In 2016, Rudi van Etteger, Ian Thompson and Vera Vicenzotti reflected in JoLA on the relevance of aesthetic theory for landscape architecture in their paper, ‘Aesthetic Creation Theory and Landscape Architecture’. They explored the aesthetic creation of art through the eyes of philosopher Nick Zangwill. The discussion remained theoretical, so this paper builds on their work by applying Aesthetic Creation Theory (ACT) to a specific landscape design proposal, thereby testing its implications for the design process. The proposed design pays tribute to a disappearing glacier in a National Park in New Zealand by using aesthetic experience to engage with the loss itself. The described phases of Insight, Intention and Action guide the development of an explicit and grounded rationale for aesthetic decision making. The case confirms the legitimacy of applying aesthetic theory to landscape architecture, but also reveals its vulnerabilities. It offers a means to reflect on and discuss the relationship between theory and practice.
This paper was written by Alex van Zyl and Rudi van Etteger as a reflection on Alex van Zyl’s excellent masterthesis entitled: Tribute to a glacier, designing a landscape for melancholic contemplation.