Dissertation Help!

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    Samantha Paul

    Hi!  Below is the abstract I currently have for my dissertation but comments were that it is very difficult to prove how globalisation is effecting the spread of ideas, trends and how this effects the identity of places. I feel I have done too much work on this subject to change. I feel in a rut and just wanted people’s opinions/advice on how to progess. I feel I need to relate this topic down to a particular aspect of Landscape Architecture. Does any one know of any places or projects that have been affected by this topic? I was going to do a blog as a method of research so thought I may as well keep in the spirit of globalisation and use a forum for help! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!





    ‘Globalisation’ is the topical subject facing professional Landscape Architectures. Issues of the homogenization of local identity, the transfer of ideas across the internet, the fact that we can work anywhere in the world and the lack of understanding we may have as designers working in a different culture are all issues rising abundantly in the pages of journals, blogs and books on contemporary Landscape Architecture.

    The backbone of Landscape Architecture is placemaking. Understanding the unique nature of the site, the context, the environmental conditions and what the community wants is at the heart of our practice. Is globalisation really powerful enough to influence the fundamentals of our occupation? The spread of technology means that information sharing has become an invaluable tool for research. How influential is the sharing of ideas on our own work? How has the Internet encouraged the spread of seminal projects and how influential are these icon projects such as the High Line in our own work? These questions will be investigated to assess if we are currently working in a global ‘trend’ that results in landscape styles being repeated around the world. Is the frequent use of the term ‘globalisation’ a trend in itself?

    A blog will be carried out as a topical medium for evaluating the influence of this global resource and global concern.


    Thank you for taking the time to read this,



    Tanya Olson

    Maybe you could track the global ‘seeding’ of ideas by finding out which landscape architects are being studied in different universities across the globe. You could ask some of the Land8 members from other countries who they studied…???
    You could use an application like ‘social graph’ (you can download a version of it on FB) to visually map the spread of ideas, possibly even trends if you could correlate designs with the ‘idea graph’.

    Trace One

    This reminds me of the experiment MIT students conducted with the red balls placed around the world, and tracking how long it took and how social networks worked to successfully find all of them..

    How about the ‘green wall’ idea..Try to chart it backwards, where it started, and then how it proliferated? Or architects and their building ‘skins’ so popular right now.. buildings as cells..

    playground like the ‘imagination land’ one – styrofoam blocks, movable..Is that going anywhere..
    Or how about dog parks..Apparently Chinese are starting to lavish their dogs with doggy designed places, and I don’t mean restaurants..
    Sounds tough…
    Compare and contrast to how suspension bridge technology did and did not spread to different parts of the world (France knew about ‘the bends’ but it was not communicated to the builders of the Brooklyn Bridge, who suffered from the bends quite a bit, digging the caissons down..)
    Just rambling!
    Good luck!

    Thomas J. Johnson

    It sounds like you need to narrow your focus. It’s good to throw a bunch of ideas out there, just to get them out and get a feel for them but you need to refine it.

    One global trend I’ve observed is the “Southern Californification” of China. China has specifically sought out US designers to plan and design towns and neighborhoods to look like the United States. Many of the designers are from Southern California. What you end up with is Southern California in China. It’s hilarious.

    Here you have China with a rich design history and unique aesthetic, intentionally disregarding it’s cultural heritage with aspirations of being like the most vanilla, homogenized place on the planet. “we want stucco and stone veneer McMansions just like you have…” Combine that with their desire for suburbs and the automobile and you’ve got a real mess on your hands…

    There is a book called The Third Wave that talks about “waves” of technology passing over the globe. Agricultural, Industrial and Technological. The same principle can be seen in Land Arch. While the older industrialized nations (US/Europe) are trying to figure out how to rid our cities of the scourge called the automobile, China is only beginning to go through the same mistakes we’ve already made, except they are doing it on a grand scale, the likes of which the world has never seen.

    As the US and Europe develop means of coping with the automobile (or lack there of) in our cities, China will figure out what a mess they’ve created and will be seeking our expertise on how to modify their suburbs and cities (that we designed) to deal with the congestion and pollution caused by automobile. They are in the midst of creating the mistakes we’ve already made.

    Hey, there you go. There’s another thesis topic; The influence of the automobile on the design of urban/suburban areas in countries experiencing rapid middle-class population growth.

    Tosh K

    Kongjian Yu and Adrian Geuze both write about the need for their respective countries to embrace their placeness and fight the trend toward adopting outside aesthetics at the cost of local traditions base on local needs (below see level, river flood cycles, etc). While at Turenscape in Beijing there was some frustration expressed about the desire for “western” looking cities on the part of officials with a complete disregard for their own regional aesthetics/building practices. Same could be said for many of the work in Dubai, I recall one project I worked on where the building architects (american or english firm i believe) had “neglected” to consider the humidity levels in their site design.
    It’s hard to substitute site visits, though one aspect of what makes many of these projects difficult is the pace of the work and different cultures (especially related to how the construction trades work).

    I agree with the other posts, narrowing the topic down would really help.

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