Woven Landscapes

Romy Hecht Marchant For Lofscapes
(1) Chile, between the Andes and the Pacífic (2003) © NASA



Today we begin our fourth year as a site dedicated to landscape architecture and critical reflection on Chile’s landscape transformation. Whether from the field of artistic endeavors, specific project disciplines (proposed or built), or from landscape theory or history, as a collective, we aim to continue collecting, transmitting, and interpreting the views of the inhabitant, the promenader, the observer at a distance, the critic and the sceptic.

Our journey, which started in March 2015, has been one of successes and failures. We have not always managed to involve the general public and to persuade the reader about the importance of understanding the landscape as a human construction capable of influencing and working together with natural processes, social phenomena, and aesthetic principles. This year presents new opportunities and challenges, especially if we consider that in the last year we have seen a renewed national impetus in relation to the use of natural resources, the conservation and study of heritage landscapes, and the understanding of the role of landscape as a public space that is designed, not just with trees.

A couple of weeks ago, from California (the state that created Yosemite as the first territorial reserve in the world in 1864), Tomas McKay and Ricardo Rodríguez highlighted Chile’s leadership in conservation matters, thanks to the public-private partnership that has created the Melimoyu and Pumalín parks and almost two million km2 marine protected areas (1). In mid 2017, probably all the national twitters re-posted the presentation of former US Vice President Al Gore as he recognized us as the fastest growing country in the world in the expansion of the use of solar energy, with the expectation to produce 70% of our energy from non-conventional renewable sources as of 2050 (2). Another sign of optimism, this time on an urban scale, has been the announcement of the nearly completed legislative journey of Law No. 20,958 supporting public space, though the law does use euphemisms (or “urban public goods”) to refer to landscape projects and assumes they are part of the real estate development of cities in a permanent process of expansion (3).

(1) McKay y Rodríguez, “Opinión: nuevos parques nacionales en Chile,” (Opinion: New National Parks in Chile), La Tercera (February 22, 2018), p.6.
(2) Catalina Ruiz Parra, “No es suficiente cambiar los bombillos:’ Al Gore regresa a Miami para advertir sobre el cambio climático,” (It is not enough to change the light bulbs: Al Gore returns to Miami to warn about climate change) El Nuevo Herald (6 de agosto del 2017) <http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/sur-de-la-florida/article165744777.html>
(3) “Ley de aportes al espacio público: urbanistas indican los aportes e impactos más relevantes de la normativa,” (Law to Support Public Space: Urbanists describe the most relevant contributions and impacts of the Regulation) El Mercurio (January 30, 2018) <http://estudiosurbanos.uc.cl/comunicacion/noticias-y-actividades/3917-el-mercurio-docente-magdalena-vicuna-comenta-los-alcances-de-la-ley-de-aportes-al-espacio-publico>

These are just some signs that show us how, slowly, we can keep pace with a global trend that from the 2000s positioned the landscape project as the most appropriate strategy to produce some of the complex services that nature naturally develops. But it also alerts us to avoid a path that, at times, has given more importance to the mimetic reproduction of nature’s dynamic structure, to instead from these connections allow plain and simple designs and forms to emerge. Or as Anita Berrizbeitia notes, today “formal concerns have receded, giving way to self-generated processes based on the aesthetics of time, costs, change and instability” (4).

(4) Berrizbeitia, “On the limits of process: the case for precision in landscape,” New Geographies (enero 2017), p. 111.

This year we hope to expand our spectrum of visions of our national landscape. To this end, we will have invited columnists, both national and international. Together, we want to build a pluralist dialogue around the landscape as an opportune project, which is adequate to the pre-existing conditions of a site and brings forth the relevant observations visible in the configuration proposed. We invite you to think and see the landscape as a construction, both intellectual and material, whose configuration is based both on its physical reality and its anticipatory idea.

(2) Humphry Repton’s business card, “Landscape Gardener. Hare Street near Ramford Street, Essex” (1778) © Repton, The Red Books for Brandsbury and Glemham Hall (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1994 [1789, 1791])


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