The practice of landscape design has shown a tremendous popular appeal all over the world, notably in America, England, Europe and Japan. We see landscaped homes and buildings. designed parks and gardens and highways fitted into the landscape. The human benefits derived from such designed landscapes have been very encouraging. So we might elaborate this landscape aspect of the design and explore how best to use it.
Outlook in Landscape Design
Landscape work has been looked upon with different meaning by different people. The nursery men, for example, who grow diff kinds of plants for the purpose of selling, also establish a section to prepare drawings for landscaping the houses. Here the approach is more predominantly for the use of the plant rather than to meet the needs of inhabitants of the house.
Speculative house-builders have another approach to landscape work. They imagine the economic way of beautifying the homes on sale. In this approach the one factor that is ignored is that the prospective owner of each house would have different tastes in life and the landscape design would differ according to individual needs.
Yet another approach to the landscape design is by the landscape architect. His primary objective in landscape layout is to analyse the needs of the occupant and to base his design on the analysis. It is on this type of landscape design that this paper will refer.
Living Environment and Landscape
Enriching our living environment for the primary theme in landscape design. All of us have enjoyed watching the growing trees. We love to see the attractive, blooming multi-coloured flowers from season to season. We have basked peacefully in the cool breeze of the lawns underneath the shade of trees. In landscape design we will deliberately use the same indigenous trees, flowers and lawns around where we live, work and bask and glorify our life.
Human Urge and its Expression
A designed landscape is based on the analysis of human urges and in finding a vent to them. Such urges are exemplified in many ways. In a residence, the desire to avail of outdoor living predominately in proportion to the severity of climate. In hot summer this outdoor living might need a partial protection by a pergola type of construction. In severe winter such an outdoor living may be on a terrace directly under the sky.
Most of us like to have a walk especially along the water front. Such a walk is termed as a promenade. Here we design interesting areas like bathing beaches, sun bathing terraces, sand pits and bath houses, etc.
Another human urge is for walking as a daily routine recreation. We like to walk through the woods. We enjoy going up the rugged mountains. Climbing up the Everest is an example of this urge.
Many of us like to go for picnic on occasions. We like to get out of our enclosed dining room and prefer to enjoy packoras and snacks in specially designed open picnic spots.
Especially to suit our cultural taste we need huge open areas for festivals like Dussehra, Ram Lila, and Jalloos.
Our appreciation of arts and crafts is giving rise to national festivals of many kinds. So we have art festivals, music festivals, dance festivals, youth festivals and so on. The festivals of such kind are of seasonal nature. But they bring in great crowds from all over India and also from outside India. These occasions require festive treatment to the ground. These areas are aptly suited for landscape design.
Activity Analysis and Landscape
In landscape design the approach to the problem is based on the analysis of possible activities by the occupant. Such activity may be passive or active. In the passive activity or recreation we might need to provide for sun- bathing, picnic, over-look, basking in the lawns, etc. In the active type of recreation we might need to provide for walking, sports, boating, swimming and climbing, etc. Each type of activity demands a diff kind of outdoor space treatment. A picnic spot, for example, might need a hard ground with shady trees and also a possible view beyond. An area designed for sports will be shaped to the needs of the game with due consideration to the orientation.
Spatial Design and Landscape
In landscape design we establish a close relationship between the buildings and the sites by a sequence of subtle space formations.
The spaces within the building are formed by static and gravity bound structural materials. The need for protection from weather necessitates the forming of such enclosed spaces, but the use of such static materials tends to separate us from nature.
In landscaping the site surrounding the building we endeavour to connect our living to nature. We extend internal spaces by terraces, loggias and lawns.
In urban areas we tend to treat spaces in the stereotyped manner. Such a spatial sensation is dull and is easily forgotten. In rural areas, the spaces formed are of varying shapes and sizes. Thus the sensation of space is everlasting.
The experience of living in a fine space keeps fresh in memory during the whole life time. So we create fine spaces and help ourselves to enrich our life.
Climate Control and Landscape
The severity of climate can be reduced by careful landscape treatment. If deciduous shady trees are placed screening the sun, the scorching effects of heat get fizzled down to a cool breeze. The leaves of such trees fall off during winter and admit sun’s rays, thereby we are enabled to have a warm winter. Also if a lawn is planted in place of pavement on the sunny side of the house, the air entering the house can become cool. Similar treatments are possible to control climate by landscaping the sites around building.
Materials in Landscape Design
In outdoor space design we use the structural materials, either refined or natural. The refined materials are the same which we use in architecture. In natural materials we have the earth, rock and water.
Among these the earth forms a foundation base or the floor for outdoor space. Earth as a soil is also the medium for the growth of living plants.
Rock forms another natural structural element in landscape design. It has sculptural qualities. When used in smaller quantities, the stone from rock, links the structure to the site. This is done by stone walls, terraces and stepping stones.
Water is plastic and receptive. The container for water expresses its characteristics. Still water creates repose. Running water in cascades and fountains allows the variety for landscape treatment.
Besides we also use the living plant materials. These consist of deciduous, coniferous and many other types of trees. These also include the smaller size shrubs with flowers and fruit. So also do we have the lawns and ground over. Each plant material has its own characteristic, colour, form and texture. Their habits change from season to season. Their judicious use allows us unlimited scope for spatial design.
Type of Landscape Jobs
In urban localities the landscape design will be confined to the lots surrounded by buildings on all sides. This would be specially true when landscaping a residential lot. Here there is a comparatively limited scope for landscape and the job becomes only for extension of the indoor environment to the outdoor up to the boundaries of the lot.
Whereas, if the problem is for the design of a park within an urban area the scope for landscaping is proportionately widened. Here we do not have any prevailing dominance of an architectural feature. Thus we have a full scope for informal design.
In the sub-division layouts for complete communities, to quote another example, we are able to group the houses around communal playgrounds of different sizes and forms. Also we are able to find a harmony between formal and informal treatments.
The scope for landscape design in India is tremendous. Skilful specimens in landscape design would step up the popularity. Let us hope that such opportunity occurs soon and that the practice of landscape design prevails in this country.