vendredi 8 mai 2015

Nested Scales.

Henri Lefebvre, Diagram of Nested Scales, 1974.
The discipline of landscape urbanism has emerged primarily from within landscape architecture, widening its focus on processes to include those that are cultural and historical as well as natural and ecological. In relation to urban design, which as a discipline has emerged from architecture and planning, part of landscape urbanism’s strength lies in this acknowledgment of temporality. It also has the potential to engage architecture in a way that urban design and landscape architecture do not, by challenging architectural conventions of closure and control, which implicitly disavow knowledge of various incommensurable dimensions of urban reality. In this context, architecture is construed not as an object but as a device that can transform an urban landscape yet at the same time is not in complete control of the relationships between its constitutive elements.


This text will focus primarily on one term, that of space, which exemplifies, in the opposition object/space, architecture’s tendency to disacknowledge that which is around it. The French philosopher Henri Lefebvre challenged the unproblematic conception of space in his well-known 1974 book, The Production of Space, arguing that such production is concealed by two mutually reinforcing illusions. He defines one illusion as that of transparency – the idea that the world can be seen as it really is. This illusion, which allows the workings of power that produce space to remain invisible, goes “hand in hand with a view of space as innocent”. He defines the other as the realistic illusion – the idea that something by seeming natural requires no explanation. This illusion, which is based on the opposition of culture/nature, allows landscape to be used to make undesirable histories.


At one point in his analysis of space, Lefebvre presents a diagram of nested scales, which he developed through the examination of a Japanese spatial order. This diagram supports a formulation of the city as a space of differences through two complementary strategies, which together produce dynamic relationships. Its first innovation is to introduce a transitional scale (M), which functions as a mediator between private (P) and global (G). Its second innovation is that each of these scales is integrated within the other two. The diagram provides a basis for a design approach that can support a dynamic and multidimensional differentiation of space. Its overlay of terms recognizes that all scales are internally differentiated, and that while hierarchies of scale exist, they are not fixed or singular. Acknowledging that unity is neither an a priori nor a necessarily attainable condition of identity helps to frame it in terms of processes of becoming, with the capacity to include multiple and perhaps contradictory traits. 

Linda Pollak, Constructed Ground: Questions of Scale in The Landscape Urbanism Reader, Princeton Architectural Press, 2006, p.127-130.

Merci à M.J.

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