chapter  13
13 Pages

The blood of philosopher-kings

Landscape design theory has been rotting away, peacefully, like a garden temple, since the close of the eighteenth century. The Director of Land­ scape Architecture Studies at Dumbarton Oaks gives poverty as the explanation:

This ignorance or cavalier disregard of history is part and parcel of a larger poverty of discourse; as Steven R. Krog has written, landscape architecture is ‘a discipline in intellectual disarray’ and with a ‘deficiency of theoretical discourse’. Of all the modern arts none has displayed such a meagre com­ mand of analytical, including rudimentary philosophical, language as landscape studies. (Hunt, 1992)


. . . if you find yourselves in agreement with somebody about a beautiful design in land­ scape architecture, this happy accident can be explained in more cases than not by a shared class background or education rather than by any examinable philosophical criteria . . . Modern designs, perhaps to escape this solipsism, have insisted both upon design as problem solving and specifically upon de­ signing for groups or the community.