Reliefstudien – die Gestaltung des Ortes in der freien Landschaft um 1800

Publishing year: 2016
ISBN 978-3-7983-2794-8

The shape of the terrain is not only the most basic, but also one of the strongest means of expression in garden design or landscape architecture. Often the existing shape of the landscape determines or motivates the act of design itself. This is particularly apparent in the kinds of edifice constructed on sites in the open countryside around 1800. Based on this cultural phenomenon, this thesis will examine the design potential of the shape of the terrain, whether generated by nature or by culture. The result is an analysis of the relationship between the shape of the earth’s surface and the perception of the genius loci. Around 1800, the shape of the terrain became a focus of greater attention due to both popular science and aesthetic interests. Taking these two readings as its starting point, the study outlines how the morphology of the terrain was used as the basis for the creative development of a site. The design potential of this morphology is explored with reference to height/depth, exposure/introversion, stability/instability, form of the terrain, surface structure, and degree of human influence. These aspects help us to identify prominent features of the shape of the terrain, which determine how a site is perceived and how the genius loci is experienced. This constitutes the beginning of the design process in landscaped sites around 1800. The structures erected on the site can be seen as additions to, visualizations of and symbolizations of the original shape of the terrain. As a normative contribution to the study of the shape of the terrain, this thesis devises a typology which serves to describe the relationships between the geomorphological situation and the site. These relationships are then applied to six examples of designs from the 18th and 19th centuries, to illustrate how a close examination of references to the shape of the terrain can enhance our understanding of works of architecture and garden design. The aim of the study is to highlight the pre-existing shape of the terrain as a borderline area of design, which, as an often-ignored aspect of the human understanding of nature and space, could make a substantial contribution to research in the fields of philosophy, sociology, art history or cultural anthropology.