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City and nature - An integrated whole - Review

by Michael Laurie

The term, and the profession of landscape architecture are, even to this day, misunderstood in the western world. There may be a better word in other cultures. But this is what Trausti Vaisson writes about; the essential interconnection between land and people leading to a healthy happy and safe environment for living in a time of economic and technological change. His historical review recognises earlier periods when there was a closer relationship between man and nature, first by necessity, and in the 17th and 18th centuries, for aesthetic reasons as in the concepts of the Italian villa and the English landscape garden. Such wholeness, all be it aristocratic in origin, is embraced by Valsson. He advocates it as a theoretical model for architecture, city and environmental planning as opposed to the current science based specialisation which he sees as the source of urban problems in Reykjavik, and in cities around the world.

Using his homeland, Iceland, and hometown, Reykjavik, Valsson leads us to a method for integration of landscape and social functions to create a fine Civitas. He is critical of the 19th century's emphasis on separate disciplines but optimistic about the changes which have occurred during the last half of the 2Oth century, a movement of which be was a part as a student at Berkeley during the 1980's.

I welcome this insightful work, which reflects attitudinal changes of many young people, but sadly not their elders, throughout the globe; an wholistic world view. The science of ecology and new physics is central to his philosophy. Translated into the arena of urban design and environmental planning it gives a new view into a better future for our homes and cities and the landscape on which we depend for nurture and aesthetic pleasure.

About the Author

Dr. Trausti Valsson, professor of planning at the University of Iceland, is an architect and planner, educated in Berlin and Berkeley. He is the author of seven books and recipient of several awards.


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