Language of Landscape

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9780300082944: Language of Landscape
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This eloquent and powerful book combines poetry and pragmatism to teach the language of landscape. Anne Whiston Spirn, author of the award-winning The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design, argues that the language of landscape exists with its own syntax, grammar, and metaphors, and that we imperil ourselves by failing to learn to read and speak this language. To understand the meanings of landscape, our habitat, is to see the world differently and to enable ourselves to avoid profound aesthetic and environmental mistakes.

Offering examples that range across thousands of years and five continents, Spirn examines urban, rural, and natural landscapes. She discusses the thought of renowned landscape authors―Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Law Olmsted, Lawrence Halprin―and of less well known pioneers, including Australian architect Glenn Murcutt and Danish landscape artist C. Th. Sørensen. She discusses instances of great landscape designers using landscape fluently, masterfully, and sometimes cynically. And, in a probing analysis of the many meanings of landscape, Spirn shows how one person’s ideal landscape may be another’s nightmare, how Utopian landscapes can be dark. There is danger when we lose the connection between a place and our understanding of it, Spirn warns, and she calls for change in the way we shape our environment, based on the notions of nature as a set of ideas and landscape as the expression of action and ideas in place.

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Review:

"The language of landscape," writes ecologist Anne Whiston Spirn, "is our native language." She elaborates: humans lived in natural landscapes well before they knew how to build houses; knew how to read the movements of clouds and birds well before they developed grammars and symbols. Anyone with a keen sensibility can recover that language, she suggests: "A person literate in landscape sees significance where an illiterate person notes nothing. Past and future fires, floods, landslides, welcome or warning are visible to those who can read them in tree and slope, boundary and gate." Spirn goes on to discuss human interactions with the landscape, taking as cases in point such matters as the dolmens of prehistoric Europe, environmentally friendly houses in Denmark and Australia, fountains in Paris, and tree-lined city streets in Philadelphia. Along the way she cites scholars, architects, and artists, learning lessons in how to read place and built form from the likes of Christopher Alexander, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Rachel Carson. She closes with an appeal to landscape architects, builders, and designers to study the natural details of place more closely before they set about changing it: "In landscapes ... the key is to establish a framework that provides overall structure--a structure not arbitrary but congruent with the deep context of a place, to define a vocabulary of forms that expresses the natural and cultural processes of the place." --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Anne Whiston Spirn is professor of landscape architecture and regional planning and director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She is director of the West Philadelphia Landscape Project, an action-research program integrating research, teaching, and community service, and she chairs the Advisory Council to the Territorial Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.

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9780300077452: The Language of Landscape

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ISBN 10:  0300077459 ISBN 13:  9780300077452
Publisher: Yale University Press, 1998
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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English. Brand new Book. This eloquent and powerful book combines poetry and pragmatism to teach the language of landscape. Anne Whiston Spirn, author of the award-winning The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design, argues that the language of landscape exists with its own syntax, grammar, and metaphors, and that we imperil ourselves by failing to learn to read and speak this language. To understand the meanings of landscape, our habitat, is to see the world differently and to enable ourselves to avoid profound aesthetic and environmental mistakes.Offering examples that range across thousands of years and five continents, Spirn examines urban, rural, and natural landscapes. She discusses the thought of renowned landscape authors-Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Law Olmsted, Lawrence Halprin-and of less well known pioneers, including Australian architect Glenn Murcutt and Danish landscape artist C. Th. Sorensen. She discusses instances of great landscape designers using landscape fluently, masterfully, and sometimes cynically. And, in a probing analysis of the many meanings of landscape, Spirn shows how one person's ideal landscape may be another's nightmare, how Utopian landscapes can be dark. There is danger when we lose the connection between a place and our understanding of it, Spirn warns, and she calls for change in the way we shape our environment, based on the notions of nature as a set of ideas and landscape as the expression of action and ideas in place. Seller Inventory # AAH9780300082944

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. This eloquent and powerful book combines poetry and pragmatism to teach the language of landscape. Anne Whiston Spirn, author of the award-winning The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design, argues that the language of landscape exists with its own syntax, grammar, and metaphors, and that we imperil ourselves by failing to learn to read and speak this language. To understand the meanings of landscape, our habitat, is to see the world differently and to enable ourselves to avoid profound aesthetic and environmental mistakes. Offering examples that range across thousands of years and five continents, Spirn examines urban, rural, and natural landscapes. She discusses the thought of renowned landscape authors-Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Law Olmsted, Lawrence Halprin-and of less well known pioneers, including Australian architect Glenn Murcutt and Danish landscape artist C. Th. Sorensen. She discusses instances of great landscape designers using landscape fluently, masterfully, and sometimes cynically. And, in a probing analysis of the many meanings of landscape, Spirn shows how one person s ideal landscape may be another s nightmare, how Utopian landscapes can be dark. There is danger when we lose the connection between a place and our understanding of it, Spirn warns, and she calls for change in the way we shape our environment, based on the notions of nature as a set of ideas and landscape as the expression of action and ideas in place. Seller Inventory # AAH9780300082944

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English. Brand new Book. This eloquent and powerful book combines poetry and pragmatism to teach the language of landscape. Anne Whiston Spirn, author of the award-winning The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design, argues that the language of landscape exists with its own syntax, grammar, and metaphors, and that we imperil ourselves by failing to learn to read and speak this language. To understand the meanings of landscape, our habitat, is to see the world differently and to enable ourselves to avoid profound aesthetic and environmental mistakes.Offering examples that range across thousands of years and five continents, Spirn examines urban, rural, and natural landscapes. She discusses the thought of renowned landscape authors-Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Law Olmsted, Lawrence Halprin-and of less well known pioneers, including Australian architect Glenn Murcutt and Danish landscape artist C. Th. Sorensen. She discusses instances of great landscape designers using landscape fluently, masterfully, and sometimes cynically. And, in a probing analysis of the many meanings of landscape, Spirn shows how one person's ideal landscape may be another's nightmare, how Utopian landscapes can be dark. There is danger when we lose the connection between a place and our understanding of it, Spirn warns, and she calls for change in the way we shape our environment, based on the notions of nature as a set of ideas and landscape as the expression of action and ideas in place. Seller Inventory # BTE9780300082944

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