Conjectural ‘Landscape Cities’ and the Gap of Imagination

Mick Abbott, P.A. Roncken, Woody Lee, Tenille Pickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This report discusses the results and layout of a design research studio focused on applying methods related to speculation and imagination. Three main findings are presented: a review of six methods that can direct designerly speculations; development of 11 'landscape city' scenarios; and a discussion of the role design 'challenges' can play in studio research settings. These outcomes reveal that creative discoveries are not bound to elaborative final outcomes only. Some of the intermediate results, particularly those with explicit habit-breaking effects on the imagination of the designers involved, and the process-driven materials produced, are equally valuable. This report seeks a reconsideration of the presentation and sharing of research results through designing, moving from the familiar focus on high-end, 'glossy' finalisations towards those more revealing of intermediate and abstract products of inquiry. In conclusion, an argument is made as to what can be framed as an 'imagination gap' that suggests possibility operates as a counterpoint to empiricism. L andscape architecture has a speculative role in imagining diverse, innovative and environmentally responsive futures (Waldheim, 2012; Weller, 2009). In its research, the discipline is prone to critique by a scientific community that either disqualifies speculative approaches or does not know how to assess the associative imaginations on which most design processes depend. Such critique is constructive as it urges clarification of what is both unique and systematic about design-directed research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalLandscape Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2018


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