Landscape Musings: AILA Cultivate


As part of AILA Cultivate Committee’s new aim– to strengthen connections between design theory and practice in landscape architecture & urban design– a group of us have kicked off the first session of Landscape Musings with some some theoretical essays to get the discussions going (along with a glass or two).

We read an article by Elizabeth Meyer on the design of a “slow landscape” in New Zealand Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects‘ (NBWLA), Nick’s Head Station, which incorporates agricultural, conservation and cultural landscape uses.

Meyer, Elizabeth (2009/10), ‘Slow Landscapes: A New Erotics of Sustainability’, Harvard Design Magazine 31, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.


Meyer undertakes not only a formal analysis of the project but also an analysis of the process the firm undertook to reach this thrice award winning outcome in the recent NZILA Awards, which has clearly excited many. She believes the designers, in their restoration of this degraded agrarian landscape, have made design decisions that encompass ‘multiple agendas ecological, economic, sociocultural and aesthetic’ in what may be a broader cultural shift towards a more ‘sustainable’ ideal of beauty, where the slow ecological benefits of an evolving conservation landscape are recognized.

Kate Soper’s essay gives more depth to the critique of the aesthetics of consumption vis-a-vis sustainability discourse. Soper, like Meyer, calls for a redefinition of sustainability and its aesthetics, not as an altruistic act of environmental concern but ‘self-regarding gratifications of consuming differently: to a new erotics of consumption or hedonsitic ‘imaginary.’ Both essays invite us as designers to imagine our role in the design of spaces that not only engage and challenge but also delight. 


As it was our first session of Landscape Musings there was more of a focus on introductions and general discussions about current landscape issues in Melbourne. The controversial East-West toll link came up which has since received strong opposition in submission by AILA, also referenced in an article published in The Age.

The next musing will be held on Thursday the 15th of August and details will be posted through AILA newsletters. We will discuss the following two articles, one of which can be viewed online the other will most likely require accessing a university library catalogue:

ESSAY 1: Charles Waldheim  Notes Toward a History of Agrarian Urbanism

ESSAY 2: Cameron Tonkinwise Practicing Sustainability by design: global warming politics in a post-awareness world, Parsons Fall 2007

Email to receive express interest in being involved and receive invites to these events.

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