Landscape Architecture

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landscape architecture

[′lan‚skāp ′är·kə‚tek·chər]
(civil engineering)
The art of arranging and fitting land for human use and enjoyment.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Landscape architecture

The person and/or professional whose job it is to design, arrange, or modify the features of a landscape, for aesthetic or practical purposes.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Landscape Architecture


(also landscape gardening), the art of creating gardens, parks, and other green areas. Landscape architecture is based on the use of ever-changing live plants to organize space and the creative combination of natural and man-made elements to form a unified whole. The art includes the creation of gardens and parks; the selection of plants for various climatic and soil conditions; the arrangement of plants along buildings, bodies of water, roads, squares, and sculptural works; and the planting and tending of plants. The diverse compositional methods developed by landscape architects may be conventionally reduced to two basic types: formal and natural. The former is geometric in composition, and the latter is a picturesque imitation of natural terrain.

Landscape architecture originated at the time when the slaveholding system prevailed. Special significance was attached to parks near religious structures, at palaces, and on noblemen’s estates. Gardens in ancient Egypt were distinguished by strict regularity. The main building was the center of the composition, and the straight avenue connecting the building with the entrance to the grounds was the principal compositional axis, which divided the garden into two equal parts, each having a rectangular pond. (The gardens of the New Dynasty have been best studied.) The states of Mesopotamia had large hunting preserves and gardens laid out on terraces connected by stairways (for example, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, seventh century B.C.).

Greek temples were frequently encircled by symmetrically placed trees (for example, the Hephaesteum in Athens, late fifth century B.C.); often the town centers had similar plantings (for example, the Athenian agora). As early as the fifth century B.C., formal gardens embellished with colonnades and sculpture and used for athletic competitions in memory of fallen heroes were common. After roughly the fourth or third century B.C., small gardens were laid out near dwellings; their sole decorative accent was a tree, fountain, or statue.

Formal public parks were an important element of many ancient Roman urban structures. Roman gardens, which usually were surrounded by colonnades, were noted for detailed coordination of natural and architectural forms. Artificial pools, fountains, and sheared trees and shrubs were commonly employed in Roman landscape architecture. In addition to sculptures and fountains, openwork trellises, summer houses, and arbors were popular garden structures. Particularly typical of Roman landscape gardening were small peristyle gardens, many of which have been discovered in excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Their origin was closely associated with growing urbanization, which brought about an increased desire for natural surroundings.

The medieval gardens of the Arab countries, Iran, and Central Asia were distinguished by exceptional refinement. The gardens were usually enclosed on all sides by high walls, and their regularity was emphasized by a network of narrow canals that divided the grounds into sections, consisting of rectangular or square grass plots and delicate color contrasts of plants varying in texture and color (for example, dark cypress and brightly flowering almond). On the Iberian Peninsula, which had been conquered by the Arabs, a special type of Spanish Moorish garden predominated from the eighth through 12th centuries. The garden was situated in a small courtyard, and its decorative elements included clipped evergreen hedges and small basins and canals lined with colored tiles.

Landscape gardening in Muslim countries greatly influenced the layout and decoration of the gardens of medieval India. In the medieval gardens and parks of the Far East, natural landscaping prevailed. The underlying concept of this form of landscape gardening—the perpetual renewal of nature—was emphasized in Japanese gardens not only by intricately laid-out ponds and paths but also by architectural forms that evoked a feeling of uninterrupted continuity with the natural environment.

The gardens of medieval Europe were primarily utilitarian in function. Vegetables, medicinal plants, fruits, and berries were grown. Interspersed were decorative grass plots with small flower beds. During the Renaissance landscape architecture assumed great importance in Europe. A number of 16th-century Italian architects, including Vignola and P. Ligorio, developed methods for laying out a regular garden based on the natural relief of the area. They employed compositional relationships that paralleled those of the architecture of the main building. The gardens, which constituted a system of vistas, were situated on terraces with retaining walls, monumental stairways, many works of sculpture, and cascades. Renaissance landscape architecture developed further in the design of Italian baroque villas.

The rationalist principles that prevailed in the art of 17th-century absolutist France were embodied in the strict geometric layout of the formal parks created by A. Lenôtre (for example, the Versailles gardens), which were situated primarily on flat terrain or a gentle slope. In front of the palace—the central element—were situated parterres and pools and canals whose smooth glassy surfaces resembled mirrors. Numerous sculptures were used as precise spatial accents, which together formed a unified whole. The basis of many formal French parks was a three-ray system of alleys that branched out radially from a palace or castle and opened up broad vistas. Lenôtre fundamentally influenced the development of European landscape architecture of the 17th and early 18th centuries.

In mid-18th-century Europe, freely planned natural, or landscape, parks were created, which reflected the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the study of Chinese art. Landscape parks were created first in Great Britain (architects C. Bridgeman, W. Kent, L. Brown, W. Chambers) and later in France (architect R. L. Girardin) and other European countries. The compositional basis of the landscape park was the creative treatment of natural motifs. Parterres were replaced by grass plots, geometric pools and canals by lakes and streams, regular plantings by individual or freely grouped trees, and straight walkways by winding paths. Original artistic devices associated with the changing seasons, carried out consistently in the total composition and the arrangement of individual plants, acquired great significance. Garden architecture also changed, with “romantic” artificial ruins and rustic houses prevailing.

The first known Russian gardens were those at 12th-century princely estates in Kiev and Vladimir. In 17th-century Moscow the upper stories of buildings housed gardens distinguished by sumptuous decoration (for example, the Kremlin Palace gardens). Country estates had formal gardens, which were marked by a close relationship with the natural surroundings and by the blending of decorative and functional elements (fishponds, orchards, hayfields).

The traditions of 17th-century European landscape architecture were developed in early 18th-century palace and park ensembles in St. Petersburg (architects J. B. Leblond, N. Michetti, M. G. Zemtsov). The parks were characterized by a strict symmetrical composition and skillful use of water surfaces and local relief. More dynamic spatial solutions were employed in mid-18th-century parks (architects V. V. Rastrelli and others), including Annengof Park in Moscow, the parks in Tsarskoe Selo (now the city of Pushkin) near St. Petersburg, and the parks in Kuskovo and Arkhangel’skoe near Moscow. In the late 18th century the landscape park became popular (gardener I. Bush; horticulturist A. I. Bolotov; architects V. I. Neelov, C. Cameron, P. Gonzago). The best examples are the park in Pavlovsk, the landscaped section of Ekaterina Park in Tsarskoe Selo, and the park in Kuz’minki near Moscow.

After the mid-19th century many public, primarily suburban, parks were established in Europe and the United States. Initially the landscape park predominated, but by the late 19th century landscape architects, such as F. L. Olmsted in the USA, often combined formal and landscape treatments. However, landscape architecture on the whole experienced a decline in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This decline was reflected in smaller layout patterns, pretentious floral decorations and intricate architectural forms.

The enthusiasm for “microcompositions” characterizes much of 20th-century landscape architecture. Advances in plant selection and dendrology have permitted the creation of Japanese gardens, Spanish Moorish patios, and rock gardens independently of actual natural conditions. The stylistic eclecticism inherent in such gardens is overcome by landscape architects who strive to use some of the methods of contemporary fine arts in their work (Brazilian R. Burle Marx).


In the 20th century many new types of gardens and parks have appeared: sports and recreation parks, amusement parks, exhibition parks, strip parks along highways, national nature and historical parks, roof gardens, and large covered gardens with an artificial microclimate. The creation of large urban parks for mass recreation (for example, Central Park in New York, Amsterdam Forest in the Netherlands), the preservation or reconstruction of natural landscapes (successfully done, for example, in the development of the Finnish cities of Lahti and Tapiola), the restoration of areas used for other purposes (for example, the park at the Olympic village in Munich), and the enrichment of the natural landscape in the erection of noise-protection structures are currently of particular interest.

In the USSR and the other socialist countries public park design is the principal line of development in landscape architecture. Especially typical for the USSR are parks of culture and recreation, which have become an important part of the landscaping program of Soviet cities and other populated areas. The first such park was the M. Gorky Central Park of Culture and Recreation in Moscow (1935–41, architect A. V. Vlasov). Parks of culture and recreation are designed for diverse kinds of active recreation and quiet relaxation of the different population groups. They are often being established in other socialist countries as well (for example, the park in Katowice, Poland). The various uses of such parks have led to new compositional approaches based on functional zoning of the grounds and the development of special facilities, for example, the Zelenyi Theater in the M. Gorky Central Park of Culture and Recreation in Moscow, the stadium of the Maritime Park of Victory in Leningrad, and the Choir Field and Music Hall in Kadriorg Park in Tallinn. The parks also have smaller facilities, such as sideshow areas, reading rooms, and lecture halls.

Soviet landscape architecture continues to be developed in connection with the establishment of special parks and gardens (children’s, sports, exhibition, botanical, zoological, and memorial parks). For example, solemnity and austere monumentally distinguish the memorial parks of victory in Leningrad, and fairy-tale themes and child-size scale prevail at Solnyshko Park in the children’s house of rest near Leningrad. In parks developed in areas of existing forest (for example, Goloseevskii Forest in Kiev, Vingio Park in Vilnius, the Izmailovskii Green Massif in Moscow), landscape architects strive to reveal the aesthetic possibilities of the forest environment and to incorporate only those necessary elements of improvement that do not destroy the ecology and that impart maximum artistic expressiveness.

In cities located in a steppe or semidesert zone the gardens and parks, which have frequently been created under unfavorable natural and climatic conditions, help to improve the environment. This type of role was played, in particular, by the Twentieth Anniversary of the All-Union Leninist Communist Youth League Park in Karaganda and the municipal parks in Dushanbe and Tashkent, where a system of large water basins was created. Frequently parks occupy areas with steep slopes or narrow canyons, which impart a special picturesqueness (the S. M. Kirov Nagornyi Park in Baku, the park on Mount Mtats-minda in Tbilisi). Most of these parks have complex systems of terraces, stairways, and retaining walls.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, in connection with the spread of hydraulic-engineering and drainage works, many new parks were established in river valleys that earlier were submerged by floods, on islands, and on the shores of natural seas, artificial seas, and reservoirs (Ostrova Iunosti on the Angara River in Irkutsk, Dneprovskii Water Park in Kiev, V. I. Lenin Southern Maritime Park in Leningrad). A number of notable examples of Soviet landscape gardening are also associated with the restoration of the landscape on recultivated lands. Such parks have been established at exhausted gravel pits (Moscow Park of Victory in Leningrad) or mineral deposits (Aleksandrovskii Park in Ordzhonikidze, Ukrainian SSR; Park of Culture and Recreation in Kohtla-Jarve).

Free landscape design, based on an artistic interpretation of natural landforms and including some regularly planned sections, has predominated in Soviet landscape architecture of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Among the most important landscape architects are V. I. Dolganov, L. I. Il’in, A. Ia. Karr, M. P. Korzhev, A. S. Nikol’skii, M. I. Prokhorova, and L. I. Rubtsov.



Kurbatov, V. Ia. Sady i parki. St. Petersburg, 1916.
Dubiago, T. B. Russkie reguliarnye sady i parki. Leningrad, 1963.
Landshaftnaia arkhitektura (collection). Moscow, 1963.
Zalesskaia, L. S. Kurs landshaftnoi arkhitektury, Moscow, 1964.
Simonds, J. O. Landshaft i arkhitektura. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from English.)
Jellicoe, G. A. Studies in Landscape Design, vols. 1–3. London, 1960–70.
Colvin, B. Land and Landscape, 2nd ed. London, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Landscape architecture

The art and profession of designing and planning landscapes. Landscape architects are concerned with improving the ways in which people interact with the landscape, as well as with reducing the negative impacts that human use has upon sensitive landscapes. Landscape architects are involved in such diverse areas as landscape and urban design, community and regional planning, interior and exterior garden design, agricultural and rural land-use planning, parks and recreation, historic site and natural area preservation, landscape restoration and management, research and academic programs, energy and water conservation, and environmental planning.

Landscape architects are generalists in that their educational and professional experience is very broad. Many environmental and cultural factors affect landscape design and planning, and landscape architects have to know how these factors relate. Design process is the main area of specialization for landscape architects, and decision-making related to design process is fundamental. See Civil engineering, Environmental engineering

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Engineering. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

landscape architecture

The practical art and science of adapting land for human use and enjoyment, based on the premises that land use and beauty are compatible and that neither is complete without the other. Includes the planned combination of living plants, such as flowers, grass, ground cover, shrubs, trees, and vines, as well as natural features such as rocks and stones; and may also include reflecting pools, fountains, outdoor artwork, gazebos, screen walls, benches or fences.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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