Reading Meaning in Designed Landscapes

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Brown, Sarah
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University of Guelph

Landscape architects may use artistic expression to create landscapes intended to be not only functional, but meaningful. This thesis was an exploratory study into how different groups read designed landscapes. A literature review was used to trace how meaning has become a consideration in landscape architecture, and how professionals communicate through design choices. The Village of Yorkville Park in Toronto, Ontario was used to explore this topic because it was designed to convey meaning associated with the history and identity of the site. On-site interviews of park visitors and questionnaires with two groups of design students were used to examine ways that a landscape designed with intentional meaning is interpreted. The results revealed that motivation and knowledge of design intent influenced understanding of meaning. The findings presented heighten awareness of the legibility of landscape architects’ design decisions in the expression of intentional meaning, and identify areas for future research.

landscape perception, meaning, visual literacy, design literacy, communication