Landscapes - Spring 2015 - LPplus4

BACKGROUNDER
PAULA MEIJERINK, GUEST EDITOR
SMALL MATTERS
EN_
INNOVATION IS A highly sought-after
objective in both landscape architectural
practice and education, yet what precisely
it means is rarely articulated in design
discourse. To bring clarity to the discussion,
Landscapes|Paysages invited forwardthinking
practitioners and researchers to
reflect upon innovation in their own work,
and more particularly, to review it through
the lens of "smallness".
Innovation is associated with newness. It
is often the result of research, creativity,
invention, inspiration, brainstorming,
testing and experimentation. A variety
of easily accessible online dictionaries
describe innovation in sophisticated
terms: innovation is a new idea, device
or method - a statement that invites us
to consider imaginations and concepts
(i.e., ideas), materiality and techniques
(i.e., devices) and organization, system
and processes (i.e., methods). Yet beyond
these principles, different organizations
formulate innovation in different terms,
not all precisely articulated. For example,
on their website, the Canada Foundation
for Innovation (www.innovation.ca) does
not elaborate what innovation is or how
it can be achieved; it describes innovative
initiatives as those "bringing fresh ideas
to program design and business practices,
and developing a work environment
that fosters creativity." In academia,
the phrasing differs. The University of
Montreal's Faculty of Environmental
Design's three-year plan describes as
its mission: "develop knowledge and
train professionals and top researchers
who will contribute to the evolution and
innovation of environmental practices."
4 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES
(See: Planification Facultaire Triennale
2013-2016.) While this document does not
elaborate on what criteria are associated
with innovation, it makes use of the term
avant-garde in reference to "supporting
experimentation in order to establish
new ways of doing, thinking and seeing."
While avant-garde is a term from the
1930s related to art, culture and politics,
it indicates well an appreciation for
experimentation and untested initiatives
- those which are new and as of yet,
untested. The Faculty's design thesis
projects are considered the culmination of
a student's academic curriculum, qualities
and affinities. And while the student's
grade does not include the level of
evolution or innovation, the jury is asked to
evaluate the thesis on its contribution à la
connaissance or contribution to knowledge.
In the evaluation of design thesis
projects at the masters level at the
Amsterdam Academy of Architecture, a
distinction is made between vernieuwend
(innovative) and grensverleggend
(groundbreaking). The latter refers to a
project that instigates a fundamental
shift in the audience's understanding of a
certain subject.
While innovation is associated with the
new - itself an over-used and perhaps
even flaky term - others prefer to use
the word progressive to indicate that
innovative practices make conscious links
with established practice: innovation
builds on history. Innovations may well
begin as small improvements that
chip away at larger issues: "calculated
experiments", to quote Marc Ryan of
Public Work. Ryan elegantly expresses
the concept, when he speaks of those
"micro-advances that express or enact
macro-concerns...Here we aim to connect
the small with the extra-large."
NEWNESS ITSELF IS NO GUARANTEE
Although newness is essential to each
definition of innovation, newness in and
of itself does not guarantee innovation.
Nonetheless, innovation can be recognized,
in a manner similar to the recognition
of "quality" as explored by Robert Pirsig
in his 1974 novel, Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance. In Pirsig's novel,
quality exists as a perceptual experience.
The same can be said for innovation.
In landscape architectural practice, for
example, innovation is often a collective
assessment. An innovative idea, device
or method is recognized initially by a few,
then perceived by ever greater numbers
of people, and when a critical mass is
reached, the innovation is recognized
publicly, whether in publications,
references, lectures or awards. At the
core of this assessment is a collective
experience: the innovation is inspiring. It
has set a new standard which is affecting
an ever-growing audience and having an
impact on society.
"NEW" IS RELATIVE
Also fundamental to the idea of innovation
is context. Innovative approaches must
be understood in terms of their context,
suggesting a situating or positioning of an
idea. The idea of new, then, is a relative
idea and newness can be understood as
a counter action to, or an elaboration of,
a status quo: perhaps involving a shift
away from the status quo, or a denial
of existing circumstances. A certain
http://www.innovation.ca

Landscapes - Spring 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Spring 2015

To Being With | Pour Commencer
The New Small | Le Microcosme Réinventé
Paula Meijerink, Guest Editor | Rédactrice invitée
EN_LP+ | Small Matters: Backgrounder
FR_LP+ | Prodigieuse Petitesse
Writers | Collaboratuers
Je Vois Montreal
Upfront | Prologue
Forêt urbaine
Urban Braille
Find Your Pebble
Folly Forest
Parklet Experiment
Klynstra Scholarship
Prix 2014 Schwabenbauer
The Common Sense Curb Cut
Essay | Essai
Doggy Style
Projects in Place: The LA Flash Mob
Tiny Taxonomy
Lying Down in Public
Kelowna asks, "What if,,"
A Non-Urban Approach X3
New Directions | Nouvelles Avenues
Opinion
Critique
The Last Word | Le Mot de la Fin
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - cover1
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - cover2
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 3
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 4
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 5
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 6
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 7
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - FR_LP+ | Prodigieuse Petitesse
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 9
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Writers | Collaboratuers
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Je Vois Montreal
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - The Common Sense Curb Cut
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 13
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 14
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 15
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 16
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 17
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 18
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 19
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Essay | Essai
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 21
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 22
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 23
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Doggy Style
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 25
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 26
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 27
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 28
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 29
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Projects in Place: The LA Flash Mob
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 31
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Tiny Taxonomy
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 33
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 34
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 35
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 36
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 37
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 38
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Lying Down in Public
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 40
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 41
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Kelowna asks, "What if,,"
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 43
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 44
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 45
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - A Non-Urban Approach X3
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 47
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 48
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 49
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - New Directions | Nouvelles Avenues
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 51
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 52
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 53
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Opinion
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 55
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 56
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 57
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - Critique
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 59
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 60
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 61
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 62
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 63
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 64
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - 65
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - The Last Word | Le Mot de la Fin
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - cover3
Landscapes - Spring 2015 - cover4
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