Book Review | Codify: Parametric and Computational Design in Landscape Architecture

Codify: Parametric and Computational Design in Landscape Architecture edited by Bradley Cantrell and Adam Mekies provides a series of essays that explore what it means to use, modify and create computational tools in a contemporary design environment.

Cantrell and Mekies in their first chapter,  Coding landscape provide a brief history of the landscape architecture professions relationship with technology including the early adaptation by Design Workshop and the following decades of the profession engaging with GIS, geo-design, mobile data, then moving into the current era of Sidewalk Labs and developing a future vision for urban planning. From the outset, the discussion of analog (hand) and the digital representation is seen as been unproductive as “..neither methodology, analog or digital defines the discipline of landscape architecture.” Cantrel and Mekies continue by stating that computation provides more opportunities and new modes of thinking to expand the design tools, workflows and methodologies of landscape architecture.

Following on from Cantrell and Mekies is the book is filled with a wide range of contributors from around the world who provide essays and interviews. The book’s contributors are from the landscape architecture profession, academia and technology firms who provide a broad range of information about coding and its relationship to landscape architecture including history, theory, definitions, and practice. They explore the ideas of graphic representation, 3d printing, modelling, prototyping, coding, data analysis, sensors, and many other aspects of that go beyond the title of the book (coding). The variety in writing styles and topics covered (design, research, modelling, etc) allows the reader to read the book from cover to cover or select a topic to stimulate the reader’s mind to imagine the possibilities of computation and digital methodologies.

A book that is well curated providing many thought-provoking ideas, theories and paradigms to challenge readers in their thinking about digital technology and its role in landscape architecture. The contributors address many issues that face landscape architecture including climate change, city densification, site responsive design, evidence-based design and how hardware and coding can be utilised at varying scales (body, site, city, country).

Codify: Parametric and Computational Design in Landscape Architecture is a book that calls on the landscape architecture profession to place themselves at the forefront of tackling solutions for the future demands and challenges of the built environment by leaving behind the current professions enamour with design representation and aesthetic and instead grasp the potential and collaborative nature of designing with a connection between the virtual and physical realities.

Codify: Parametric and Computational Design in Landscape Architecture edited by Bradley Cantrell and Adam Mekies is available from Amazon for $39.95 (as at October 13, 2018)

Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (July 8, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1138125040
ISBN-13: 978-1138125049

Book Review | Damian Holmes
Images Credit | Damian Holmes

A review copy was provided by the publisher to WLA.


About Damian Holmes 3088 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at