Lecture Thomas Doxiadis at Melbourne Design Week 2019
Landscape as Protagonist was part of Melbourne Design Week in March 2019 it was a program curated by Molonglo that brought together a diverse mix of people within the discipline of landscape to interrogate the challenges facing our urban spaces. Looking to the natural realm, the discussions analysed existing problems and proposed new ideas and ways of thinking about, and working with, landscape. The program consisted of a day-long, by-invitation symposium and three public lectures. Speakers included Slovenian artist and architect Marjetica Potrč, English landscape designer and gardener Dan Pearson, and Greek architect and landscape architect Thomas Doxiadis. ‘Landscape as Protagonist’ attempts to challenge our own and the development industry’s perspectives on plants and landscapes in the built realm; where generally speaking, they are viewed as aesthetic objects used to beautify. Even a fairly superficial think about plants points to our absolute reliance on them: we rely on them for food and they produce oxygen and clean the air we breathe; two vital functions that allow us to live. Even beyond these vital functions, plants are capable of, and act as, much more. We accept that nature is an important part of our existence and our wellbeing. We, as humans, make buildings and cities. So why then is nature not given a place of primary importance in our conception of buildings and cities? In an attempt to redress this apparent imbalance; we imagine ‘Landscape as Protagonist’, the place to start a project not a way to finish it. With this enquiry we begin with an understanding of the importance of landscape and in doing so hope to uncover some of the reasons why plants and landscapes are seemingly undervalued in the development paradigm, and highlight their other values, beyond beautification.