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Abstract: Landscape Architecture


What is an abstract in Landscape Architecture?

An abstract is a short piece of writing which relates to a larger body of work or writing. It can be written as a reflective summary after a larger work, or as propositional abstract to articulate the intent and vision of a current or future work.

This resource provides a guide to writing a propositional abstract in Landscape Architecture in the course Theoretical Frameworks 2.

The abstract should outline what you are intending to address, how you will do this and why you are doing this (why it is important).

This resource models how keywords are used to express and build the concepts or themes that run through a given framework. These themes give structure to your work and describe the ways you have used them in your drawing.

Abstract writing process

The diagram below outlines the process for using the selected framework and site to develop your abstract and drawing.

This example demonstrates how the writer has analysed a specific site, using a Modernist framework. The key words develop the concepts and themes that are outlined in the abstract and the drawing.

The example below uses the RMIT Library Harvard referencing guide.

Click the buttons below to explore the what, how and why of the abstract.

MODERNISM: The Intersection
Keywords: break, rational, order, dominant, separation, hierarchy

Amid growing populations and expanding urban sprawls, it is essential for logical, functional design to supersede a merely aesthetic, classical approach to landscape architecture. By examining the intersection site using modernist principles outlined in Marc Treib’s (1993), Axioms for a modern landscape architecture, latent, modernist, spatial arrangements embedded within the site are revealed and drawn out.

The most significant element to consider is the circulation of people as they move through the site and their reasons for doing so. Using a rational approach, the lines, spaces and forms of the site are selected to emphasise them. ‘Form [is] derived from the accommodation of the program’ (Treib 1993, p. 62) to include the specific requirements of the client, the site and its uses. The layout of the plan is developed and the spaces between are formed. The hierarchy of circulation is represented through tonal variation; the darkest tone relating to the dominance of the tramline, and the lightest pertaining to the pedestrian traffic. Identification and representation of this rational hierarchy of separated programs indicates an inherent order within the site, as the modernist landscape ‘ultimately concerns making outdoor places for human use’ (Treib 1993, p. 55). The absence of a central axis in the site allows for an omnidirectional use of the space, accommodating both formal and informal occupation. All elements of the site follow modernist principles. Even the trees are positioned rationally; they appear in isolation rather than in naturalistic clusters, to heighten their sculptural qualities. This is a clear break from a formal, classical style as Tunnard (cited in Treib 1993, p. 56) explains, ‘selection, not massing for picturesque effect is the requirement’ of an ordered, modernist approach.

By adopting tools and techniques from modernist principles, the intersection site is reordered and redrawn in plan, revealing a rational, underlying ordering of space.

Reference List
Treib, M 1993, ‘Axioms for a modern landscape architecture’, in M Treib (ed) Modern landscape architecture: A Critical Review, MIT Press, Cambridge, England, pp. 36-67.