The Landscape Form of the Metropolis


  • René van der Velde
  • Saskia de Wit



When the city disintegrates into an archipelago of fragments a new role is imposed on the landscape as a carrier of topographical characterizations, cohesion and continuity. Patterns such as transportation corridors, settlement areas and landscape voids can be regarded as latent macro-landscape forms of the metropolitan territory. In the staging of the metropolis these forms need to be embedded in a compositional structure that addresses fragmentation and disorientation, without relapsing into utopian forms of the traditional city that have proven inadequate for the metropolitan condition.

The potential basis to inform this structure is the landscape itself: permanent, neutral and ubiquitous. The underlying landscape also contains an annotated catalogue of situations, in which the genius loci is recorded and secured. These latent compositional elements are transformed into landscape architectural ‘narratives’ within the topography of the emerging metropolis. The enlargement and distortion of specific topographies result in a field of new topologies, drawn from the genius loci and from local cultures and customs. The question is not so much if metropolitan form is determined by landscape, but how we can use it to structure and give meaning to dispersed territories. This involves a delicate choreography of macro-landscape forms and the micro-topography of landscape places. 

Author Biographies

René van der Velde

René van der Velde (1966) is landscape architect and Associate Professor at the Chair of Landscape Architecture, TU Delft. He studied Environmental management at the University of Queensland, Australia, and Landscape Architecture at Greenwich University, London & the Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam. Since 2003 he is based in the Netherlands and is involved in teaching, researching and designing with a focus on urban landscapes. Since 2007 he heads up the research programme Urban Landscape Architecture. His PhD thesis topic is Metropolitan parks.

Saskia de Wit

Saskia de Wit (1969) is landscape architect and Assistant Professor at TU Delft. She studied Landscape Architecture at Wageningen University and Architecture and Urbanism at TU Delft, Netherlands. She worked as a designer for several offices, and has led her own office since 1998. Since 1993 she has worked for the Chair of Landscape Architecture in Delft, with a focus on the Dutch landscape and Enclosed Gardens. Her PhD thesis focuses on the theme of the Enclosed Garden, as a prototype for metropolitan spaces.