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The Art of Healing the Landscape: Creating A Sense of Place with Phytotechnology

This project builds on previous work completed as part of a masters project by Matt Hisle under the guidance of Frank Sleegers in Hadley, Massachusetts at an abandoned Getty gas station. The previous project sought to integrate phytotechnology into a “comprehensive experience that provided connectivity and educational purposes” and used Phyto by Kate Kennen and Niall Kirkwood as a framework for applying six phytotechnology typologies (referred to as phytotypologies) in the design (Sleegers & Hisle, 2017). This project also explores the site’s historical, social, and ecological sense of place and the application of phytotechnology as garden art to create a functional, legible landscape. This will require an understanding of the site’s historical, cultural, and ecological context through written and visual data, an understanding of phytotechnology’s practical application and place in the context of landscape design, and an exploration of phytotechnology in garden and land art as a tool to construct legibility and create a sense of place. More research is needed to establish the artful application of phytotechnology in landscape architecture and related interdisciplinary fields as a strategy to remediate polluted sites at the national and international scale. Designs that address both the utilitarian aspects of phytotechnology and the needs of the community are an opportunity to create a demand for similar projects, for funding further scientific research, and for public policy that facilitates the implementation of phytotechnology. The greatest promise of phytotechnology in landscape design is the potential to exact real environmental and social change; environmental issues are almost always social justice issues. The use of phytotechnology in garden art is one of the many possibilities to heal the landscape, to create environmental and social change, and to make the world a more resilient, beautiful place for future generations.
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