Adapting Landscape Architecture to the Anthropocene

As the effects of humans accelerate the changes occurring on the planet, landscape architects and planners alike will need to take into account ways that civilization can adapt to a lack of stability.
July 4, 2015, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Brent Milligan writes a refreshingly accessible academic exploration of landscape migration—the process by which environments shift and change. Landscape migration is accelerated by the impacts of human civilization (as evidence of theAnthropoceneera) and landscape architects are beginning to "focus their practice on designing for adaption to change," as Milligan describes it.

Milligan opens the essay up by acknowledging that the commonly accepted definition of the word migration is too small—pertaining only to the movement of humans and animals.

The problem with that definition, according to Milligan: "We know that environmental conditions are always changing, but we allow ourselves the fiction of background stability. When we limit our thinking in this way, our political and design responses are circumscribed. (Allot water rights. Designate a wildlife refuge. Build a wall.) Not surprisingly, they often fail."

With a new definition of migration in place (i.e., " patterned movement across space and time"), Milligan examines several case studies for the implication of this to landscape architecture practice. Case studies include the Klamath River in Oregon and California and the salmon habitat destroyed by engineering of the river for water supply, the "Sand Engine" in Buckhorn City in the Rotterdam-Hague region of the Netherlands, the migration of the Mississippi River throughout the Mississippi Basin, and shrinking cities such as Detroit.

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Published on Monday, June 29, 2015 in Places Journal
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