The term ‘landscape architecture’ was first used by Gilbert Laing Meason in his book On the landscape architecture of the great painters of Italy (London, 1828) He used the term to describe such architecture as can be seen in landscape paintings of Italian artists which combine into one harmonious whole buildings and landscape. Nowadays the word is used in a much wider meaning: ‘landscape architecture’ is concerned with the shaping of external space, which embraces not only natural and built environments, but also a huge range of symbols and signs that carry different meanings; in order to ‘read’ them we have to know the visible physical objects which are the subject of landscape architecture to the same extent as the invisible ‘genius loci’.

The current edition is the first in the Tallinn University of Technology proceedings series entitled Landscape Architecture – acta monumenta naturalis, and it is an academic publication containing refereed articles, which will be published regularly. The articles included in the current edition are based on the previously completed master’s theses or are parts of a doctoral dissertation authored by students in degree courses or by graduate students.

This collection of articles has been inspired by seminars led by Professor Juhan Maiste over the last few years dedicated to English landscape park as well as to temporal and spatial issues, which have opened up new dimensions. The preparatory work for launching the proceedings started in 2007, however, the circle of writers slowly expanded and the result is a more comprehensive range of contributions that we ever dared to hope. As the preparatory phase was long, some of the articles written specifically for this edition were published elsewhere.

This volume includes a large number of topics under a collective term ‘landscape architecture’. The opening article by Sulev Nurme “Classical approach to architecture and the art of gardening” is about garden design and its sources. Kreeta Sipelgas in her article entitled “English-style landscape park as a text” reveals the influences invisible at first glance. These two philosophically inclined articles are followed by more practical studies. Piret Palm, graduate of the Estonian University of Life Sciences in landscape architecture wrote her master’s thesis on the topic of “Woody plants in Estonian parks under nature protection in the 19th-21st century. A list of recommended plant species for restored historical parks”, which gives a comprehensive overview of the varieties of woody plants used in manorial parks and advises which species should be planted in historical parks so that the original diversity is preserved. Riin Alatalu, specialising in restoration at the Estonian Academy of Arts has written an article entitled “Landscape and farm architecture. The inventory of rural architecture”, based on her master’s thesis. Kaili Põder’s article ”The possibilities of improving the quality of living environments in the new residential areas” discusses the problems of suburbanisation, and this draws on her master’s paper defended in the Landscape Architecture Department of the Estonian University of Life Sciences. Karin Bachmann’s article “Mental pollution of a place: the case study of Raadi”, draws on her master’s thesis in urban studies at the Estonian Academy of Arts. The last article in the collection is by Anna-Liisa Unt, who has written on “Public space as an open text. The case of the Fishing Harbour” as part of her doctoral dissertation.

The authors represented in the first collection are all involved in the interpretation, shaping and preserving external space, and thus link theory and practice in their work.

The proceedings entitled Landscape architecture will continue publishing articles based on the master’s theses and doctoral dissertations as well as conference presentations. The main focus is on the introduction of theoretical discussions and standpoints, but new rubrics will be added from one edition to another. The first edition includes the rubrics: ‘Place’ and ‘Person’ The story of a place is authored by Sulev Nurme jointly with Professor John Tatter from Birmingham-Southern College under the title “The landscape gardens at Stowe”. This is an opening article in a series introducing landscape gardens in England: they were visited in the course of a field trip in the autumn of 2006. Under the rubric of ‘Person’ stories of landscape architects and other people dealing with landscape architecture objects in one way or other will appear. In the current issue we have printed an article by Nele Nutt entitled “The heritage of Helmi Üprus – the study of the historic manorial parks”, originally a presentation at the Eighth spring conference of the Department of Cultural Heritage and Conservation of the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2006.

We all have something to do with landscapes – some of us live in them, others work in them or study them. In addition to landscape architects we welcome the contributions of art historians, geographers, city planners, architects, semioticians, etc.

I am grateful to all the authors, the reviewer, and other people whose cooperation made this edition possible.

Published: 2011-06-01