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Topographical Stories
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Topographical Stories
Studies in Landscape and Architecture

David Leatherbarrow

296 pages | 7 x 7 | 95 illus.
Paper 2015 | ISBN 9780812223507 | $34.95s | Outside the Americas £26.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture

"David Leatherbarrow's skills in interpreting texts, built works, and images are deployed toward new ends—examining the similarities and differences between the two related, but distinct, topographic arts: architecture and landscape architecture."—Elizabeth K. Meyer, University of Virginia School of Architecture
"This is not a book for lazy minds, but pay attention and you will take a journey led by a guide who is generous and humane, profound, and poetic."—Billie Tsien, architect, Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates

"A revealing study of the cultural imperatives of context. Leatherbarrow reminds us that the poetics of place depend not on the abstraction and will of design, or in the contingency of site, but in the dialogue between the two. This is a book for those with a broad cultural concern for the implications of architecture, with an interest in the specificity of place, and with a desire to engage the temporal framework of a site."—Journal of Architectural Education

Landscape architecture and architecture are two fields that exist in close proximity to one another. Some have argued that the two are, in fact, one field. Others maintain that the disciplines are distinct. These designations are a subject of continual debate by theorists and practitioners alike.

Here, David Leatherbarrow offers an entirely new way of thinking of architecture and landscape architecture. Moving beyond partisan arguments, he shows how the two disciplines rely upon one another to form a single framework of cultural meaning. Leatherbarrow redefines landscape architecture and architecture as topographical arts, the shared task of which is to accommodate and express the patterns of our lives. Topography, in his view, incorporates terrain, built and unbuilt, but also traces of practical affairs, by means of which culture preserves and renews its typical situations and institutions.

This rigorous argument is supported by nearly 100 illustrations, as well as examples of topography from the sixteenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, through the heroic period of early modernism, to more recent offerings. A number of these studies revise existing accounts of decisive moments in the history of these disciplines, particularly the birth of the informal garden, the emergence of continuous space in the landscapes and architecture of the modern period, and the new significance of landform or earthwork in contemporary architecture. For readers not directly involved with either of these professions, this book shows how over the centuries our lives have been shaped and enriched by landscape and architecture.

Topographical Stories provides a new paradigm for theorizing and practicing landscape and architecture.

David Leatherbarrow is Professor of Architecture and Chairman of the Graduate Group in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Uncommon Ground, among other works.

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