The Ecology Of Form
Lawrence Halprin


Lawrence Halprin In Jerusalem, 1982

©Monica Pidgeon

I would like to talk a bit about how I design and what influences me and how I arrive at the forms and the solutions that I arrive at, in terms of the landscape and the environment and people. The thing that has affected me most is the natural environment, not because of a romantic notion about it, not because of a picturesque notion about it, not because I follow exactly what the actual look of the natural environment is, but because I have studied and am profoundly influenced by the process by which these environments have arisen in nature.


High Sierra In California

©Lawrence Halprin

And the important thing about that is the forms and shapes of things, the way that, in nature as in this picture that I show of the High Sierra in California, which is way up at 14,000 feet where the origin of all forms occur, how this effect has developed; how the beauty of this particular place, its strength, its nature, and what it means to us, has come about to be. The interesting thing is to look at this, at these kinds of pictures in real life, in nature, is to look at them and say ‘now how could you alter the shapes of these places, how could you alter the placement of the stones, for example, and make them more beautiful? And the fact is, for me at all events, that you couldn't, because they are perfect. These com— positions, these shapes, the way that things are arranged, are forua the origin of our understanding of what beauty is. Now, having said that which I believe in pro- foundly, the question is how is it thatrthat happens? why is it that we consider these places so magnificently beautiful! It isn't because I think there is anything inherent about the fact that they're beautiful. I suppose that if I were on Mars, my sense of beauty would be something else. But it is because, in a most profound way, we and these places have come from the same origins, we have the same cell structure, we understand that we have originated from this; the biology and.the morphology of these places and ourselves are linked. And therefore they are like home to us in a profound physical, emotional and aesthetic sense. And therefore, as we look at them, we look at ourselves. They are a mirror image of ourselves. And those of you who don't come from the High Sierra, or from California, can trans— late this statement to your own natural landscapes where they have different con- figurations but you would have the same attitude. we are at home with them because we come from them, or we come from the same sense of things. And therefore we perceive these natural landscapes as beautiful, and we wish therefore to transfer them into our everyday lives. Now — the way I believe that we can transfer them into our everyday lives, into the cities and the suburbs and the houses and gardens and architecture that we live with on an everyday level, is not by copying necessarily the shapes or materials but by trying to understand the process by which they arose. How do they happen to be this way?

Thanks for previewing this talk

If you would like to view the whole talk please follow one of the following links


Or if you already have an account: