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Landscape Architecture
 
Vistas
The Webster's Dictionary defines a vista as a view extending into the distance but bounded,as for example, by headlands or rows of trees. It also gives another definition, a mental view into the distant past or future.

I like the second definition much more.
Would any one be willing to contribute their opinion, and perhaps some pictures of vistas, that had some profound effect on them as architects or designers?

It does not have to be a "physical" thing per se such as places, but more about comes to your mind.

I hope to get some responses, interested in what others can come up with.
Maria Ayub
Responses
 
Vistas
Certainly, a vista can be regarded as a space that orients our mind in one particular direction devoid of distractions. Well that's the first impression.
Vidhu Saxena
Vistas
Thanks for your interest Vidhu, here's an icebreaker. When I took the landscape theory class for our program, I had an experience with a topic that although I had spent some time studying while doing a research paper, the professor asked me a question that I was not able to answer, or get a satisfying answer from anyone. I was researching Zen design for gardens, and after so much effort in trying to understand this Japanese influence in landscape architecture, for the life of me, I could not get the answer, although I knew it in my heart. The question was why are the Japanese (in general terms) so good at abstraction? After asking some Japanese professors, their answer was as vague as mine. It was much later, while reading about something else, that the most appropriate answer was found. And I know I had found it because it was a moment of insight given by someone else, who although was not Japanese, was able to verbalize so well that it satisfied me, and gave me a "vista" of true understanding.
Maria Ayub
Vistas
Hi Maria,

Unfortunately I don't have the pictures with me right now but I always carry the mental picture of an experience I had. I went to Mandu, India in the rainy season and was sitting across the lake facing Jahaz Mahal. (I was sitting very close to this view).

I couldn't see a thing, as everything was covered in morning mist and clouds. And suddenly for a couple of minutes, the mist over the lake cleared and the palace appeared out of nowhere and vanished as suddenly as it had appeared!

If ever you happen to be in that part of India, you should definitely pay a visit to Mandu.

More on vistas -- I am in complete agreement on you regarding the second definition of the topic. Many a times while designing or researching, a thought flashes across my mind and I hasten to put in down on paper. These thoughts are fleeting and yet are brilliant. I think they are vistas that the mind is opening up.
Vishwanath Kashikar
Vistas
That was great, Vishwanath. What you probably experienced, in other words, was a mirage that was very real by the time noon arrived.
Maria Ayub
Vistas
Vistas always has vastness properly enclosed for perception, maybe inner vision or outer. Very interesting, I shall upload pictures later.
Dushyant Nathwani
Vistas
In landscape architecture in britain, certain designers use ha-ha line in the land scape where play of space opens up to surprising vistas, great I am thriled.
Dushyant Nathwani
Vistas
In the US, I have not seen many examples of the ha-ha fence, originally developed by Charles Bridgeman in the 1700's in England.

I can't wait to see your take on vastness from a ha-ha fence.

Thanks, Dushyant.
Maria Ayub
Vistas
The term 'vista' has been used extensively in perception of space. My question is, how does a vista contribute to our understanding of space, if at all?

I am looking into this, and might answer my own question further down the line. Until then, ideas welcome :-)
Rachna Lévêque (née Gupta)
Vistas
Well Rachna, you are proposing something that might work as a research paper. A vista (from the Italian, or we might say Latin, it also happens to be used in the Spanish language) means view. And a view is a way of looking at things, an angle, or a perception. In space, and speaking from the field of Architecture, it might mean a view in a three dimmensional field with a direct relationship to one, or many things. In all my readings, I have yet to come accross such a point. You may find it to be agonizing or thrilling in your research, all depends on what you can rely as your insight, or sustain as an argument. In the mean time, let me quote you something from mindvistas.blogspot.com: Perception in life is not defined by a long and continuous journey, but rather a series of momentous singular events that shapes an individual's unique character. Each event gives rise to new perspectives, new fears, new strengths, and even new ideals. By contemplating on the meaning of these events, I seek to expand my mind's vistas, and thus becoming a better me. I could not have said it better myself! And if you want a good example of perception in the graphic arts about landscape, see if you can find M.C. Escher's Puddle, ca. 1952. You will see what I mean. I have it as a poster, and I kind of like it.
Maria Ayub
Vistas
I think that vistas are highly underrated in our architectural education, as a means of designing. We are always taught to think/design in terms of plans and sections and then go on to models and other three dimensional sketches. Even when we make models, we tend to view them from the outsides -- a study of form. Very rarely (maybe only in cases of 1:20 openable part models) do we actually peer into the spaces and see how a person walking in it would experience the space.

The most powerful of all of our experiences of space comes through visual data as we walk inside the building. It is the way in which the building opens up -- the relation between the movement paths and the space defining elements that determines the perception of the building. Simple things like the same space entered and traversed through in different directions would foster different visions of the building. Although it is true that many architects do take this into account, it is given far less importance than it should be.

And by saying all this I am not leading to advocating making 3D walk through of our designs. That is an afterthought, a mode of presentation. There should be ways of designing using eye level three dimensional sketches, and more importantly this way of designing should have the same rigour as our two dimensional design development tools.

Hope to hear your views about it.
Vishwanath Kashikar
Vistas
Maria,

The ha-ha is not a fence but a ditch. It is used to separate working fields or meadows from the cultivated landscape adjacent to a building, permitting the view from the building to be read without a visual barrier cutting across the view.
John Lockerbie
Vistas
Hi again, Thanks for your responses Vishwanath and John. The term "fence" for a ha-ha is not correct, although it is frequently referred this way. I also have it as a retaining wall in some textbooks. I heard some people say it is a retaining wall,others,like yourself, that it is a ditch. Need to see a picture. And why would they call it ha-ha? It sounds rather funny. British humor? Vishwanath, you spoke like a true architect. Where are you studying? Thanks for your responses.
Maria Ayub
Vistas
Hi Maria,

I did my undergraduate in architecture from School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, India. I then went on to work and teach part time at the same school.

I am currenly doing masters by research at NUS, Singapore, on flexibility in mass housing. Are you also studying architecture?
Vishwanath Kashikar
Vistas
I am doing my MLA, hoping to finish in Spring of 2006.

My undergraduate is in Urban Planning. Housing is such a great problem around the world, with water being the second.

I hope we can bring better solutions, otherwise, we will encounter violence and uprising where we should have some peace and development. India is a such a case in point. Overpopulated, stressed beyond its limits...

That is all we need for now around the planet. Peace and development.

For some people, that is very hard to understand.

My best to you.
Maria Ayub
Vistas
Maria,

The reference to a retaining wall is because it is commonly constructed with a vertical, retained wall on the building side, and a sloped face on the agricultural side. This prevents animals damaging themselves were it to be the other way around. Its whole purpose is to allow uninterrupted views from the building, giving the appearance of continuity while keeping estate animals - and people - away from the more domesticated landscaping adjacent to the building. Usually they are a few feet in height but can be considerably larger.

Google suggests the term's origin is French and relates to the provision of an obstacle.
John Lockerbie
Vistas
Thanks for your contribution, John. It is a very good one. Last year I visited England and forgot to go to a site to see one for myself, and how it plays itself in the rural landscape. If you know the names of some sites that have one, pass it on. Where is Dushyant with the pictures about vastness and the ha-ha?
Maria Ayub
Vistas
Visiting site at UAE, let me be back to studios by week's time, shall surely upload pics. The person who introduced me to ha-ha line 15 years back has been master landscape designer from Britain and he always thought it to be imaginary line in landscape opening up vistas, and wow or ha-ha is reaction to the magnificient view.
Dushyant Nathwani
Vistas
Well, good luck in UAE.

I have another vista to show, but until I can get in my own computer, it will be on hold.

And why are Japanese landscape designers
so good at abstraction?

...because they see complexity in simplicity...

That's it.
Maria Ayub
Vistas
Does vista need to always be a straight view? What if I have something like the main spine of a dilli haat, which, although generally straight, has main curves in between... Would that be called vista? It has an axis but you can't directly view the end part. One friend of mine keeps it calling that a vista, but I don't think it is.

What is your opinion guys?

Payal Kapoor
Vistas
Payal, in the strict definition of vista, it is implied a view that is "straight-on". Can you explain to me dilli-haat? Bring us a picture or draw one, it sound as if makes the eye meander on the field. Where does it originate? Sounds from the Indian subcontinent to me. Waiting for your feedback,
Maria Ayub
Vistas
Hi Maria, yes, dilli haat is in Delhi. And you can call it a kind of ethnic bazaar (market). We have stuff here from all over India, the basic traditional stuff. And there are also eating outlets and that too of various cultures. There is a kind of straight central space given for circulation with secondary ones coming out of it, and there are shops and eatings outlets on the either side. But the built part is only ground floor built thought there are level differences. So the space does seem to be flanking, but this central circulation is not almost straight and the built part have jagged profile. You need to give me a day, I couldn't find its plan on net to upload it here but theres one in my college library. I'll upload it as soon as possible.
Payal Kapoor
Vistas
Dear Maria,

There are many examples in England associated mainly with the landscaped gardens of the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

A quick googling gives the following which will give you a better idea than words:

It appears that Charles Bridgeman (1690-1738) was responsible for introducing them into England, but I'd take that with a pinch of salt.
John Lockerbie
Vistas
Hi John and Payal,

Thanks for your responses, we have studied in school the English gardens because they are a very strong influence in the American landscape. Olmstead took a great deal from there. He liked the "green silvan hills" and so on. So we go on from Stowe to Jencks'Cosmological Garden in Scottland, quite a site, in terms of earth manipulation.

Regarding the bazaar, if it is one, I know what you are talking about. But let's see that picture. It should be interesting.

Let me show you something from my last trip to Cuba. It was spring, and while walking the old streets of Havana, my eyes noticed one of the old cars of the many found in the city.

As the car made a left turn on an intersection, I noticed an RCA Victor sign on the facade of a building. It was rather amazing to see this. In a country where signage for foreign products, industries and businesses was taken out from the buildings during the revolution, this one survived.

Whoever did this was very clever. The designer had done the work not with lights or engravings, but by sort of cutting into the masonry kind of effect (I don't know the term), and so it was impossible to remove, it is very late 40'-50's. And since cement is so hard to find in Cuba, probably nobody bothered to fill it in.

Permanence,...the designer was way ahead of everyone else. He knew something about revolutions in Latin America...
Maria Ayub
Vistas
In India, the vanishing-blind maker Levelore has a brand "vista", they want to say, as we rotate the blinds, what opens up is vista or vast view, provided the window faces such landscape.
Dushyant Nathwani
Vistas
Dushyant, in the US the use of the word vista is found quite often in products and services. There is one agency called VISTA, and I think it stands for Volunteers In Service To America. I don't know if it still exists. Tell us about your work in UAE. They are having some impressive projects. But they have the money. Mucho dinero,
Maria Ayub
Vistas
great,yes,recently got foot-hold in gulf,opened design office last month to service some projects,would prefer to talk about that with you either through e-mail/fax/cell/snail mail but not in this forum ,just keep matter to the point.
Dushyant Nathwani
Vistas
Hi Dushyant, My e-mail at school is mayub001@fiu.edu. I have seen briefly a project about a palm island, resort & marina, although I can not recall the location in UAE. Perhaps Dubai. We have plenty of resorts and marinas in Florida, but not quite as different as that one. I forgot to tell Viswanath about a program that is being used now in high schools for the architectural program. It is called Sketchup, and you can do what he proposes, start as views and then go to plan and elevation. It is simpler to use than many other 3D programs. Landscape architects can use it with GIS for their bigger projects. I have another vista, this one is from the oldest residence in Cuba, in my hometown, Santiago. It is the house of Diego Velazquez-the first Spanish envoy who founded Cuba's first capital, Santiago. You can see the Moorish influence, in the patterned-stone floor, the screens and the central courtyard, it does not have a fountain, but a well. It is a museum now, and the outside is rather simple, a stone facade, but you look inside and it is a different story. I wonder what happened to John from Lockerbie, I was going to tell him about the Zanja Real, the "Royal Ditch" in Havana. There are no Roman aqueducts in the Caribbean. Sorry, just ditches for water that later were traded for dams.
Maria Ayub
Vistas
Although being late in this discussion, allow me: From the landscape point of view, I suggest to get to page 87 (figure and table on Didactic landscape) as provided by Jay Appleton in his boook "The Experience of Landscape" John Wiley & Sons (1975) reprinted in 1977 and 1978. In same book, see also definitions on Closed Vista, Deflected Vista, Horizontal Vistas (including sky dados..), Lateral Vista (see also Offsets) and Secondary vistas. I quote: "...by the view in a park where cattle had eaten the leaves of the trees up to the limit of their reach, leaving a slice of visibility under the surviving foliage...". In Design, just think of a "Visual Corridor"...." penetrability".."hereness and thereness".. and so on.

Hope it is helpful

Yours
Dr Stamatis Sekliziotis
Anastasia Savvidou
Vistas
Thanks for your input, even when the rest of creation is being nourished, you can see a vista.

Rather curious, never thought of it that way.

Maria
Maria Ayub
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