History and Theory of Landscape Architecture

The Swiss sociologist Lucius Burckhardt asked „Whither garden art?“ in the eighties, and bemoaned the spread of unthinking, meaningless landscape design that no longer seemed aware of its responsibility to make the world intelligible. Research in history and theory of Landscape Architecture therefor plays an important role for the future development of Landscape Architecture and Design. Since Landscape Architecture is a comparatively young profession – it was the designer of Central Park New York, Frederick law Olmsted, who coined the term “landscape architecture in mid 19th century – the theoretical background of this profession, based on research in history, is not very well developed.

Since 1997 Weilacher is continuously researching in this field. He supervises doctoral dissertations, presents papers on symposia and published several books on 20th-century landscape architecture in particular. So far, three PhD-candidates, supervised by Professor Weilacher, finished their dissertations about historical topics. Currently there are two dissertation projects about as yet un-explored biogroaphies of 20th-century landscape architects, and Dr. Lars Hopstock, who wrote his Ph.D. about Hermann Mattern, publishes regularly about the history of our profession.

After decades of imposing an ecological ideology in the seventies and eighties, and a one-sided emphasis on protecting and maintaining nature, landscape architecture has been committing itself freely to its creative task – and at the same time taking a renewed interest in history and theory of landscape architecture. Will the profession contribute to the trivial background noise of interchangeable image worlds, in other words to a kind of Babylonian confusion in terms of design, or will it allow itself the supposed luxury of not just randomly filling the world with images and vocabulary, but enrich it with connections and contents, thus making sense? It is no coincidence that discussions about „less aesthetics, more ethics“ started up again a few years ago.

In order to substantially support the research in this regard, the professor in ordinary of the LAI initiated the position of a Junior-Professor on "History and Theory of Landscape Architecture" (20th century) in 2009 at the TU Munich – the first position of its kind at the Faculty of Architecture. Dr. Stefanie Hennecke, formerly at the Berlin University of the Arts, filled this post at the TU Munich in November 2010 and she conducted independent research and taught for 3 years at the Faculty of Architecture. Since she obtained a full professorship at the University of Kassel, unfortunately, due to a resolution by the University Directorate this important field is no longer represented by a professorship at the TU Munich.