A conversation on education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientific


At TU Delft, the landscape architecture track, which started in 2010 is one of five within the master’s programme on Architecture and the Built Environment, leading to a Master of Science degree in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences. As much as landscape architecture relies on concepts from architecture and urbanism, it is an independent discipline. It is specific to landscape architecture that the landscape is the object of design as well as the starting point. Landscape architectonic design and research methods differ from those of other spatial design disciplines in the extent to which natural (e.g. geomorphological or hydrological) patterns and processes determine the form and operation of the spatial system. Students work through scales from ‘hard to horizon’, need to understand the transformation of the site through time, and incorporate future consequences into their work.
We teach students in the first place to be designers of spaces and processes, and to become researchers by design. It is in the nature of things that each project is a
unique reflection of geomorphology and geometry, nature and artefact, form and function. General principles are and can be distilled from the research and used to build up our body of knowledge. As long as the specificity of the site is taken as the starting point of the design, and is understood and analysed as part of a system, we are confident that our students (depending on their talent) can deliver good work all over the world.
Today’s challenges need professionals who are able to think integrally, in order to design a more sustainable environment. The landscape architect can become the ‘spider at the centre of the web’: a person who is able to process and bring together knowledge from civil engineering, hydrology, ecology, architecture, urbanism etc.
What troubles me is that the aesthetic dimension of our discipline, as well as of architecture and urbanism, seems to be losing ground. Problem-solving is currently the most used term in our faculty, based on economic value and prompt output. I feel that this way of thinking is the result of too great a focus on evidence-based research, where facts and figures seem to speak for themselves, are ‘easy’ to communicate and are expected to solve problems. Being part of a technical university does not make it easier to emphasize the value of achievements in terms of aesthetics. That is why in our programme, we explicitly stress the importance of form and composition as an expression of culture and identity.
Last year, the executive board obliged all faculties of TU Delft to address ethical issues more explicitly - after all, we do transform people’s lives - and to formulate them into learning goals. In my opinion this is a very good initiative which I strongly support, and hopefully it will provoke a discussion of our responsibility for a more beautiful, meaningful and sustainable environment, since we educate students from all over the world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Research Companion to Landscape Architecture
EditorsEllen Braae, Henriette Steiner
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-61311-6
ISBN (Print)978-1-4724-8468-0
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Health education
  • Medical education
  • More doctors program
  • Public policy
  • Social responsability


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