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Reclamation and imagination

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Title:
Reclamation and imagination
Creator:
Cook, Brian Ray
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xi, 126 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Reclamation of land ( lcsh )
Landscape architecture ( lcsh )
Imagination ( lcsh )
Landscape ecology ( lcsh )
Imagination ( fast )
Landscape architecture ( fast )
Landscape ecology ( fast )
Reclamation of land ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 67-69).
General Note:
Department of Landscape Architecture
Statement of Responsibility:
by Brian Ray Cook.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
62783402 ( OCLC )
ocm62783402
Classification:
LD1193.A77 2005d C66 ( lcc )

Full Text
Reclamation and Imagination
by
Brian Ray Cook
B.S., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2001
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirement for the degree of
Masters of Landscape Architecture
Department of Landscape Architecture
2005


This thesis entitled:
Reclamation and Imagination
written by Brian Ray Cook
has been approved for the Department of Landscape Architecture
Ann Komara, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, CAP
Anthony Mazzeo, Senior Instructor of Landscape Architecture, CAP
Date
The final copy of this thesis has been examined by the signatories, and we find
that both the content and the form meet acceptable presentation standards of
scholarly work in the above mentioned discipline.
11


Cook, Brian (MLA, Department of Landscape Architecture)
Reclamation and Imagination
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Ann Komara and
Senior Instructor Anthony Mazzeo
ABSTRACT
Reclamation, as an emerging type of landscape intervention, holds the possibility
to not only transform our post-industrial environment, but also our cultural
perspective. It offers new relationships between people and their surroundings, as
humans begin to understand their role in the modification of a terrain.
First, reclamation reveals a model for intervention, as a way of operating. Second,
because this revelation is found in the landscape, not of human formulation but
instead brought about by successional results in the land, it brings a new and
respectful dialogue with our surroundings as we look to the landscape /tse/f as a
place of learning. As a physical embodiment of the abstract idea of hermeneutics,
reclamation involves at first a questioning, then a marking with that understanding,
and then a returning, to investigate the revelations that come after the withdrawal.
Since the intervention invites the continual processes and interpretations of its
functioning environment, the site for reclamation becomes a location for discovery,
as these uncontrolled and unfolding characteristics are revealed and as new
topographic situations invite invention and wonder.
Landscape architects, as mediators of these terrains, not only hold the power to
disclose this idea in the actual, physical environment, but also in its abstract,
metaphorical process of representation. Each of these actions, as engagements of
a reclamation project, provides a foundation for new discovery, invention and
imagination through revelation. The engagement and questioning of these sites,
whether in their design or in their experience, opens a new dialogue between the
person and the landscape, bringing a renewed perspective as the landscape is
understood for its full potential.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed


Dedication
I dedicate this thesis to all of those that were involved in its making, who listened
to my ideas and helped shape them, as well as to those who might read what I
have written. This thesis comes from the people and places that have cultivated
what I am today, and I hope that somehow they could see themselves in it.
I would also like to dedicate this body of work to my wife. Her smiling face and
encouraging words provided the motivation I could not find within myself though
many nights and weekends spent studying. My relationship with her exemplifies
the learning and love that comes from a harmonious exchange between two lives,
and is positive proof of the ideas professed by this paper.


Acknowledgement
There were many people that influenced or contributed to the culmination of this
thesis. Each, in their own way, gave of themselves in order for me to further my
understanding of the subject. Not only did professors offer their time and
guidance, but they also transferred some of their passion for landscape
architecture, and the landscape itself. My wife and friends must also be thanked
for their enduring support and their willingness to discuss my ideas as they evolved
throughout this project. I am also fortunate to have people around me that are
curious about life, adventurously exploring our world and the ideas found in it.
This spirit for living is the backbone and attitude taken up by this thesis. Similarly,
I want to acknowledge the outside and indirect people that have proclaimed this
very sort of predilection toward the uneasy side of life extending beyond the
comfort zone in order to find deeper and more profound meaning in existence as
I feel I have been greatly affected by people in art, film, philosophy and music.
Duane Peters lyric Cleanliness is next to deadliness seemed to stay in the
background of my thoughts while I wrote this paper, fueling a reproach for current
cultures predilection toward simplicity through categorization and separation.
Contamination is the key to imagination and new understanding.
In particular, I want to express my thanks and appreciation to my wife, who I love
bigger than Texas. She was, and is, amazing especially through the late nights
and weekends without a husband (or a furnace). I also thank Prisilla for staying up
late to greet me at the door through all those same late nights. I am lucky to have
such a great family.
I also want to acknowledge Herb, a true Renaissance man and scholar for the ages.
From within the confines of our thesis room prison, to the wondrous explorations
while lost in the Netherlands, we have cultivated a dialogue and relationship that
(I hope) has furthered both of our lives and studies in them. I look forward to
many arguments in the future.
Many professors were integral to the formulation of the ideas presented herein,
including Jake, who brought up the question as to What is a park? and Gale, who
introduced me to theory and the spirit of the Situationists, but a few had
particularly profound influence on shaping not only this paper but myself and the
ideas that I now live by. Tony Mazzeo, through his own passion for landscape and
life in general, induced my imagination and consequential inquiry into this area of
study through his presentation of these ideas in class and in his own personal way
of life. Most of the ideas contained within this thesis are formulated based on
things presented or suggested by him, and I am forever grateful for the path that
he has helped guide me toward. I also want to acknowledge Adam Clack, whose
fervent passion toward a renewed romance with the landscape has greatly affected
my outlook towards life. His idea of our worlds inherent intuitive response has


helped me to understand that the landscape is not something to take simply, but
rather as an awe inspiring, unknown living thing. This single idea is something I
still inquire into, and continues to drive an investigation into what this ultimately
means. And speaking ultimately, George Hoover and his profound wisdom must
be acknowledge for setting me forth on this investigation. He has taught me the
importance and sanctity of life, and has helped me realize the boundlessness of
our universe, and the questions that we must ask in order to live to our utmost
potential. He introduced me to Heidegger, Mark Taylor, and a host of others that
will forever give me fodder for learning.
Thank you, Ann, for first believing in my ideas and allowing me to explore them.
And thanks for the guidance and advice you so generously offered. This project
never could have been accomplished without you.


Contents
List of Figures viii
Chapter
1. Introduction 1
1.1 The Project 7
2. Situation 8
2.1 Technology 8
2.2 Reclamation 17
2.2.1 The Idea 17
2.2.2 The Process 22
2.2.3 The Possibilities 25
2.2.4 The Dutch 26
2.3 Hermeneutics 30
2.3.1 Reading 32
2.3.2 Writing 38
2.3.3 Revealing 42
3. Intervention 46
3.1 De-Coding 48
3.1.1 Regional Scale 52
3.1.2 Local Scale 55
3.2 En-Coding 57
3.3 Re-Coding 60


4. Revelation
62
4.1 Conclusion 63
Bibliography 67
Figures
70


Figures
Figures: Reference
2.1 Trench plough cutting land for drainage, Netherlands
Netherlands, p. 29
2.2 Bos Park drainage channel Cook
2.3 Land in the process of being drained, near Middenmeer, Netherlands
Netherlands, p. 29
2.4 Group of windmills used for drainage purposes Netherlands, p. 9
2.5 Location of Eastern Scheldt Project, the Netherlands
2.6 The dyke of the East Flevoland polder under
construction
2.7 The Oosterschelde Weir blocks off the North Sea
2.8 The mechanical dyke with calm waters
2.9 Constructed dunescape on the center island
of the Oosterschelde project
2.10 Constructed dunescape on the center island
of the Oosterschelde project
2.11 Constructed dunescape on the center island
of the Oosterschelde project
2.12 Mussel and cockle shells on West 8s Eastern
Scheldt project
2.13 Plan of the northern end of the dyke.
2.14 Illumination of Scheldt project by car lights
2.15 Present state of the Eastern Scheldt project
2.16 Schouwburgplein Square in Rotterdam
2.17 The parking garage below the plaza
Asensio Cerver, p. 66
Wagret, p. 175
Weilacher, p. 230
Cook
Cook
Cook
Cook
Cook
Asensio
Asensio
Cook
Cook
Cook
Cerver, p. 69
Cerver, p. 67
Vlll
Cook


2.18 Stairway leading down to the parking garage Cook
2.19 Wood surface at the Schouwburgplein square Cook
2.20 Schouwburgplein Square with theatre in the background
Cook
2.21 Schouwburgplein Square through theatre window Cook
2.22 Lighting and exhaust cage at the Schouwburgplein Square
Cook
2.23 Jackson Pollack at work Frank, p. 112, 114
2.24 Photograph of child drawing in the street, from Cobra, no. 10 (Autumn 1951) de Zegher and Wigley, p. 36
2.25 Rood Vlak (Red plane), by Constant, 1961 de Zegher and Wigley, p. 64
2.26 Paysage, by Jean Dubuffet, 1944 de Zegher and Wigley, p. 43
2.27 A plaza space at the Parc Duisburg Nord Kirkwood, p. 151
2.28 Fern garden in the Duisburg Nord landscape park Weilacher, p. 133
2.29 Cowerplatz in the Duisburg Nord landscape park Kirkwood, p. 152
2.30 The Climbing Garden at Duisburg Nord Kirkwood, p. 152
2.31 Garden doors cut into remaining structure Weilacher, p. 133
Proiect Drawings: 3.1 De-Coding: regional scale. Ditches Cook
3.2 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Ditches Cook
3.3 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Ditches Cook
3.4 De-Coding: regional scale. Oil and Cas Cook
3.5 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Oil and Cas Cook
3.6 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Oil and Gas Cook
IX


3.7 De-Coding: regional scale. Rail Cook
3.8 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Rail Cook
3.9 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Rail Cook
3.10 De-Coding: regional scale. Wasteland Cook
3.11 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Wasteland Cook
3.12 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Wasteland Cook
3.13 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Wasteland Cook
3.14 De-Coding: regional scale, 1:1. Wasteland Cook
3.15 De-Coding: site scale. Measures Cook
3.16 De-Coding: site scale. Soils Cook
3.17 De-Coding: site scale. Context Cook
3.18 De-Coding: site scale. Water Table Cook
3.19 De-Coding: site scale, 1:1. Measures Cook
3.20 De-Coding: site scale, 1:1. Measures Cook
3.21 De-Coding: site scale, 1:1. Soils Cook
3.22 De-Coding: site scale, 1:1. Soils Cook
3.23 De-Coding: site scale, 1:1. Context Cook
3.24 De-Coding: site scale, 1:1. Context Cook
3.25 De-Coding: site scale, 1:1. Water Table Cook
3.26 De-Coding: site scale, 1:1. Water Table Cook
3.27 En-Coding: Mound Cook
3.28 En-Coding: Mound, 1:1 Cook
3.29 En-Coding: Mound, 1:1 Cook
3.30 En-Coding: Cut Cook
3.31 En-Coding: Cut, 1:1 Cook


Cook
3.32 En-Coding: Cut, 1:1
3.33 En-Coding: Gearing Cook
3.34 En-Coding: Clearing, 1:1 Cook
3.35 En-Coding: Clearing, 1:1 Cook
3.36 Re-Coding: Alluvial Islands of Ecology Cook
3.37 Re-Coding: Movement and Materiality Cook
3.38 Re-Coding: The Process of Cutting the Earth Cook


1. Introduction
Reclamation has emerged out of our technological, economic and cultural situation.
This procedure is not a human invention or creation, but has instead been realized
through an engagement with and recovery of our post-industrial landscape. Our
rational, anthropocentric world view has coupled with increasing technologic
means in order to produce these places. Machinery and an economic valuation of
the environment has led to humans consuming the earth in ways never before
imagined. Whereas the practices of restoration were once used to cover or
conceal these landscapes, attempting to return them to a previous and healthier
state (one that was known), this has become implausible due to the size and scale
of recent (mechanized) land alterations.1 Instead, people involved with these sites
have had to integrate a new post-operational practice. Because they can no longer
afford to accomplish the goals of restoration through human means, they have
been forced to rely on the landscape itself to bring these sites back to health, thus
surrendering direct control in order to let time and succession cultivate a renewed
and reclaimed environment. This paper argues that this profound relinquishment,
along with the processes that reclamation undertakes as an operative (engaging)
strategy, can be seen as a model for other types of landscape design and
intervention. Reclamation not only reveals a hermeneutic methodology for
producing new and inventive ecologies as it allows life to function beyond human
1 Alan Bereer. Reclaiming the American West (New York: Princeton Architectural Press,
2002) p. 61.
1


control, it also offers alternative forms of relationship between people, place and
cosmos.2 By abandoning our prevalent hierarchical, authoritarian stance with
Nature, our culture can begin a mutual and more fulfilling progression with it,
learning by questioning, rather than controlling, the elements of life that are
beyond human cognition.3
The methodology involved, expressed concretely in the reclamation process,
enacts the same steps as the abstract idea and philosophy of hermeneutics. Unlike
many current commonly administered techniques that are used to begin a
landscape architectural project, this analytic interpretation is not reductive as it
does not preclude particular operations as good or bad, or right or wrong. Instead,
reclamation assays the inherent characteristics of a site, as found conditions,
identifying the opportunities within the parts and processes that are already there.
While avoiding condemnation of certain previous actions upon the site, such as the
2 Hermeneutics involves questioning, then marking, or intervening, with the understandings
gained, and then withdrawing, allowing the intervention to be subject to interpretation
from the people and ecologies of our world. After this interpretation, newly revealed
factors and forces of the environment allow a renewed process of questioning, or
interpretation. The process is cyclical, but never coming back to the same place, always
progressing. As will be described later, the learning aspect of this operation comes out of
the simple act of opening up or questioning, beginning (again) the hermeneutical process of
interpretation. For my work in this thesis, this methodology is the basis for new
relationships, enabled by a practice of landscape architecture. James Corner begins this
argument in his essay, Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity, Ecological Design
and Planning, eds. by George Thompson and Frederick Steiner (New York: John Wiley and
Sons, Inc., 1997). Corner describes these new relationships between people, place and
cosmos as originated by ecology and landscape architectural design. While this project is
indebted to Corners argument, it attempts to further the discussion by finding the specific
aspects of these agents that cause this change, p. 82.
3 By Nature, here, I include all facets of ecology, such as human and non-human
movements, forces and interpretations. I would also suggest Frederick Turners
explanation of this term in his essay The Invented Landscape, from the book Beyond
Preservation, which says, Nature is the process of everything interfering with touching -
everything else. Human beings, another natural species, are part of this process of
irreversible change, but it is quite possible that termites have transformed the planet at
least as much as humans have. p. 36.
2


technological and mechanical manipulation of ground (an inherent problem with
restoration), the hermeneutic approach accepts the components and processes of
its given situation and illuminates the way in which they can provide new and
amazing results.
Hermeneutics can be considered a questioning rather than a valuing. Its process
continually investigates, as a detective would, working with the clues and tools at
hand in order to put forth a new understanding. Hermeneutics also acknowledges
that with each marking, there comes a place for reflection and consequential
revelation, bringing about an opportunity for further investigation, inspiring
another round of questioning. In this case, the problem is never solved. There is
only a delving deeper into the recondite issues and actions in our world.
Applied to design, the practice of reclamation begins with an analysis of the site.
An initial inquiry into the environment to be worked within allows the designer to
then re-order, add to, or subtract from the existing situation. The reclamation
process often alters the locale so that the eventual succession can give the site
what it needs in order to come to a healthier state. Contaminants are often
extracted through the addition plant species, the redirection of water courses, or
the implementation of other techniques that allow, and actually invite, the
inherent processes of the place to work over the modified ground. When the
landscape intervention is completed, the designer withdraws and the emergent
properties of growth and decay are expected to act out their various functions
with the hopes of healing, or renewing, the place of intervention. Significantly,
traces of the previous state remain visible as these drastically altered landscapes
3


are not erased but instead set forth into new ecological situations and
opportunities for invention and discovery. The site acts as a record of past
interventions, connecting inhabitants to alternate and imaginative times and
places.
Also, as the inherent processes in and around the area become evident in their
response to the sites alteration, humans are able to learn, gaining literacy into
the code of the place. This idea of the code can be understood similar to a text.
It consists of the parts and processes that comprise an environment and give it
meaning and direction. This site text is continually modified with each new
intervention, but it provides the underlying story in which designers intervene. As
a complex series of interfacings, the sites code can be understood as the
conglomeration of operative forces that enact successional response.4
In a reclamation project, as human control of the environment is relinquished and
the site is allowed to unfold over time, this code becomes visible. It is noticeable,
as an essential force, as it expresses the situational qualities of a unique location.
It displays the inherent desires of growth, such as the grass that is seen growing in
the cracks of pavement or in the undertones of resistance against oppressive
political authority. It is embodied by elements of life that push toward a
progressive future living, dying and interacting in ways that inaugurate the ideas
of an ongoing, expressive life.
4 Mark C. Taylor. Hiding (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997). p. 269. This term
interface was taken from Taylors text, where he defines it as the condition of the
possibility and the impossibility of seemingly seamless systems and structures. When
radically conceived, he says, this interface extends beyond every margin of difference to
contaminate opposites that once seemed fixed.
4


In reclamation, questioning is most important in bringing about the revelation and
discovery mentioned before. When an aspect of the site is questioned, it reveals
an initiating agent, and then another again. Each question brings an answer, but
the answer finds itself as a new place for questioning. To consider the analogy, as
these things are revealed, it is much like learning of new vocabulary. As insight
produces new understandings, we are able imagine and speak of new and different
things, in new and different ways. A transformed eloquence allows new
discussions of a broader range of subjects. It is similar to the way in which we
cannot discuss the texture of the moon or the feelings of flight until we have
experienced them. In the same way, we cannot discuss our place in Nature until
we have set forth new understandings within the physical world and then
questioned their eventual successional response. As this hermeneutic process of
questioning, marking and learning unfolds in the landscape, it is possible to
comprehend as well as imagine more and more about our environment and its
infinite interconnectedness. Revelations display reasons behind reasons, as
aspects of our world are seen as more than single, separate, superficial surfaces.
This learning and imagining process is also integral to the design process. By
opening up to the layers of influence that are inherent to a particular sight, as well
as to the processes that shape the landscape, the designer is able to extend
beyond prior knowledge and bias. This extended vocabulary expands the palette
and possibilities for creativity. It makes for new and inventive landscapes, which
when experience, begins this process again for those that inhabit them.
5


The act of questioning is a relationship building process. Whereas the landscape
was once figured as something to act upon, as a single entity, this new perspective
understands it as something to act with, or within. Rather than subjecting it to a
one-sided argument, voiced by humans authority over and against the forces of
Nature, a dialogue occurs, and with this, a certain benevolence. When we realize
that the landscape holds answers to our questions, we gain respect and reverence
for it in its ability to teach us and provide a place for growth not only for
vegetation but also for human culture.
This is exemplified by the questioning and wonderment that came after our first
flights into space. Through technological advancement, humans were given new
vision, and new things to question, as they were able to see the earth from space.
What is now known as the Earth Day phenomenon has led to increasing awareness
of our world as a living system, as part of a larger ecological universe.
Landscape architects, as mediators of these terrains, not only hold the power to
initiate this inquiry in the actual, physical environment, but also in its abstract,
metaphorical process of representation. Each of these mediums, as engagements
of a reclamation project, provides a foundation for new discovery, invention and
imagination through revelation as well as a place for questioning beyond ones own
understanding. They bring about a new dialogue, as Nature, and its encounter
through representation, becomes a place for investigation, both of ourselves and
our environment. Since reclamation involves working within the processes already
operating at a specific location (with a specific history), each new project
6


discloses new knowledge about a definitive site as well as the effects of the
previous operation on it.
1.1 The Project
This particular project analyzes our current tradition and situation with regards to
technology, landscape design and theory, and posits reclamation as a model for
intervention. Then, in order to further an understanding of the processes
associated with reclamation, as well as demonstrate the relevance of this model in
a landscape project, these ideas are explored through a series of drawings. This
representational terrain offers an exploratory opportunity to enact this theory into
practice, appropriate to the field of landscape architecture (since drawing is the
means by which landscapes are constructed).5 Through drawing, the ideas are
placed within the physical world and become subject to criticism, thus opening
them up to new interpretation and discovery. This interpretation not only comes
from the response to the actual setting forth, but also in the situational making
(physical) of the idea. As these abstract thoughts are positioned within their
context, there is an intuitive revealing of the appropriateness of their ideas as well
as the situation to be entered.
The drawings in this project are divided into sets based on the methodology
modeled by reclamation. The first set of drawings decodes a site at both regional
5 James Corner. Representation and Landscape: Drawing and Making in the Landscape
Medium, Word and Image, Vol. 8, No. 3 (July September, 1992). While this entire article
could apply to this idea, see especially p. 245.
7


and local scales. It scratches the surface to reveal the depths of the forces that
are at work in the area. The second set shows the operations of intervention to be
enacted within the already existing code of the site. It also looks at similar
metaphorical processes in the area in order to better understand the successional
potentials of the site. The last set of drawings projects an open, yet designed
response, playing out a continuation of the code as affected by the intervention.
They hint at the successional look and feel of the site, not as a static proposition
of built work, but rather as a continuation of interrupted processes. Similar to the
way in which a physical site to be reclaimed offers a place for imagination and
invention, the drawings, too, act as a place for this action and engagement.
2. Situation.
2.1 Technology
Never before in the history of mankind has the ability to mark the earth been so
readily accessible. We have explored, measured, conquered, acquired, analyzed,
matriculated and incorporated most areas of the planet on which we exist, not to
mention a few of those beyond. Over time, our efforts to understand our
surroundings have led to technological advances, each one offering new awareness
about our existence and the things that surround us. Numerous inventions have
enabled us to see in new ways, at amazingly greater or smaller speeds, distances
and scales, with deeper understandings as to what is being perceived. Places that
8


were once mysterious to us, explained by story and imagination, are now brought
to us through digital monitors and IMAX theater screens. Landscapes that once
seemed vast and monumental are now subjected to human machinery and
inhabitation. Near and far are becoming distanceless, the latter now equally
accessible through technologies such as high speed trains, telescopes and
underwater videography.6 We extend our bodies through this galaxy and the next,
experiencing and manipulating those things around us in new and different ways.
This capacity to familiarize ourselves with our environment has had a two-fold
effect on our cultural condition.7 At once these understandings open up new
territories for imagination and discovery, but at the same time, after experience
and rational categorization, our surroundings become known, and their
properties are reduced.8 In this process, the poetics of these things are suppressed.
What was once experienced or imagined for all of its various actions and
qualitative characteristics becomes something with expected outcomes and
signification. This is especially true in our relationship with the landscape.
Whereas once our knowledge of our world was limited to its superficial features,
when humans relied on myth to explain many of its unfigurable qualities, time and
technology have allowed us to investigate its depths. We have drilled into it, cut
6 Martin Heidegger. The Thing, Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper and Row,
1971). For a discussion on the ideas of near and far, see pp.165-166.
7 Martin Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology, Basic Writings, ed. by David
Farrell Krell (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publisher, 1993). This is a central theme to
Heideggers essay discussing the dual roles that technology plays in our investigation of life.
First, he points out this scientistic, rational means of understanding as a reduction of our
living environment. But it is also our saving grace, as an opening up of the unknown.
Thus the essential unfolding of technology harbors in itself what we least suspect, the
possible rise of the saving power. p. 337.
8 William Rees Morrish. Civilizing Terrains (San Francisco: William Stout Publishers, 1996).
Morrish says that To name a specific feature in an uncultivated landscape requires a
utopian or ideal terrain model representing the desired relationship of landform to urban
form. pp. i-ii.
9


through it, and flown over it; we have analyzed its elements, movements and
atmospheres. Once so mysterious that the Greeks considered it appropriate to or
expressive of various gods and a true force which physically embodied the
powers that ruled the world, the landscape is now plagued by such views as
resourcism and preservationism.9 In both of these reductive perspectives of our
environment, which will be discussed later, landscape is considered apart from
humans, as something existing on a different timeline, with different interferences
and intentions. The landscape has lost its significance and meaning, and our
relationship with it is no longer mutual but instead hierarchical.
Recent human actions toward the landscape have defined it as something to act
upon, as an object subordinate to human needs and desires. As understandings are
gained through experience with the landscape, this knowledge gives access to
power. In many current cultures, with their extensive ability to analyze their
surroundings, this omnipotence has translated into a hierarchical relationship
whereby attempts are made to determine the environments future through
measures of rationality. These measures, as described by James Corner, facilitate
possession as they enable one to occupy, control, and manipulate the land.10
The separation between humans and landscape is expressed by J.B. Jackson in his
essay, The Word Itself. Investigating the traditions of landscape, Jackson
found that,
9 Vincent Scully. The Earth, the Temple and the Gods (New Haven and London: Yale
University Press, 1979). These quotations are from Scullys discussion of the Greek
relationship to landscape in antiquity, pp. 2-3.
10 James Corner. Taking Measures Across the American Landscape (New Haven and London:
Yale University Press, 1996) p. 69.
10


...as far back as we can trace the word, (and meant a defined space,
one with boundaries, though not necessarily one with fences or
walls ... Three centuries ago it was still being used in everyday
speech to signify a fraction of plowed ground no larger than a
quarter acre, then to signify an expanse of village holdings, as in
grassland or woodland, and then finally to signify England itself the
largest space any Englishman of those days could imagine; in short,
a remarkably versatile word, but always implying a space defined by
people, and one that could be described in legal terms.11
The second half of the word, -scape, is understood as an organization of that
terrain.12 It is interesting to note how the definition of landscape has changed as
humans have expanded their horizons and their imagination.
In placing the landscape and the idea of nature outside and beneath the human
agenda, we have also established a series of binary relationships. Their
consequential enactment into the environment can be identified as a cause for the
emotional and relational separations that are displayed between people, as a
community, as well as with their surroundings. As a result of this outlook, current
design strategies seldom attempt to work with, or inquire into, the unknown or
unfigurable processes that are already operating within a site. These include
human ecologies as well as the processes of entropy and renewal. Most landscape
design no longer strives for a dialogue with the landscape, allowing it to respond to
the intervention, but instead attempts to contrive original conditions constructed
entirely of human systems, separate from the existing terrain. This subjective
relationship is inherently debilitating for both sides of the affair.13 Whereas a
11 John Brinckerhoff Jackson. The Word Itself, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape
(New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986) p. 6.
12 Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (Barnes and Noble Publishing, 2003). p.
1711.
11


mutually engaging relationship involves allowance and a progressive, symbiotic
growth between one and the other, our current paradigm tends to suppress,
subordinate and control. It does not attend to the characteristics of the land as
a functioning, evolving process, but instead as an object to be worked upon.13 14 The
landscape is considered something lifeless and separate from the systems that we,
as humans, enact into the world.
The ideational separation of culture and natures systems has revealed itself in our
built work. Buildings and their infrastructure, as well as the landscapes that have
been recently constructed, only consider the displacement, not the employment,
of the existing ground. Designers give little thought to the assimilation of a
construction within an environment and most disregard the processes that are
already at work on the site. Rather than attempting to forecast the possible
repercussions of an intervention, the surrounding factors are controlled, either by
human labor or technological (and sometimes chemical) means. We have secluded,
if not negated, our wild environments as our presence has enforced a regulated
terrain.
In most situations, one side of the hierarchy (in this case the side of culture) is
whole-heartedly adopted while the other is abandoned (nature). We see this
13 John Stuart Mill. The Subjection of Women (New York: Prometheus Books, 1986). This
book discusses the problems of a hierarchical relationship. See especially pp. 84-106. Mill
says that the idea of a mutual relationship leads to a more fulfilling life, ...each can enjoy
the luxury of looking up to the other, and can have alternately the pleasure of leading and
of being led, in the path of development... (p. 101).
14 Heidegger, The Thing. In the discussion of near and far, Heidegger says that We
succeed in reaching [nearness] rather by attending to what is near. This involves a
looking after, as in taking care of something, but also the act of listening or paying
attention to the way it acts and re-acts. p. 166.
12


binary opposition in other instances of modern design with the separation of art
and ecology (or science) or the ideas of altered and pristine, wild and constructed,
and city and country. While trying to falsely create one without the other, or even
more, not acknowledging that one can be within the other, many current projects
create artificial lines of division. These lines are supposed to demarcate the
evidence of the human hand in the landscape but by default both sides are a
construct and thereby one of them, if not both (more typically the case), are
dishonest in their representation and configuration.
This problem is inherent in the tradition of landscape architecture, as founded in
the United States by Frederick Law Olmsted in the mid-nineteenth century. In his
time, the profession was called upon to create natural areas in order to relieve
the sickness and pressures of urban conditions, thereby setting up a dichotomy
that contemporary designers continue to draw upon. Sanitary conditions in the
city were sub-standard and epidemics such as cholera and tuberculosis were
rampant. In order to ease the sickness of the city, political leaders sought the
design and construction of a large park, imagined as a piece of countryside set
within the bustling city. Olmsted was granted the project based on his Greensward
Plan, a grand and pastoral vision, imitative of the picturesque landscapes he had
encountered in Europe. Although this project was a civic and environmental
masterpiece, it initiated a design methodology where an openly appearing humanly
modified landscape was not considered natural, thus setting apart humans and
nature. The very idea of the project, bringing the country to the city, describes
the cultural separateness embodied in that time, where human activity was set
apart from the idea of nature. Although this may have been the case in those
13


times, technology has seamlessly brought the two together in a newly imagined
world. This was the beginning of an apologetic approach to landscape architecture,
where human manipulation of the terrain was concealed and considered
artificial.15 In Anne Spirns essay, Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick
Law Olmsted, she points out that,
Olmsted was so skillful at concealing the artifice that both the
projects he had so brilliantly constructed and the profession he had
worked so hard to establish became largely invisible. Today the
works of the profession of landscape architecture are often not
seen, not understood as having been designed and deliberately
constructed, even when the landscape has been radically
reshaped. ...This blindness prevents their appreciation as artful
answers to knotty questions of conflicting environmental values and
competing purposes.16
She goes on to say that, Failure to recognize [Olmsteds projects] the Fens and
the Riverway as designed, as an artful, deliberate reconstruction of landscapes laid
waste by human occupation, blinds us to the possibility of such transformations
elsewhere.17 I would further this argument by suggesting that it also limits our
ability, as humans, to learn about ourselves and our environment. It withdraws our
ability to notice the consequences of particular interventions, removing the
opportunity to question the human role as an instigator of succession. As
landscape architects create new and inventive landscapes around the world, the
concealment of their constructed condition deprives our culture and the profession
15 Olmsteds success lay in his ability to create new and invigorating environments for the
people of the city. Although his methods of bringing openness, in the way of the pastoral
landscape, may be considered appropriate for the time, the problem for our current
practice lies in the fact that this has become an embedded tradition within the profession.
16 Anne Whiston Spirn. Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted,
Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, ed. by William Cronon (New
York and London: W.W. Norton and Company, 1995) p. 91.
17 Ibid., p. 112.
14


itself from the ability to examine the enacted succession for future imagination
and discovery.
This division and separation from our environment has seemingly created an
isolated condition, where the rational use and analysis of landscape has created a
divorced relationship between us and it. Because of this detachment, we
unsympathetically consume and control our surroundings, radically altering them
through technologic means. We create canyons and carve away mountainsides; we
cover the earths surfaces as well as flatten, cut and mound its various terrains.
We manipulate lands in vast and amazing ways, projecting our ideas and
explorations outward in order to conquer the unknown. In The Question
Concerning Technology, Heidegger discusses the dangers of this process, citing
that humans tend to become disenfranchised by the abilities that technology
affords, with a compulsion to push on blindly or, what comes to the same, to
rebel helplessly against it and curse it as the work of the devil.18 These attitudes
are pervasive in landscape architecture and architectural theory, as founded in our
Western, binary mode of thought. An example is the uncritical practice of recent
computer generated design and representation, especially the practices of three-
dimensional rendering, the use of G.I.S., and other such instances that reduce the
living, changing landscape to a stagnant, scientific object. On the other side,
there are calls for a wholesale shift from a technologically driven world to one of
art. James Corner states in his essay A Discourse on Theory II that, [technology]
has displaced the movement of tradition (because of its progressivist position) and
suppressed the poetries of art (because of its ideology of objectivity and
18 Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology, p. 330.
15


optimization), thereby devaluing an already impoverished life-world (at least
spiritually).19 Although I believe that Corner is one of the most progressive and
thoughtful critics in this area of landscape studies, the difficulty with these
sentiments is that he identifies technology itself as the problem, not the operator
using the equipment. Similar to the approach taken through reclamation, the
criticism should not abnegate the tool but rather how it is being used. Heidegger
wrote, The machines and apparatus are no more cases and kinds of enframing
than are the man at the switchboard and the engineer in the drafting room.20 It
is not that we need to increase or decrease our use and production of technology
(as progression is an unstoppable force of life), but rather that we first question
with each intervention, finding the opportunity in each individual situation to
succeed with a harmonious yet inventive design response.
Everything, then, depends upon this: that we ponder this rising and that,
recollecting, we watch over it.21 Martin Heidegger (1953)
19 James Corner. A Discourse on Theory II: Three Tyrannies of Contemporary Theory and
the Alternative of Hermeneutics, Landscape Journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (1991) p. 115.
20 Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology, p. 335.
21 Ibid., p. 337.
16


2.2 Reclamation
2.2.1 The Idea
The idea of reclamation is born out of our technological, economic and theoretical
tradition. Because of the degree to which we can affect landscape, and because
of the binary, apologetic sentiment that we feel towards it, we have been forced
to envisage this recently emergent practice. Our current perspective as something
apart from the natural processes of the world has caused us to feel shame in the
destruction of pristine environments. We have gone to great efforts to repair
or restore landscapes, trying to re-create, or simulate, their prior existence. This
paper argues, however, that the modification of ground by human occupation is as
renewing and rehabilitating of environments as a wildfire or volcanic eruption; and
that, while acting with best intentions, trying to ameliorate the land to a previous
condition is counter-productive. This is an acceptance of our continual
intervention within landscapes and suggests that these alterations could not only
allow for new ecological situations but also as new fodder for imagination. Rather
than returning to a known, understood state, the land needs to mature, renewed
so that it might accommodate its new context. This includes human as well as
non-human functions. If thought of in this way, each intervention could be
considered a betterment of our world.
This attitude, which some perceive as relativistic and dangerous, is actually full of
reverence and faith as it allows freedom for the landscape to operate, cultivating
a respect and relationship between humans and their surroundings. Instead of
17


enforcing measures of control to mend the human inflicted wounds of the earth,
this attitude grants privilege and authorship to time and succession. With a
profound inquiry as to the appropriateness of each situational intervention,
reclamation design is not based on prevailing paradigms, but rather with
thoughtfulness, compassion, and an acute awareness of the systems at work in the
environment. Similar to restoration, which is an attempt to return the site to what
is considered the original, or pre-intervention condition, reclamation is an
attempt at healing, or renewing, the given terrain. But because of the
magnitude and significant alteration of many of these industrial landscapes, it is
usually prohibitive to attempt any retrieval of their former condition.22 Thus,
instead of an act of concealment, whereby restorative attempts embarrassingly try
to hide our actions upon the land, reclamation is a layering of markings. It
identifies its existing situation, intervening in a way that decontaminates while
setting forth new ecological succession.
Restorative efforts are born out of the same isolated ideology that initiates the
consumption of these sites in the first place. Viewed as a means to human
happiness and enjoyment, restored landscapes are guarded from growth, change
and succession, kept for the purposes of a maintaining a comfortable and contrived
human experience. They are not allowed to progress in their own developmental
ways, rather they simulate a previously known and understood landscape type.
The restoration of landscapes is guided by the idea that our surroundings are a
resource. Whether for aesthetic or functional means, landscape is considered an
object, only to be manipulated based on economic and material values. This
22 Berger, Reclaiming the American West, p. 61.
18


attitude is by far the most prevalent in practice today as planners and designers
assess the worth of existing site features such as creeks, open space, freeways,
lakes and lowlands, and then exploit them accordingly.
Max Oelschlaeger, in his essay entitled Contemporary Wilderness Philosophy,
discusses how two world wars, socioeconomic growth, technologic understanding,
and the deterioration of environmental quality, have led the government and
public institutions to extend this conservation/preservation approach. He points
out that,
Immense federal bureaucracies (the National Forest Service, U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy, Environmental
Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management, National Park
Service) support this rationale; private sector contractors have
carried out the plans of these bureaucracies; and university
programs that provide the technicians to administer public policy
and manage wild nature have flourished. In short, there has grown
and developed in America a resource management elite consisting of
academic theoreticians, politician-administrators, and technicians
who attempt to impose cultural purpose on and thereby control
nature.23
As this has become entrenched in our world view, such practices have not only led
to missed opportunities to experience and imagine new topographies and life
situations, they also have furthered our movement away from a mutual, symbiotic
relationship between ourselves and our surroundings. With regards to the former,
Oelschlaeger quotes Holmes Rolston as saying that it is ...like tearing pages out of
an unread book, written in a language humans hardly know how to read, about the
place where they live.24 And to the latter, we can only feel in ourselves the
23 Max Oelschlaeger. The Ideas of Wilderness (New York: Yale University, 1991). See
especially Contemporary Wilderness Philosophy: From Resourcism to Deep Ecology, pp.
283-284.
24 Oelschlaeger quoting Rolston, p. 288.
19


emptiness and hardness that our separation from the divine qualities of true
wilderness has brought upon us. This objectifying, appearance based attitude is
part of an overall cultural schema that focuses on the value of image, or the view,
and the control of it. Instead of looking to the deeper, more permanent aspects of
life, value is found in temporary, fleeting appearances.
This is evident as we have become a consumer society, living superficially, with a
lack of depth. Without a cultural inquisitiveness, or a relationship with the
unknown aspects of our world, societies have become more and more infatuated
with the superficial characteristics of life. James Corner, in his essay entitled
Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity, says that the,
...belief in human progress and mastery over Nature, for all of its
good intentions and successes, has at the same time promoted an
often brutally mechanistic, materialistic, and impersonal world, a
domain in which the potential creativity of both Nature and culture
is diminished to dull equations of utility, production, commodity and
consumption.25
These temporary desires consist of the everyday and immediate, influenced by
image and transitory emotion. Instead of relieving our inquisitiveness on
transcendental aspects of existence, including the mysteries of landscape and
emergent evolution, there is a surmounting and pervasive appeal toward
superficiality. Comfort and happiness is found in temporary things, instead of life
as a whole, especially as revealed in the land. Mark C. Taylor describes this trend
as evidenced by fashion. Dedicated to the eternal return of the new, fashion
remains irrevocably committed to that which passes away: the transient, the
momentary, the ephemeral.26 In landscape architecture, this explains designs
25 Corner, Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity, p. 89.
20


such as Peter Walkers minimalist landscape artwork and our glorification of the
front lawn phenomenon; most designs we see built today are detached from the
ground within which they sit. This attitude lacks an interactive engagement of
context and environment and negates the possibilities for an inquisitiveness to
arise as to the unfolding landscape.
Reclamation sites, however, are extremely connected to their situational history
and culture. As they are usually found at the end state of a process, they are
usually unintended, discovered as byproducts of a previous occupation and
operation. Since the functions associated with these types of places are usually
thought of for their processes, whether it is to make automobiles, gasoline, or
nuclear energy, they can be considered performance landscapes, built for and
modified by their specific function instead of for their beauty or form. Because
the found state of a reclamation site is caused by the previous processes that were
at work on its location, these places inherently evolve into unique terrains,
revealing of their previous use as well as abnormal in their appearance. The
evidence of human and technological modification is easily recognized, as they are
distinct from their surroundings.
Because these landscapes were unintended, they hold the ideas of a frontier
condition.26 27 They are instilled with aspects of the unknown, as they are newly
invented topographies designed by the process at hand and the accumulation of
time and succession. As an idea of open space, reclamation sites embody the
26 Taylor, Hiding, p. 168.
27 William Cronon. Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, see
especially The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature. (New York
and London: W.W. Norton and Company, 1995) p. 72.
21


true ideas of wilderness.28 Their strange occurrence offers opportunity for unique
discovery and wonder, as they present terrains that can only be created by the
processes of entropy and destruction (or violence). Whereas many would consider
these landscapes to be devoid of human value, I would argue that such a position is
entrapped in a rational, economic way of thought, where dollars are valued more
than human enlightenment. In terms of imagination and a renewed cultural
perspective, these landscapes are the most valuable of all. If we entertained the
notion of working within these environments instead of restoring them to a
previous condition, we could experience their potential as agents of revelation and
creativity.
2.2.2 The Process
Looking at the roots of the word reclamation, first we understand that claim is a
verb or noun describing the act of taking possession or of calling out by means of a
boundary. This hints at the idea of acting against something, whereby a transfer
of values takes place. The site is claimed, receiving its forward action as
prescribed through the claimer. Re- as the prefix, then, is used with the
meaning again or again and again to indicate repetition, or with the meaning
back or backward to indicate withdrawal or backward motion.29 It becomes
evident that the meaning of reclaiming is not permanent, but enacted as an event.
28 Ibid. Cronon defines wilderness as a state of mind, as the state of wonder. His essay
gives a good account of what wilderness used to, and should, embody, as opposed to its
current associated meaning. Cronon discusses this most recent consideration of the word
to embody a contrived, controlled environment that is only thought of as having value for
humans in qualitative ways. p. 88.
29 Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, p. 1605.
22


It does not control as it withdraws, but instead allows freedom for the forces at
work to invigorate and enliven the act of intervention. There becomes a cycle of
claiming and reclaiming, in which a transfer of the current cultural idea of
landscape becomes represented in built form, and a learning process occurs
through the interaction and cultivation of these sites. As constructions, Corner
states that they serve as both marker and metaphor, distinguished from
wilderness in that it is land which has been modified by humans. But it is more
than this. Landscape is not only a physical phenomenon, is also a cultural schema,
a conceptual filter through which our relationships to wilderness and nature can be
understood.30 Because a schema is put forth through the process of intervention,
positioned within a continually functioning and evaluating environment, the forces
of Nature are given the opportunity to act as the ultimate critic. As the ideas
become embodied physically, time and succession work over them in ways that
reveals their harmonious and discordant attributes to the situation into which they
are entered. Similar to the way in which a plant reacts to soils, climate and the
availability of water, so do ideas, embodied as entire landscape interventions,
react to culture, ecology and their location within a given terrain. With this
attitude toward intervention it is possible to begin to listen to the voice that
comes from beyond human reason. We put our thoughts into the world, but then
the world reacts, giving us something to reflect upon. By learning from the
landscape we begin to respect and appreciate it, giving it the freedom to talk back
in response to what we have to say.
30 Corner, A Discourse on Theory II, p. 129.
23


For many, reclamation alone may not be a direct enough approach in trying to
solve the problems of our cultural detachment to our environment. Although
reclamation may seem to prolong the current problem by continuing, if not
escalating, interaction with our environment (a point that could definitely be
expected from a preservationist perspective), we have to understand that in our
current paradigm, we can no longer pretend to be stewards of the land by a simple
philosophy of avoidance or regression. This line of thought would have us believe
that there are remaining untouched lands that should be left as they are; that
wilderness is our saving grace and it is only to be found in mountains and deserts.
But this only sets up the same binary situation that has put us in our current
problematic state. It fails to realize that through technological devices we have
mapped and charted all areas of the earth and have simultaneously transferred our
values upon them. Wilderness is no longer something to look outward to, in the
outlying regions of the earth, but rather needs to be incorporated and even
discovered within the cultivated regions of our world. Instead of separating
culture from nature and wilderness from the city, we must find these things within
each other.
Our current situation finds human existence in opposition with the idea of Nature,
especially with those aspects of life that are considered green or of the
landscape. This opposition creates a problem in that it induces a framework for
either apologetic (and therefore experientially insignificant) or consumptive
landscape intervention. Often, designers fail to explore the artfulness that could
be induced through the altering of a site, within its inherent possibilities and
24


characteristics. In other instances, the site is objectified, and resource (including
beauty) is extracted through extreme amounts of energy and material dissipation.
An example that demonstrates the prolonging of this problem through the
preservationist attitude is discussed in Frederick Turners essay, The Invented
Landscape. In it, he writes how this ideal has been adopted by the government,
producing serious ecological damage, as in the case of the Forest Service and the
public rangelands. There are more miles of Forest Service roads (which determine
the services budget) than of interstate highways, he says.31 Wilderness is
something controlled and maintained, rationally kept by the value society places
on it as wilderness. Because of this, these places are not imagined as
explorationist space, offering new encounters and unforeseen events, but rather
are prescripted and composed for safety and comfort. Also, because these roads
are considered in opposition to nature, there is no thought to the beneficial
possibilities (to non-human ecologies or to human imagination) that could be
involved with them. They are diluted, not enhanced.
2.2.3 The Possibilities
Whereas our culture currently attempts to resolve issues by decisive rule making
and strict moral judgment, this predicament should instead be investigated by the
opportunities afforded within the situation. As demonstrated by reclamation, by
renewing the process of questioning and then intervening with understanding in
31 Frederick Turner. The Invented Landscape Beyond Preservation: Restoring and
Inventing Landscapes, eds. A. Dwight Baldwin, Jr., Judith DeLuce, and Carl Pletsch
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993) p. 45.
25


each new situation, we can begin to cultivate the relationship between humans
and their environment. By working in this way, a deeply embedded emotional
attachment and understanding of landscape begins to seat itself within our
communities, instead of attempting to restore harmony through continued
measures of control and domination. Thinking, as perceiving, must change before
any meaningful way of acting can take place.
2.2.4 The Dutch
One existing culture that has been forced to engage this hermeneutic way of
thinking and is known to express it in a visible relationship to the landscape is the
Dutch. The Netherlands is in itself a massive reclamation site, the terrain claimed
from the sea through engineered interventions. The Dutch have actually created
the ground that they live upon, recovering it through the systematic building of
dikes, windmill pumps and water canals. As the water is blocked off and then
drained away, it becomes dry enough for human occupation and inhabitation. [Figs.
2.1-2.4] Thus, the Dutch simultaneously create culture and nature. With this
deeply embedded in their way of thought, the Dutch have profound insight into
this idea of reclamation, and it is evident in many of their projects around the
country. One design firm, West 8, seems to be acutely aware of this situation,
their approach born out of this tradition and intuitive understanding. Adriaan
Geuze, principle of the firm, describes these ideas in a lecture he gave entitled
Black and White. I am Dutch, he said, and thus was born in a country with a
26


very special relationship with nature.32 In the presentation, Geuze discussed the
creation of a new polder, showing an image of the reclaimed land. You see some
oil drums with fuel. They supply the diesel engines of this pump house, which is
used to drain off the water and turn the area into a polder. This is the way nature
is created. Inherent in this idea is the ultimate progression of humans and
landscape, and all other ecological systems for that matter, in each act of
intervention. Man-made and natural have become ambiguous terms, concentrating
instead on a larger synthesis and symbiotic existence.33
In the southwest part of the Netherlands, where tidal storm surges had previously
wiped out entire regions of occupied and cultivated lands, the government
initiated a project to protect inhabitants from future damage through the
construction of an enormous, mechanical dike. [Figs. 2.5-2.8] Now considered to
be one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, the dike is a series of locks, or
gates, which regulate the flux of the ocean in this area of the country. In order to
accommodate the shell fish industry in the region, the decision was made that a
permanent ocean-blocking device would not work. Instead, the gates enable the
ocean to flow in and out of the region throughout most of the year, yet they can
be closed to protect the area during the heaviest storms. To create this barrier,
the engineers first created islands in the sea. Sand was brought from surrounding
areas and these depositions served as beginning locations from which to build the
structure.
32 Adriaan Geuze. Black and White. Doors of Perception 3. RAI Convention Center,
Amsterdam. (Nov. 1994). Nov. 2004
27


Upon completion of the project, the mechanical dam spanned across the bay, but
the construction islands appeared in a state of disrepair.34 Without much money
budgeted for this aspect of the design, West 8 was given the task to instigate the
ecology of the area while creating scenic vistas. Geuze describes the circumstance
and response for the Oosterscheldedam (Eastern Scheldt) project,
The client asked us to turn it into an artificial dunescape and to
plant it with all kinds of dune grasses and so forth. [Figs. 2.9-2.11]
For me this was really dramatic, because it meant that people would
not watch the water and the whole ecosystem. Rather, a very
strange man-made phenomenon would be made. Dune landscapes
are also found in nature, but in different spots not in the middle of
the seas. We said that it could not be done and proposed to make
enormous, flat plateaus out of those sand depots.35
Through rigorous ecological analysis of the area, the designers found that birds
enjoyed nesting on these types of plateaus. They especially noticed that white
birds preferred a covering of white cockle shells and the black birds preferred the
blue-colored mussels. [Fig. 12] With this knowledge in hand, West 8 collaborated
with the nearby shell farming operations to use some of their waste. They had
them dispose of their trash onto the site, where it was organized into a type of
land art project. A pattern of shell strips were laid out in alternating colors so
that the birds would also arrange themselves accordingly. [Figs. 13-14] Then, the
project was left to be inhabited. [Fig. 15] As a landscape that is only
approachable by automobile, visitors are greeted by this poetic organization of
color, set forth in a beautiful display as the birds take flight and create what
Geuze calls a living Zen garden. The nature of the Oosterschelde is artificial
nature which came into being when the dam was built, he says. We control
34
Ibid.
35
Ibid.
28


nature. We wanted to give visual expression to this relationship and, in this way,
put people in greater contact with their own nature again.36
As an example of reclamation, this project is playful, inventing new relationships
as it acts within the ideas of art and science (or ecology). The designers accepted
the found condition and then progressed from that point forward. There are no
apologies. Instead, there is a profound and poetic marking of human existence, at
the same time giving rise to a more diverse and active ecological situation.
The process modeled by reclamation is also displayed in another project designed
by West 8, although alternatively this one works much more within the human
ecologies of an urban situation. Also acting as a reclamation project, the
Schouwburgplein Square is a plaza constructed above an underground parking
structure in the heart of Rotterdam. [2.16-2.22] After ten years of attempting to
develop the site, the city finally came to Geuze and his firm for a proposal.
Whereas the previous proposals tried to bring nature into the city by providing
greenery and vegetation, West 8 took a much different approach. While not
condemning nature, or wilderness, to its associated imagery (as greenery), the
designers found that instead the project only needed to incorporate what
wilderness (or open space) does, as a place that is subjective and liberating. Not
limited by the preconceived notions of park design, West 8 focused on these
operative aspects. The plaza, surrounded by the downtown skyline of the city, is
in itself an open space. It appears as a hole punched out of the vertical urban
fabric. Geuze, who lived in the area, saw the potential in it, as he always
36 Udo Weilacher. Between Landscape Architecture and Land Art (Switzerland: Birkhauser,
1996) p. 238. This is an interview between Weilacher and Geuze.
29


thought of it as a kind of stage for people to act.37 In his lecture, he said, I
knew that Surinamese boys played football on it at night. During the daytime, all
kinds of shoppers and office workers cross the square, eating potato chips and
doing any number of other things. So the square has actually been discovered by a
special audience.38 In order to continue the site as a place for improvisation and
events, a thin, light-weight covering of steel and wood was placed on top of the
below-grade parking garage and enormous crane lighting was installed to provide
both atmospheric effect and a spatial boundary, calling out the great expanse. An
infrastructure of electrical outlets also provides the means to accommodate a
variety of events, including skateboard competitions, picnics, concerts, markets
and protests. As a construction, the site allows for the possibility and freedom to
connect to the idea of unregulated space. It is wilderness in an urban setting,
allowed to unfold and be manipulated by those that inhabit it.
2.3 Hermeneutics
In light of these Dutch examples, it is critical to understand that reclamation is a
process and an attitude, not a strict method of intervention with a particular
design outcome. As a model, this methodology can serve as a guide, not an answer,
for how we ought to begin the practice of landscape architecture. It is at first a
perspective a way of looking at the place of intervention as suggested by the
theory of hermeneutics and demonstrated concretely by the processes associated
37
38
Geuze. Black and White.
Ibid.
30


with reclamation. Although hermeneutics is the underlying structuring of the
suggested design process, this project finds concrete application of this philosophy
in the landscape, and in our interaction with it. The project will be discussed in
these grounded terms, as a process for intervention within the landscape, and then
left to the reader to interpret into other theory and life circumstance. Through
this text and the related drawings, I hope that it is evident that the grounds of
landscape architectural practice (as in reclamation) and theory (in the engagement
of ideas) are interchangeable. They work within each other as humans live out
their ideas on the landscape. We can draw out our understandings within either
realm, as long as these interventions become real, subject to the forces of
interpretation (which is hermeneutics). Whether in the terrain of ideas or on the
actual, physical ground, it all is engaged with the functioning system that we call
Nature. When we participate (through questioning) within either of these
environments, we are in store for great enlightenment, and then the process of
questioning begins again, within itself, at different scales and locations.
As a way of working within a context, on a given ground (or place of operation),
this paper offers a model for our action and deliberation through a focus on
landscape architecture and the act of reclamation. An investigation of
reclamation identifies three essential steps as well as a particular attitude that
understands the intervention as working within a set of circumstances. The first
step is a reading of the site, followed by writing, which describes an inscribing
within a text (with the knowledge gained by the reading understanding that this
new writing is part of a larger historical tradition). Revealing then takes place
while revisiting, or returning, to investigate the affects of the intervention. The
31


sequence is cyclical, but never beginning from (or returning to) the same place
because of the understandings that came from the previous encounter.
2.3.1 Reading
Inasmuch as the outer is an expression of the inner, the body
is a sign that can be deciphered by those who know the code.39
- Mark C. Taylor
Reclamation begins by trying to understand the ground, or situation, that the
project is working within. It first involves the act of looking, described here as
reading. It is a way of perceiving, taking in while attempting to learn through
comprehension; in reclamation identifying the parts of the code, or system, that
influences the making of a site. This idea of the code is important to understand.
As mentioned earlier, the code describes the limitless aggregation of conditions
that go into the presencing of the project. Another way of understanding this is
through a more common descriptor such as its context, both historical and
physical.40 This includes its materiality, its processes, and other influences such as
economics, politics, climate, geology, light, language, topography and ecology.
The code can be considered both site specific and also part of entire cultural
systems, such as our technological tradition or our current understanding of the
landscape. All of these things go into the making of a site, in which their
39 Taylor, Hiding, p. 15.
40 Heidegger, in The Thing, discusses these two ways that something comes to present
itself. These, as mentioned, are the historical and the material. He says, In the full
nature of what stands forth, a twofold standing prevails. First, standing forth has the sense
of stemming from somewhere, whether this is a process of self-making or of being made by
another. Secondly, standing forth has the sense of the made things standing forth into the
unconcealedness of what is already present. p. 168.
32


interaction is revealed on the surface through time and succession. Therefore,
beginning a reclamation project requires first an attempt to read these surfaces,
hoping to understand deeper, or hidden, factors that are at work. An everyday
example of this is the way in which wind, as a hidden or invisible force, is revealed
through the movement of a leaf on a tree. Or, as will be discussed later in the
paper, the way in which the surface condition of oil and gas extraction reveals a
geologic condition below, along with a cultural condition that uninhibitedly
consumes the materials of its environment. After this rigorous process of
investigation proceeds, and with knowledge of the tools at hand, the designer can
then find opportunity in them.
This reading, associated with reclamation, identifies with the idea of the
bricoleur. A bricoleur is someone who works with what is at hand. It is someone
who understands the materials that are immediately available and then artfully
assembles them in a way that gives new life to leftover parts the junk space of
our lives.41 The essence of the bricoleur not only occurs in the looking, in the
gathering and processing of the possible materials, but also in the assembling. As
an artist, the bricoleur finds a color palette, an assembly of materials, textures,
texts and line types from the things that are found, and then crafts them in a way
that forms new meanings and relationships. These scattered and unvalued parts
become meaningful in their new configuration.
41 Rem Koolhaas. "Junkspace. Bridge the Gap.
. This essay describes the effects of
modernism as a machine, producing byproduct spaces and materials at an exponentially
increasing rate.
33


There is also a certain violence that is associated with the making. There is
tearing, cutting and covering involved in altering the found object to make it work
with the composition but then that composition is still thought of as holding the
original materials, revealing a trace of what it was before. Bricolage is not
apologetic in this altering, but rather hopeful and excited. It is for mystic
revelation towards beauty transfigured, or transformed, as beauty lies in both the
interpreting (in the way of seeing) and successional altering; and in the things
themselves, as they are composed. Materials that were once discarded from an
earlier project are given a new opportunity to reveal their hidden potential. An
example of this idea is found in Jackson Pollacks paintings, which were created in
a way that resembles the art of bricolage. [Fig. 23] He found beauty in the drops
of paint an essential but previously ignored component of his art form. His
revelation occurred because of his openness to, or even his search for, a new
perspective; a questioning that took another peering into the materials at hand.
Bricolage, as a metaphor for reclamation, can also be discovered in the shell
patterned landscape by West 8. When commissioned with the project and asked to
create a dune landscape, the firm began with an inventory, as a site reading.
They found that the site was not conducive, nor was it made up of the parts, to
produce the type of ecology requested; instead, they discerned that the
surrounding circumstance included sea birds, waste from the nearby shelling
industry and automobiles. With acute awareness of the found situation and
unhindered by assumptions or borrowed iconography, West 8 was able to compose
the elements at hand in order to produce a beautiful and revealing design while
continuing, if not progressing, the inherent ecology of the place.
34


Another aspect of this initial reading step of reclamation is an un-knowing of the
site.42 This involves knowing, as mentioned before, in the cataloguing and
understanding of the situation, but also a knowing anew, wherein components
through time and various scales take precedent over the preconceived notions of
these components.
Similar to the way in which many religions have named and thereby figured the
idea of God, ultimately reducing this unimaginable omnipotence to representations
which humans can understand, we have also done this with aspects of the
landscape and Nature. Prairies are often thought of as flat and boring, rivers as
winding and continuous, parking lots as places only for cars, and parks as green
and pastoral. Imagination has dwindled in landscape architecture as many designs
rest on precedent and standardized concepts. Design tends to imitate the formal
models attributed to prior landscape constructions, never attempting to imagine
new possibilities in a new time and situation. It often relies on an image of
landscape architecture that was created before the automobile, television set or
the portable phone, failing to work within each intervention situation as a new and
challenging circumstance.
Our cultures condemnation of technology in the landscape, in this manner of
naming and figuring, has produced serious categorizations and limitations. Since
42 Anthony Mazzeo. Lecture 3: A Debt to Tradition. University of Colorado at Denver. 16
Feb. 2005. This idea of un-knowing comes from a lecture by Mazzeo where he says that,
When we speak of unknowing, the un is not the simple logical contradiction of its
opposite; of its other, but the terminus beyond a kind of knowing beyond knowing a re-
cognition: a knowing anew, an un-operation within knowing. Unknowing is a kind of
recalling of what we think we know, while also disclosing new possibilities for a future that
is unimaginable, that transcends the given present.
35


technology is considered separate, and therefore placed in a subjugated role,
landscape architects have failed to explore its endless possibilities, or the
possibilities of those landscapes created by technological means.
As an approach, reclamation is not so judgmental or prescriptive. It provides a
unique opportunity to actualize a hermeneutical way of thinking. As the initial
program of reclamation sites has usually fulfilled its use, leaving behind a
somewhat unplanned or unfigured circumstance, there is an opening up, or
liberation, for the possibilities of that site. It is no longer limited by the name
that was associated with its prior operation, but instead accounted for in terms of
its specific and remnant materials and processes. In a way, it offers the designer
the opportunity to see things like a child, a curious and unbiased approach
profoundly expressed by the Situationists in the 1950s and 60s and then furthered
by Jacques Derrida and deconstruction philosophy.43 [Figs. 2.24-2.26] Michael
Pollan, in his book The Botany of Desire, relates this to the transformative
effects that certain drugs or mentally induced transcendent states have on us as
they make us forget most of the baggage we usually bring to our perception of
something, ... our acquired sense of its familiarity and banality.44 As a model of
reclamation, this new perspective relies on an attitude of humility and playfulness.
It does not rely on proven methods, previous hierarchical understandings, or value
43 Situationists were a radical art and architecture group that sought to destroy convention,
instead exploring each moment and situation as if it were new and amazing. They
engaged alternative thought and practices such as graffiti art and vandalism, enthralled
with a vigorous and active practice of life. Descriptions of the group, and one of its
influential members Constant, can be found in the book The Activist Drawing, eds.
Catherine de Zegher and Mark Wigley (New York: The Drawing Center, 2001).
44 Michael Pollan. Botany of Desire (New York: Random House, 2001) pp. 167-168.
36


judgments as to what is good and bad. Instead, it finds opportunity in the
performative qualities of what is encountered.
An example of this transformation from programmed site to liberated ground is the
Parc Duisburg-Nord in Germany. [Figs. 2.27-2.31] Previously programmed as a
blast furnace plant, the 230 hectare site has been released from the constraints of
its former use.45 It is now considered a park and wilderness area, but if we were
to critique it in the spirit of un-naming, it is a place where the elements and
materials of a previous use have been radically released into a successional palette
for both human and non-human ecologies. In her essay in Manufactured Sites,
Rebecca Krinke says that the,
Blast furnace, an artifact of twentieth-century industrial processes,
provides a stunning sculptural presence in the new park. The site is
a complex matrix of buildings and landscapes, and the designers
goal was to utilize the existing fragments of industry as layers that
are recombined through the lens of park design.46
The use of these structures for a new landscape situation has created the
conditions for a new wilderness condition of new interpretation and of
spontaneous and inventive use. There are exploration activities within the grounds
as well as new combinations of ecological functions. One instance of this is
mentioned by Peter Latz, the lead designer of the park. Latz says that,
A diving club has established itself in the deep caves where
groundwater has formed underground lakes within the redundant
ore bunkers. The divers remove impurities and rubbish, and search
for adventure in the dark corridors of these subterranean
constructions.47
45 Peter Latz. Manufactured Sites, ed. by Niall Kirkwood (London and New York: Spon Press,
2001) p.159.
46 Rebecca Krinke. Manufactured Sites, p. 136.
47 Latz, Manufactured Sites, p. 151.
37


This type of discovery and invention within new landscape types produces a
greater range of possibilities for our imagination of the larger landscape project.
These new experiences open us up to ideas never before disclosed. Conquering
distance is no longer the primary means for revelation; instead it is coming to light
that things in themselves, as transformed by the weathering of time and process,
provide new and meaningful interactions.
With an understanding of what is already at work within the site, we are able to
then intervene in a way that uses these qualities for the purposes of artful
intervention. The inherent characteristics of the site are set forth, liberated in
their unfolding nature. Thus, reclamation is not the creation of an artifact, but an
initiating and guiding act that renews and invigorates the site, filtering out
contaminants while releasing new potential and beauty.
2.3.2 Writing
For building brings the fourfold hither into a thing, the bridge, and
brings forth the thing as a locale, out into what is already present,
room for which is only now made by this locale.48
- Martin Heidegger
The word writing suggests an inscribing into something. This is inherent in the
act of reclamation as it attempts to supplement an already functioning
environment. The process adds to, subtracts from, reorganizes and unearths
48 Heidegger, Building, Dwelling, Thinking, Basic Writings, p. 361.
38


different aspects of the site, while initiating new and alternative uses and
interpretations. Within writing, there is understanding of the surrounding forces
that caused the cultivation of a site (the understanding comes from the process of
reading), as a compiled history that delivered it to its current state. With this
knowledge, there is a new interpretation, revealing through intervention (as
writing) both an understanding of that tradition as well as affecting how the site
will continue to unfold. It is a modification, altering what is revealed or what
might be set forth by the (newly initiated) interactions.
In what I would argue is an extremely poetic version of this idea of reclamation,
Martin Heidegger discusses the act of intervention and how it should retain traces
of the old situation while admitting new possibility and revelation. A bridge may
serve as an example for our reflections, he says. The bridge lets the stream run
its course and at the same time grants mortals their way, so that they may come
and go from shore to shore. Bridges initiate in many ways.49 This initiating
requires time and succession in the form of events in order to be revealed. The
articulation is based on the continuation of interventions, as human and
environmental forces interact upon the site. In Heideggers example, the
operative forces are human as they hold a dialogue with the landscape during the
course of a journey, as does the bridge with the water. Heidegger also talks about
this same idea in The Origin of the Work of Art, but in this instance he ponders it
through the creation of a building, specifically, a Greek temple:
Standing there, the building holds its ground against the storm
raging above it and so first makes the storm itself manifest in its
violence. The luster and gleam of the stone, though itself
apparently glowing only by the grace of the sun, first brings to
49 Ibid., p. 354.
39


radiance the light of the day, the breadth of the sky, the darkness of
the night. The temples firm towering makes visible the invisible
space of air.50
The landscape, or in this example the building, embodies a continuous succession
of events, each revealing the code in a way that the intervention, or reclamation,
specifically invites. This is the discrete opportunity for landscape architecture.
With an understanding of the forces at work, it is possible to illuminate them in a
way that fosters growth not only physically but also emotionally and imaginatively.
Whereas current landscape practices seem to lead up to one ultimate act of
intervention, or the making of a site, reclamation (as a marking) is a more subtle
and respectful act that continually unfolds. Since our objectified landscape has
been perceived as a blank canvas on which to paint images of environments, we
now suffer the consequences of a negation of process. Current designs tends to
focus on the pictoral qualities of the land, as what it looks like, instead of what it
does. This practice is born out of our tradition, as began by painting and the
subjectivity of our view upon the landscape. J.B. Jackson describes this in his
essay The Word Itself,
First [landscape] meant a picture of a view; then the view itself.
We went into the country and discovered beautiful views, always
remembering the criteria of landscape beauty as established by
critics and artists. Finally, on a modest scale, we undertook to
make over a piece of ground so that it resembled a pastoral
landscape in the shape of a garden or park. Just as the painter used
his judgment as to what to include or omit in his composition, the
landscape gardener (as he was known in the eighteenth century)
took pains to produce a stylized picturesque landscape, leaving out
the muddy roads, the plowed fields, the squalid villages of the real
countryside and including certain agreeable features: brooks and
groves of trees and smooth expanses of grass. The results were
50 Heidegger, The Origin of the Work of Art, pp. 167-168.
40


often extremely beautiful, but they were still pictures, though in
three dimensions.51
Although recent landscape theory has explicated the ways in which our world
changes, the majority of practitioners continue to follow this ridiculous precedent
that was founded more than a hundred years ago. Instead of working with the
processes of the site, attempting to understand and collaborate with their inherent
operations, we paint liberally upon our environment as we consider it an isolated
surface.
In reclamation, the actual installation, as a designed landscape, is miniscule
compared to the way in which the site develops through growth, management and
cultivation. This process begins an evolving ecological situation one that we can
learn from as we return to it over time. There is a claiming and a re-claiming; a
marking, then a withdrawal, and then a return in order to claim again, but with
new perspective, insight and imagination.
At the beginning of the technological revolution, our culture became so fascinated
with the speed and power of mechanical operation that we subjugated our
surroundings in order to facilitate production. We polluted our rivers, our
atmosphere and our wide open spaces in order to give freedom to the recklessness
of industrial society. These landscapes now reveal to us, on their surfaces, the
depths of the attitudes and paradigms of those times. We are able to see the
priorities and principles that guided intervention as well as the way in which time
and succession reacted to those ideas being made physical in the landscape. Not
51 Jackson, The Word Itself, p. 3.
41


only can we come to understand the physical repercussions of this way of life, but
we are also able to critique the cultural and emotional response that is evident in
our current paradigm. What becomes important throughout all of this is the return
- the practice of looking at landscape from the current context with a questioning,
not valuing attitude. We have to accept the impossibility of a perfect or utopian
future. There is no right or wrong answer. There is only the current
understanding, and this, as representing the depth of investigation and questioning
about each situation, should guide our intervention.
2.3.3 Revealing
Only when the body is under-stood as being finally grounded in
spirit does knowledge become secure.52
- Mark C. Taylor
The aspect of revealing in reclamation is based on the hermeneutic idea of the
return. With the eventual withdrawal after a reclamation intervention, the site
becomes a repository, illuminating aspects of the code as they are accommodated.
Specific actions upon the landscape allow certain characteristics of the forces
acting upon that site to surface. In this, landscape architects are given the
opportunity to make visible the previously invisible aspects of our world. The
modification (or even violence) that landscape architects inflict to the
environment reveals certain aspects of the code, as the qualities that promote its
continual growth and decay react to the intervention. The revealing process not
only allows us to learn further about the site, in a way bringing us back to the
52 Taylor, Hiding, p. 18.
42


activity of reading, or questioning, but also, and I would claim most importantly,
new discovery as to the depths of our world give new fodder for imagination,
invention and wonder. Although the regeneration of landscape is often seen as the
primary concern of a reclamation project, I would argue that it is instead this
imaginative and transfiguring aspect that could possibly reconcile the cultural
perspective. Upon the revelation of new found imagination from within the
landscape, the succession provokes not only a renewing of the land, but also an
intimate relationship between humans and their environment.
This relationship is an aspect of current culture that seems to be lost, especially
with the landscape, as the isolation that was founded in our rational, modern
perspective reveals itself in our world. We are a disconnected society, separated
from each other and our surroundings, exacerbated by the fear that accompanies
this condition. Without the slightest attempt to understand difference, our
modularized culture spreads itself machine-like, creating homogeneity and
dissolution. It lacks the ability to identify with those things that we do not
understand. Instead, these unknown and therefore uncomfortable aspects of our
world are dealt with as problematic variables that do not correspond with our
inherent positions. There is a definite distinction drawn between good and bad, or
even good and evil, as our fear of the unknown subjugates things of difference. In
the landscape, this is seen as designers and environmentalists create wilderness
areas, regulated and secured so that visitors feel safe and virile (rather than
previously, when explorers considered wilderness as reminders of their
mortality).53 We also suppress vast areas of forests to accommodate our retreat
53 Cronon, The Trouble with Wilderness..., p. 73.
43


from civilization, at the same time creating a culturally controlled condition,
inhibiting the very forces that cause the invigoration of life, death and rebirth in
these places. In human ecologies, this is revealed as we deal with people in
inhumane ways, treating drug users with more drugs, isolated people with
increased isolation, and the unloved with increased conditions of hate and violence.
But this is where this paper finds a foothold for change, especially for landscape
architects. There is the existing paradigm, which controls and subjugates the
landscape similar to an abusive relationship, or we can offer respect and love,
being open to difference and interacting with a questioning attitude; learning
while also putting forth our interpretation. Each offers the initiation of a
successional pattern an evolving and corresponding attitude that either
celebrates life in its hope and bewilderment or suffers in an existence of fear,
negation and continued isolation and separation.
This story of love is the theme that has been pondered and analyzed by film, music,
painting, sculpture, poetry and literature throughout eternity. In love, we find
need for another in the way that it satisfies us in ways that nothing else can.
There comes a reverence, and a respect for its life, so much that sometimes we
would give our own life for it. Such love is not only superficial, enamored by
beauty and form, but also revealed in depths in mannerisms, actions, reactions
and all of the aspects that are found in our inherent attraction. The prospects of
love are so many that they cannot be summed up by this passage. But within the
possibilities of reclamation lies this attitude toward our environment. If we have
love for other humans, in their simplicity and understandability, then I believe we
can definitely find it in the enormity of what Nature embodies, if we begin to
44


attend to its ways. As invisible aspects of the site, such as light, ecology,
community, history, weathering, space, and all of the other characteristics of the
code become visible through the marking of a human intervention, we find cause
for a renewed curiosity and questioning a perspective much different than one of
control and dominance. We begin to find clues as to our role in the successional
progress of our world. We are part of it, instrumental in its evolution and
continual improvement.
Wonder and imagination push us toward the quest for understanding. Like children
playing in a sandbox, this creative agent causes invention and discovery, the
making of new forms and friendships, and insight into the possible reactions to our
various interventions. We grow up wondering about dinosaurs, space, animals,
rocket ships, and various landscapes as we sit in the back seat of the family car,
the window down on a vacation across the vast and wonderful landscape, our
inquisitive minds respecting the potential and beauty of crop fields as much as the
desert, the coastline, or the tunnels previously used for railroad cars. As children
we engaged environments, finding unique and wonderful qualities in each one,
even surprised by them, as they presented us with new knowledge of ourselves and
our environment. This aspect of imagination needs as much reclamation as our
war torn, toxic, (de)valued world. It is profound, though, illuminating another
source for faith and wonder, that Nature presents the opportunity for this renewal
within the very thing that causes the necessity for it. Like the environments
surrounding riverside industrial plants that are now being cleaned by the same
waters that they once polluted, we can find our own reclamation in the very thing
that we attempted to consume: the landscape.
45


3.
ion Intervention.
The hermeneutic process modeled by reclamation sets forth a new perspective for
operating within the physical landscape. By questioning, marking, and then
returning to learn from the sites successional response to intervention, we can
begin to reclaim the ecological and imaginative situations of our world. This
project, though, does not begin in the land, at least for landscape architecture,
which is at first a representational practice and ideational response. Because the
practice of landscape architecture primarily involves documented analysis and
then a drawn, creative response to that information (to be interpreted by those
who actually manipulate the built environment), we can consider the practice of
this profession to be one that happens abstractly; apart from the physical space of
our environment, through drawing. Corner, in his essay Operational Eidetics,
says that,
[How] landscape architects map, draw, and visualize the landscape
determines and conditions how the land is shaped and understood.
This is why images in design are neither mute nor neutral depictions
of existing and projected conditions, of secondary significance to
their object; rather they are active parts of the process,
engendering, unfolding, and participating in emergent realities.
Thus, far from the inertia of objective representation, the paper
surfaces and computer screens of design imaging are highly
efficacious eidetic and operational field on which the theories and
practices of landscape are produced.54
Similar to an actual site for reclamation, this imaginative field offers a place to
mark, or set forth, the theoretical understandings gained through the questioning
54 James Corner. Operational Eidetics, Harvard Design Magazine, no. 6 (Fall, 1998) p. 22.
Emphasis added.
46


phase of this investigative process, thus subjecting them to the scrutiny of the real
world.55
To put these ideas into practice, a project was undertaken to not only test but
expand upon an understanding of reclamation and its processes. This research
analyzed the results of the suggested procedures set forth by reclamation. To do
this, drawings display the (hermeneutic) intervention process, through the analysis
and design of an actual, physical landscape. The hypothesis was that marking,
through this (graphic) theoretical intervention (the ideas professed by this paper),
gives rise to the profound revelation that has been discussed, upon revisitation.
Each of the drawings are scrutinized by the author (and faculty), interpreted
through the lens accumulated as the project unfolded. The process works within
itself, and new knowledge is gained through each reflection and transformation of
experience into action.
In order to begin, an assertion needed to be made as to what the intervention
could engage. Weld County, Colorado, presented itself as a place to begin, as it is
an area involved with production, supplying our consumer culture with many of its
agricultural and industrial needs. Since this is the condition that produces the
possibilities for reclamation, as these processes of production dramatically alter
the landscapes they are found within, this area offered the opportunity to use the
ideas discussed by this paper. Also, Weld County is the fastest growing county in
55 I would describe the real world in this circumstance as a place that engages the
operational forces within the code. The imaginary is completely personal, inhabiting a
secure and confined realm of safety and isolation. Many people retreat to the imaginary,
hoping to find solace in their exclusion of the Other, of the unknown. But the real goes
beyond the individual. It is criticized and affected by things beyond the self, of the
functioning world.
47


the state. There will be an inevitable conflict as the spatial requirements for
production merge with the acquisition of land for housing. This conflict, and its
resolution in the landscape over time, provided a place to investigate a
reclamatory landscape strategy.
While understanding that these sites exist within a coded landscape, the drawing
process interprets and transfers the ideas of reading, writing and revealing to the
engaging operational tasks of decoding, encoding and recoding. These procedures
describe a way of interacting with the code, as the functioning environment, with
the same goal of reclamation as defined. In no way should these drawing types be
considered a standard from which to copy. Instead, the ideas that they present,
and the perspective from which they depart, can be seen as an exploration of the
reclamation process.
3.1 De-Coding
In the idea of decoding, the roots of the word describe the inherent
characteristics of this landscape architectural operation. The word code, as
discussed, embodies the parts and processes of the site, describing both a known
language as well as an operating structure. The operative prefix de-, also has
two-fold meaning. It signifies an act of separation and also a removal, or
negation.56 These definitions combine to indicate an analytic inventory of the
code, along with a negation of its existing terms. With a dual purpose in mind, the
56 Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, p. 511.
48


word defines actions that both figure and also dis-figure an understanding of the
place for intervention. To follow the directions connoted by decoding, the
designer would inventory characteristics of the site and its surroundings while
attempting to see them anew, initiating new perspectives for consideration.
Decoding is the preliminary and investigatory step that readies someone for an
act of intervention. It is a questioning to understand the parts and processes that
are at work on the site, as well as the narrative that initiated its appearance. As I
have discussed reclamation as a means for building relationships, decoding could
be considered the dating period, as subtle characteristics are revealed through the
open and humble inquisitiveness between designer and landscape. This step is an
interpretive process as the designer looks upon the lands surface and to
immediate and noticeable ecological movements in order to understand the depths,
or underlying essences, which cause action and reaction in the landscape. In a site,
as mentioned previously, these characteristics are found in physical, political,
economic, cultural and imaginative schemas that, upon implementation, shape our
world. As we understand the forces at work, we can then prepare to intervene
within them, not over-against their intuitive processes.57
The act of mapping, through drawing, is the beginning of a reconciliation. It is an
encounter, as the graphic representation of landscape provides an abstract
location for engagement. Mappings are a significant vehicle for getting to know
the landscape in its multitude of ways, and should not necessarily be considered
the action that decides the final outcome for intervention. The landscape is never
57 This term over-against is taken from Heideggers essay The Thing. Over-againstness
is a religiously touted word that describes a hierarchical separation.
49


fully revealed, but instead understood incrementally (but never fully) from
different points of view, at different times and situations. This is in contrast to
the McHargian method of analysis, whereby a compilation of maps supposedly
reveals the perfect and logical design solution.58 Instead, mapping resembles the
initiation of a love affair, as a simple handshake or a kiss on the cheek and a night
out on the town. It involves the developing of intimacy so that when it is time to
intervene, there is a personal understanding of the site and its context in such a
way that there is respect, love and admiration in the final scheme. It is a way of
familiarization, so that one understands the movements, moods, and stories of a
particular site. This attitude invites a playfulness; a constant flirting with the give
and take of learning from the other, and then about ones self. Then, when it
comes to the ultimate action of intervention, it is a supplement, adding to, in
order to make better; understanding what it might need to succeed and then
giving so that all participants in the relationship can come closer to fulfillment.
Many current landscape projects begin by defining problem areas based solely on
apparent human (and most often economic) desires. This involves naming disaster
(or devalued) locations and then figuring out how to fix them or possibly
continue their devaluation. This approach moves values from one place to another,
not understanding the significance of each unique site in the landscape. Values
are based on subjective judgment, and beautiful and wondrous (individual) aspects
of the landscape itself are overlooked in their potential. This approach, directed
by a divorced relationship with the landscape, usually produces an unimagined,
monotonous and repetitive design response. It fails to acknowledge the unique
58 Ian McHarg, author of Design With Nature (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1992), is
known for a positivist design approach in which empirical data is added together to decide
the ultimate design resolution.
50


aspects of each individual site, overlooking (through a fashionable means of
judgment) the inherent characteristics that are created through distinctive
histories and experiences. This approach displaces the very openness and
opportunity that is concealed within these sites, inflicting measures of rational
control and value while often attempting to increase monetary gain for the
controlling authority. The landscape is thought of as something to act upon,
furthering the separation and isolation of the human condition. Designers map
river corridors, trails, open space, brown fields, green fields, city centers and
transportation routes, but they usually begin the subjective process by
representing these features as lines on a map, reducing them in order to figure out
how they can use them without considering what they actually are or do. The
living landscape is objectified when designers place a blue line on a map and call it
a river. The river lives a life and has a story and changes from day to day, from
season to season and from generation to generation. With this type of drawing,
there is no knowledge of the way that the landscape fluctuates over time, and
evolves by the events that take place in it. Instead we need to understand the
story, the newspaper clippings, the images, the transformations, the ecologies, the
displacements, the consumptions and the textures. Drawing helps us learn -
instilling within us the landscapes history and characteristics in a way that gives
greater insight as to how we have shaped it, and how it shapes us. With mapping,
we are sharing and experiencing the nature of a sites life and death (although this
death begins as another form, or echo, of itself). It not only allows us insight as to
how to intervene with more knowledge of the site, but also with more reverence,
as well as inquisitiveness. Mappings are not a how to device. They are an
51


engagement with a land site that develops respect and thoughtfulness that then
transpires into the design.
3.1.1 Regional Scale
For this particular project in Weld County, the mapping began from above, looking
at the landscape with aerial imagery in order to see its structure and relational
characteristics. By looking at and questioning its vast surfaces, clues begin to
reveal the hidden conditions that effect the earths composition. In Taking
Measures Across the American Landscape, Corner says What is revealed in this
extensive visual panorama is an organic interdependency between humans and the
natural world. Connecting vast physiographic regions, the interrelational ecology
of the earth is perhaps best understood and manipulated from above.59 This
interdependency is the foundation for the first set of drawings. [Figs. 3.1-3.14] By
surveying the landscape from this perspective, it becomes possible to question the
connectedness and intricacy of the terrain. Ecological patterns are not seen as
isolated incidents, but rather within a single, functioning, undulating topography,
in which the various elements are not separate from each other but intertwined in
their unfolding.
The preliminary decoding process, as a mapping exercise, suggests a narrative of
the operations at work in the landscape. Different scales, schedules, diagrams,
texts, histories, maps and charts all come together to partially explain how a site
59 Corner, Taking Measures, p. 15.
52


has come to its present state. When thinking about mapping, there should be an
endless supply of material that corresponds with the sites continual cultivation.
The subject being mapped is a sign of a sign, as a revelation of deeper processes,
and it then also initiates signs of signs that point back toward it.60 This begins to
elucidate a narrative not only a landscape narrative, as in the pre- and the post-,
but also an involved world narrative, as everything is infinitely intertwined,
affecting each other.61 Landscapes emerge as a revelation of the situation they
were born out of. They also begin a new succession in the way that they alter the
code, beginning a re-coding of the site and its context. Every intervention is a
dramatic violence, changing what was there before as well as the processes to
come. A mindful mapping thus begins to play with the signing of signs in order to
understand how things might effect each other and might is the operative word
because every situation is new never before lived or experienced. We cannot
know it; we can only have some idea of it. It can only be imagined.
The beginning of the questioning, or decoding process must include a curious
wondering about the site. Looking in the right place or for particular aspects of
ecology can only lead to results that are already known. This occurs in current
design, as it often bases its foundational principles and mappings in common and
accessible elements such as shadow studies and circulation routes. In order to get
beyond our pre-conceived tools of utility, we must look even to those places where
60 Taylor, Hiding, p. 233.
61 Heidegger, in The Thing, refers to the culmination of the essence of the fourfold as
the worlding of the world. According to Heidegger, this is not something that we can
comprehend, as the idea embodies something equivalent to God or the inconceivable. By
attempting to rationally understand the idea, we reduce it to something less than what it is.
He says, The united four are already strangled in their essential nature when we think of
them only as separate realities, which are to be grounded in and explained by one
another. p. 180.
53


we do not expect to find answers. In order to invent, to extend our imaginations
into unknown territories, we must follow our curiosity, like the detective
mentioned before, or like a child in a new environment. In the analysis phase,
experimentation can only be beneficial, as it leads to new knowledge of the
intricacies of the land.
This occurred in my project as I became interested in an uncultivated area of Weld
County. [Figs. 3.10-3.14] The initial aerial images revealed a strange topography
that fueled my curiosity for further investigation. The resultant condition, I found,
was due to a lack of water in the area. Upon further inquiry, I discovered that the
geologic structure was a cause for this, and that the soils were mostly composed of
sand. Even more, there are an extraordinary amount of windmills on the site,
revealing wind and aquifer conditions as well as the use of these lands for cattle.
[Fig. 3.13] The regular grid of streets that demarcates the sectional grid so
common to the West was broken up in the area and instead, the dirt roads seemed
to demarcate paths desire. [Fig. 3.14] Sign upon sign, the story unraveled, giving
me more and more insight into the forces at work. The information not only
prepared me for a possible intervention in this area, but kindled my imagination
about how any of these factors might be displaying themselves in other landscapes
in the county or country. Through this investigation, I learned of soils, farming,
aquifers, political boundaries, grasses, ditches, grazing and many other operative
features of the landscape. Most importantly, I would argue that as conditions
continually revealed themselves as indications of other features of the terrain,
economy, technology and cultural ideologies my curiosity grew and I became
enamored with aspects of this particular area. I began to imagine the
54


opportunities for this site as well as how it came to be, and I gained an evolving
respect and relationship for its unique situation. Through this mapping and
learning process I have developed a consciousness and respect for this landscape
that continues to drive a desire to know more about it and its surroundings.
I am not going through this personal tale in order to present my own meandering
experiences of life, but rather to point out the possibility that comes along with an
open and inquisitive perspective. Decoding is not a task of problem solving but
instead a simple and meaningful way to begin the process of reclamation for both
ecology and the human imagination. By engaging unknown aspects of our world,
instead of controlling them, we can initiate the process for a successive future of
learning and hope, instead of one predicated on fear and dominance. We find
reason to let the landscape unfold as well as for intervening lightly within it.
3.1.2 Local Scale
As the reclamation project continued, still working within the process of decoding,
I decided to concentrate on the landscapes concerning gas and oil extraction in
part of the county. This interesting situation revealed itself in the aerial
photographs, and then intrigued me as I noticed the wells network-like formation
on the ground. Their spacing is fairly regular; there is approximately one per 40
acres dispersed evenly across the southwestern third of the county. Whereas these
sites are initially located in farm fields, assimilated into the operations surrounding
them, there is a much different circumstance evolving as suburban development
55


encroaches on these lands. Specific regulations accompany this interaction,
including no-build easement zones surrounding the pumps from 150 to 700 feet in
diameter, along with the operation of re-grading and re-seeding. This space
presented an opening, or a clearing, in which to begin the project.62 Because
these sites are byproduct spaces, and their associated operation induces a
condition devoid of human control within the rationalized space of suburbia, they
provided an opening in which to work. Conceived of as a reclamation project, I
continued with the decoding process, not forgetting what I had learned about the
larger systems operating in the area.
At the site scale, I continued to inquire as to why certain aspects of the site
presented themselves, as signs of signs, but my focus turned to a cataloguing, or
an inventory, of what parts and processes were at work. [Figs. 3.15-3.26] This
level of investigation would reveal the tools at hand for the successive marking of
the site. Artful and imaginative use of these tools would then allow an appropriate
and meaningful construction specific to site and not based on precedent or the
ideas of preservation. The drawings discern the specificity between sites as they
make up an intricate matrix across the county. Rather than using these mappings
as a means of copying what is already on the site, an understanding of the strata of
materials opens up the possibilities for human modification of this ground.
Acknowledging that a return to approximate, original contour (as specified by the
regulations) is as much of a construction as some other manipulation of the site,
the project seeks to find an appropriate, yet artful response to this intervention,
with the attitude suggested by reclamation. The current condition is not given
62 Heidegger describes the idea of the clearing in his essay The Origin of the Work of
Art. This is an open space where truth is discovered through an event of illumination,
or unconcealment. pp. 178-179.
56


priority over others that may be covered by layers of soil sedimentation (such as
the water table); instead all factors are considered in the making of a new terrain.
By attempting to return the land to a past state, to its original contour, this
apologetic stance denies both cultural and ecological progression, in diversity and
imagination. This action would have placed the complexities of a prairie system
within the constricting boundaries of (sub)urbanization. While realizing the
current circumstances and forces acting upon the site, it is not appropriate to use
materials that are from a previous time or an alternative location. In the book,
Between Landscape Architecture and Land Art, Adriaan Geuze was asked about
this aspect of landscape materials. People used to be surrounded by stone and
vegetation, he said. Today we are surrounded by metal, asphalt, crash-barriers,
bicycle routes and concrete. So we should use them.63 This is not a nihilist
approach opposed to the beautification of our environments, but rather a sincere
and honest attempt to work like the bricoleur. By finding the beauty in the
landscapes and materials that are at hand, we can imagine ways to find beauty in
the situation that is offered, within the operating forces of the code.
3.2 En-Coding
Although the task of understanding is never complete, one must intervene, with
the knowledge at hand, in order to put the ideas into the physical world. Once
this presencing occurs, the processes of the functioning environment are able to
63 Weilacher, p. 240.
57


react, displaying the opportunities and constraints of such an intervention. It is a
setting forth, or a marking, as opposed to a making, knowing that the design
response is not put into a new condition but rather entered into a dynamic system.
The operative prefix in this instance, en-, insinuates a putting into or onto, or
within.64 It usually refers to an alteration or an initiation. This is precisely the act
associated with encoding, as the intervention works within the existing possibilities
of what is already in the landscape, bringing about new growth and interactions.
The place of intervention is a fluid system, continually reacting to disturbance and
revealing aspects of its code. With the intimate knowledge gained through
decoding, the designer can intentionally initiate certain processes in a site,
allowing them to continually unfold. Humans are but one disturbance of many,
causing successional change by our specific action toward the landscape. But the
landscape, in its successive growth and interactions, must also be considered as
ongoing within an environment.
To encode the site in this particular project, setting forth the ideas learned from
investigation, I had to work within the politically prescripted process of re-grading
and reseeding, as the various intervention types were limited to subtraction,
through digging or unearthing, addition, through mounding, and erasure, by
leveling. Each of these actions, in particular situations, reveals different reactions
as the intricacies of site expose new and different possibilities.
The drawings in the en-coding set investigate these three types of grading
techniques. [Figs. 3.27-3.35] To understand the ramifications of each one, I
64 Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, p. 639.
58


distinguished several processes that might reveal themselves after the intervention,
including the vegetal and experiential effects. The different variables of soil and
water availability were taken into consideration in order to understand possible
plant growth, as well as the creation of different surface terrains. The
representation of these actions considered the processes associated with these
landforms along with the image that they produce. In attempt to understand this
operation as one of many actions toward the site, the drawings explored the way
that these forms might weather, guide, and grow. They are considered beginnings,
as a new reference point, providing the structure for what Corner calls, a
dynamic expanding field, literally a machinic stage for the performance of life, for
the propagation of more life, and for the emergence of novelty.65
This particular intervention relies on the political structure that is already inherent
within it. As the wells interact with housing, the sites are mandated to remain as
unbuilt areas, but the rules associated with this process necessitate the shaping of
the land. Because of this, the vacant parcels are treated similar to a garden.
Their vegetation can be cultivated, but since no structures are allowed, they are
left open, to another time and another argument. As a design strategy, these
remain as uncertain parcels, conceding our inability to know exactly what will
become of them. Their purpose, though, is in this openness. Whereas suburban
space is completely rationalized and justified, these spaces are set free to
accommodate future needs as well as immediate improvisation. While the
garden produces phenomenological value for the surrounding inhabitants (there
could possibly be one of these for every 12 to 20 households), it connects people to
65 James Corner. Not Unlike Life Itself, Harvard Design Magazine, no. 21 (Fall
2004/Winter 2005) pp. 2-3.
59


the landscape as they begin to encounter human-made, wild Nature. As these
processes are allowed to unfold, and as revelation comes from the experience of
those things beyond human control, the reclamation process and its successive
inquisitive initiation transfers to those that engage these environments.
3.3 Re-Coding
The idea of re-coding lies in the succession and revelation that occurs during the
time after each intervention. [Figs. 3.36-3.38] It is prescripted but unplanned;
managed yet allowed to unfold with each continual interaction. It is the response,
as directed by the code, to the manipulation of the landscape. Landforms erode,
accumulate and shift throughout time, and the site becomes a repository,
illuminating aspects of the environment that were never allowed or even noticed
before. As a garden, the growth of these sites is revealed by the beauty that
accompanies the swaying of grass in the wind and moonlit nights reflecting specks
of light from seed-heads and tassels. The emergence of imagination and
appreciation is initiated by the contrast of deep greens with orange, and the
reflection of red from rippled ponds of water. As designs constructed by the
landscape architect, the sites function as living, changing works of art, while at
the same time instigating ecological vibrance and diversity. The opportunity for
community interaction, through events such as Sunday barbeques and evening
strolls, will further an understanding of the code (as an engagement with Nature),
as humans gather and argue and befriend one another. Visitors might actually
question, wondering why and how these beautiful gardens were ever allowed in
60


their neighborhoods, realizing that they are consuming the very earth that is giving
them such enjoyment. The bobbing of well-heads will stand as a constant
reminder of our indulgence. The culture that created these sites, with extensive
systems of roads, rooftops and diesel-dug ditches, will possibly question the
necessity for such structures within an urban environment, realizing that their way
of life is interconnected with the landscape. With the imagination that comes
from new and invented uses of these places, along with a renewed connection to
seasonality and the cultivation of vegetation, people might begin to wonder,
beginning the process of reclamation for themselves. This is the hope of this
project, as the code is re-newed, re-claimed, and re-emerges in an invigorated and
healthy way.
As a reclamation project, the correspondence between human action and natural
progression becomes apparent. Instead of concealing our actions upon the land,
this attitude, defined by reclamation, provides a context to notice the intricate
interconnectedness of all of the earths systems. Because of this revelation, the
next phase of questioning finds the site to be missing. It is evident that it is not a
finite and specific place but instead an intersection of various forces, displaying
momentarily those aspects of the code that are allowed to reveal themselves. This
reveals the inability to create place. We rather create the conditions, or
appropriate the possibilities, for the site, as a receptacle, to contain these
transient actions and events. The landscape is full of happenings, one after
another, in a continual revelation of life (as Nature).
Mark Taylor, in his book Hiding, discusses this idea of the missing body.
61


Language, it seems, is the appearance of the disappearance of the body. If
the word is the death of the thing, the mystery of language always involves
a missing body. The search for the body (and the effort to establish its
identity) is the search for a signified transcendental or otherwise that
lends signifiers their thickness, weight, depth, and substance. If the body
cannot be found, the mystery cannot be solved.66
As one investigation leads to another, and one geographical feature is found to
exist only because of the infinite combinations of history, materials, movements,
scales and processes, it becomes evident that there is no founding truth. There is
nothing to rest on, but rather a continual play of signs throughout the depths of
our world. Whereas some may see this as a problem, with no solution in sight, and
no direct cause-effect relationship, the opposite is true. Because there is no
answer, the case must be continued. This is what progresses this hermeneutical
process of engagement, inquiry, relation, interaction, succession and revelation.
This is what keeps us questioning with each situation and intervention. If the
quest is continued, never tiring of the pursuit, it is possible to develop
relationships between ourselves and our environment. There becomes possibility
for the progression, not preservation, of its features. If the continual
revitalization of this process comes through the attitude of reclamation, and
reclamation is the layering of interventions upon found terrain, then we can look
forward to a new and amazing landscape in which to live our lives.
66 Taylor, Hiding, p. 54.
62


4. :bdtion,Intervention Revelation.
4.1 Conclusion
This is the point of departure.67 It is both an ending and a beginning. The finality
is embodied in a new understanding, as a new frame of reference, altering the
foundation from which the building began. As an origin, it is the setting forth of a
new round of questions, on a new ground initiated by the furthering of vision.
Similar to the way in which technology allows us to enter new worlds or to peer
into territories never before discovered, the engagement of this project enables a
look into the depths, where things become signs of signs, in an endless play of
transparency. However, one must be mindful that this point of revelation should
not be used to conclude that the case is solved. Instead, it is a reason to question
what lies beneath. This search involves the ideas and actions of invention and
discovery ultimately the initiations for imagination. These are the beginnings of
a relationship; as curiosity, respect and faith in the landscape begin a new process
of mutual progression. As much as we try to enforce appropriate actions toward
our environment as well as with each other, no real change can occur until the
cultural perspective finds this other, more inquisitive, point of view.
Through our rational domination of people, places and things, we have emptied
the significance of life as it unfolds. Martin Heidegger, in his essay entitled The
671 am referring, here, to this exact point in the paper (as the revealing stage of this
project). It is the location that you, the reader, are in as you ponder the ideas that have
been presented (even if this is not the first time reading it).
63


Thing, provides a metaphor for this aspect of scientific, logic figuration of our
living world. He says,
Sciences knowledge, which is compelling within its own sphere, the
sphere of objects, already had annihilated things as things long
before the atom bomb exploded. The bombs explosion is only the
grossest of all gross confirmations of the long-since-accomplished
annihilation of the thing: the confirmation that the thing as a thing
remains nil. The thingness of the thing remains concealed,
forgotten. The nature of the thing never comes to light, that is, it
never gets a hearing.68
Only an openness to those aspects of life that are beyond our sphere of knowledge
can bring us nearer to the landscape, so that we might see it in its myriad of ways.
In order to amend our environment, we must first bring about a renewed
imagination and relationship with the things surrounding us. We need to reclaim
our minds as much as the land.
This becomes the project of the landscape architect. As a mediating practice,
landscape architecture has the significant opportunity to enhance this faith in the
unknown aspects of our world, so that people might respect our landscape, and
have concern for it as they begin to see the amazing power held within it. Instead
of separating ourselves from the landscape, dominating and controlling it to fit
within our realm of understanding, we need to engage the uncertainty that comes
with an open ended design. Interventions ought to work within their situation, not
relying on value judgment or precedent. Instead, designers should look to the
example set by the bricoleur, creating beauty with what is at hand.
68 Heidegger, The Thing, p. 170.
64


Our choice is found at this exact moment, with this new understanding. We can
either use this revelation to provide comfort and control, or we can extend into
the next frontier, living like a child, in the constant state of awe and
bewilderment, excited at every opportunity, as an affirmation of life. This is the
classic story of the cowboy on the range, the astronaut, the traveler, the pirate
and the rebel, living wildly and inquisitively, attempting to understand whats
beyond the next horizon. It is also a story of love, this being the most important of
all and completely embodied in all of these characters. Love for something beyond
ones self, traveling into the unknown and learning from each experience in it. It
is the constant plight of action, in accordance with continual reflection, and then
most of all faith a trust that there is something to be known other than what one
knows all ready.
If we look to the model set up by reclamation, and if we attempt to intervene
within the code, always adding our mark of understanding to it, then this
imaginative future opens itself up to us. It is all predicated on returning, with a
difference, to where we began. As we inquire, or investigate, we begin the
process again opening up a progressive, imaginative future. The landscape unfolds,
renewing itself with each intervention. It is the place for learning, and for
investigative operation.
The hope for a renewed, symbiotic, and respective progression with our
environment is evidenced by my own particular journey. By opening myself up to
the mysteries of the landscape, and to the ideas found in our cultural tradition, I
have initiated a reclamation process for my own perspective and imagination. As
65


the drawing process functions as an abstract reality for landscape, my personal
engagement through this medium has caused a more inquisitive attitude, as I have
found new fodder for exploration of the unknown aspects of Nature.
This new point of departure will initiate another round of questioning, especially
through a more experiential encounter with the landscape. Through the actual
experience of a piece of ground, it is possible to understand more than its
superficial features, as a deeper level of dialogue permeates the relationship.
Different capabilities are expressed by different locations, similar to the way that
humans, as individuals, are capable of different and amazing actions. By
acknowledging the uniqueness and distinct capabilities of different areas of
landscape (as well as their similarities), we can begin to think of it as more than a
mere object on which to put our consuming desires, but rather as a multi-faceted
force of life. The landscape becomes sacred, and we look to it for answers about
our world as well as ourselves.
66


Bibliography
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The Activist Drawing, eds. Catherine de Zegher and Mark Wigley (New York: The
Drawing Center) 2001.
Asensio Cerver, Francisco. Environmental Restoration: Landscape (New York: Arco
Editorial) 1996.
Berger, Alan. Reclaiming the American West (New York: Princeton Architectural
Press) 2002.
Corner, James. Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity, Ecological Design
and Planning, eds. George Thompson and Frederick Steiner (New York: John Wiley
and Sons, Inc.) 1997.
________. Taking Measures Across the American Landscape (New Haven and
London: Yale University Press) 1996.
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Books Nippan)1994.
Glacken, Clarence J. Traces on the Rhodian Shore (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London:
University of California Press) 1976.
Heidegger, Martin. Basic Writings, ed. by David Farrell Krell (San Francisco:
HarperSanFrancisco) 1993.
________. Poetry, Language, Thought, transl. by Albert Hofstadter (New York:
Harper and Row) 1971.
Jackson, John Brinckerhoff. Landscapes, ed. by Ervin H. Zube (Amherst: University
of Massachusetts Press) 1970.
67


________. Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (New Haven and London: Yale
University Press) 1986.
Manufactured Sites, ed. by Niall Kirkwood (London and New York: Spon Press) 2001.
Mathur, Anuradha and da Cunha, Dilip. Mississippi Floods (New Haven and London:
Yale University Press) 2001.
Mill, John Stuart. The Subjection of Women (New York: Prometheus Books) 1986.
Morrish, William Rees. Civilizing Terrains (San Francisco: William Stout Publishers)
1996.
Netherlands. Regeeringsvoordichtingsdienst. From Fishermans Paradise to
Farmers Pride (The Hague: Netherlands Government Information Office) 1950.
Oelschlaeger, Max. The Ideas of Wilderness (New York: Yale University) 1991.
Pollan, Michael. Botany of Desire (New York: Random House) 2001.
Sadler, Simon. The Situationist City (Cambridge and London: The MIT Press) 1998.
Scully, Vincent. The Earth, the Temple and the Gods (New Haven and London:
Yale University Press) 1979.
Taylor, Mark C. Hiding (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) 1997.
________. The Picture in Question (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago
Press) 1999.
Tillich, Paul. The Essential Tillich, ed. by F. Forrester Church (Chicago: University
Of Chicago Press) 1999.
Turner, Frederick. The Invented Landscape, Beyond Preservation: Restoring and
Inventing Landscapes eds. A. Dwight Baldwin, Jr., Judith DeLuce, and Carl Pletsch
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press) 1993.
Wagret, Paul. Polderlands, transl. from French by Margaret Sparks (London:
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Weilacher, Udo. Between Landscape Architecture and Land Art (Switzerland:
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Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (New York: Barnes and Noble
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68


Periodicals, journals and newspapers
Corner, James. A Discourse on Theory I: Sounding the Depths Origins, Theory,
and Representation, Landscape Journal, vol. 9, no. 2 (1991) pp. 61-78.
_______. A Discourse on Theory II: Three Tyrannies of Contemporary Theory and
the Alternative of Hermeneutics, Landscape Journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (1991) pp.
115-133.
________. Landscape Architecture and Critical Inquiry, Landscape Journal, vol.
10, no. 2 (1991) pp. 159-161.
________. Not Unlike Life Itself, Harvard Design Magazine, no. 21 (Fall
2004/Winter 2005) pp. 1-3.
________. Operational Eidetics, Harvard Design Magazine, no. 6 (Fall, 1998) pp.
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________. Representation and Landscape: Drawing and Making in the Landscape
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Lectures
Geuze, Adriaan. Black and White. Doors of Perception 3. RAI Convention Center,
Amsterdam. (Nov. 1994). Nov. 2004
Mazzeo, Anthony. Lecture 3: A Debt to Tradition. University of Colorado at Denver.
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Websites
Koolhaas, Rem. "Junkspace." Online posting of a manifesto. Bridge the Gap.
.
69


Figure 2.1 Trench plough cutting land for drainage, Netherlands
Figure 2.2 Bos Park drainage channel


'V
V
- '- .f A*'/
Figure 2.3 Land in the process of being drained, near Middenmeer
Figure 2.4 Group of windmills used for drainage purposes
71


Figure 2.5 Location of Eastern Scheldt Project, the Netherlands
72



Figure 2.6 The dyke of the East Flevoland polder under construction (1954).
The core of sand can be clearly seen between the two clay embankments


Figure 2.7 The Oosterschelde Weir became operational in 1986. The computer-control-
led storm barriers seal off the North Sea along an eight-kilometre stretch when storm tides
threaten
Pii$

* ^ * . -S. V
-\v *.*-*. .
Figure 2.8 The mechanical dyke with calm waters
74


Figure 2.9 Constructed dunescape on the center island of the Oosterschelde project
Figure 2.10 Constructed dunescape on the center island of the Oosterschelde project
Mi-i.
0%
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Figure 2.11 Constructed dunescape on the center island of the Oosterschelde project
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Figure 2.12 Mussel and cockle shells on West 8s Eastern Scheldt project
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Figure 2.14 Illumination of Scheldt project by car lights




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Figure 2.17 The parking garage below the plaza
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Figure 2.18 Stairway leading down to the parking garage
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Figure 2.19 Wood surface at the Schouwburgplein Square
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Figure 2.20 Schouwburgplein Square with theatre in the background
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Figure 2.21 Schouwburgplein Square through theatre window


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Figure 2.23 Jackson Pollack at work
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Figure 2.24 -
Photograph of
child drawing in
the street, from
Cobra, no. 10
(Autumn 1951)
Figure 2.25 -
Rood vlak (Red
plane), by Con-
stant, 1961
Figure 2.26 -
Paysage, by Jean
Dubuffet, 1944
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