Codex of the Third Landscape
In «Le poème de l’angle droit» (“Poem of the Right Angle”), first published in 1953, Le Corbusier presents his personal ideologies that relate to architecture and the built environment. Throughout the seven theme poem, Corbusier articulates why the right angle is important in the discipline of architecture because of our erect vertical nature, the horizon line, gravitational forces, etc. But orthogonal architecture, while appearing contextually responsive within urban settings, often struggles to appear responsive to the more fluid environments of completely rural settings.
Traditional ‘right angle’ interventions in the landscape tend to disregard the natural forms of a fluid landscape and revert instead to the orthogonal grid. But parametric design may not be the best answer to this problem, as traditional approaches to parametric architecture often fail to engage meaningfully with fluid landscapes, appearing more decorative than responsive. This investigation argues that by being fundamentally responsive to fluid contextual conditions, fluid architectural design will be able to engage natural settings more meaningfully.
Gilles Clément, in his 2004 booklet Manifeste du tiers paysage (Manifesto of the Third Landscape), advocates designing from the landscape as opposed to designing against the landscape. Clément categorises the natural environment into three types of landscape that distinguish what kind of environment they are and how they should be treated. Clément uses the term ‘third landscape’ to refer to a third state of being, at the margins, where landscape belongs neither to the ‘territory of the shadow’ nor ‘that of the light’. “Cet ensemble n’appartient ni au territoire de l’ombre ni à celui dela lumière. Il se situe aux marges” (4). The third landscape is the space unattended by man and ruled over by natural evolution; included in this category are the nature reserves, deserts and mountain summits, the untouched spaces that remain in their natural state. “Refuges pour la diversité, constitués par la somme des délaissés, des réserves et des ensembles primaires” (3). This research investigation looks at how architecture might be meaningfully designed within six hypothetical examples of the third landscape. Each of these six topographies varies in their defining characteristics and elemental attributes acquired during their natural evolution. These six hypothetical landscapes are Aeolian (Wind), Cryogenic (Ice), Fluvial (Water), Karst (Voids), Tectonic (Earth), Volcanic (Fire).
The goal of this research is to examine the topographic processes of each third landscape site, with the intention of developing architectural interventions that are influenced by and responsive to the natural evolutions of each of the six landscapes. This is achieved by analysing the topographical characteristics of each site in order to obtain a range of natural attributes that might contribute to a meaningful architectural intervention. The ultimate goal is to arrive at architectural configurations that are responsive to the natural topography of the six landforms, architectural forms capable of reinforcing environmental narratives rather than obviating them.