Landscape Architecture in India

The Journal of Landscape Architecture (LA) is the only periodical landscape architectural publication of its kind in India. Geeta Wahi Dua and Brijender S. Dua founded the journal in 2002 and have since turned it into a publication that also attracts the attention of architects. Together with Mohammad Shaheer and Adit Pal, Geeta Wahi Dua has now edited this basic reader Landscape Architecture in India, that so far has been as successful with architects as with landscape architects. The book is important for what is a small profession in a huge country with more than one billion people.

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Garden art has a long tradition in India, experiencing its heyday in the Mughal era. At that time the construction of gardens was used to mark out places of beauty or religious significance and to exert territorial control. A study of the history of Indian landscape clearly indicates that the central feature of pre-colonial Indian landscape design was its complementary relationship with nature and an experiential aesthetics.

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The first Master’s programme in landscape architecture in India was established forty years ago at the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi. Given the fact that post-graduate programmes currently exist only in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, and Pune,only about seventy Master’s degree holders in landscape architecture enter the job marketper year. The professional association, the Indian Society of Landscape Architects (ISOLA), has existed for a mere ten years.

Now it is certainly important to place landscape architects in the public sector, i.e. within teams for city development plans, open space planning, regional plans, and infrastructural developments, domainsthatare more or less unexplored so far.

In most cases, architects are the project leaders, but landscape architects are more and more often hired as part of the project team. While previously the question was about why a landscape architect was needed at all, nowadays the question asked by clients is: who is your landscape architect? Accordingly, most commissions for landscape architects come from architects.

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The reader brings together knowledge about the meaning and scope of landscape architecture in the Indian subcontinent, in a regionally specific manner. It seeks to introduce landscape matters to to students and future professionals in spatial design disciplines.

The book is divided into five chapters, beginning with “natural processes”, from geology to vegetation. This is followed by a section on the cultural history and a particularly important chapter on the foundations of landscape architectural techniques. The remaining two chapters are devoted to the characteristics of India’s regions and to a presentation of major works of Indian landscape architecture.

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By publishing this volume the authors have laid the floor for a better understanding of landscape architecture. One can only fully agreewith GeetaWahiDuawhen she writes:“There is a great need for many more publications and discussions on this very fascinating and creative profession.“ Landscape architecture in India is a huge task.

Mohammad Shaheer, GeetaWahiDua, Adit Pal: Landscape Architecture in India. A reader. New Delhi 2013. ISBN 978-81-926254-0-9