How can landscape urbanism help us re-envision our cities?
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How can landscape urbanism help us re-envision our cities?

THE PLAN Journal looks at landscape urbanism

How can landscape urbanism help us re-envision our cities?
By Editorial Staff -

The TPJ seeks contributions, analyses, explorations, reflective practices and case-studies from a variety of perspectives, on these and other related questions, capable to cast a meaningful light on this massive transformation impacting architecture and its related design fields.

The Chicago Riverwalk.


We invite you to learn about the many facets of landscape urbanism. 

We are presenting some of the thoughts and visions contained in the Landscape Urbanism section of the journal that impressed us. The first two articles can be found in Volume 3/2018 Issue 1. In the first article “Chicago’s Urban Rivers,” the author Carol Ross Barney explains that “Chicago, like other major cities, traces its growth back to a connection with water. As the city grew, the river became the backbone of commerce and economic prosperity.” In the second article “Cities as Hydro-Geologic Terrain: Design Research to Transform Urban Surfaces,” the author Mary Pat McGuire explains that “imperviousness is a significant design problem for the future of cities: we must reduce it, redesign it, transform it.” 

The third article can be found in Volume 6/2021 Issue 1. In the article “Ecologies of Leisure: Reimagined Architectures and Landscapes of Leisure and Infrastructure,” the author Carla Aramouny asks, “What other possible realities are there for the derelict coastline of Lebanon? Her reflections continue to consider, “What modes of ecologies, usages, and re-appropriations could be imagined? Can latent disconnections, evident in the coastal area as a result of its disordered history and uncontrolled sprawl, become the agency for change”?

Finally, we share some ideas about Landscape as Infrastructure.

>> We encourage you to browse The Plan Journal and explore its section dedicated to Landscape Urbanism for yourself.


Volume 3/2018 - Issue 1

In his editorial “In This Issue [1/2018],” Maurizio Sabini, Editor-in-Chief of The Plan Journal wrote:

…it should come with no surprise that we have featured, over the first issues of the journal, research studies originated from (or orienting) practice works. In this issue in particular, we host reflections by experienced practitioners such as … Carol Ross Barney [whose contribution has] gone already through extensive peer-recognition [and received] … numerous awards [for her] … study on Chicago.
Also more speculative studies, such as … the investigations by Mary Pat McGuire on landscape issues and techniques relative to the growing problem of urban hardscapes.
It is our conviction that the dialogue between academy and practice need to be nurtured and promoted, and the TPJ wants to do just that. 

In the article “Chicago’s Urban Rivers,” the author Carol Ross Barney shares that “for nearly two decades, Ross Barney Architects has been working along Chicago’s rivers. These efforts include the design of the Chicago Riverwalk, studies on all 150 mi. [241 km] of riverfront across the city, and an exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial.”

Aerial view of the Chicago Riverwalk.

Barney explains that “the goal was to reconnect people with the dynamic and changing life of the river.”

>> Barney’s abstract is available here in TPJ (in English)

In “Cities as Hydro-Geologic Terrain: Design Research to Transform Urban Surfaces,” the author Mary Pat McGuire argues for the “insert[ion of] hydro-terrain thinking to the paved surfaces of cities, instantiating the concept of ‘rain terrain’ that links hydrologic performance across scales, from the raindrop to the region.

Permeable soil areas (Stack-Unit Maps & Bretz Maps) Southside of Chicago, modeled in Rhino. Chicago streets network for scale.

McGuire continues to propose “design practices - through disruptions, interventions and reconfigurations of urban surface - to tap paved-over soils as the basis for a landscape-based urban stormwater approach” and present “a vision for urban transformation, based on specific technical design opportunities within landscape-as-infrastructure.”

>> To learn more about McGuire’s research, check out this article in TPJ (in English)


Volume 6/2021 - Issue 1

In his editorial “In This Issue [1/2021],” Maurizio Sabini, Editor-in-Chief of The Plan Journal wrote:

With this open issue of our journal, and after the themed issue of Fall 2020 on “healthy urbanism” related to the particular global condition caused by the COVID pandemic, we return to explore research areas that have characterized our mission

The push towards the future is further investigated … all the while without losing sight of our current challenges: hence the contribution on landscape urbanism for coastal areas by Carla Aramouny.

In the article “Ecologies of Leisure: Re-Imagined Architectures and Landscapes of Leisure and Infrastructure,” the author Carla Aramouny explains that this research “frames the possibility for an agile ecological approach to design, one that builds upon the latent derelict aspects and persisting disconnections in this specific area and that reimagines a potential new reality intermeshing the natural with the human and the infrastructural with the architectural.”

Project 3: Physical model: Between landscape and field.

Aramouny claims that “within the format of a research undergraduate studio, the approach and work discussed here present possible synthetic scenarios for coastal developments in Lebanon, and suggest alternative production, programmatic, and ecological strategies.” 

>> The article is available here in TPJ (in English)


Landscape as Infrastructure

In his book Landscape as Infrastructure, the author Pierre Bélanger introduces an alternative history of urbanization and an overview of the modern-day powers that drive urbanization patterns. Additionally, Bélanger shares epistemological shifts as a result of new understandings of ecology as well as a revival of the importance of geography. All these aspects challenge the ideological stances that continue to influence landscape urbanism today.

Pierre Bélanger is an associate professor and a codirector of the Master in Design Studies Program in Urbanism, Landscape, and Ecology at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

>> To learn more, check out the reference: Pierre Bélanger, Landscape as Infrastructure (Routledge, 2016).


Why support + read TPJ?

The Plan Journal is intended to disseminate and promote innovative, thought-provoking, and relevant research, studies, and criticism related to architecture and urbanism. The journal grew out of an awareness that academia is all too often engaged in research that’s disconnected from the real-world challenges that face different professions, and that research is only possible for a small number of professional organizations, and, even then, with limited platforms for its dissemination. The overarching aim of TPJ is therefore to enrich the dialogue between researchers and professionals so as to foster both pertinent new knowledge and intellectually driven modes of practice.


How does it work + why does it matter?

Prospective contributors are encouraged to submit proposals or complete manuscripts to the Editor-in-Chief. Subject to positive feedback, proposals can then be developed into complete manuscripts and submitted for review, using the dedicated portal on the TPJ website. 
After preliminary approval, manuscripts will be forwarded to suitably qualified people for commenting. TPJ is committed to following a rigorous double-blind peer review process using at least two reviewers. The Editor-in-Chief may also occasionally invite recognized academics, critics, or professionals (including members of the editorial board) to contribute to the journal without going through the peer review process, if warranted by the author’s reputation.

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