Posts Tagged ‘arts’


Ireland's National Landscape Strategy makes clear the twining of land and national identity.

Ireland’s National Landscape Strategy makes clear the twining of land and national identity.

From the September 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In May, Ireland unveiled a National Landscape Strategy (NLS), in an attempt to establish guidelines for the governance of the country’s historic geography while recognizing its inherent dynamism. Getting to grips with a nation’s landscape in such an ecumenical, broad-brushstrokes way is a tall order, even for a small island nation the size of Maine. Human settlement has left its mark on the Irish landscape for nearly 10,000 years. It’s an old place etched with memories, from the craggy coasts of Western Ireland to the karst of County Clare to the genteel Georgian terraces of Dublin.

These all now come under the protective purview of Ireland’s Department of Arts, Heritage, and Gaeltacht (the latter word referring to the Gaelic language). The agency has committed itself to a 10-year program to implement the NLS, with the completion of a comprehensive national Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) within five years. “It encompasses all landscapes—rural and urban, beautiful and degraded, ordinary and unique,” says Martin Colreavy, Ireland’s principal adviser on built heritage and architectural policy.

Ireland, of course, is a divided island, and the department’s remit extends to the boundaries of the Irish Republic—that is, the three historic southern provinces. The fourth province to the north—what we call Northern Ireland—remains part of the United Kingdom. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has drawn up its own “Landscape Charter,” which will complement this one, reminding us that politics is often a land-based proposition.

If boundaries define landscapes, then landscapes define identity. As the NLS indicates, this is Ireland living up to its European obligations as (more…)

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Richard Weller is the new chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s Landscape Architecture Department

Richard Weller is the new chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s Landscape Architecture Department

In late November,  the University of Pennsylvania named the new chair of its landscape architecture department: the Australian landscape architect Richard Weller. The previous chair, James Corner, ASLA, had led the department since 2000 and will continue to be a professor there. I recently caught up with Weller on his wife’s cell phone and asked him about his plans for the department. What follows is an edited and condensed version of the conversation.

Is there a reason why you don’t have your own cell phone?

To be honest, I just don’t like telephones. I just thought that was sort of intrusive—you randomly ring up people and dial into their lives. I prefer email.

What drew you to the landscape architecture department at the University of Pennsylvania?

There has been a sequence of people at Penn who have been very influential and led the academic discipline. Penn’s always been front and center.

What drew them to you? 

I have had an intellectual relationship with some of the people there going back to John Dixon Hunt. I’ve written about Jim Corner’s work. Penn’s Press published my first book, called Room 4.1.3: Innovations in Landscape Architecture, which was a very risky book because it was so conceptual. I’ve done work that tracks the entire spectrum of what a landscape architect can do. I’ve done the smallest gardens that are all about meaning and allegory all the way to large scale planning. It’s always been about what is in this project that will critically make some contribution to the discipline. Of course, the short answer is that there’s not that many people around, either.

What do you hope to do with your new position as chair?

First thing is to consolidate Penn as the world’s best design school. In many ways it’s a legendary school. It has great alumni. But the school can’t rest on its laurels. We have to guarantee that the students coming out of Penn are going to be leaders and visionaries and critics. We’re not just filling up the offices, Penn’s about leadership, intellectual leadership. I’m interested in large-scale phenomena, things like population growth, climate change. (more…)

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