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Design and representation in landscape architecture: imagining place

Li, Xuejing
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::120107 Landscape Architecture
This research explores designing through representation of place, focussing on the experiential dimensions of landscape architecture. The context for the research is two national parks, in very different geographic locations, but sharing richness in their environmental, cultural and aesthetic perspectives, including human perceptions, emotions, experiences and memories, in and from nature. National parks are regarded as utopic destinations, especially in the context of contemporary, highly urbanised cultures. The eye-dominant lifestyles of city dwellers contribute to sensory deprivation, and experiences are dominated by the visual sense when they visit places like national parks. Visitors’ journeys produce both collective moments and ephemeral experiences, and the presence of place through design reshapes and manifests human affections and memories, including both the good and the unpleasant, in visible and invisible ways. The research involved a range of approaches, for landscape architects and landscape architecture students, to understand, know and imagine places, as well as to reveal some phenomenal facets among humans and nature. In particular, model making and ‘photo making’ were identified as ways to investigate the multi-sensory and imaginative dimensions during the design process. Findings included the appreciation of how design in landscape architecture can be regenerated and communicated as well as embodied through a range of representational forms, such as words, maps, paintings, photographs and so on. Beyond these representations, the challenge is how the imaginative and sensory experiences can be manifested in design, as well as in place. Design-directed research via phenomenological lenses provided the main approach for my investigations. The objective of this research is to investigate design through representation, paying particular attention to how it relates to a sense of place. By processes, sensations, performances, experiences, engagements, encounters and inhabitations, design can display phenomenal engagements beyond the visual. Representation and design of place challenge designers to rethink, check, sense, and examine the relationship between self and place, self with place and self in place. These findings open up opportunities for further research especially in professional landscape architecture practice.
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