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Issue 8.1

Resilient City: Landscape Architecture for Climate Change

In the seventeenth century, English architecture enthusiasts began an enduring tradition of foraying abroad to study the remnants of Classical Antiquity. They returned from these “Grand Tours” with souvenir fragments and new (old) ideas to reinvigorate architecture. They wrote travelogues and codified a vision of Neoclassicism suitable for public edifices and the landed gentry. William Kent and Capability Brown cultivated Picturesque English Romantic landscapes around these estates. In contrast to the sparse certainty of Neoclassicism, their new discipline of landscape architecture artfully managed ecological forces while imparting a pastoral experience. Nature was manageable but not conquerable, and their landscapes provided sublime hints of this tension. Fanciful ruins set amidst seemingly natural vistas remind us of the inevitable demise of great civilizations. Land management techniques disappear into the landscape, disguising their utility to the casual observer. The ha-ha, a concealed sunken wall securing livestock, takes its name from the sudden, pleasurable recognition of its actual environmental purpose. These landscapes embody the human condition: a creative, practical optimism for the future and the awareness that even our best efforts may be in vain. But dig we must. 

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