustainability. Excursions and study tours with classes of 50+ students are difficult to justify in a climate perspective, and hard to find funding for. One challenge related to this kind of teaching is the relatively low level of interactivity and student engagement: students basically sit and listen to lectures and then make an exam at the end of the course. There is a potential to increase two-ways communication in the classes by using quizzes and encouraging discussions, but usually only a small minority get engaged in the discussions. 

The recent development in digital applications including Virtual Reality (VR) technology has enabled a major leap forward for educators and researchers. During the autumn of 2020, Annegreth Dietze-Schirdewahn from the Theory and History Research Group in collaboration with Ramzi Hassan from the Virtual Reality Laboratory (VR-Lab) at the Norwegian University of Life Science (NMBU), started experimental project with students focused on the utilization of latest development digital applications including VR technology for creating a digital platform geared for studying historical gardens. The historical park of Barony Rosendal located about 130 km southeast from Bergen on the Westcoast of Norway is used as a case study.

Students concentrate on studying the different parts of the garden, investigating the historical layers, and providing restoration scenarios by using new digital media. Students understood that history is not a static situation, and it is in a constant change. Students were able to breathe life into history by adopting new ways to communicate the narrative of the garden e.g. from the gardener’s perspective for instance. All contributions to the digital platform tell the students perspective of how they see the chosen historical layers. Students are part of the story and the history.

The students learned the potentials of digital media to create a digital platform to communicate the history of gardens ( The digital platform can act as a medium for the preservation, documentation, interpretation, and intervention. It assists in research, education, and an increases awareness regarding the significant value for historically important landscapes. The results of our course show that latest advancement in digital media including VR applications is a transformative technology that can have a positive impact on learning history of sites through inspiring imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and perspective.

Lei Gao

From garden history to history of land-shaping. A case of teaching Chinese gardens in history of landscape architecture courses

The scope of landscape architecture has been greatly expanded in the last hundred years. However, many history courses in landscape architecture schools are constructed chronologically and centred on garden styles, which is rather unattractive to landscape architecture students who are busy familiarising themselves with new tools and dealing with new challenges including climate change.

This paper argues that the teaching of history in landscape architecture schools can be restructured to accommodate the contemporary understanding of the discipline. Apart from dissolving the history module into various other modules, as Carl Steinitz suggested in his recent article (Steinitz, 2020), one can also argue the necessity of keeping the history course as an independent module. However, its contents should be expanded and restructured. To extend the contents, at least two dimensions can be explored: by 'mining' sources from other disciplines, and by expanding the focus from ‘high-cultural’ examples to involving more ‘ordinary’ practices at different parts of the world. In terms of the structure, in addition to the commonly used chronological order, it can also be problem-oriented or question-centred, especially for Master level courses. I will use the case of teaching the history of Chinese gardens to exemplify this argument and to explain why this is needed and how it can be done.

For more than a decade I have been teaching the history of Chinese gardens (and sometimes the history of East Asian gardens) as part of the history of landscape architecture courses to undergraduate and Master’s students in landscape architecture schools in the UK and Norway. They are usually 2-hour lectures. Unlike other lectures in the same course, each of which tends to focus on a specific period or style, my lecture is expected to cover a bit of 'everything' about Chinese/East Asian gardens in one go. This is challenging, but also gives me great freedom to select materials and structure the storyline. As my understanding of the subject deepens, and as requested by course respondents and students, I have tried many ways of storytelling, while reminding myself to think about ‘why students should listen to this lecture’. I make changes to the structure and content almost every time. Last year I was involved in the course 'Landscapes in a globalised world: historical and theoretical perspectives' at NMBU's newly established master’s programme 'Landscape Design for Global Sustainability'. The course respondent structured the course into three modules: climate change, social equality and democracy, and urbanisation. I had one day to talk about 'history' in the module 'Climate Change'. I found this to be a particularly interesting experience, and here are the details.

I titled my lecture 'Ancient Wisdoms' and chose the material around the topic 'Flood'. Before the lecture, students were asked to watch one of two videos: Kongjian Yu, The Art of Survival; and Anuradha Mathur & Dilip da Cunha, Wetness. In both videos, the landscape architects drew inspirations from ancient Eastern wisdoms and developed their own theories that provide solutions to current challenges. The cases immediately captured students’ attention because they made good use of history and demonstrated it in a trendy way. On the day of teaching, first I gave a 2-hour lecture in the morning, providing an introduction with extended contexts to the videos (e.g. explaining fengshui theories and their importance in place making in ancient China and neighbouring countries); then in the afternoon session, students worked in small groups (2 students per group) to discuss what they have learned from the videos and what wisdoms they could find from their own cultural traditions. Three tasks were given, and the students could choose 2 of them and complete the tasks on the Miro board; over the next few days I read and commented on the students' work. Interactive conversations continued on the Miro board outside class hours. Students were also encouraged to read each other's work. From the results of the workshop and the midterm writing assignments, I could see that the students had a strong memory of the topic and that it had inspired them to be more enthusiastic about history and their cultural traditions.

This case opens a question: what to include as materials for history courses? My experience is: choose material from a wide range, but each time around one topic—especially one challenge that landscape architects are facing today—would be very engaging.

The roots of landscape planning and design (or say, the shaping of landscapes) in historical China have many branches. In addition to garden making, urban and rural planning, hydrology and astronomy, agriculture, horticulture, forestry and many more have all contributed to the shaping of landscapes in the physical world. Materials of history studies of these disciplines will greatly enrich our understanding of the ancient wisdom of shaping the earth/land/planet.

When looking at historical materials, the shaping and management of landscapes often takes tools from two boxes: the 'material' and the 'immaterial'. The latter may be equally, if not more, important in regulating the use of (re)sources and thus maintaining a sustainable way of living (for example, the belief in the relationship between the declining moral state of humans—especially rulers—and natural disasters, the protection/planting of forests for good fengshui). One may find that, in pre-modern China, and indeed in many parts of the world as well, landscapes were often shaped with a spiritual purpose based on a worldview that sees nature as a material-spiritual body. This aspect has mostly disappeared, or at least is not talked about in university classrooms in today's world. Might this be of interest when revisiting ancient wisdoms?

The experience with Chinese/East Asian ‘garden’ history (a new title should be considered here) can also be expanded to include a wider range of regions and cultures (e.g. the use of date palms to control sand in Arabia, the water management in Persia may both have special meanings today). When looking at wisdoms of the past with an open mind/eye, one can enrich and restructure history courses to match the changing concept ‘landscape architecture’, and to make history exciting and relevant to future landscape architects. This is difficult to do by garden historians alone. We need contributions from other fields, such as experts in the history of science, agriculture, forestry, philosophy, and even religious studies ...... We can, and should, also engage students (especially if they come from different cultural backgrounds) to co-create knowledge, which will encourage them to search for and reflect upon their ancestors’ wisdoms of survival and thrive. 

Laurent Châtel

Ways and Means of Re-Engaging with Historic Gardens : The Garden App as the Bridge with Past and Present

 "(…) if Antiquity, who may be styled the co-partner and sister of Nature, be not denied the respect to which she is entitled"
Guide to the Lakes, 1835, p.74

Historic gardens, however cherished, suffer from the passing of time, being fragile and evanescent. With time they can easily become invisible and escape the attention of latter day younger generations, with their identity fading away. Visitors, as well as curators in charge of them, not to say teachers, are keen to ascribe meaning, using words and images that fit with what they are seeing. One pitfall of learning would be to disregard the « antiquity » of the place, to paraphrase Wordsworth (quote above).  From a cognitive point of view, what is the best way of conveying the identity of an eighteenth-century historic garden?  Heritage transmission should rely for its strategies on a comprehensive rather than an excessively circumscribed and limited understanding of identity.  Being equally mutable and self-fashioned garden identities lend themselves awkwardly to guiding tours and teaching as the easy solution is to provide an ‘identikit’ as I like to call it (a ‘garden facial composite’, as it were), i.e a normative, one-sided narrative rather than a multi-faceted vision. As a garden visitor I find that with time gardens have suffered from being poorly designated or rather ‘pigeonholed’ into one word, one aspect or one type of experience. With time gardens lose part of their ‘identities’ but their individuality, idiosyncrasy as well as originality can be even more diluted over through unnecessarily reductive terminologies and visualisations. The fallacy of garden experience is to consider today that one can restore, visit or/and teach a garden on the basis of one specific interpretation, image or wording. When it comes to its character, genius, “essence”, or “identity”, most gardens are prey to facile branding and characterization, leaving visitors with a partial perception.

Perception, interpretation and identity attribution are very sensitive stages of cognitive appropriation which shape the experience and reception or, as John Dixon Hunt termed it, “the afterlife” of gardens. The reception process may in fact be perceived as an itemization syndrome consisting in singling out one word, one image or one interpretation to construct truth about the restoration or/and visit of gardens. Through a process of marketing, branding, and easy interpretative story-telling, the narrative and cognitive process are diluted, with time ironing out subtleties. For the narrative to be fuller, many stories must be told. Garden experiences have often been accompanied by ‘aids’ – at best visitors have been in the hands of the owner, a guide, a guidebook, a map, a leaflet, signposts.  Historiographically speaking, one may see a long line of garden, stewards, head-gardeners, estate managers, landowners themselves, guides, guidebooks, maps, models, and now apps.  It is within this tradition that I would like to discuss the potential of augmented aid provided by mixed reality apps and tablets. Visiting tools and reception habits contribute to an enlightened experience of the garden but a visitor would be deluded in thinking he/she is going away with an extended, full-bodied experience of the garden – a full experience should include multiple faces and actors, multiple sensory responses, multiple, and multi directional gaze, etc - precisely what one today calls an augmented visit with the use of mixed reality. New technologies can provide a supplement of information, perception and vision, and literally, augment “in situ reality”, with voice-over and subtitles multiplying and opening up the story-telling. New technologies which are often decried for their artificiality may actually help correct the itemization fallacy and recover a fuller “picture”, i.e an extensive, inclusive and comprehensive sense of identity.  A holistic view of garden reception can thus be achieved without jeopardizing the in situ visit and enjoyment of the garden.

Experimenting with an app

This paper emerges out of collaborative work with postdoctoral student Daniele Agostini on the benefits of a garden app for garden re-appropriation.[1] The app is a device that goes beyond traditional visualization methods with 3D models, tour into the picture (TIP) and mobile augmented reality (MAR), it is a GPS based walking tour, overlay with use of historical views (in the tradition of Knight in the Landscape and Repton). A drone was used. Augmented reality can be described as virtual reality but without being immersed into a completely synthetic world; it assists in making available the invisible heritage that has disappeared. The user could with a time slider browse through time and only ‘views’ from the selected period would appear which would do justice to the palimpsest of the garden, where so many interventions pile up on each other surreptitiously. Several narratives can be interpolated enticing the visitor and learner to an inclusive, interactive, open approach to historic artefacts.

From identikit to identity: the case of Hestercombe

The identity card of a garden is no easy task to define. Hestercombe in Somerset was saved from oblivion by a restoration campaign in the 1970s.  Copplestone Bampfylde was a very able and talented man who mastered topographical art, engraving, watercolour, and painting, and who exercised his taste and his landscape expertise on his estate, thus producing a landscape garden. How does one recover his overall input? Management plans and restorations or, as their present chief executive like to term them, “evocations” all constitute archeological reconstitutions of identity. With time the challenge is to match the initial construct (the owner’s dream, intention, design whatever you call it) with the present reconstruction (the end-product, the object visitor’s reception).   Today Hestercombe is visited under the banner of “Paradise Restored” : it frames, orients and shapes visitors’s expectations according to specific vantage points and storylines. How can one flesh out and refine over this appellation and provide a visitor with embodied keys and clues to approach Bampfylde’s ‘paradise’ as well as make one’s own experience of paradise?

This study oscillates between two extremes – the desire to pin down and get the gist of a garden and the danger of an excessive reduction or ‘garden identikit’.  To avoid garden identity being turned into ‘identikit’, ‘transmitters’, cultural mediators and teachers can think out in advance a learning protocol with a maximum of openings, interconnections and cross-references. Here is the set of guidelines for an ideal ‘garden app.’ which are spelt out in this present study.

  • Naming the garden – garden malapropism
  • Babeling the garden - word diversity
  • Dis-Owning the garden – layers of biographical and contextual identities
  • Re-Mapping the Garden – multiple map overlap
  • De-Focalizing the Garden – multiplying points of view and perception

[1] See Daniele Agostini’s Ph Dissertation :

Hannah Hopewell

Future History Aotearoa: Teaching Landscape History in a Settler-Colonial Context

Clare Penny

The Landscape Institute’s new Code of Practice

The Landscape Institute’s new Code of Practice (December, 2021) places Sustainability and Diversity at the heart of our obligations as landscape professionals (Rule 1 and Rule 2). The teaching of landscape history has changed little over the last few decades, but these new rules provide a basis from which we should start to examine the content of such teaching and pedagogical approaches to it.

This paper will question the value of teaching history in a traditional chronological, white euro-centric way, when the challenges facing the profession are so vast and fundamentally distinct from the challenges facing pre-C21 landscape professionals. What can a white, euro-centric, aristocratic version of landscape history really teach our students that is still of relevance to today’s profession?

The authors will argue that landscape history holds little value as implicit knowledge, unless it becomes a means for students to learn concepts and theories which enable them to tackle the immense challenges facing the profession.

A different pedagogical approach to landscape history teaching is what is needed to support the need for radical change in the landscape profession.

A recent Action Research project identified an issue with the way in which students on UEL’s post-graduate landscape courses related their theory modules to their design modules (Penny, 2022). Following submission of the Year 1 Term 1 design portfolios, we noticed that students had not made connections between what they had been learning in their theory modules with their design projects, which led to lower grades than we had expected for many students. Although principles of space; people; movement; green infrastructure; blue infrastructure; form and structure; and materials had been covered in lectures and discussed by students in their case study submissions for the Term 1 Theory module, these principles did not always appear to have been part of their thought process in their design submissions. We also noticed that in presentations of their draft work they did not make use of case studies or precedents to illustrate their design aims, or to inform their representation (choice of colours, linework, textures, digital media), which we would have expected given the material presented to them in the Term 1 Theory module. We also continued to see this trend into Term 2 when Year 1 students took History and Theory of Landscape Architecture as their theory module.

In reflecting upon this, we felt the reason was that students had compartmentalised their theory and design modules. We did not talk about theoretical concepts in the design studio in a formal way (lecture/seminar/discussion/presentation) or give examples/case studies to the whole group (only mentioning case studies in passing in relation to a student’s specific ideas) and so students did not naturally connect one with the other.

Another reason for the issues identified could be the pedagogical approach used in history and theory modules. Teaching landscape history and theory in a chronological, white euro-centric way does not help students make a connection between historical theories of landscape design/historical case studies and their design work, which is fundamentally concerned with contemporary issues, such as climate change, flooding and social justice.

So, how to address this issue in terms of a renewed pedagogy? Approaches might include:

  1. Rather than simply imparting knowledge (lecturing) on the history and theory of Landscape Architecture, all lectures should be followed by seminar-based sessions where a contemporary topic is explored in the context of the lecture content. For example: inviting students to examine what we can learn about designing for flooding from historical case studies (e.g. the use of flood meadows on large European estates) and compare this with approaches from other countries with similar or different societal structures (e.g. the use of terracing in land management in the Philippines);
  2. Whilst examining historical case studies, one might also ask students to research the societal conditions within which aristocratic landscapes of western Europe came about (wealth, slavery and exploitation of the working classes) and compare that with comparable situations today (such as the use of cheap labour from India in the construction of landscapes in the Middle East). Until recently this research would not have been an easy task, but current research by institutions like the National Trust into the origins of the landscapes they manage makes this a relatively simple task for students to work on within the classroom or away from it.
  3. Embed ethics at the core of every history and theory session. This is commonplace when teaching professional practice on post-graduate courses but is lacking from current history and theory teaching. Encouraging discussions around the cultural and societal context within which Landscape Architects have worked in the past, compared to today, will instil in students an understanding of their responsibilities to society as a whole, and to the Landscape Institute’s Code of Practice, which will govern their future career.
  4. For students to make better connections between their theory and design modules, reinforcing of core theories and case studies in design studio is essential. This can be either through short lectures/discussions in relation to the design project, or through the setting of reading for a seminar-style discussion each week. In the Action Research project mentioned above, some of these approaches were trialled and the outcome in assessments was a noticeable improvement in how students applied history and theory to their design projects.
  5. The pedagogy of vulnerability must become central in all teaching on Landscape Architecture courses. We must not, as educators, assume we know more than anyone else in the room. We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable to empower students from a diverse range of backgrounds to feel that their voice matters as much as anyone else’s. This is not about creating ‘safe spaces’ for debate, but ‘brave spaces’ (Arao & Clemens, 2013) where empowerment of opinion is central.

A new Action Research Project based upon a trial of the above approaches is required to see if these changes make a fundamental difference to how students make connections between their theory and design modules, and whether their design work improves as a result. The aspiration, however, is that these changes will enable students to better consider and feel confident in debating the ethical dimensions of their future careers, which is enshrined in the Code of Practice, and as a result will enhance the quality of future landscape practitioners.


Arao, B. & Clemens, K. (2013). From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialogue Around Diversity and Social Justice. Available at: [Accessed: 10.08.2022].

Penny, C. (2022). Action Research Project in L&T in HE. Unpublished.

Ziqiang Wang

Talking about the opportunities and challenges of historical landscape teaching in the higher education curriculum system of Chinese landscape architecture

In the past 30 years, China's landscape architecture industry has developed rapidly, and the number of universities offering landscape architecture courses is increasing yearly. This major has changed from an "unpopular" major to today's "popular" academic major in China.1 More and more people have begun to devote themselves to the landscape industry. However, it is undeniable that some landscape universities seem to pay more attention to the trend of commercial popularity and give up tracing back to history, which leads to the blind pursuit of advanced design concepts and a gradual reduction of interest and attention to the historical landscape. Landscape architecture education without exploring history is incomplete and should not be accepted. We believe that the lack of a complete historical landscape curriculum system is the critical problem faced by some landscape schools in China. How to guide students to form the logic of historical landscape, use the perspective of historical development to study the environment in which we live, and provide ideas for sustainable development today are the opportunities and challenges faced by landscape education in landscape schools.

China has a long historical heritage as an ancient country with a long history and civilisation. The ancestors living here have changed the land since the Neolithic period. 2 We all have a rich historical landscape heritage from material and intangible perspectives. It should be exciting but look at today's landscape design work. The 'landscape boom' look reflects some landscape designers who pay more attention to the pursuit of 'artistic beauty 'and the compromise of thriving cities '. They do not have the time to consider the region's historical landscape, resulting in the uniformity of the landscape design and loss of the original landscape appearance that the different areas should have. What causes this phenomenon? Perhaps some landscape designers do not fundamentally understand the region's historical landscape and do not realise that history is one of the foundations of landscape architecture. The author believes that any new design scheme and concept should not be avoided to review the history.

Before becoming landscape designers, many landscape students could not study regional historical landscapes. Due to the lack of understanding of the regional historical landscape, some works cannot truly integrate into our living environment and achieve the goal of sustainable development. The author believes that if we want to solve this general problem fundamentally, we still need to strengthen the education of regional historical landscape in the undergraduate professional curriculum education of landscape schools and cultivate those students who will engage in the landscape design industry and landscape research field thinking mode and methods for regional landscape.

History and culture are important and valuable to the region and country. China has a history of thousands of years of civilisation development. Our ancestors have left us with many historical landscape heritages, including the representative Chinese classical gardens at the micro-level and the earth landscape at the macro-level. Unfortunately, when people refer to the historical Landscape of China, they usually mention the classical Suzhou gardens and the northern royal gardens but often ignore the surrounding environment, which is also of historical significance. So, do we understand the landscape around us?

There is no doubt that the famous Chinese classical gardens belong to the historical landscape category, but they cannot fully represent the Chinese landscape. According to archaeological research, there were traces of human activity in this ancient land of China in the Neolithic Age as early as 10,000 years ago. They lived on the land, built their homes, invented the agricultural culture, and changed their surroundings. These archaeological excavations extend the scope of our regional historical landscape in a temporal dimension. As Hoskins said, the landscape is one of man's oldest and richest historical materials. 3

Unfortunately, at present, when some landscape colleges set up courses in the undergraduate historical landscape, they will more often choose to tell students about the representative historical gardens in China from a micro perspective while ignoring the narration of the evolution of the earth landscape and the change of living environment at the macro level. As a result, students lack the overall control of regional characteristics, which will make the lack of regional design scheme, and may appear incompatible with the surrounding environment.

This paper believes that students need to understand the origin and development of historical landscapes and how our ancestors handled the harmonious relationship between people and the earth in the order of historical years from the macro, intermediate perspective, and micro spatial scales. Understand the spatial pattern of the regional historical landscape from a macro perspective; Understand the field patterns included in the regional historical landscape from an intermediate perspective; Understand the characteristics of different historical landscape sites and their surrounding landscapes from a microscopic perspective. The purpose is to enable students to master the methods of analysing regional historical landscapes.

In the teaching process of historical landscape, landscape schools must teach students basic Archaeology and geography methods, help students make better use of archaeological reports and geographic information data, and improve students' data integration and analysis ability. In addition, the rational use of satellite maps can enable students to understand the appearance of regional landscapes more intuitively. Therefore, it is essential to train students' ability to read satellite maps correctly. In addition, field investigation courses are also necessary. A trip can enable students to better participate in research and interact with the site landscape.

In addition, this paper believes that the setting of the historical landscape course can be divided into two parts (Fig 1). One part is the historical landscape theory course. The objective of this part of the course is to give students a preliminary understanding and cognition of the changes in our living environment in history; The other part is the practice course on the historical landscape. The objective of this course is to enable students to preliminarily understand and master the methods of studying the regional historical landscape and cultivate students' ability to process and analyse data.

1. Xianjun Li, The current situation, problems and countermeasures of the development and talent training of modern garden education in China, 2006 Thesis Collection of Chinese Landscape Architecture Education Conference, (2006), 65-68 (p. 65).
2. Baocheng Yang, ‘Archaeological discovery and research in Hubei’, (Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2000), p. 9
3. W.G.Hoskins, The making of the English landscape, (Dorset: Little Toller Books, 2014)

Peter H. Goodchild                         


1.1 Landscapes can be described as being one kind of ‘environment’, one in which land and other natural components play a prominent, or a dominant part, or are the only ones. As with environments, landscapes may be of any size from local to global. One way of dividing them into general types is to think of them under the following headings:

 -  Uncultivated landscapes (natural and semi-natural landscapes)

 -  Cultivated rural landscapes.

 -  Urbanised and industrialised landscapes.

 -  Gardens, parks, amenity landscapes and settings.

Any one landscape or environment may contain one or more of these.

1.2 The term ‘the environment’ is often used to imply a global, continental, or national context but the word ‘environment’ applies just as much to the surroundings or setting of smaller areas, including local ones which might, for example, be a single small property. It might even be as small as a single point. Also, whereas the word ‘landscape’ is rather ambivalent about the inclusion of physical components of human origin, such as buildings and infrastructure, the word ‘environment’ accepts them without question.

1.3 Landscapes can also be thought of as one kind of ‘place’ where ‘a place’ is a particular location which has a particular character or spirit. The word is often used in relation to a particular point, property, or settlement but it can also be used to cover much larger areas.


2.1 ‘Consult the genius of the place’ is one of the long-established axioms of designing and managing landscapes. Other words for ‘genius’ are ‘character’ and ‘spirit’. All of these are conveyed through the mental attributes as well as the physical ones of the landscape, environment, or place in question.   Mental attributes (or the intangible dimension) covers the emotional, the rational, and the imaginative responses of humans to places. In contrast, physical attributes are those that have physical substance and are often referred to as being ‘tangible i.e. they can be touched.

2.2 The play between the mental and physical attributes of an environment, place, or landscape is central to the way in which they are perceived by people. It is very important to recognise that both of these general kinds of attribute are active ingredients of human perception.

2.3 The ‘character’ of a place may be defined as being the combined and general effect that the individual ingredients and characteristics of a place have in the mind and on the perceptions of the person who is looking at it or experiencing it in other ways.

2.4 A very important part of appreciating the character a place is to critically observe and analyse it and then to assess its character and significance in relation to various criteria.

2.5 When doing this it is necessary to take an integrated and comprehensive approach to appreciating, understanding and thinking about the place. The ‘Integrated Approach’ to thinking is based on the idea that the individual ingredients, parts or aspects of an entity are, or may, be interconnected and reliant on each other. The ‘Comprehensive Approach’ (or Holistic Approach) is the culmination of integrated thinking. It represents an aspiration to achieve the ideal of being able to appreciate an entity as a whole as well as in terms of:

- the relationships that exist between an entity as a whole, its different parts, its individual individual and aspects which make up the whole.

- the relationships of the whole, its parts, ingredients and aspects to the wider environment or context within which the entity exists. The 4 former factors may be affected by the latter, or they may affect it.

2.6 The integrated and comprehensive approach to thinking and decision-making is very close to ‘ecological thinking’. The latter focusses on the relationships between different living entities and the environments or habitats in which they exist. In addition to this, the former also includes humans and the environments and habitats in which they live; a subject which can be referred to as ‘human ecology’. ‘Ecology’ is often interpreted as being principally about non-human life with human activity  often being seen in a negative light. The ‘integrated and comprehensive approach’ combines ‘human ecology’ and ‘natural ecology’.

2.7 As part of the analysis and the assessment of a site and its setting, it is useful and often necessary to divide them up into recognisable and named ‘component areas’ or ‘character areas’. They provide a convenient way of structuring a site and its setting in their present form and this makes it much easier to understand and think about them and discuss them with other people. The idea of a landscape being a ‘seamless robe’, although it is one way of perceiving a landscape, doesn’t recognise that landscapes are often made up of different types of area or territory, each type making its own patchwork of areas. One type will represent ownerships and tenancies, another may be local authority boundaries, another may be land uses, and another may be natural habitats, and so on. When these different patchworks are overlaid on each other, they often make a quite complex composite pattern.  The technique of creating component or character areas is a way of resolving this complexity for practical purposes.

2.8 Component or character areas are parts of a whole. As such, it might be necessary to focus on them in isolation for a particular purpose but, at the same time, in general, and as part of a whole, their relationships with their neighbouring and intervisible component areas must be understood and taken into account. 


3.1  One important aspect of the integrated and comprehensive approach is to understand and appreciate (as far as one can in the prevailing circumstances):

 - the process by which the place, during the course of time, has arrived at being what it now is,


 - what are the current physical and mental attributes of it that derive from the past.

The past might be the long distant geological past, the prehistorical or historical human past, or the more recent and immediate past.

3.2 Time is a continuum and an essential agent in the making of landscapes, environments, and places, just as it is in the making of a person. The history of a landscape, environment, or place is the equivalent of the life history of a person, except that it extends over a much longer period of time. The past is the origin of the present. The past and the present are the origins of the future.

3.3 History (including prehistory and the geological past) is the discipline through which the past of a landscape, environment, or place, and the effects that time have had upon it, can be studied, appreciated, and understood. This is the case whether the context is local, county, national-regional, national, continental, or global. 

3.4 Environmental history covers many different aspects of life and requires an integrated and comprehensive approach to thinking as well as more narrowly focussed thinking on particular topics. The two support each other.


4.1 Acknowledging, appreciating and understanding the history of any environment (including landscapes) and how it affects the character of a particular place can open up significant aspects of it for an owner, occupier, manager, designer, or advisor. It can provide fresh ideas to explore and make a significant contribution to achieving environmental quality and the quality of life of both humans and non-human life.

4.2 Given the scope and complexity of the subject of environmental history and the relationships between humans, nature, environments and habitats (including landscapes), a key question is how to present the subject of Environmental History to students of Landscape Architecture at Landscape Schools? What are the most effective ways of introducing them to the subject, of demonstrating its value and use, and helping them to go on developing and nourishing their interest in the future.

4.3 A comprehensive explanation or ‘definition’ of the concept of landscape, is one of the key things that is needed, one that sets out the general nature and scope of the concept and subject of landscapes. It needs to bear in mind that landscapes, as other kinds of environment, are usually a mix of:

- existing natural features.

- existing human-made features.

- associated human ideas and emotions whether based on reason, experience, knowledge or the imagination.  

The relative proportions of one to the other will vary depending on the place in question.

4.4 One starting point for thinking about the question of a definition is the one given in the Council of Europe’s ‘European Landscape Convention’ (ELC) which was published in 2000. It states that: “Landscape” means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors.

4.5 The ELC definition has the virtue of being short and succinct but for the purposes of education and general understanding it needs to be expanded because the concept of ‘landscape’ is a rather complex one and has several differing applications. In the ELC definition, the indicator of this is the phrase ‘as perceived by people’. I have further thoughts on this matter for discussion. It is in the form of a ‘suggested primary definition’ of landscapes.

4.6 In relation to the historical interest of places there are also some other important aspects of landscapes that need to be conveyed to students are:

- the integrated and comprehensive approach to thinking and decision-making (see above). This includes the relationships between a place and its setting.

- the close ‘reading’ or observation of place, recording information about them and analysing it. This includes the ability to identify the different ingredients and knowledge of their properties and practical performance.

- constructing the history of a place and chronologies, and the use of appropriate time scales and historical periods.

- the principles of aesthetic judgement in relation to places of historical interest, including:

  composition, character, style, environmental imagery (in various forms), ways of developing and refining one’s aesthetic judgement.

- the determining of boundaries of a site and its setting and between their component areas (see above).

- identifying and assessing the prevailing circumstances of a place.

- the assessment of the character of a place (see above).

- the assessment of the relative significance of a place.

- the assessment of the forms of action that might be taken and the most appropriate options in the prevailing circumstances.

- the relationship between design and the management of a place and the importance of management and upkeep in relation achieving and sustaining proper levels of quality.

- the concepts of ‘natural heritage’ and ‘cultural/human heritage’ and how they relate to each other.

- the principles of heritage conservation/preservation and its relationships with management and design.


5.1 Schools of Landscape Architecture are primarily concerned with providing a formal course of training and education of people who are interested in developing a career in the subject or related ones.  Generally speaking, the audience, and the need, for developing awareness and understanding in connection with the appreciation and care of landscapes, and other kinds of environment, is very much wider than this. This raises the question of how this wider audience should be approached and whether the Schools of Landscape have a part to play in doing so. 

5.2 From the point of view of the landscape profession, this wider audience is the ‘general public’ but it must be remembered that the general public is not an anonymous and amorphous mass. It can be structured and there is a wide range of short educational inputs that may be used to reach them. I refer to this kind of education as ‘supplementary education’ because it can supplement, at any point in a person’s life, what they learn from their formal education or their experience of life and work. I have further thoughts about supplementary education. 

Johan N. Prinsloo

Must Venus be cancelled?
Some enduring lessons from the Classical tradition


Where the study of gardens like the Villa d’Este, Versailles and Stourhead used to form a staple part of history of landscape architecture curricula, they have been placed under suspicion by the project of decolonisation due to their adjacency to white, patriarchal societies that enabled the creation of such places from the spoils of exploitation. Furthermore, for a discipline that seeks to find solutions for the pressing concerns of climate change and social justice, they appear as antiquated attempts to objectify nature for the gazing eyes of an elite few.

Yet,  I argue that the teaching of the Mediterranean garden-making traditions remains a relevant educational endeavour in pursuit of a critical and syncretic, rather than a cynical and divisive, design culture – even in an African context, where I teach.

The Mediterranean world – the nexus between Africa, Asia and Europe – has been fertile ground for the cultivation of gardens, from which sprung the examples mentioned earlier. These were not merely products of their time and patrons: taking the long view back to the Bronze Age, the region’s history defies the use of contemporary categories such as ‘colonial’, ‘indigenous’ and ‘white’. Plants, technologies and ideas travelled between places and people, unpatented by vying ideologies. The Greco-Roman gods also travelled, and found themselves intertwined in the iconography and morphology of outside places. Their bodies and their haunts – grottoes, mounts, springs, groves – provided a continuity of presence that cannot be confined to political or stylistic boundaries that we employ to cast moral and artistic judgements. By teaching a longue durée history of the role of Classical myths in the design of gardens, which I call topomythopoiesis, students can encounter a tradition that serves as an antidote to some residue of modernity.

Syncretic, not monocultural

When working in a multi-cultural society, the student who seeks to create a place imbued with meaning is confronted with the problem of a lack of a shared semiotic system. To avoid the problem, the student often attempts to cater for the lowest common denominator: the secular consumer searching subjectively for their meaning; an isolated state of being characteristic of modernity.  Where symbolism isn’t shunned, novel obscurity, pastiche, or even naive cultural appropriation prevails. Classical topomythopoiesis shows another way, that of cultural and chronological syncretism: throughout its history, topomythopoiesis synthesised different myths to form a dense metaphorical network – a virtual landscape – that connects stories and gardens across time and space. This was not inevitable. The early Medieval reception of Classical iconography provides a thought-provoking mirror of iconoclasm in our own time: some early Christians pulled down the statues of gods, for they believed them to be demon-possessed. Yet, the period also witnessed alternative responses: euhemeristic, allegorical and aesthetic interpretations of the gods saved their presence in gardens, albeit mostly as invisible, literary references. Later, the thirteenth century Roman de la Rose mediated pagan and Christian symbols to envision a garden that is both a setting for the lust of Venus and the chastity of Mary; its garden descriptions drew both from the Classical locus amoenus and the Christian Song of Songs – a dramatic synthesis of opposing worldviews.

Mimetic, not egocentric

The design studio is a wonderful setting filled with the collective spirit of creative pursuit; sometimes it is a stressful setting filled with the collective hysteria in pursuit of originality. Liberated from the shackles of tradition by problematising the past, students are shackled by the expectations imposed by liquid modernity’s thirst for novelty. Students go on studio binges in search of the never-before-seen, and to forge new futures. From the tumult rises inspiring works, but also mediocrity and mental burnout. By studying the history of Classical topomythopoiesis, the student encounters a way of working in which the ego of the designer is brought into a humble dialogue with a dead community of story-tellers, illustrators, emblematists, philosophers, sculptors and gardeners. The burden of autopoiesis – the self-generation of forms – is replaced by an inherited language of landscape with its lexicon of spatial and statue types, and landscape myths. The visual language of Classical topomythopoiesis is both consistent and varied across its history, for in it we witness a dance between imitation and innovation, from the hyper-mimesis of mass-produced sculptures of Venus to her fantastical and original garden-island, Cythera, in the  Hypnerotomachia poliphili.

Dramatological, not ocularcentric

In response to renderings, I sometimes tell students: “There is more to life than picnics, jogging and bird-watching” to express my suspicion that we work with a narrow band of human experience. The drama of human existence that ranges between the comic and the tragic is reduced to a generic, pastel-pixelated ‘happiness’. Within the history of Classical topomythopoiesis, the student will find that such pleasantry is only one of many human responses prompted by gardens: the monstrous, marvellous creatures of Bomarzo were experienced as wonderful curiosities. Taegio’s accounts of Renaissance gardens provide an insight into Neoplatonic reverie: an experience of the universe in which meaning cascades from the higher realms of reality into the sensory world. Upon seeing the reflection of Venus in a pool, he was not overwhelmed by erotic desire, but by an overwhelming vision of an invisible world; an experience of beauty beyond being. Others felt moral disgust upon seeing her naked body in the Vatican. The experience of eighteenth century visitors to Wörlitz were cultivated by Rode’s guidebook, which led them towards the goddess through a series of narrated moments that elicited an eclectic set of experiences from sehnsucht to mystic rapture, from charming views to art historical analysis. 


To study the history of Classical topomythopoiesis does not imply its approval, nor its rejection as a living tradition. It may inspire some, as I have witnessed with students celebrating their African heritage, to seek the potential of their own mythologies. From these experiences, I have also learnt to avoid patronising assumptions about the African reception of Classical gardens that are, sometimes, appreciated simply for their beauty. Others may find within the tradition itself myths and topoi to draw into the present, thus awakening from disenchantment. If nothing else, students will encounter stories about the strife of love, and the beauty of nature surrounding the joy and fragility of being human.

Ioannis Tsalikidis & Olga Bakirtzi

Teaching Landscape Architectural History in Greece: Challenges and Opportunities

The past for the contemporary inhabitants of historic Greek cities is not a theoretical concept but a daily reality. Especially in a city like Thessaloniki the past is ever present with its cultural landscape being a multidimensional mosaic of historic relics scattered in the modern urban fabric.

Aiming to offer an educational response to these realities, the Landscape Architecture postgraduate program of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was founded in 2003 as the first accredited Landscape Architecture program in Greece. Landscape Architectural History is taught in the first of this 4- semester program. Upon the very first offering of the course and due to the lack of related Greek publications, we turned to the broad range of publications in English. The material gathered in this effort contributed to our 2014 book Landscapes and Gardens of the people. A review of Landscape Architecture from Antiquity to the 21st century. The book remains the only extended Landscape History monograph in Greek.

In our paper we aim to consider what has been achieved in the program thus far and to reflect on the challenges we faced and the opportunities we seized as we taught landscape architectural history. A major challenge was our Aristotle University students’ lack of familiarity about the historic contexts in which, determinant for Landscape Architecture, styles and trends occurred. Moreover, existing landscape architecture history bibliographies had limited references to eras that shaped Greek cultural landscapes. For example, the influence of Byzantium is rarely mentioned in Landscape History publications. Thessaloniki is an urban center with a long history and numerous palaeochristian and byzantine monuments, fifteen of them designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. In order to fill these historic “gaps” we turned to archaeological and historical publications. We highlighted rare descriptions of gardens from written sources and outlined the connection of familiar monumental relics with landscape architecture and planning. At the same time, we pointed to interactions between Greek, European and international history providing instructive comparisons of parallel events and phenomena.

For example, students show great interest when they learn, while reading for the Moorish gardens of Spain, about the journey Monk Nicholas made from Constantinople to Cordoba in 951 AD. He was sent by the Byzantine Emperor to translate Dioscoride’s De Materia Medica from Greek to Arabic.

Furthermore, it was particularly instructive to consider the English Landscape School’s focus on ruinous overgrown archaeological relics as a defining picture of the ideal landscape. Students were motivated to offer different glances and aesthetic approaches towards the many scattered archaeological sites of their homeland, which are sometimes overlooked and often altered in order to be “tamed” in an effort to conform to the established experience of feeling-less Museum rooms.

As landscape architectural history developments outside Greece were influenced by regional and local civilizations, we had to properly contextualize the geographies, social circumstances, human mentality, economic and political conditions of each case. Exploring these topics has been an intriguing challenge for the program’s students. For example, Japanese and South American garden design have proved popular topics for student papers required at the end of the semester. Becoming acquainted with different cultural contexts framing perceptions as well as practices on gardens, parks, planting and landscape design has been a highly rewarding educational experience considering that Greece is a country lacking a tradition in landscape and garden design.

Another topic we were keen to emphasize was the past and present professional activity of landscape planners, gardeners or architects, as in Greece Landscape Architecture is still not acknowledged as an autonomous profession. We also pointed to landscape architects’ interaction with other professions and the variety of their pursuits: royal residences, private gardens, public parks, wild national parks, art museum exhibitions, industrial premises, theme parks and fairs, hotels, new settlements, housing. Our students have been urged to expand their horizons and to comprehend the opportunities and true dimension of our profession in an international context.

We continue to insist in the critical study of landscape architectural history which enlightens the past and adds a new dimension to the human landscape timeline. This approach points out the influence of political events, social links, environmental understanding, aesthetic paragons, economic realities. Our goal is to help our students realise that nothing in the landscape happens outside its historical and cultural framework and that every relevant action has consequences, sooner or later. We aim that our students gain a wide understanding of the circumstances under which cultural landscapes were created. This way, they will learn that only multifaceted, carefully designed interventions can contribute to the positive evolution of contemporary landscapes towards an environmentally sustainable and people-friendly future.

Ulrike Krippner

Learning from next-door sites. An Innovative Approach for a Master Course on the Management and Conservation of Historic Parks and Gardens

Ulrike Krippner

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences BOKU Vienna Department of Landscape, Spatial and Infrastructure Sciences Institute of Landscape Architecture

We know that history courses should be offered as early as possible in order to provide students with an understanding of the professional fundaments. However, at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences BOKU Vienna, courses in the history of landscape architecture only start in the master’s programme. And they are optional. So: what methods and tools can we devise to engage students in a subject, which is often considered awkward? And how can we raise awareness about historical continuity and encourage them to reflect their own position and account in the long row of the profession?

At BOKU Vienna, the basic history course (one semester, 2 ECTS) faces the challenge of communicating a broad load of fundamental knowledge from ancient to modern times in a short time. Thus, we mainly follow research-led strategies. However, didactics focus on involving the students: we teach in loops in order to enhance the knowledge and explore the transfer of ideas and styles; we use spot-the-difference puzzles and ask the students to draw mind maps. For the course on management and conservation of historic gardens and parks (2 ECTS), we have developed a student-focused strategy, using research-based and research-orientated methods (Roberts 2007: 16), which support active engagement. Thereby we do not follow the traditional path for case studies and look at baroque or English landscape gardens, but address the post-World War II period, whose landscape projects are in great danger of slow decay, destruction, or redesign (Bredenbek 2013: 9– 10). Students study the main principles and styles of this period by setting up a glossary, by sketching from historic books and by testing a field manual on landscape architecture of the 1950s and 1960s (Butenschön et al. 2016). They are then asked to identify and assess projects of the period near their family homes. Their investigation includes research at the Archive of Austrian Landscape Architecture LArchiv, local archives, interviews with landowners and municipalities, and often involves discussion with grandparents and elderlies. The outcome of this learning-by-doing strategy is manifolded: the students learn to assess (historic) sites and to give a detailed account; they are encouraged to perceive and classify open spaces and their elements from a new perspective; they experience a period, which was formative for landscape architecture profession; and they gain skills and knowledge relating to archival work, which has increasing relevance in landscape practice and research (Powers and Walker 2009: 105). In turn, the students’ findings are included in the inventory of landscape projects in Austria (Krippner et al. 2019), and thus help to advance and develop knowledge.

Enthusiasm and feedback of students prove that the courses can arouse curiosity and appetite for enhancing experience, skills, and knowledge in the history of their profession. Based on an understanding of teaching as collaborative process between students and tutors, the setting allows to add and explore prevailing challenges. However, the yet optional courses should be transferred into compulsory ones for the undergraduates to allow students to contextualise their work from the start.


Bredenbeck, M. (2013) (ed.), Grün modern–Gärten und Parks der 1950er bis 1970er Jahre: Ein Kulturerbe als Herausforderung für Denkmalpflege und Vermittlungsarbeit (Bonn: Bund Heimat und Umwelt in Deutschland BHU).

Butenschön, S., et al. (2016), Öffentliche Grünanlagen der 1950er- und 1960er-Jahre: Qualitäten neu entdecken; Leitfaden zum Erkennen typischer Merkmale des Stadtgrüns der Nachkriegsmoderne (Berlin: Universitätsverlag TU Berlin).

Krippner, U., Licka, L. and Wück, R. (2019), ‘Learning from History—Integrating an Archive in Landscape Teaching‘, in Jørgensen, K. et al. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook for Teaching Landscape (London: Routledge), 214—225.

Powers, M. N. and Walker, J. B. (2009), ‘Twenty-Five Years of Landscape Journal: An Analysis of Authorship and Article Content’, Landscape Journal 28/1: 96–110.

Roberts, A. (2007), ‘The Link between Research and Teaching in Architecture’, Journal for Education in the Built Environment, 2/2: 3–20.


Dr. Ulrike Krippner is a senior researcher at the Institute of Landscape Architecture at BOKU Vienna. She holds a PhD in landscape architecture and teaches landscape history. Her research and writings concentrate on the profession’s history of the 20th century, with a special focus on women in landscape architecture and on post–World War II landscape architecture. She operates the LArchiv, Archive of Austrian Landscape Architecture, which she established, together with Lilli Lička.

Hae-Joon Jung

Education regarding the Landscape History as viewed from the Issue of Removing the Landscape History Subject from the National Technical Qualification for Landscape Architecture Engineers

Hae-Joon Jung
Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Engineering, Keimyung University

Landscape History is one of the 6 subjects(Landscape Planning, Landscape Design, Landscape Planting, Landscape Structure Construction, Landscape Management, and Landscape History) in the qualification test for acquiring National Technical Qualification(NTQ) for Landscape Architecture Engineers(LAE). The qualification test for LAE first began in 1974 after the Korean government enacted the National Technical Qualifications Act in 1973 in order to reasonably manage and efficiently operate various qualifications systems. In general, application eligibility for the qualification test for LAE is given to prospective graduates(4 years) and graduates of a department related to landscape architecture at a 4-year university, with 18,861 people having acquired the LAE as of 2020. The first landscape architecture department in Korean universities was founded in 1973, and since then, the LAE qualification has served as the growth engine and standard behind the education of Korean landscape architecture. Thus, landscape history—a qualification subject for landscape architecture engineers—has been established as a required subject in the education of landscape architecture.

However, experts have constantly raised the issue that the NTQ, including that of LAE, are failing to incorporate competencies required by the industry field. Thus, in 2018, the Ministry of Employment and Labor, a Korean government agency that administers the NTQ, established the ‘4th Basic Plan for the Development of the National Qualification Framework(2018-2022)’, which drastically revised the content and system of the NTQ toward a direction focusing on ‘practices’ in the field. The key purpose of the basic plan was to reevaluate existing test subjects and push forth a restructuring that would divide or integrate qualifications based on National Competency Standards(NCS). Established by the Korean government in 2015, the NCS standardizes the competencies(knowledge, technique, and attitude) required for performing jobs in the industrial field. Because the LAE qualification generally had a lower rate of acceptance due to its high degree of difficulty and high number of subjects in contrast to other qualification tests for NTQ, it was impeding the training of landscape architecture experts in the landscape architecture industry. In particular, the landscape history subject was pointed out as a major cause behind the low acceptance rate. Landscape architects raised the following issues with regard to the content of exam questions for the subject: ➀ Unestablished styles and formats for definitions, ➁ Unverified historical facts, ➂ Uncertain period distinctions, ➃ Lack of specificity for terms used, ➄ Ambivalent scope for the content of events.

On March 5, 2019, the Human Resources Development Service of Korea(HRDS), which oversees the LAE qualification, submitted legislation that reduces the number of subjects for the qualification from 6 to 5, through the Partial Revision Order and Plan for the Enforcement Regulations of the National Technical Qualifications Act, which included a plan to abolish the landscape history. The HRDS put forth the ostensible reason for abolishing the landscape history by saying the subject wasn’t developed as a subject in the landscape architecture field for the NCS. However, a huge controversy arose when it was confirmed that the Korean Institute of Landscape Architecture, which represents academia, as well as the Korean Society of Landscape Architects, which represents industry, were not consulted, with the decision-making process for the revisions undertaken by just a few members of an expert committee from landscape architecture industry circles.

Nevertheless, academic and industry circles for landscape architecture were divided between those who supported and those who opposed abolishing the landscape history subject. Those who supported its abolition argued that ➀ it should be either abolished or integrated with another subject in order to increase acceptance rates because the current 6 subjects were a huge burden for test-takers, that ➁ it didn’t have much to do with practical skills and, just like other NTQ, a transition should be made to an NCS system based on practical skills, and that ➂ more than anything, the landscape history wasn’t suitable as a qualification subject because history involves the error of looking at the same style differently depending on interpretation. Those who opposed its abolition argued that ➀ there were concerns of lowering the quality of landscape architects due to NCS-based revisions to qualification subjects led by the government, that ➁ the landscape history has served as the foundation of expertise for landscape architects who must be equipped with creativity, design identity, and problem-solving skills, and that ➂ abolishing the subject would lead to abolishing it from its education in the universities, which in turn would offset the characteristics and strengths of landscape architecture in contrast to other fields, thereby ultimately severing its study.

Amidst these arguments for and against its abolition, 6 organizations, representing academic and industry circles, released a statement on 2 April, 2019, in summary of its position, saying, “We absolutely oppose the enforcement regulation revisions to the National Technical Qualifications Act concerning the abolition of the landscape history subject, which will lower the quality of Korean landscape architecture education and the landscape architecture field!” Ultimately, the controversy ended when the Ministry of Employment and Labor revealed, on April 29 of the same year, that the abolition of the subject would be postponed. However, this was just a temporary measure. The government-led education system for specialized skills is being further strengthened, and at a time when the very existence of universities is facing a crisis due to the decrease in the school-aged population, it is difficult to disregard such a problem with regard to landscape architecture education in the universities. Therefore, education regarding the landscape history is at a crossroads where a breakthrough must be uncovered.

Anushka Athique

History - Theory Thinking - Applied Practice

Alan Powers

Landscape is all

Landscape is too important a theme in learning to be solely the concern of landscape students. The more we become belatedly aware of the climate emergency, the more landscape represents the intersection of all the things that will make the greatest contribution to human survival and well-being in changing and difficult times. Everybody needs to know about them.

In terms of how to approach this historically, the paradigm of art history only covers a small part of this field – in any case, the kind of art history I learnt as a student is now considered redundant by the younger generation, wrongly I believe, but in their breaking of the old disciplinary boundaries, I feel they do not go far enough.

Having specialised in the architectural history of the twentieth century in Britain, I have covered many individuals whose work crossed the boundaries of building design, urban design and landscape design. Yet it is not just these who represent for me the area where we might give students hope for the future through examples from the past. Against the background of a darkening future, I should like to tell the good news stories as well as the bad ones, treating the students as 21st century citizens as well as specialists in their particular fields.

This is what I tried to do in a first-year undergraduate course at the University of Greenwich in the first decade of this century, where students from architecture, landscape, construction, and other disciplines were lumped into a single lecture room. Simply to teach them about architecture even in the broadest sense wasn’t going to work. With the help of guest speakers, I was able to tell them about constructing a one-planet lifestyle (with Bill Dunster), the role of alternative currencies in local economies (with David Boyle), the Transition Movement in Brixton, what Jan Gehl did for the cars in streets of Copenhagen, and the threat of global warming, which they had seldom heard anything about and mostly didn’t want to know. I take little comfort from having been ahead of the pack in this.

I should like to think Patrick Geddes might have done something similar in the same circumstances. He is a precious exemplar of jumping all the boundary lines both in theory and practice, and always turning them into pedagogy in the process. Yet the significance of Geddes is notoriously difficult to put over to students, and despite much good writing on him, the perfect short text book still does not exist. 

Above all, I feel that students need to know about systems theory, as I find it is a new concept for many. The basics are relatively easy to teach, although its significance is harder to convey. If Geddes had known this label, I feel sure he would have marched under its banner. One class I teach for non-specialist students in the American system enrolled at NYU London, notionally on the Architecture of London, includes a final section on sustainability and systems theory which I am glad to say seems to grab the imagination of the class.

Asked to contribute a survey of Britain to an international conference in 2008 on Modern Landscape 1920-40, I decided that looking for examples of a constructed aesthetic of Modernism in this period would tread over-familiar and already narrow ground. I shifted the subject towards the early organic farming movement (Lady Eve Balfour), the restoration of woodland (Rolf Gardiner) and other attempts at rural regeneration in the period (Dartington Hall). These pioneers all had their counterparts in imaginative literature of the time, and in the reappraisal of the Romantic movement of the early nineteenth century. I had the impression that it was not what was wanted for the conference or the book that grew out of it, but to me this was the story of the period, which may have given rise in different ways to the wartime and post-war changes in how landscape was viewed as a field for active intervention by designers, or as a more overarching metaphor for the meaning of life.[1]

I could turn this into a book, or into a taught course, except that I don’t think the subject discipline exists for which it would be acceptable. More recently at the University of Kent, I have devised a course on twentieth century architecture for third year undergraduates which I think goes further from the kind of ‘great men and movements’ courses I used to think were necessary, and instead includes much that is neither architecture nor from western Europe and America, but which seems important concerning cities and sustainability, and which might just as well be in a landscape course.

[1] Alan Powers, ‘Romantic Regeneration in English Landscape 1920-1940’ in Therese O’Malley and Joachim Wohlschke-Buhlman, eds. Modernism and Landscape Architecture 1890-1940, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC/Yale University Press, 2015, pp.71-94

Anne Katrine Geelmuyden

Discussing historiography - one way to engage students in the methodological core of their chosen profession?

Anne Katrine Geelmuyden, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, NMBU – Ås


Within the frame of the NMBU’s landscape architecture programme’s elementary history course, I give a lecture about the process of assembling and writing the history of a place, a work of landscape architecture or of the discipline and profession. My aim has been to raise the students’ awareness of history-writing as an act of construction, involving several active steps by the historian or teacher. I want to make the basis for our lecturing more transparent, and point at them, our students, as future constructors of landscape histories: How would they go about telling the story of a (work of) landscape (architecture)? But I also have a wider and more important rationale for promoting historiographical discussions in a landscape architecture curriculum.

Two reasons for including some historiographical schooling in landscape architecture

Landscape architects’ typical occupation is to envisage future use and management of areas and places through the elaboration of design and planning proposals. Many colleagues might think that historiography lectures are for history students, not landscape architecture students, who are (mostly) not to become scholars, that is knowledge seekers, but doers, solvers of problems. I think, however, that this dichotomy is a false one. Landscape architects, historians and (history) teachers – are all doers! They exercise a profession, and in order to do that well, they need good judgement. To learn good judgement, one needs to practice making judgements. This is where historiography comes in.

1. Landscape architecture is essentially a humanistic discipline

A large part of any landscape architect ‘s activity is arguing for values that are either inherent to a place or possible to realise in the future. We are advocates of a culture of looking at - and understanding our surroundings as landscapes from the point of view of a landscape architect.

We should, therefore, address the students’ understanding of their chosen profession’s role, not only in the construction business, but as a part of a scholarly activity that can deliver new perspectives and insights, new knowledge. This also means emphasising that those insights typically have to be argued for in a different way than with the language of the sciences alone. Landscape architectural prediction means exercising and expressing hope or fear more than calculation. It involves decisions on -

  • What question and initial idea do we start our inquiry or task with. What is it important to relate at any given time and place?
  • The necessary facts to dig up about an era, an area, a place, a person, etc.…;
  • Our history’s narrative drive: the «story’s causal or other logic which binds facts and events together into a meaningful whole;
  • our history’s rhetorical elements: convincing, interesting and relevant explanatory devices,e.g. our history’s depictive/illustrative/fictive element: Imagination and empathy play a major role, especially in the history of representations, like the history of gardens

2. Historiographical discussions can initiate processes of questioning and reflecting inthe students

Both historians and history teachers relate past events and actions, and explain the coming into being of objects of the past, which are sometimes also objects of the present. They offer interpretations of these events, actions and objects. A landscape architecture work’s history is much like an interpretation and representation of any landscape.

Historiographical schooling encourages the necessary reflective processes in the students: processes of questioning and problematising the relationship between the initial question asked or problem framed and the search for data to resolve these. “The past is a foreign country” is a famous quote by David Lowenthal: We don’t always understand what we see; and we tend to see only what we understand. But we may not always be sufficiently aware of our incomprehension and disorientation.

Thinking of historiography brings into light the present’s perspective on the past and problematizes both, the present and the past. Critical thinking about the consequences of present narratives is equally important as understanding those of the past! When studying a landscape or era (be it through the investigation of a place or an archive that is familiar) teachers must emphasise the need to keep asking questions:

What questions are asked and what motivates them?

Mirca Benes’ (1999) article on the development in the historiography of Italian gardens is an excellent example of how the Why? and How? In the approach to the question “What happened?” at any particular time and place influences the history we are able to assemble and tell.

What are today’s pressing questions?

David Jacques’ message in the abstract to his chapter in this volume is that:

“The need today is not so much to preserve the top echelon of the great monuments like the Boboli Gardens, the Versailles and the Hampton Courts of this world, but to give new life to smaller, more public, spaces, for example urban parks. In such work the skill of divining the design intentions and true history of the place has to combine with practical management skills, public relations, and the ability to educate and persuade decision makers of the values and importance attached to it.”

Are there universal questions in landscape architecture?

Times change, yes, but we shouldn’t succumb to the temptation of professing what is politically correct at any given time! Here, I want to bring in two quotes by David Leatherbarrow (Leatherbarrow 1993, Introduction p. 1-6):

”While ’answers’ are tied to the time of their formulation, fundamental questions in architecture persist, and the understanding and experience of their persistence actually makes up the structure of architectural reality.”

“The permanence of any architecture topic results from its essential correspondence with a recurring and fundamental human situation”.

These quotes point us towards a topological rather than a chronological approach to history. Understanding the eternal questions in the history of the profession is realizing that gardens are a subset of cultural landscapes and have their own history, distinct from art history and architectural history. It can challenge students to answer the question “What is landscape architecture?” or «Why am I a landscape architect?», bringing them closer to the meaning and motives of their professional practice as continuous activity through time, it’s theory or “distinctive point of view” (Deming and Swaffield 2011).

Finally, I claim that emphasis on what may be common to different cultures and eras in human history rather than on the differences is a necessary perspective in light of the humanities’ “… manifold challenges, acutely dramatized in an era of increasing contingency and globalization…” (Soeiro & Tavares, 2011). There is, today, a need to explore common ground (human hopes and fears) for the sake of sound democratic debate.

Benes, M. (1999). Recent Developments and Perspectives in the Historiography of Italian Gardens, in
Conan, M. (Ed.). (1999). Perspectives on garden histories (Vol. 21). Dumbarton Oaks.
Leatherbarrow, D. (1993). The roots of architectural invention: site, enclosure, materials. Cambridge University Press.
Soeiro, R. G., & Tavares, S. (Eds.). (2011). Rethinking the humanities: Paths and challenges (Vol. 23). Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Mengyixin Li

The Blended Teaching on History and Theory of Landscape architecture

Landscapes have now experienced a transformation through the extraordinary workings of the imagination (Girot 2016). A design process of abstraction that goes on in the minds of landscape architect is what reflects their understanding of land and humans. Imagination and creativity are widely regarded as the driving force of landscape design. Through the teaching of history and theory in relation to landscape architecture in a diachronic and typological way, more students can be enlightened to appreciate the difference and value of cultural landscape, discover design archetypes and various design methods, as well as expand their own practice of design thinking. However, the pedagogy of history and theory of landscape architecture in China is challenged by the geo-spatial environment and the vast social and cultural differences between Eastern and Western countries.

Dilemma in the Pedagogy of Landscape Architecture

With regard to the pedagogy of landscape architecture, it is common that difficulties arise. With its origin in the US, the concept of modern landscape architecture was first introduced to China around the 1920s. As a newly-established discipline, it has presented a tough challenge to the teaching of history and theory related to landscape architecture, such as comprehending the historical landscape system of the Western that is unfamiliar to Chinese students, translating the ideas and methods of Western landscape according to the theories and techniques of traditional Chinese classical gardening, and encouraging students to explore the differences and consensus among them.

Moreover, there is a critical question posed by the dilemma about how passive learning can be transformed into an active one for students, particularly in the instructional process of more theoretical courses. The imparting of landscape knowledge through lectures ceases to be sufficient for the new millennium generation, the members of whom are more influenced and attracted by the plenty of networked information through the rapid dissemination and alternation around the world. In China, what is required includes the comprehensive instructional systems and methods tailored to the current circumstance and learning habits of students. 

In fact, global informatized education has presented abundant opportunities for the instruction of landscape architecture, such as the sharing of educational resource, the application of effective and scientific methods, as well as the development of innovative teaching process. Through reflection on the weaknesses of traditional pedagogical approaches, the blended teaching at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture has been practiced during the course of history and theory of landscape architecture, which is assisted by an open system of online instructional platform, including a mobile interactive device enabled by Chaoxing Learning App and the massive learning resources of MOOC in China.

The Blended Teaching

Also known as hybrid or technology-mediated instruction, the practice of blended teaching offers a solution to delivering the education. In this context, the online instructional materials and opportunities for virtual interaction are integrated with the classroom methods based on traditional place. As a routine, it requires the physical presence of both instructors and students, with some elements of student used to exercise control on time, place, and pace (Britchenko 2019). In the 21st century, the practice of blended teaching is referred to in most cases for describing the social nature of learning, which is enabled not only by the collaboration through digital technologies in learning, but also by a set of skills and understandings that make the students fully prepared for an ever-changing and interconnected world. This requires the capability to solve problems, excellent communication and collaboration skills, as well as technology, innovative and creative thinking skills.

The Systematic Construction of Blended Teaching

Since the last two years, there has been an ongoing network of blended teaching constructed in the course of history and theory of landscape architecture. It focuses on how to build a process-oriented system of teaching, learning, feedback and assessment system according to the exact objectives, activities, methods and strategies. The objectives are set out by instructors, including the exploration of landscape knowledge, the development of landscape analysis and imagination, as well as the discovery of cultural landscape value. The course is organized through a combination of situational cognitive learning, case-based learning and flipped classroom. Focusing on technology-mediated instruction, the practice of blended teaching plays a key role in the adjustment made to the learning methods adopted by the participants, the expansion of high-quality instructional resources, the improvement of learning efficiency and the enhancement of the communication between instructors and students.

mengyixin li
The Systematic Construction of Blended Teaching

Difference and Imagination of Landscape Architecture

From the history of landscape architecture, it can be known that the intervention in the landscape has been accepted as reference to distinguish and experience the natural world. Besides, landscape architecture is linked to the places and environments continuously influenced by human control (Girot 2016). Due to the characteristic of difference, cultural landscapes become fascinating and full of imagination and anticipation over time. Given this, a critical analytical pattern is created in the course of history and theory of landscape architecture for students to understand landscape differences in various countries from a positive perspective, according to site selection, landscape layout, features (terrain, water, plants, architecture) and influencing factors. In the process of participatory learning, the analytical pattern is comparatively applied, such as in the debate about ‘My View of Western and Chinese Gardens’.


Focusing on technology-mediated instruction, the practice of blended teaching is contributory to the adjustment of learning methods adopted by the participants, the expansion of high-quality instructional resources, the enhancement of learning efficiency and the promotion of the communication between instructors and students. The instruction provided on history and theory of landscape architecture is purposed to empower students to keep discovering cumulative landscape knowledge, information and methods in the past, present and future, and to inspire their design thinking in reflection and creativity.

Girot, C. (2016). The Course of Landscape Architecture. London, Thames & Hudson.

Britchenko, C. (2019). Enhancing Students’ Language Skills Through Blended Learning. Electronic Journal of E-learning 14(3): 220-229.