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Inês Nisa Rato | contactos: ines.rato@gmail.

Continuing life through memory, contemplation and restorative landscapes

Any landscape is a condition of the spirit
Henri Frédéric Amiel


Design can be an active agent to develop the landscape quality in which we lead our
lives. Predicated on the idea of meaning, metaphor or narrative inserted into spaces, landscape
design might invent alternative forms of relationship between people, place and cosmos, thus
establishing a significant difference in the continuity or evolutionary intervention of the lived
The way landscape is perceived, experienced and appreciated / lived, through an
evolutionary, cultural or personal development, is influenced but not directly determined by the
physical landscape properties; landscape experiences are produced / created by individuals.
Besides the complexity of a yet fragmented comprehensive theory of landscape
experience, trying to explain landscape experience hermeneutics: how landscape experiences
are produced and which factors influence the production process, the increasing emphasis on
the experiential qualities of landscape, namely mindscape properties, is a consequence of the
rise of the experience society. We live with an economy in which experience and desires
became the most predominant commodities.
According to Jacobs (2006) in the three different reality modes: physical, social and
inner reality - landscape appears as a different phenomenon, respectively: matterscape,
powerscape and mindscape.
The sense of a place is a reservoir of mental related, including emotional, concepts -
collection of meanings - that specify a place as a particular one for the subject; stresses any
form in which a person is related to a place. During landscape experiences, some of these
mental concepts may be activated - resulting from memories and associations - and be included
in the dynamic core that constitutes consciousness. In this case, the experiences are special
and often meaningful.
Nine landscape architecture works associated with memory, contemplation and
restorative concepts are presented and analysed relatively on how experiential landscapes
permeate the understanding of who we are thus how to better live our lives. The selected
landscape examples, intending to assist memory, contemplative and restorative experiences,
have the potential to make a significant positive impact – to engage in the continuity of
contemporary life; enlarging our genius imaginorum - by contributing not only to the aesthetic
and intellectual enrichment, but also to improve our physical, social and mental health.