This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations





Matthews, Elizabeth

Type of Degree

Landscape Thesis


Landscape Architecture


In abandoned rural landscapes, impressions of culture are overtaken by the steadiness of living things. The familiar succumbs to the wild, resulting in physical environments that arouse curiosity because of their uncanny presentation of reality. In these raw encounters with ourselves and nature, we find ourselves experiencing estrangement from the landscape. Estrangement is the perception of mystery resulting from the recognition of otherness. This thesis proposes that design can collaborate with the active and/ or latent energies of a site, inviting people to experience the landscape on its own terms. To accomplish this, the designer must make the landscape’s invisible characteristics palpable through simple, underwhelming manoeuvres that empower the landscape. We need places that allow for us to strongly connect with non-virtual reality in restorative and transformative ways. People need wild places, and this thesis acknowledges the real wildness that exists in abandoned, human-altered sites. In their book Lost Landscapes, the firm LOLA writes, “People need wilderness in their lives… An ecological perspective of protectionism or quantification does not address our need for wild experiences…. Therefore, landscape architecture, like ecology, should be an experimental playground.” Fallow rural sites are fertile grounds for rich, experiential landscapes. This thesis acknowledges progress to date and seeks to further advance the field by exploring design and estrangement in human-altered wilds. This work draws on precedents such as RO&AD Architecten’s Moses Bridge, Richard Haag’s Bloedel Reserve, and West 8’s Swamp Garden as well as inspirations from artists such as Tara Donovan and Edward Burtynsky. Theoretical influences include LOLA Landscape Architects, Paul Roncken, and Michel Desvigne. The thesis was guided by Prof. David Hill.