In ways both literal and figural, landscape history is a history of utopias. It is a history of places that have been richly imagined but that, perhaps by necessity, seldom fully realized. Many are not meant to be built at all. One of the oldest utopian landscapes is the paradise garden that features in many religious cultures of the West and the Middle East. On larger scales as well, utopian landscapes have been envisioned to improve the world as we know it, and they have been described in a variety of media including texts, diagrams, plans, paintings, and drawings. While utopia has long been a topic in architectural history and theory, designed landscapes have only rarely been addressed through this theoretical lens and utopian landscapes are still less well known.
This session seeks to uncover these utopian landscapes, and to expand the discussion of utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia in the history of the built environment. The session will provide the opportunity to explore the cultural, social, and political contexts of utopian, dystopian, and unbuilt landscapes; the role of design competitions in the fostering of landscape utopias; the relationship between imagined landscape designs and their (un)built projects; and the idea of utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia in landscape history. Questions to be addressed are not limited to but may include the following: What is the relationship between social and landscape utopias? What role have ideas of nature and space played in landscape utopias, dystopias, and heterotopias? How have utopian and dystopian landscapes been represented over time?
We invite paper proposals that deal with these and related topics and questions. Papers may address a variety of geographies, scales, representational media, and time frames, as well as a range of theoretical and historical issues.
The panel is part of the Society of Architectural Historians 69th International Annual Conference to be held in Pasadena/Los Angeles on April 6-10, 2016. Please submit paper proposals on the SAH website: http://www.sah.org/conferences-and-programs/2016-conference---pasadena-la. On this website you will also find more information about the conference.
Session chairs: Sonja Duempelmann, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, 404 Gund Hall, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138; +1 617496;