Part C – Design Legacy – Who’s Legacy

What has this legacy given us?

There are two individuals I drawn upon to, that should be well known, to highlight why individuals are important in creating this legacy. However I will return to other examples that highlight why “design legacy” is important and how it is evolving. But to further explore this concept we should look at:

“Capability” Brown

“Capability” Brown Lancelot Brown (30 August 1716 – 6 February 1783) and more commonly known as Capability Brown, was an English landscape architect. He is remembered as:

“the last of the great English eighteenth-century artists to be accorded his due”, and

“England’s greatest gardener”.

He designed over 170 parks, many of which still endure. Many of these such as Blenheim Palace, Milton Abbey and examples at Kew Gardens we highly value both for the foresight and legacy but also the style and design.

His style of smooth undulating grass, which would run straight to the house, clumps, belts and scattering of trees and his serpentine lakes formed by invisibly damming small rivers, were a new style within the English landscape, a “garden-less” form of landscape gardening, which swept away almost all the remnants of previous formally patterned styles.

His landscapes were at the forefront of fashion. His work has been hotly debated over the years, as bland compared to formal gardens approach however in the 20th century there has been greater recognition that he formulated the “garden-less smooth” (or “natural form”) approach_. Irrespective of your opinion, his legacy is significant and has been widely recognized and valued.

Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822 – 1903) was an American journalist, social critic, public administrator, and landscape designer. He is popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. His style draws on influences from English landscape and gardening, and his designs were primarily in the pastoral and picturesque styles.

Olmsted was famous for co-designing many well-known urban parks including Central Park and Prospect Park in NY. Olmsted not only created numerous city parks around the country, he also conceived of entire systems of parks and interconnecting parkways to connect certain cities to green spaces_ . In 1883 Olmsted established what is considered to be the first full-time landscape architecture firm.

Summary

It is easy to expand on the great legacies of Brown and Olmsted, as many cultures have similar equivalents be it Paris, Melbourne or even Canberra (the great Walter Burley Griffin), however Olmsted and Brown give us a platform to ponder why have their legacies lasted and adapted to different societies and maybe cultures over hundreds of years. Did they “perceive” something in their designs that created lasting legacies?

Principles of Design Legacy

Olmsted and Brown gave us a platform to ponder; why have their legacies lasted and adapted to different societies and maybe cultures over hundreds of years. Did they “perceive” something in their designs that created lasting legacies? Both Olmsted and Brown have given us “signposts” for the future regarding “designs” that can last more than a generation. “Capability” Brown has had a great focus on natural form and the feeling of the “landscape” and setting but it is the extensively studied “Olmsted” who has potentially given us a set of design principles.

Olmsted’s principles of design

Olmsted is not only famous for the parks he designed but his style and what I believe are important design principles that he established. These Principles are my version and are open for further development and discussion.

The First Principle is the full utilization of the naturally occurring features of a given space;

The Second Principle is “subordination” – the subordination of individual details to the whole;

The Third Principle is concealment of design, design that does not call attention to itself;

The Fourth Principle is design to enhance the sense of space;

The Fifth Principle is utility above all else.

These principles are aimed designing “parks” that can be valuable to communities as they evolve and change over generations. Similar “principles” of design can be found in other cultures such as in China and Japan. The application of the “principles” does require a sense of vision and purpose and an ability to look beyond the existing demands, societal norms and the existing trends and thinking.

The Foundational Design Legacy Principles

Building upon the above analysis and building on the works of Brown and Olmsted, there are six initial principles that we can build upon:

Principle 1: Natural Form – is the full utilization of the naturally occurring features of a given space;

Principle 2: Blend – is “subordination” – the subordination of individual details to the whole;

Principle 3: Concealment – is concealment of design, design that does not call attention to itself;

Principle 4: Sense: is design to enhance the sense of space;

Principle 5: Utility – is utility above all else

Principle 6: System – is where space is designed as part of a network

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