Scape – Part 2

Some Implications of Scape – Part 2

By James Quinton  


.pdf here: Scape

Where context is superfluous in modernisms rampant expansion, context is everything in post-modernisms vanguard against the mistakes of the past.19 The transgressing critical architect of genius is a thing of the past. Adhesion, collaboration and complicity are the order of contemporary, post-modern architecture. Connection with the operational is the only thing that could save architecture as a profession.20 What is the operational? Under the rubric of “new urbanism” the operational has been identified as function, program, processes, events, and utility. Koolhass’ “new urbanism” identifies the “staging of uncertainty,” the “irrigation of territories with potential,” “discovering unnameable hybrids,” and most importantly, “the manipulation of infrastructure for endless intensifications and diversifications, shortcuts and redistributions – the reinvention of psychological space.”21 Formal considerations take a back-seat, at times never present.

The instrumentality of design, (the reinvented psychological space), manifest by the palimpsest of mapping, is the apotheosis of the representation and stylization of landscape, infrastructure and architecture.22 The reinvented psychological space focuses on the making of landscape instead of the appearance of landscape.23 Furthermore, with the inclusion of ecology, the cohesion of the landscape as a whole is appropriated.24 Ecology, combined with the conceptualisation of architecture and infrastructure symbiotically related to landscape, introduces new paradigms for ways at which we might go about making landscapes. This process has been called the infrastructualisation or landscapification of architecture.25

For example, the classic Parc De Villette where both the first and second prize winners treated the landscape as a fallen down skyscraper. Koolhaas’ entry even went to the extent of measuring the landscape the way you measure the square metres of a building.26 More recently, in the Downsview Park competition all finalists were asked to present a fifteen year phasing program as part of their entry.27 The notion of phasing, particularly as a graphic, asks for interdisciplinary action on the part of designers. Landscape architects must start working with scientists to develop an approximate, yet believable timeline for the growth of trees and migration of animals throughout landscapes. In both instances the emphasis is more cerebral that practical.

Phasing Diagram By Tschumi  Phasing diagram submitted by Tschumi for Downsview Park  

New understandings of landscape, combined with the archaic whirlwind of postmodernism, call for the reflection of communities to be represented in landscapes and vice versa. A landscape, or a ‘place’, is meaningless, or placeless, unless time is taken to apply meaning to it. This relationship, however, is reflexively reflective. If our relationship to the world that we live in and the consequential understanding of the way the landscape might actually be, is governed by our thoughts, then at what point do we stop thinking to allow ourselves to build appropriate ‘place-ful’ shelters to live in? There is no answer to this question. Furthermore, the hyper-speed of globalisation and urbanisation do not allow us to think clearly about this process: it is occurring right now. However there have been a few attempts to describe the paradox.

Koolhaas, in A Great Leap Forward introduced and jokingly copyrighted (a dig at the free market) the term Scape© as:  

 an exploded mountain, a highrise, and a rice field in every direction—nothing between excessive height and the lowness of a continuous agricultural/light-industrial crust, betweenthe sky-scraper and the scraped. Scape©, neither city nor landscape, is the arena for a terminal juxtaposition between architecture and landscape, the apotheosis of the Picturesque©.28   

Scape Scape©29

Scape© relies on the significant notion of Dialectics© “a method to understand and synthesise opposites” which collapses into Merge©:30 “a brutal collapsing of opposites to create new conditions.” What new conditions bring about Scape©? Sassen identifies centralisation and dispersal respectively.31 Wall argues that it is the heterogeneous peripheral/middle landscape.32 For Enwezor, it is the horizontal laboratory.33 In any case, Scape© is caught between the push and pull of the centre and periphery under the sway of globalised economic forces. 18   


 19 Davidson, 1996, p. 161 20 Davidson, 1996, 161.   

21 Koolhaas, 1998, p. 969    

22 Corner, 1999, p.164. 23 Corner, 1999, p. 164   

24  Lootsma, in Corner, 1999, p. 259 25 Klingmann, A, and Angelil, M, ‘Hybrid Morphologies’, in Daidalos, vol 73, 1999. p. 22.  

26 Koolhaas, 1998, p. 923.

27 Czerniak, J,. 2001. Downsview Park Toronto, Prestel Verlag, Munich, London, New York. p.29.  


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