Sand, Silt, Salt, Water: Entropy as a Lens for Design in Post-industrial Landscapes

Lisa Moffitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Entropy is a contemporary buzzword in landscape architecture often used to describe a vast range of environmental processes in postindustrial contexts. To hone an understanding of the relationship between entropy and design, this paper first explores how entropy is ‘made visible’ in land artist Robert Smithson’s work. Three ‘entropic’ features of Smithson’s work-- design indeterminacy, ‘the unscenic,’ and juxtaposition-- are identified and explored in more detail in relation to a more recent postindustrial project by landscape architect Gilles Clement, Derborence Island in Park Henri Matisse. The paper concludes by proposing a representational technique using physical models, of salt crystallization, sand dispersal, sedimentation, and water flow, that too make entropy visible as part of the design process. The paper suggests that viewing the expanding landscapes of postindustrial sites through the lens of entropy offers a productive framework for design and that the indeterminacies of entropic processes are analogous to productive indeterminacies in the design process.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalLandscape Research
Early online date30 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • entropy
  • design research
  • landscape
  • robert smithson


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