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Localising urbanism

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posted on 07.12.2021, 08:39 by Jackson, Alexandra Ione

This research began as a personal dissatisfaction with how the notion of indeterminacy very commonly gets used in contemporary landscape architectural design discourse and practice, most strongly associated with but not limited to what gets termed ‘landscape urbanism’. The dominant use of this notion is associated with design preoccupations such as change over time, bodily movement, the inability to predict, allowing for change and ecological growth or succession - and uses of representation related to these ideas. Peter Connolly has termed this conception the ‘abstract’ notion of indeterminacy. This notion was inspired by the writings of Deleuze and Guattari, however Connolly’s examination of the literature, and my field studies and design investigations point to an alternative version, a ‘concrete’ notion of indeterminacy¹ as being more relevant to designers. The abstract version will only ever be indirectly relevant to the human involvement in landscape. The ‘concrete’ is affectual and intensive and is directly relevant to human spatiality and life. Instead of change in space or over time, the concrete version is, in contrast, about the liveliness and shiftiness of affect (the shiftiness of affects / affordances, / propensities / capabilities…)—the shiftiness of powers. This research attempts to move beyond the attractive ambiguity and confusion associated with the abstract version and engage with the concrete ‘indeterminacy-of-affect’ by focusing on a very restricted realm of small urban spaces, which might be considered incidental spaces, in Wellington city. Through this intentionally limited attempt to directly engage with concrete indeterminacy there emerged, a way to engage with a type of localness associated with these spaces. This process has involved the development of aesthetic and representational techniques and it is suggested that this work is not just relevant to the question of indeterminacy and the local, but is very relevant to the newly emergent interest by landscape architects in design aesthetics².


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Connolly, Peter