Productive Urban Landscapes

Research and practice around the CPUL design concept

'Consumed: Communicating energy use with land art infographics' by Kristian Megyeri, Overlook Field School, Workshop 'Landscapes of Power' 2014 (source: Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes www 2021)

Productive Landscapes and Productive Urban Landscapes for sustainable futures

While completing a review for a book proposal, we came across the Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes (FCPL) at the University of Oregon, USA. Headed up by Prof. Roxi Thoren, who is also the department head for Landscape Architecture, the FCPL is a teaching center for ‘research-based design and design as research, focused on the role of place in cultural sustainability, and grounded in the arts and humanities. Guided by a team of scholars, students use fieldwork and art methods to investigate the ongoing stewardship of landscapes and culture.’ The FCPL offers an annual elective course open to students from different disciplines inviting them to participate in a series of seminars and a practice-based residency at Overlook Farm. The farm-based residencies provide the space for students to explore relationships between design, design research and arts-based practices that foreground the significance of productive landscapes in relation to human needs while also exposing and celebrating interdependencies with wider ecologies and other species.

The FCPL’s website provides a glimpse of its outputs since 2012. Central to these are summer schools held at ‘Overlook, a 400-acre property in northeastern Pennsylvania designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm in the early twentieth century, and currently being re-imagined by the fourth-generation owners and Nelson Byrd Woltz landscape architects. The summer field school at Overlook offers students a unique opportunity to live, study, and create on an evolving cultural landscape. With faculty and a visiting artist in residence, students examine the enduring connections between landscape, culture, and production’ (FCPL Home Page 2021).

The FCPL’s design research on Productive Landscapes joins the design research on Productive Urban Landscapes, including our own, in the quest for sustainable futures. Not only this: the center’s teaching approach also corresponds to projects we set for students in the local landscape when we started teaching in Brighton in 2001.

As the roles of both, Productive Urban Landscapes and Productive Landscapes becomes more widely understood, interdisciplinary programmes like those hosted by the FCPL will, we believe (and hope), become more common and recognised as part of an education bridging spatial design, the arts, humanities and sciences.


For further information on the Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes see here.

For information about Bohn & Viljoen’s teaching at the University of Brighton see here.

Image: ‘Consumed: Communicating energy use with land art infographics’ by Kristian Megyeri, Overlook Field School, Workshop ‘Landscapes of Power’ 2014 (source: Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes www 2021)

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* green infrastructure* landscapeUSA

Andre Viljoen • 29th March 2021

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