The following lessons will reveal the main ideas that shape the discipline of landscape design theory and its relationship with the recent history of the human habitat:
- How the landscape theory is built? & Landscape and Landscape Design Definitions
- Landscape Design Object and Origin & Landscape as Subjectivity
- Landscape Methods, Techniques and Instruments 1
- Landscape Methods, Techniques and Instruments 2
- Landscape and Nature 1
- Landscape and Nature 2
- Landscape and People
These lessons should give to the students a knowledge of a way of speaking that will allow to discuss like city and landscape designers do.
Following the didactic model of a “Flipped Classroom”, students will have access to contents about the issues explained in the lesson via internet and students will debate this contents after the lesson. Check the following scheme and the course’s blog at https://landscapetheory1.wordpress.com/
First performance: A short film on how to make a public space speak
Introduction and aims
Piacenza is a city that has a rich diversity of public spaces. Some of them are interesting heritage landscapes, in others the nature is present in a magnificent manner with huge trees or rivers or extensive lawns or meadows. They have a big potential to improve the life of the inhabitants and visitors of Piacenza.
Nevertheless, you just need a walk around the city to realize that those spaces are not too much enjoyed by their citizens.
You can blame the climate that, for more than the half of the year is cold, wet and foggy, or to the fact that this kind of low density cities favor private transportation and hence, there is low pedestrian life.
But living public spaces is also a culture that it seems to be weak here. Our objective will be to work to try to improve this culture.
The groups will make some actions in some clue public spaces to understand how do they work, and how the people would use them more. To do that, you must find a way to communicate with them or, at least you should find a way to understand how do they feel about the space, which are their desires about it (that often are ignored by themselves) and what are the needs of the community.
For this performance, the students will join in 10 / 12 people groups. Those should be culturally mixed, all they should have Italians to catch cultural particularities and to speak to the people in this case, and good English speakers to explain everything properly.
Step 1: Stalking spaces
We’ll offer about 30 spaces to the groups and every group will choose a different space. Often these are more a zone than a concrete space where you should find the precise place for your experiment. Sometimes they are crowded, al least in some special moments of the week. You should understand when and why because you need to have some people with who you can interact.
The result of this first step should be a 15 (5+5+5min.) minutes video report on 3 of the spaces mapped below.
It’s important to understand how the space is but, it’s even more important to understand how and when the people uses it. Altogether we'll decide which is the space that every group keeps for the rest of the experiment. Then, their research on the space will be finished for one space, reaching a 6-8 minutes film. This film must be able to focus the issues that could be harming the livability of the space and in its potentials to become a lived place.
Step 2: Designing memorable moments.
Reading Guy Debord we understand that somehow public space tell us how to behave in everywhere. Benches, keep out the grass signs and other items tell us how to stay in the street. Traffic organizes our way of moving, and a lot of signals (like luxury or poverty, for example) can reject us as common walkers. We are subjugated by the spectacle of the city, that in some way the city needs to work.
But all those subtle but strong hypnotic features become evident when we refuse to follow them. Then is possible to broke the main rule of the street: that you can't speak openly with strangers. All what you need to do that is to create unexpected situations. Thats what gives the name to Debord's movement: situationism.
The aim of your street action should be to draw the attention of people to the questions you detected about your space in the first Step. At least, you should be able to open a line of communication with the local residents to collect their opinions and desires in the third Step, that should be developed in parallel with your street action.
Step 3: Collecting data
If you are in a situation, people will break the invisible walls to communication that the streets have: that's your opportunity to understand what the people expects of their city. You must collect what they say, what they feel and think. What they dream, even. And you must register that to reach some conclusions. The final product should give ideas on how to improve public life in the space you study.
All the steps will be registered in video even if you can put in it every kind of documents (plans, drawings, urban analysis etc.) and do the editing that you want.
You can use time lapses and any kind of editing. You can use videos or pictures found in the internet as quotations, but you must limit them. And so on. Don’t hesitate to use ideas of other groups to give your own version. This crossed fertilization increases creativity.
Materials to deliver
The last class day of 2016 (december) It will be delivered the result of the three steps filmed in video that wil be projected the last day of the year in the Class.
It will be delivered in some compressed video format (please no more of 1 Gigabyte). The play-time must be more than 15 minutes and less than 20.
They will be projected in class and the presence of all the students is needed because you will collaborate in the assessment of your companions work.
If you have any scheme on which is your strategy, you can also deliver it and it will be considered in the grade. You can even include it in the video.
The grade of this exercise will result of a combination of two factors:
The video considered by the teaching team will be the 75% of the mark. It will include the action itself but also the video quality because it's important to make people feel that your work is attractive.
The projection considered by the students will be a 25% of the mark. You will give a list of the presentations ordered from the best to the worst (of course, without including your own performance).
Second performance: The impersonation of the author and other characters in the presentation of a project.
The second performance is the explanation of a project from several points of view impersonated by the students: at least, 3 discursive plans will be performed:
-the descriptive, that will be recited by the author or authors of the project.
-the critical (theoretical, scholar or functional), that will be recited by someone that
tests if the project really responds to the discourse of the author.
-and the social that will be recited by someone that acts as a person that is not related directly to a design discipline but that lives the project somehow.
Each plan will be impersonated at least by one student but each position could be sometimes played by several, so the groups will have a minimum of three members but they can be more if necessary.
I advance that it is important the “actors” rehearse the texts, to improve the public’s understanding of the performance. It’s not necessary to know them by heart but, you must read the text many times to be fluent. For the same reason, it’s important to choose the group members with better English to the more important roles.
The descriptive discourse
The descriptive discourse is on which the author presents the ensemble of principles, reflections, operations and eventually external tensions that have shaped the project. For that reason is necessary to study the available resources on the real birth of the project, just how it is explained by the author himself or herself. Sometimes the authors are two or more, or a team. You can present all of them if data to define the rule of everyone is available. If this is not possible, then we can choose one of them as "representative" of them all.
So, the first data resource that we must check is the original descriptions coming from the author. You can guess too that the work fits in the author's reflection on his or her work in general. But very often the articles written by third persons, are simple transcriptions of the data delivered by the author presented as an objective research. You can notice this just checking the style and the resources declared in each case. For that reason is very important here to quote properly the resources you used.
As mentioned above, in order to facilitate the discussion of the results and to test our course hypothesis, the explanation and the author should be organized around the disciplinary issues commented in the theory lessons.
The critical discourse
The critical discourse tests if the author's description of his work fits with any paradigm that the character can symbolize. For that character is mandatory to check and discuss the fitting of the author's discourse in the general disciplinary issues of the course explained in the lessons. So there will be always there, a "landscape architecture critic", a teacher, or architecture writer for example, but other characters could be interesting here if we can have the data to build them. A environmentalist to test if a project will have the ecological effects promised could be interesting, for example. To test how the project is produced impersonating a office's worker could be interesting too, but this kind of data is difficult to collect, generally.
Here again is important to quote properly which are the references and in general, to define properly which are the paradigms used to test the authenticity of the author's discourse. You should choose, at least 2 of this counterparts.
The social discourse
Several agents can represent the social discourse and offer interesting points of view. We should choose a character that can represent the social reaction in front of the project. The politician that commissions the project or the journalist that describes the city's reception of it, or a local citizen. To build these characters the necessary data should be found in the journals or the web.
But in this case there is another possible character that does not need quotes or references: yourselves. In that case you play the role of a citizen in a participation process, or simply claiming for a better public spaces in the city or just give your opinion.
The deployment of a discourse can be enhanced by a good set. But in any case, you must represent a situation where contemporary theory rise up: Of course we can perform a public presentation of a project, for example in a University or a City Council . There is a stage and a designer talking to an audience, there is a projection, a special kind of images created to seduce. If we are not at the university and instead we are in a City Council presenting to the citizenship a new project for the city may be the same images can be used, but the discourse will change and not slightly.
The presentation of a project can occur in other situations like a visit to the built project where the author is our guide. A museum exhibition where the author presents his or her work or even a public where the author tries "to sell" his or her project to the politicians or to the neighbors.
You can imagine many more situations.
Designers often use the resource of the "mise en scene" that you can study, for example, in videos or other media about exhibitions, interviews, etc. Of course, you can use all kind of devices, dresses or even little scenic arrangements to improve your performance. It’s important to make easy the identification of every character in the performance to improve the public’s understanding of the performance.
You should use a PowerPoint or a film projection to show the project’s documents or to show the project itself.
Students will have a Videotube Canal (available in October) to check previous experiences and they will upload their exercices to the canal that will be part of the issues that we will have at the Final Exam.
Students will have also a Facebook site called “Landscape Theory” where they will can make questions or to show the evolution of their work to have “cross fertilization” among the groups and improve results. All this will follow this scheme:
The materials to deliver
The delivery of the work will have two parts:
1/ Of course, the first one will be the performance itself. It must be more than 20 minutes and less of 30. After that, the audience (namely the other students) can ask about the project whatever they want to anyone on the stage. The performers have to reply the students, or the teacher questions without leaving the roles they have been performing. The aim should be to have a discussion on the project where we all will act as critics. All that stuff will be registered by several students to make this material available to all of us.
2/ After the performance the students will deliver the PowerPoint’s projection (if any) the script of their presentation on paper where all the references used will be quoted properly to prove the authenticity of their performances and all the decisions taken. All those notes will be uploaded to the common cloud of information. They will deliver too a filmed registra2on of the performance that they will take when they presented it in class.
The grade of this exercise will result of a combination of three factors: The enactment considered by the professor will be the 50% of the grade.
The enactment considered by the students will count a 25%. You will give a list of the project's presentations ordered from the best to the worst (of course, without including oneself performance).
The justification of the script with its quota2ons will be the last 25% of the grade, but a minimum quality in that document is needed to pass. If it is not consistent can be required to repeat it. If its fake can mean a fail for the whole exercise.