عنوان مقاله [English]
When one consults the catalogue of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, it is quickly apparent that many works, dating from the beginning of the 1980s, make wide use of the term “urban landscape” in their titles. The use of the term in both a theoretical and a familiar context, continued to increase after the year 2000. Its widespread use in daily speech and in the scientific community would seem to transcend the mere idea of “living and environmental space,” or “general representation of a city or one of its districts.” However, in France, the expression retains an association with the esthetic origins of the largely pictorial connotation which the term “landscape” carries here. One of the hypotheses which I’ll advance in this article is that one of the meanings and actual use of this expression demonstrates an increased awareness of the dualities inherent in our culture between the concepts of city and countryside, nature and culture, and architecture, urbanism and landscape. They reflect a perception of the world which is distinctly our own. The evolution of urban zones which are spreading, as well of our own society and our comprehension of other “milieu” (“the relations that link societies to their environment,” according to the definition of Augustin Berque1), resulting from the multiplicity of exchanges and the advancement of research, invites us to reflect upon other models which challenge these divisions and dualities. We are currently experiencing a more global awareness of cities which take into account not only forms, but their origins, what lurks behind those forms, the surrounding environmental factors (the sky, the climate, etc.); liminal elements (empty spaces, plant life); reliefs, the inhabitants, the functions of exchange, production, places of power; interactions (between city and countryside, hierarchical). On the whole, we strive to understand the complexity that produces the uniqueness, on varying scales, of each urban structure, each district, each space. There is an overall questioning on the essence and diversity of the elements of urban structures, as well as of the varied ways of living with and in them and perceptions of them. This evolution is linked to our increased knowledge, the information available through various media, our ability to travel easily, which also invites us to perceive and experience other cities, other distant places, other "milieu". Understanding these differences nevertheless remains a challenge, because, although we can traverse distances with greater ease, we are still used to deciphering these distant places through our own local referents. The manner in which these "foreign" worlds speak to us depends upon how we decide to listen. Enforcing a hermeneutical reading of these spaces, which forces us to decenter ourselves, to attempt to understand these urban landscapes within the context of their milieu, is not an easy task. Although the expression “urban landscape” might seem to refer, at first glance, to an idealized image, a perfect prototype, by the same token, it invites us, on the contrary, to consider other perceptions of the city. The evolution of the meaning of the notion of the term “urban landscape” is also linked to the development and transformation of urban links – as buildings spread out, the limits between city and countryside begin to blur. For a long time, we have had the tendency to differentiate architecture (a building and its immediate surroundings), city planning and landscaping (often combined with green spaces), the extension of the urban and peri-urban fabric; suburbs that are extensive, sporadic, heterogeneous, and multipolar confronted with planet-wide environmental issues, from the issues of creating "green" cities and metropolitan areas. The current situation invites us to reexamine these divisions, to modify our perceptions, and to propose new perspectives that encompass both the global and the local. The use of the expression "urban landscape" reflects that change, where the site once again dictates the nature of the project, where cities are transformed based upon an assessment of the existing spaces on geographical, historical and symbolic levels, and where a blueprint for the future is created at the crossroads of the disciplines of architecture, landscape gardening, and city planning, while also taking into account the perspective of local inhabitants. These evolutions in terms of the comprehension of the notions of "landscape" and "urban" are not merely confined to the French culture and language, as a reading of the articles of the European Landscape Convention, adopted October 20th, 2000 in Florence, amply demonstrate. Article 1, Paragraph a defines the term "landscape" thus: "an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors. "2 Additionally, in the terms of the application of Article 2, it is underlined that the Convention "applies to the entire territory of the Parties and covers natural, rural, urban and peri-urban areas.” 3 Thus, the notion of “urban landscape” as perceived by the general population is well-defined and is no longer limited to rural areas.