Middle landscapes


An interesting concept…. Sam Bourne discusses ‘middle landscapes’:

“As humans, we have an inherent affinity with the natural world. The physical, mental and emotional benefits of direct interaction with nature have been proven by environmental psychologists and are said to be fundamental to our health and well-being. Urban life has rapidly removed opportunities for intimate contact with the natural world, but urban gardens and rural wilderness, once two vastly separate entities, are now merging. Many landscape architects and designers now face the challenge of creating ecologically functioning landscapes within our more urbanised areas.
 This is the creation of middle landscapes, where the effects of the city can be altered through natural processes.
I first read about this concept in Theatre Country: Essays on landscape and whenua by the late landscape ecologist Geoff Park. In the broadest sense Park describes middle landscapes as not totally productive landscapes and not total wilderness: they are inhabited landscapes for living in and with the native land.
Middle landscapes serve our ecosystems in terms of air and water quality, atmospheric conditioning and space as habitat. They offer the accessibility and functionality of an urban oasis combined with plentiful opportunities for direct contact with our indigenous landscape and ecology. They are places for nature in New Zealand cities.
Middle landscapes can often be created within marginalised, neglected areas and in association with infrastructure. Such areas are often perceived as unproductive, nothing spaces, but they hold huge potential for new ways to reconnect the city with its unique indigenous landscape, resulting in a healthier environment for all.
These urban wildernesses are places of flux, offering education, health, well-being, ecology, and discovery.” (p.23)

Ref: (emphases in bold blue, mine) Sam Bourne, pp.20-33 in Eds. Ian Spellerberg and Michele Frey Native By Design: Landscape design with New Zealand Plants. Canterbury University Press: Christchurch, 2011


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