June 23, 2015
We have been thinking about what makes architecture and landscape architecture different from one another. When we teach we often have a few architecture students in the studio mix. They often struggle to make, let alone design, outdoor spaces. Why is that? It’s not their talent level. It’s not their commitment or work ethic. It’s not their lack of knowledge, nor is it any lack of rigor. The problem is understanding the differences between architectural scale and landscape scale.
We’ll start with something obvious: landscapes are much bigger (this may be the most important factor causing the chronic underestimation of the cost of site improvements–we’ll save that for another time, though). A good example of this effect is the common practice of sizing a site element while sitting at your desk: a 20’x20′ space looks generous when you’re indoors (it’s huge for an urban living room), but is actually about the size of two parking spaces–tiny outdoors.
It’s one of the reasons for the startling qualities of some sculptures (Claes Oldenburg’s are a prime example) that take indoor objects and make them large enough to have an impact at landscape scale. We have been looking at the work of some sculptors whose gallery sculptures might, if enlarged sufficiently, be particularly striking in the landscape. Just a few examples follow (top to bottom or left to right, depending): Jae Ko, Dimiri Germann, Bahk Seon Ghi. There follow afterward works by Oldenburg, Mehmet Ali Uysal and Ron Mueck that are at landscape scale already.