Call for abstracts: The Garden in the Landscape Metropolis

Call for Abstracts

You may feel at home somewhere just by knowing and imagining this one garden which is always there to receive you. Gardens, by nature modest places, impact the feelings many individuals have for the environment they live in. A garden is a place and a time to focus our attention. Orchestrating a time spent in enclosed space, rooted in the soil and including the skies, is an art, that deeply moves us. It takes quite some skill to have someone experience exquisite minutes in their long, long lives they will not forget. Who are the landscape architects, gardeners and artists who dedicate themselves to creating islands of time and space in the metropolitan landscape?

What is a garden? If we consider the garden first and foremost as a spatial entity with the capacity to reflect site, nature and landscape, it could be a valuable component in the metropolitan context, addressing environmental and social issues. Which (new) gardens—traditionally places for pleasure, study and contemplation of nature—give expression to the tension between the metropolitan programmes of production and business, and learning, travel and living? Which places have been designed or could be designed to (re)connect the seemingly separate worlds of the metropolitan condition and landscape territory?

The metropolitan landscape is a form of urban territory in which city and landscape re-array themselves into an urban-landscape system characterised by multiple modes of organisation and dynamic socio-spatial processes. Here, the landscape interacts with the metropolitan condition, as a permanent underlying substructure, as physical open space system and as metabolic process. The space of landscape—indefinite, contained or labyrinthine—can be incorporated as a landscape theatre in the metropolitan landscape, as the counterpart to the excess of the urban programme, where the city-dweller stands face to face with natural processes, the longue durée of evolution and natural growth, silence and open skies. This spatial ‘staging’ of the panorama, the ‘scene’, refers to the staging in a theatre, a landscape theatre. The landscape theatre is conceivable at every scale within the panoramic range: as metropolitan landscapes, metropolitan parks and metropolitan gardens. In this issue of SPOOL the focus is on the latter: the garden as a landscape theatre for the metropolis.

However influential metropolitan conditions are for daily life, they remain abstract and intangible for most of us. In order to make them perceptible, bringing them to the scale of human perception is key: the proximity that allows us to see, hear, or touch what is happening around us. It is here that the garden plays a role. Its small size allows it to be introduced in the metropolitan domain, making space where there doesn’t seem to be any, remaining aside of the hustle and bustle of urban life, and allowing for sensory perception. How can the garden express one’s relationship to the metropolitan landscape?

For this issue of SPOOL we aim to collect an exemplary series of metropolitan, surprising, brand-new and thought-provoking gardens that have escaped our attention.

The key to these gardens lies at that precise intersection between:

  • metropolitan developments
  • the threshold between inside and outside
  • the representation of nature
  • imagination/representation
  • garden art

We are looking for two types of contributions:

  1. papers that take specific cases - e.g. an existing garden that has adopted a new role when their context changed under the influence of metropolitan conditions, or a reflection on a design that successfully operates within a metropolitan context - as an entry for an argument on the role of the garden in the metropolitan condition
  2. projects an experimental design (proposal), or an artistic expression. The contribution should support critical investigations and promote scholarly discourse on the arts and design culture in the field of the built environment. We are looking for practices and ideas drawn from the fine and other arts and environmental disciplines that have demonstrable relevance for contemporary theory and practice in the spatial design disciplines.

Paper submissions will be subject to a double blind peer review process. In order to make the reviewing process run smoothly for both authors and reviewers, reviewing will take place in two stages. First an extended abstract of the planned paper/project will be reviewed. Any profound disagreements on the content can thus be tackled in an early stage, and the author will not need to rewrite a completely finished paper. The preliminary review will result in advice on how to proceed with the paper. The same reviewers will review the subsequently submitted paper.

Project submissions will be subject to a single blind peer review process. After the selection procedure, the authors will be advised on how to improve their submission.


Abstracts/draft paper/visual essay submissions: 8 March 2019
Editors' selection of abstracts/visual essays: 22 March 2019
Abstract/draft paper/visual essay reviews: 26 April 2019
Full paper/revised visual essay submissions: 28 Jun 2019
Reviewing papers: 26 July 2019
Revised paper submissions: 25 Oct 2019
Publication date: Jan 2020