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Architecture Exhibition Winter Spring 2015

Fionn Byrne. Into the Earth, 2013.

Fionn Byrne. Into the Earth, 2013.

REWILD: Architecture Defines a New Landscape

Fionn Byrne
Rob Southcott
SUMO Project

Curated by Patrick Macaulay


  • Can we create a landscape that replicates the natural ecosystem that existed prior to human intervention?
  • Is it possible to restore and protect nature by re-establishing and reintroducing lost species of flora and fauna?
  • Can we leave nature to its own devices to re-wild itself and return to a natural environment and sustainability?


If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around to hear it fall, does it make a sound? This familiar trope is supposed to have us question whether the natural world follows the same causes and effects when humanity is not present. But this question really conceals a problematic perspective, perhaps more complex than the original intention of the hackneyed “tree” question: Why do we presume that the natural world needs our perception? Why would humanity even matter to the events of the tree? If a person were not there to witness the spectacle, the sound and the sight would reveal itself to the other trees and animal life, shaking the foliage and stirring up the birds.

Central to the practice of landscape architecture is the question of humanity’s role in the natural world. The desire to interpret and re-define nature to serve us is a fundamental challenge.

Rewild presents a movement within landscape architecture that is re-evaluating how design can change the effect of human intervention on natural sites. Rather than assuming that the human impact on landscape is inevitable and irreversible, these landscape architects propose new methodologies to restore nature to its previous, undisturbed condition. The basis for this new movement is the belief that re-establishing a connectedness to all aspects of the land, from species reintroduction to ecological restoration, is vital in having a healthy planet. This challenges the architect to not impose his/her design upon the land but rather to work to restore the land to what it once was; to wildscape rather than landscape. Many argue this is still a man-made plan, that even this re-wilding must be managed by humanity. This exhibition showcases some fascinating dichotomies. Let the trees fall where they may.

– Patrick Macaulay, Director, Visual Arts