Related Staff : Susanne Trumpf
Students: CHAN Ka Yu Phoebe; LUK Wing Yin Joyce; WONG Wing Yin Erica
Nature in the city is unquestionable dominated by man-made landscapes. At its very basic, it is an accumulation of material – arranged, adjusted, disposed. But the question if nature is shaped by the city or if the city is designed upon its natural origin is more complex. In this densely intertwined system, concepts of the ‘natural’ and the ‘built’ environment cannot be read autonomously but have to be understood as layers of cultural, economic, social forces as well as its geographical conditions: exotic material superimposes local geology, the urban wild overlaps manicured green space, the built heritage overwrites natural history. Landscapes and micro ecologies in the urban context are in constant shift. The processes of changing shape and program, often influenced by piecemeal interventions on a comparatively small scale, build up a history of multi-layered landscapes which are directly connected to the very unique identity of a place. Even though documentation through surveys, photography and maps has never been as evident as in the past century, we are far away from fully grasping the impact of how these human interventions shape the environment. And, beyond comprehending, how do we engage with these urban ecologies bridging between acknowledgement of local history and opportunistic prediction of the future? How can we distinguish between material culture of significant heritage and redundant repositories of urban matter? Can we clearly define what is exotic and what is native to a place, what is intentionally developed and what an accidental by-product? Do we need to call for restoration or rather favour neglected maintenance? This thesis stream will investigate urban ecologies along with the human interventions that determine their evolution. It will emphasize on the interpretation of the material culture, the enclaved ecologies and the social history which shape the ground conditions and define the setting of one place. It will raise the challenge for landscape architects of how to deal with this sometimes unknown, invisible or only temporarily visible heritage and how to respond to the challenges of enabling the evolution of functioning urban systems considering their ecological and social sustainability.