Creating a sense of place

What is a sense of place?

What makes a place special? Where can I find a place?

As part of our reconnection to the Earth and its diverse landscapes, we have become interested in certain geographical areas that relate messages and meanings to us which refer to our spirit, our feelings, our sense of security, our place in the world.

Loess Plateau, above 1994, and below, same view 2012

Above, 2,000 year old food forest in Morocco....

Xochomilco Park, above, on the outskirts of Mexico City, is a beautiful and highly productive community asset, based on the ancient chinampa landscape system.

Chinampas are an ancient food production system used in wet lowland lying areas.  These floating fields, edged with canals, provide the most efficient food production on earth.  Xochomilco Park, Mexico.

Definitive permaculture texts.  King's Farmers of 40 Centuries; Russell Smith's Tree Crops A Perennial Agriculture; and Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution.  With Yeoman's Keyline Design (not pictured), Mollison put it all together in the quintessential Permaculture A Designers Manual.

The key Forest Garden text for practical and philosophical inspiration.[

Robert Hart, the father of Forest Gardening, with the author trying out the tree bog 1997.

The Edible Schoolyard, California, above.  Precedent project of sustainable community food production, the lady with pitchfork in the center is the school Principal.

What creates a sense of place?

A natural place is an area that has an inherent and ambient atmosphere that is beyond the interpretation of thought - the place exists independent of civilisation and man-made affairs.  National parks offer some good examples: the central valley in Yosemite, California; Fiordland in New Zealand; the west coast of Ireland or Scotland and so on.  Now, within these large places there are also a number of smaller places unique from other places.  Nature specialises in creating places, both large and small - so it is natural to have places within places.

Then we have semi-natural places – those places that have been entwined with human habitation for thousands of years and convey their own sense of place both of nature and people.  Stonehenge, Canyon de Chelly, the settlements in Cappadocia etc.

And then we have the man-made places, either totally outside of the natural world – the Piazza de San Marco or Covent Garden for example – or places somewhat connected to the natural world, the Potala Palace or Central Park, New York City.

In the Nelson-Tasman region, there are good examples of these categories locally:  we have the Riwaka Resurgence; the hotch-potch of commercial forestry, family picnic and beautiful beaches that is Rabbit Island; and central Nelson with its wonderful Cathedral Gardens extending down Trafalgar Street and east to the welcoming frontage of Nelson Central School.

Nature specialises in creating places naturally!  Kaiteriteri, the original Kauri forests…and the many other natural places that disappeared with the onslaught of extractive farming and the stamping out of anything authentically Aotearoa.  Until now!...because in the elimination of natural places, we never realised that it would have such a damaging effect on our own spirits.  In fact, most people do not even recognise that we have destroyed and lost many natural places – we have been desensitised to the loss of beauty.

Landscape architecture specifically recognises this issue in a call to arms to enhance and restore the sense of place in design work.

See our landscape gallery of photos here.

Guiding your landscaping project from concept to completion

We'd love to work with you to create an amazing landscape together.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation and a clear overview of how we can help guide your landscaping project from concept to completion.

Phone: 03 553 0448