In the field of the arts, criticism often plays a key role in situating artistic production and instigating debate but especially in propelling theory and practice. As Dave Hickey suggests “Criticism, at its most serious, tries to channel change.” However, in the domains of landscape architecture, architecture and urban design, criticism seems to have a more distanced role from reflection and design. Besides a few notable examples, such as the influence of the critical writings of Reyner Banham and Alan Colquhoun on a generation of British architects and urban designers in the 1960s, criticism seems to hold a marginal position within the fields of architecture, urban design and landscape architecture.
Given that the object of criticism—the urban landscapes and buildings that surround us—are very complex and layered realities, criticism seems to have a kaleidoscope of possibilities to start from: the value frames (formal, social, cultural, political, aesthetic) are multiple and a panoply of methods is at the disposition of the critic. This broad scope of possibilities seems to paralyse the critical activity in the design disciplines. In-depth criticism seems to be a rare phenomenon and if profound critical investigations are undertaken, they too often are rallied to the pages of very specialized academic and artistic journals that remain at a large distance from design practice.
Against this background this mini-symposium—and the parallel theme issue of the online journal SPOOL Criticising Practice – Practicing criticism—will enter into the discussion on the possibilities and impossibilities of criticism within the field of the design disciplines. We are especially interested in how criticism can make an active contribution to taking a position vis-à-vis what we have called in earlier issues of SPOOL the contemporary condition of ‘the landscape metropolis’. Criticism is an important means of reflection on the creative processes and interventions that are part and parcel of this landscape metropolis. Critique throws light on particular projects by describing and explaining them, but also by evaluating and generalizing these reflections towards an entire discipline, be it landscape architecture, architecture, or urban design.
public lecture, free entrance.
RSVP before 23.03.18 at: C.Termini@tudelft.nl
For questions feel free to contact: S.I.deWit@tudelft.nl
Landscape can be defined as “an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors” .This definition clearly emphasises the sensory relationship between the observer and the landscape. The major question here is: how do we know and understand the landscape through perception?
Although ‘perceived by people’ refers to a holistic experience with all senses, very often it is reduced to the visual aspects. This has to do with the fact that 80% of our impression of our surroundings comes from sight . Also the ‘range’ of our senses plays an important role. Granö (1929) already made the distinction between the ‘Nahsicht’ and ‘Fernsicht’. The Nahsicht or proximity is the environment we can experience with all our senses, the Fernsicht he called also landscape and is the part of our environment we mainly experience by vision . Hence the identifying character of landscapes in the rural and urban realm is, to a large extent, built upon visual perception. Since visual perception is a key factor in behaviour and preference, it is crucial for landscape planning, design, and management, as well as for monitoring and protection of landscapes. But how can we comprehend the ‘face of the landscape’ and its perception? And how can we make this applicable to landscape planning, design and management?
Can you see the face? 
We believe that the long tradition and current advances in the field of visual landscape research offer interesting clues for theory, methodology and applications in this direction . Visual landscape research is an interdisciplinary approach that combines (a) landscape planning, design and management concepts, (b) landscape perception approaches, and (c) Geographic Information Science (GISc)-based methods and techniques. While integrating psychological knowledge of landscape perception, the technical considerations of geomatics, and methodology of landscape architecture and urban planning, it provides a solid basis for visual landscape assessment in cities, parks and rural areas. It offers great potential for the acquisition of design knowledge by exploring landscape architectonic compositions from the ‘inside out’, as well as possibilities to enrich landscape character assessment with visual landscape indicators. Since they are crucial elements in landscape perception and preference it is important for landscape planning, policy and monitoring to get a grip on visual landscape attributes like spaciousness and related indicators (e.g. degree of openness, visual dominance, building density and the nature of spatial boundaries).
The field of visual landscape research is expanding every day. Influenced by national and international initiatives it is likely to continue developing in three ways. In the first place by scientific development of theory, methods and techniques. Secondly by implementation in education, and thirdly by knowledge transfer and applications in academia and society (valorisation). In order to facilitate this development a dialogue is needed between the scientific community and society through high quality publications and platforms for knowledge dissemination and discussion. We like to contribute to this dialogue via our platform Exploring the Visual Landscape (EVL), an initiative of Delft University of Technology, Landscape Architecture andWageningenUniversity, Centre for Geo-Information.
Colloquium: Exploring the Visual Landscape, March 22nd 2012, TU Delft. More information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Book: Exploring the Visual Landscape. Advances in Physiognomic Landscape Research in the Netherlands. S. Nijhuis, R. Van Lammeren and F.D. Van Der Hoeven (eds.). Research in Urbanism Series, Volume 2. September 2011, Amsterdam, IOS press
Download from Repository TU Delft: [http://repository.tudelft.nl/view/ir/uuid%3Afe6698ae-045c-436b-945b-c61c4b0437e4/]
Online purchase: [http://www.iospress.nl/html/9781607508328.php]
 Council of Europe(2000) European Landscape Convention.Florence. European Treaty Series 176. p3
 Seiderman, A., Marcus, S. (1989/1991) 20/20 is not enough. The new world of vision.New York. Alfred a. Knopf. p6
 Granö, J.G. (1929) Reine Geographie. Eine methodologische Studie beleuchtet mit Beispielen aus Finnland und Estland. Acta Geographica 2 (2); 202. Recently republished in: O Granö and A. Paasi (eds.) (1997) Pure Geography.Baltimore andLondon, TheJohnHopkinsUniversity Press.
 Source: http://www.newopticalillusions.com/3d-optical-illusion/face-optical-illusion-2/ [accessed: February 4th, 2012]
 See for an overview: Nijhuis, S., Van Lammeren, R., Antrop, M . (2011) Exploring Visual Landscapes. Introduction. In: S. Nijhuis, R. van Lammeren, F.D. van der Hoeven (eds.) Exploring the Visual Landscape. Advances in Physiognomic Landscape Research.Amsterdam, IOS Press. pp15-40