You are here:Home/Resources/ Publications/ Search Our Books/ Landscapes of Preindustrial Urbanism
Dumbarton Oaks Colloquia on the History of Landscape Architecture
Landscapes of Preindustrial Urbanism
Georges Farhat

As the world’s population continues to urbanize, the extensive reshaping and ecological transformation of the regions where cities develop have become mainstream concerns. Even the phrase “urban landscape” has evolved from modernist paradox to commonsense category. Yet what exactly does it cover? When did the phenomenon it denotes emerge, and how did it evolve across time and space? Could past dynamics of urban landscapes help reveal their present nature and anticipate future developments?

Answers to such questions are far from evident. While industrial pasts and postindustrial transitions of cities and their landscapes seem to be well charted, preindustrial conditions are only starting to be explored in a few, rapidly expanding fields of archaeology, historical geography, and heritage studies. These areas of study have benefited, over the past three decades, from tremendous advances and renewal in technologies, research methods, and conceptual frameworks. As a result, a wealth of knowledge is unearthed and landscapes turn out to be the very stuff of preindustrial urbanism. In fact, a paradigm shift is underway, according to which, during preindustrial times, landscapes and urbanism were formed in reciprocal relation. Landscapes of Preindustrial Urbanism seeks to introduce such a paradigm shift to landscape scholars and designers while offering alternative visions to urban historians and planners.