Land-formations Tectonic-grounds: The Foundations of a Research by Design Practice

Alfredo Ramírez | Clara Oloriz

The understanding of Architecture, Landscape and Urbanism as a form of inquiry rather than a professional practice suggests fundamental –operative- changes in the disciplinary procedures, to go beyond analysis-solution, problem solving or remedial approaches, opening them up to the potentials that the subjects immanent to these disciplines provide. This re-positioning of the disciplines along a ‘research by design’ agenda demands an effort to clarify some of the inherent contradictions suggested by David Leatherbarrow (2012), in the joining of research (understood as mainly observational) and design (mainly generative). The Landscape Urbanism MA at the Architectural Association and its associated practice Groundlab have engaged with the emergence of these contemporary positions through its subject-matter: Landscape and Territory, their influence in related design practices and impact in contemporary environments.

‘Land Formations/Tectonic Grounds’ are here presented as subjects of a research by design inquiry through which we intend to understand their historical approaches and re-define mentalities towards landscape (Cosgrove) and territory (Elden) concepts, relevant to concrete realities. In order to do this, we acknowledge and build, our position, upon the ongoing re-appropriation and re-definition of landscape and territory in contemporary research by design practices (Sordi) and therefore our proposal aims to contribute to this development by putting forward these two, intrinsically linked and inseparable, research concepts. They encompass the study of geomorphological formations of landforms (Tectonic Grounds) along with cultural, political and economic forces that drive and choreograph social formations present on these grounds (Land Formations).

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