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Interfacing Architecture And Landscape

Part 1 Dissertation 2002
Donovan Soon
National University of Singapore Singapore Singapore
Architecture has its roots in the making of shelter and refuge from the uncertainties of nature; in the process it has also become an instrument of alienation, creating the binary oppositions of inside and outside, manmade/ order and wilderness/chaos. Modern architecture with its sealed envelope and hermetic systems further exacerbates this by necessitating the clear division between inside and outside.

The modernist inheritance popularized the perception of landscape as undifferentiated greenery, visual background to the architecture’s built object vis-à-vis Corbusier’s machine in a garden (in fact a machine for framing views and producing landscapes, the treatment of landscape is purely visual and two dimensional, very much like an English landscape painting).

The deficiency inherent in the physical and conceptual dichotomy between architecture and landscape is that the structure of human perception is not composed of a series of discrete experiences, rather a continuous and overlapping one. This alludes to the fact that the relationship between architecture and landscape should not be one of mutual exclusivity and separation but an intimate one that comes together to form the totality of the designed environment.

The dissertation seeks to investigate the relationship between contemporary architecture and landscape by looking critically at progressive projects that lie at the threshold between these two domains and observing the reciprocity and exchange between them (e.g. how architecture and landscape act and react to each other). By examining the mechanics that animate these exchanges we may begin to understand the complex relationship between architecture and landscape, and how, through their interfacing, a gestalt more profound than the sum of their individual parts can be effected.

Donovan Soon


An extremely well written and cogent dissertation with excellent methodolgy, well selected case studies, and inferences.
Arguments for interfacing architecture and landscape are persuasive, well referenced, and assembled into a 'pattern matrix'. The significance of such interface is brought to bear on the potential of the (urban) Singapore landscape - in a masterly manner that reveals the previously hidden/unconscious agenda that pervades local planning and design.

Clear and concise presentation, development and explanation of ideas that never loses track of the focus. The balance of well placed images, good annotation, and convincing text (underpinned by a judiciously selected bibliography) show a commitment for, and a strong understanmding of the subject matter.

2002
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