Third genus*

Burçin Yılmaz

Published Jul 23, 2020


Architecture and landscape, come together in various ways and this togetherness makes new approaches and even new disciplines. Indeed, although these two disciplines act together in history, they were first emerged together terminologically by the usage of “landscape architecture”. Thus, a new specialization area at the end of the 19th century started to emerge with the rising of “landscape architecture”. The construction of nature in the city and in the sequel evolving this attitude are seen as a breaking point with regards to both architecture and landscape[1]. Landscape architecture associates two professions, which are landscape gardening and architecture. It creates the basis of the discipline of landscape architecture, the impression or transformation to the art of nature's natural state and the transformation of the act of building that is of this impression. In brief, it can be perceived as a reconstruction of the picturesque view of nature. When examining the historical relationship between landscape and architecture, it can be said that is currently more diversified when compared to the first initial cases of the combination of the two fields. It is seen as a critical phenomenon because of organizing the city and feeding the discipline of architecture. Adding to that, it is seen as significant that this phenomenon has evolved as belonging to the city since originally it belonged to nature.

Throughout the historical period related to ideas and descriptions of landscape, there have been a variety of terminologies to explain it. It will be seen that many concepts and terminologies that are in the interconnection area have evolved with the consistent changes in the maintenance and interpretation of landscape architecture. Because the implementation has changed in time, the terms also changed concordantly. For example, the creator of the “landscape urbanism” concept, Charles Waldheim (2006) defends that planning is formed by the pattern of the landscape, not according to the buildings. Thereby, the landscape appears as a design decision while organizing the city according to the existing landscape. It is shown in the study as an example for blurring the margins of the disciplines that the conceptual framework of the landscape has transformed to belong to the city. It is seen that the concept of landscape has transgressed into architectural design boundaries. It seems significant that architecture, that context is “land”, takes up “land” and uses it as an element of design.

Moreover, today, it cannot be exactly determined where disciplinary margins begin or end, and what they are comprised of. It seems as though the scopes of these disciplines enlarge and transform through the penetration into each other’s border areas. Thinking of each other as being interchangeable will remove the boundaries between architecture and landscape where the disciplinary boundaries are blurred. Then, it will be a more free area where there are no boundaries. This area is a liberated place and experimental. This study argues to investigate this liberated place between “landscape” and “architecture”. It will be offered as an “invention/innovation” area for understanding the new structuring. It is seen as crucial for comprehending innovative ideas through the contemporary cities.

The concept of landscape in the “invention/innovation” field is no longer an imitator of nature. As stated by Shannon, it is an “instrumental, strategic and operational” element to design (2012, p. 626). The landscape has evolved from an idyllic image to an architectural element that can be shaped/designed.


Figure 1. : Invention/Innovation area.

This intricate area is constructed by more than one disciplines. Stated in other words, multi-disciplines allow building the “inventional” area that could not be specified where its outcomes/products belong. Where it belongs or how it will be expressed, that emergent productions/outcomes when the boundaries of disciplines disappear are the main argument of this study. At the same time, the situation of today, that it is neither this nor that or that it is both this and that, generates that of “invention/innovation”, can be said. That of “invention/innovation” is in the intricacy of architecture and landscape can be argued (See Fig.1).

It can be claimed that a new spatial production that is expressed as “neither this nor that or that it is both this and that” –third genus[2]- emerged. When examining today's design approaches or outcomes, it can be said that the boundaries of “landscape” and “architecture”, which were in the past described as two distinct disciplines, have already transgressed and mixed. The ways of the relationship of disciplines can be proposed as “third genus” in order to be able to perceive the current products/outcomes that could not be classified under a sole approachment. The products/outcomes or even thoughts are no longer within the boundaries of both disciplines, architecture, and landscape. Therefore, the approaches under “invention/innovation” appear as a “third genus” that does not belong to the domain of both.

 “Olympic Sculpture Park”[3] by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi can be exemplified as a “third genus” because it uses the knowledge of more than one discipline so it could not be classified under any disciplines then it creates its own notions as a singular object (See Fig.2). It creates an artificial landscape and also a new spatial product. The design invites new remarks by using art, landscape and architecture (Minner, 2011). It has more differences than the conventional division of land. With this project, it can be seen that the problem of “building” is approached with an intricate attitude. Therefore, generated production contains the knowledge of more than one field. Weiss and Manfredi express their project as “not only brings sculpture outside of the museum walls but brings the park itself into the landscape of the city” (Weiss/ Manfredi, 2007).


Figure 2 : Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, 2001-2006.[4]

Consequently, if it is re-expressed, today’s productions that destroy their boundaries bring a singularity that thus far could not be properly comprehended and thus there exists difficulty in coming up with a description. This singular situation, beyond the disciplines as well as structural and conceptual, will produce or derive its own concepts. Comprehending and conceiving this singular situation as a new type –third genus- will bring new perspectives to architecture as well.

[1] The landscape term was used to express nature as an image of nature but Frederick Law Olmsted defined “landscape architecture” as a discipline, which built the environment when he presented Central Park.

[2] At this juncture, the notions that are used by Jaques Derrida (1995) to describe Plato’s khōra can be considered relevant: 

It is well known: what Plato in the Timaeus designates by the name of khōra seems to defy that ‘logic of noncontradiction of the philosophers’ of which Vernant speaks, that logic ‘of binarity, of the yes or no.’ Hence it might perhaps derive from that ‘logic other than the logic of the logos.’ The khōra, which is neither ‘sensible’ nor ‘intelligible,’ belongs to a ‘third genus’. One cannot even say of it that it is neither this nor that or that it is both this and that. It is not enough to recall that khōra  names neither this nor that, or, that khōra says this and that (Derrida, 1995, p. 89).

The concept of khōra, which Derrida states cannot be fully comprehended, is qualified as belonging to a “third genus” by Derrida. He indicates it can be seen as “neither this nor that or that it is both this and that” while referring to the concept. Also, he presents something- he could not describe- as incomprehensible. Furthermore, the other important quote from Derrida is given hereinafter:

The oscillation of which we have just spoken is not an oscillation among others, an oscillation between two poles. It oscillates between two types of oscillation: the double exclusion (neither/nor) and the participation (both this and that). But have we the right to transport the logic, the para-logic or the meta-logic of this super-oscillation from one set to the other? It concerned first of all types of existent thing (sensible/intengible, visible/invsible, form/formless, icon, or mimeme/paradigm), but we have displaced it toward types of discourse (myhtos/logos) or of relation to what is or is not in general (Derrida, 1995, p. 91).

[3] The realization of this project was acquired through participation in an international competition.

[4]See [Accessed: 6 May 2018].


Derrida, J. (1995). Khōra. In T. Dutoit (Ed.), On the Name (pp. 89-127). California: Stanford University Press.

Minner, K. (2011, January 06). Olympic Sculpture Park / Weiss Manfredi. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from

Shannon, K. (2012). Landscapes. In C. G. Crysler, S. Cairns, & H. Heynen, The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory (pp. 625-638). SAGE Publications.

Waldheim, C. (2006). Landscape as Urbanism. In C. Waldheim (Ed.), The Landscape Urbanism Reader (pp. 35-53). New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Weiss/ Manfredi. (2007). Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from

*This paper is a part of a master thesis entitled “An Experimental Study on Blurred Margins between Architecture and Landscape” in Master of Architecture at TOBB University of Economics and Technology, supervised by Prof. Dr. Nur Çağlar.


Funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union. However, European Commission and Turkish National Agency cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Project Coordinator

TOBB University of Economics and Technology

Department of Architecture

Sögütözü Cad. No: 43 Sögütözü/Ankara


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