The AA Landscape Urbanism (AALU) is a Graduate programme of the Architectural Association explores the emergence of ‘TERRITORY’ as a field of DESIGN PRAXIS. Through this lenses the programme operates within contemporary conditions whereby urban environments are understood not as discrete independent collection of objects but rather as interconnected and related landscapes with far reaching implications at local and global scales. Their implications are best reflected in current environmental concerns such as climate change, energy crisis and wide-spread pollution but less apparent in their social and political implications, currently being disguise by ecological and sustainable design driven agendas for the ‘urbanised world’.
The AALU model is DISTINCTIVE. Some have envisaged Landscape Urbanism as a means to decamp the depopulated western post-industrial city; to use landscape as the medium through which the urban can be reprogrammed for its post-fordist fate. Others have adopted a critical regionalist position in which landscape is mobilised in the conservation of site and tradition against the encroachments of globalisation and its supposedly universalising technology. The POSITION developed, within the AALU programme has ESCHEWED both the strategies of dispersal and the politics of conservative resistance, largely as a result of the locations with which we have been engaging.
The ever expanding metropolises of Mexico, Sri Lanka, Dubai and China, Europe for example, have rendered any straightforward adoption of others’ models incongruous to its concerns. On the other hand, the programme’s theoretical orientation, drawing at its outset upon the post-structuralist thought of figures such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, has placed it directly at odds with the phenomenological and humanist orientation of regionalist positions.
Rather than operate under the dictates of a post-fordist teleology, or be guided by a phenomenological/ humanist agenda, AALU has forged a distinctive framework of PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE, responsive design instruments and theoretical perspectives developed in an ongoing dialogue with the conditions it has addressed over the course of its existence. In this sense the programme has developed through a logic of PRAXIS. The concept of TERRITORY underpins our current Praxis, engaging the programme with wider conversations and disciplines, in particular GEOGRAPHY.
Hence the programme has been constantly evolving, integrating practices such as CARTOGRAPHY and new applications of technologies such as scripted simulations and GIS mapping, all of which are widely available in geographical disciplines but relatively untapped within disciplines engaged with large scale territories. Following a RESEARCH BY DESIGN METHODOLOGY, students develop the ability to abstract complex territorial formations and landscape based models to generate a set of novel guidelines that can potentially be deployed in comparable territories. These guidelines for new spatial outcomes provide an alternative to conventional planning projects, challenging how urban territories are designed and ultimately reconfigured.