Transformative Ground: A Field Guide to the Post-Industrial Landscape

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Transformative Ground: A Field Guide to the Post-Industrial Landscape illuminates how new design sensibilities, based on distinct societal and environmental issues, have emerged over the last 30 years. With focus on the increasing presence of post-industrial sites, the study explores how this context opened up a new territorial ground for environmental design, disrupting conventional ideas and aesthetics of space making that are inadequate for dealing with contextual realities that are highly challenging. The objective of the research was to evaluate how ‘designed landscapes can reflect shifting cultural attitudes toward nature and society, with the power to communicate those values through design’ (Mclean 2019 p15). Through critical evaluation of this period of radical rethinking, the book offers considerable scope in establishing how environmental design has advanced through new theoretical and strategic frameworks that work with the potentials of sites as transformative grounds for society and nature.
The book sets out a significant shift in aesthetic theory, from traditional ideas of landscapes as scenic compositions to the increasing appreciation of landscapes as dynamic spaces, where people and nature are valued as active agents in the aesthetic field. Structured through nine thematic chapters the study explores shifts in fundamental themes, including; 1) nature and the picturesque; 2) wilderness; 3) the sublime; 4) technology; 5) social space; 6) the city and urbanism; 7) infrastructure; 8) scale; and 9) temporality. The aim is to identify new design concepts that offer an array of operative terms to engage the dynamic qualities of landscapes, such as flow, flux, duration, emergence, distribution, self-organisation, contingency, resilience, and adaptation, amongst others. By registering these new conceptual approaches, the book establishes how design can pragmatically align with the generative potential of environments, of how the designed landscape is a platform of interaction between people and society, society and the environment.
Configured as a useful field guide, the book provides critical purchase on operative terms illustrated through design precedents that encompasses an international range of renowned contemporary practices. Through focus on realised projects, the study provides fresh insights into how abstract concepts inform practical design outcomes, covering a range of environmental concerns relevant to the future of environmental design, such as ecological restoration, climate control, resilience to flooding, smart cities and living technology. Notably, design precedents were selected with the objective of emphasising human centred design throughout the book, offering a major review of recent projects that promote values for experiential and participatory qualities, and the social rights to public space.
With a primary focus on landscape architecture, the book provides a comprehensive theorisation that interrelates ideas from allied disciplinary fields, including philosophy, ecology, urban theory, and geography. This draws together ideas concerned with advancing new sensibilities, to move beyond outmoded conventions and advance theory and practice in response to current imperatives to engage environment as the domain of socio-ecological interaction and how new concepts have the potential to align environmental design with the dynamics of the living world.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon & New York
Number of pages222
ISBN (Electronic)9781315142944
ISBN (Print)9781138308312
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Transformative Ground: A Field Guide to the Post-Industrial Landscape'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this