In this post I would like to expand on the points about Landscape Urbanism from Lecture 5 by Geoff Whitten, who believed how landscape can be functional too towards large schemes, rather than a decorative feature.
The term Landscape Urbanism was first recognised in 1997, explained by Charles Waldheim, during the Landscape Urbanism symposium and exhibition held in Chicago (Larice and Macdonald, 2013, p.534). I was particularly interested in the term ‘terra fluxus’ and its relationship with urban agriculture, morphing in to the city landscape. This is because Landscape Urbanism is often seen as a solution for smaller problems – not solid, or pragmatic. However, the term terra fluxus, was derived from terra firma, meaning fixed and not changing, where terra fluxus, allows fluidity and unprecedented change not restricted within its space (Corner, 2006, p.21). I will later explain why and how it can overcome this impression with this case study; a 100 hectre Urban Agricultural District in Sungqiao, Shanghai by Sasaki Associates, completed in 2016 (Sasaki, 2019). But also, the analysis of contemporary politics within landscape urbanism, such as infrastructure, physical environment and social morphologies.
The reason that I want to share the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District is because I believe that it carries out the ideologies of terra fluxus, expanding further not just simply by providing an open public space and aesthetics. But a functional, physical landscape. Urban agriculture has provided a platform to expand on to the city, where there are growing trends called edible landscapes that provide opportunities for people to grow vegetables and fruits around cities. The Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District contains elements that fit in to the physical environment, infrastructure and social factors such as:
- Vertical farming that saves space.
- Hydroponic and aquaponic systems.
- Interactions with the public realm such as, science museum and festival markets.
- Attractive infrastructure such as, bike lanes and canal walks (Walsh, 2017).
Therefore, this shows how Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District not only incorporates sustainable landscape elements but also provides larger functions within the city. An urban agriculture farm does not have to be restricted with in a fixed farmland, or countryside, but can also exist in the city. I will now further explain how these factors will interlink with terra fluxus and on to a larger perspective of city morphology.
A Cities Physical Environment:
Urban Agriculture has been incorporated in to the city, which is significant because it can promote a healthier sustainable lifestyle and as urbanisation is increasing; there are decreasing green spaces, with an increase of pollution. This is because Shanghai is highly dense with a population of 24 million and have lost over 123,000 square kilometres of farmland to urbanisation, with one-sixth of Shanghai’s soil suffering from pollution (WLA, 2017). It can be argued by author Tom Turner (1996, pp.94-95) that food production should be normal within the cities, which enables life in the city to be a self-sustained ecosystem – creating a permaculture (permanent agriculture). Thus, Shanghai and other high-density cities can still have permanent green spaces, provided by urban agriculture but at the same time gracing the agriculture around the city with new forms of spatial territory, in boundless forms because urban agriculture can live side-by-side with the city.
Additionally, creating these new forms of spatial territories allow social interaction to take place at an unprecedented rate. As Diana Balmori (2010, p.113) states that, “Landscape can create meeting places where people can delight in unexpected forms and spaces, inventing why and how there are to be appreciated”. This can be supported by the Sunqiao Urban Agriculture District because it contains agricultural experiences that expands from the district to the public realm but also educating the next generation of children about food production; with interactive greenhouses and science museums – a living laboratory for innovation and education (Walsh, 2017). This creates new relationships between food producers and consumers. It can further be reinforced by authors Ana M. Moya Pellitero and Josué da Silva Eliziário (2012, p.573) that urban agriculture allows social interaction with close physical experience; educating new generations. The authors (2012, p.575) also suggest that landscape planning strategies encourage social involvement creating self-organisation and readapting abilities, as new information is received, due to the change of landscapes. Therefore, increasing social interactions caused by landscaping can help one learn and readapt to new circumstances.
Furthermore, the Sunqiao Urban Agriculture District, whilst morphing in to the city, presents good infrastructure that allows people to interact for example, it is close to downtown Shanghai, the site contains bike lanes and the district is also close to Shanghai’s international airport. See pictures below:
James Corner (2006, p.23) proposes that landscape can “theorize…infrastructure, and to organize large urban fields”, which can be supported as landscapes can help “organise the order of city space… but also understand the economic regulations behind urbanization” (Tang, 2015, p55). Therefore, it shows that landscape urbanism understands the balance between urbanisation along with landscape designs but also presents the ability to form paths for infrastructure – creating permeability.
Overall, urban agriculture represents elements of landscape urbanism, such as sustainability, social and infrastructure values but most important at a functional value not simply for aesthetics. It is especially important to see how green spaces can be morphed in to cities of high density and not a separate matter.