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Artikelen > The landscape form of the metropolis

Saskia de Wit, The landscape form of the metropolis,

Subject of this paper is the landscape form of the metropolis. When the city disintegrates into an archipelago of fragments a new role is imposed on the landscape as a carrier of topographical characterizations, cohesion and continuity. The underlying landscape layer contains an annotated catalogue of situations, in which the genius loci is recorded and secured. These latent compositional elements are transformed into landscape architectural compositions within the topography of the emerging metropolis. They represent the first step in a conscious staging of a comprehensive landscape-urban system. This will be clarified in a short history of the urban form as a collection of landscape-architectonic transformations. 

The landscape form of the emerging metropolis can be further understood and directed by classification and elaboration of movement space (landscape of flows), built space (the plantation) and open space (landscape theatre). The landscape of flows is the landscape architectural staging of the urban machinery of motion; as such, it arranges the urban field in accordance with the mobility scenario of the metropolis. The plantation organizes the colonization of the urban field using the new programmes of the metropolis. The landscape theatre for its part contains the visual-spatial expression of the landscape space within the metropolis. The underlying landscape is integral to each of these forms but in different ways. This integration is explored within the context of the Dutch lowlands.

In the development of the metropolitan form the underlying landscape and its activation by means of landscape architectural interventions can take three different positions: as carrier of the metropolitan structure, as open space in the metropolitan network (landscape theatre) , or  as an indicator of place complementary to the generic character of the metropolis (narrative position, the ‘genius loci’). The example of Los Angeles where the supergrid collides with primal nature, with sunset boulevard as a new active scenography of this confrontation, underlines all three principles.


in Footprint Issue 5 Autumn 2009 Metropolitan Form. In samenwerking met Rene van der Velde.