The eye now sees in substance what the mind could only subjectively conceive; (the view form the air) is new function added to our sense; it is a new standard of measurement; it is the basis of a new sensation. Man will make use of it to conceive new aims. Cities will arise out of their ashes. – Le Corbusier, “Aircraft”
The best time onboard an airplane for me is always when taking off or landing. Both are moments when horizons, topographies, textures, and patterns start to form from the perspective of amazing and breathtaking aerial views. From above, the views inspire thoughts about how we started, how we reshaped and formed landscape, and how we built the city within it. Yann Arthus-Bertrand‘s 2009 documentary, “Home”, is a surprising cinematic view of undisturbed natural landscape of the Earth from an aerial perspective. The stunning images evoke questions about how human life affects not only the shapes of the city, but the ecology of our planet.
Landscape as a Pattern Language
We began with that part of the language that defines a town or community. These patterns can never be “designed” or “built” in one fell swoop – but patient piecemeal growth, designed in such a way that every individual act is always helping to create or generate these larger greater patterns, will, slowly and surely, over the years, make a community that has these global patterns in it. – Christopher Alexander, “A Pattern Language Towns Buildings Constructions”
The concept of a “pattern language” was devised long ago by architects and urban planners, an idea which includes more than 250 patterns that in total form the foundation of a language. From large scale town planning, urban spaces, to the details of constructing materials, and even the patterns which arise from one’s life experience, a pattern language provides us a new way to look at the city and landscape, permitting designers to come up with our own ideas about the space and patterns.
Increasingly, landscape is emerging as a model for urbanism. Landscape has traditionally been defined as the art of organizing horizontal surfaces.., by paying close attention to these surface conditions – not only configuration, but also materiality and performance – designers can active space and produce urban effects without the weighty apparatus of traditional space making. – Stan Allen, “Mat Urbanism: The Thick 2-D”
As landscape urbanism increasingly becomes a topic both locally and internationally, such discussion encourages society to take increasingly extend the view from further above, a perspective of the planet which affords us a greater understanding of spatial relationships, the landscape in connection to part and whole, and the patterns we’ve left as marks upon the planet.