In landscape architecture, visual representations are the primary means of communication between stakeholders in design processes. Despite the reliance on visual representations, little critical research has been undertaken by landscape architects on how visual communication forms work or their socio-political implications. In this theoretical paper, we argue that such research is of great importance. We explain how concepts of visual and critical social theory such as visual semiotics, simulacra and simulation, and power/knowledge can be used to critically reflect on landscape architectural representations. We further propose to study these representations at different stages of meaning-making by using visual methodologies such as visual discourse analysis, iconographical content analysis and social semiotic analysis. We conclude that these research approaches have the potential to explain issues such as dominant power structures, miscommunication between participants, and visual path-dependencies during landscape design processes.
Raaphorst, K. M. C., Duchhart, I., van der Knaap, W. G. M., Roeleveld, G., & van den Brink, A. (2017). The semiotics of landscape design communication: towards a critical visual research approach in landscape architecture. Landscape Research, 42(1), 120-133. https://doi.org/10.1080/01426397.2016.1257706