On Environment: Relationships between Architecture and the Contemporary Landscape

Through our production of carbon dioxide and the movement of synthetic chemicals within our ecosystems, humans have left no place untouched. As our landscape becomes more crowded, we are compelled to live in human-made environments increasingly abstracted from nature. Moreover, current approaches to architecture can demand we live in sealed building envelopes, with mechanically controlled environmental conditions. Through these changes our relationship with nature is being modified, and since we are inherently dependent on our environment this directly affects us.

Wilson, Ulrich, and others have argued that connection to nature is important for us based on the conviction that nature deeply affects us. For Wilson nature as a living entity has significance beyond a reliance on it for our material survival. If nature were just about keeping us alive, he explained it would be something akin to ‘maintaining a patient in intensive care as opposed to watching him walk down the street in good health.’1 Nature, he argues has a profound influence on our bodies and minds, our health and wellbeing.

As our connections with nature are limited, it becomes more important for us to realise what it is in nature that we need. In addition, if we are to inform current technological approaches that establish perceptual breaks between architecture and landscape, we must understand our broader ecological needs within our modern surroundings which sometimes mitigate against an overly romantic reading of nature. In search of positions that can inform current approaches, this session reflects upon the ways that we fit architecture and landscape together. How can architecture accommodate connections with nature within human-made landscapes? What are the possibilities for human engagement with landscape? What can site-specific relations contribute towards experiences? Are there practices that support our perceptual relationship with landscape? How do we design with nature in mind?

Session chairs: Sarah Sheridan, Dublin Institute of Technology; sarah.sheridan[at]dit.ie, and Brian Ward, Dublin Institute of Technology and University College Dublin; brian.ward[at]dit.ie

Call for Papers