Gareth Doherty: Why Landscape Architects need Anthropologists?
I will explore the common ethnographic ground between anthropology and landscape architecture and, through the example of ethnographic projects in Bahrain and The Bahamas, speculate on how these interrelated fields can lead to the design of more sustainable landscapes and cities.
In his short book, The Three Ecologies, the French philosopher Félix Guattari proposes a way of working which he terms ‘ecosophy’ that combines environmental with social and mental ecologies. If we are to design cities in ways that are more ecological, in the Guattarian sense of the word, then how do we know and understand the various ecologies? Designers don’t usually have the skills that anthropologists have to unearth social and mental ecologies, and perhaps anthropologists don’t have as much focus on the environmental. A combination of anthropology and landscape architecture, can be incredibly beneficial for the future of cities and necessitates new ways of doing fieldwork, removing fieldwork from the single author to become part of a collective.
Working together, anthropologists and designers have the potential to propose radically alternative constructions of the world that consider form, program, and sustainability, and are deeply rooted in human experience.