Curious History

Curious History

The Evolution of Landscaping

It is believed that landscaping became popular during the Roman era. In fact, archaeologists uncovered evidence of Roman landscape gardens with mosaics and water fountains. However, during the middle ages, the art of landscaping got lost and emerged once again during the Renaissance period. This period witnessed some landscaping in Italy in the form of ornate villas and outdoor piazzas. It was in the 17th century France that the landscape architecture reached new heights in terms of sophisticated designs, such as Andre le Norte’s garden designs at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles.

This influenced a new generation of landscapers, as William Kent, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century England. They created huge parks, remodeled grounds of Blenheim Palace, defied the geometric importance of the French architecture to imitate nature. The only exception was Sir Humphrey Repton who focused on the formal structure of landscape design while creating the Victoria Park (1845) in London and Birkenhead Park (1847) in Liverpool. These two parks influenced the landscape architecture in the US and Canada.

The term was coined by Gilbert Laing Meason when he used it as the title of his book ‘The Landscape Architecture of the Great Painters of Italy’ (1928). Though the book was about landscapes in paintings, the name started being used by professionals such as J.C. Loudon.

Landscape Architecture

Though this profession slowly made inroads into North America, it was with Frederick law Olmsted, considered as the ‘Father of American Landscape Architecture’, that it really took off. He rejected the title ‘landscape gardener’ in favor of ‘landscape architect‘ as it described the profession better and the term was officially used in 1863. A pioneer and visionary, his works included designs of Central Park in New York and U.S. Capitol Grounds. His concept of the park was well-designed, functional, and there was ample green space amidst the gray buildings. And in 1899, an 11-member group established the American Society of Landscape Architects in New York. This society represented the architects throughout the U.S. In 1900, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of Olmsted, took the first course in landscape architecture at the Harvard University.

The movement continued to influence the architecture of the city in the 20th century, such as expansion of L’Enfant Plan in 1901. Cleveland, Chicago, started using landscape architects to develop their urban parks and residence. Around 1920s, urban planning separated from landscape architecture by starting their own degree programs. Yet, landscape architecture continues to play a major role in urban planning and design.

Nowadays, landscape architecture is practiced widely in designing and planning garden and public spaces and also for small spaces and gardens.

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