Landscape Planning and Environmental Impact Design

By Tom Turner | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 3

Context theories

The problem

How should a development project relate to its context?

Let us start with a dilemma. A rich Australian businessman has purchased a farm on a hill near a European capital city. He wants to endow a church and residential centre for a new religious sect, to have the buildings designed by a famous architect and to surround them with a eucalyptus forest, to remind him of New South Wales. He believes there is a local need for the development and that it will be a visual triumph, because of the glorious site and the anticipated harmony between the blue-grey foliage of the eucalyptus and the polished steel of the architecture. Local residents furiously oppose the scheme. They want the farmland to be retained and prefer local materials to stainless steel. Conservation groups like the idea of a new forest but oppose the choice of species and the buildings’ architectural style. Architects believe the church design will be an important landmark in the history of their art, deserving a magnificent location. Tourism planners believe the church will attract visitors from afar. Other issues raise similar problems.
Should new reservoirs be designed to look like natural lakes (Fig. 3.1)?
Should new buildings in urban areas be designed to resemble their neighbours (Figs 3.2, 3.3)?
Should the traditional character of rural buildings be used to inspire new buildings (Fig. 3.4)?
Should road embankments be designed as farmland or as wildlife habitats (Fig. 3.5)?
Are some sites specially suited to dramatic and monumental structures (Fig. 2.4)?
Should new forests be planted with indigenous species, to resemble native forests (Fig. 8.8)?
Should bridges be designed according to purely functional criteria, or should some be traditional and others modern (Figs 9.19, 9.20)?

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