Developing a Cultural Practice
Walter J. Hood, Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning & Urban Design at CED, was appointed the inaugural holder of the David K. Woo Chair in Environmental Design earlier this year. Hood elaborates on the foundational thinking that inspires his research plans during his Chair tenure, focusing on the topics of “The Everyday and Mundane,” “Commemorative Landscapes,” and “Community Lifeways.”
“The culture of communities is replete with the everyday and mundane actions of people that make up our human experience… things accrete around us as time passes: buildings, vegetation, objects, and even space… in many cases, when it is time to change, such accumulations are wiped clean, leaving nary a wall, a street, nor a piece of infrastructure to commemorate what was before.
The spaces and places that people maintain, conserve or preserve reinforce their lifeways — the particular way they want to live. Individualism and collective diversity — a truly American “way of life” — suggest a willingness to validate other norms and actions of inhabitants. Urban design and planning projects often seek to organize and homogenize environments through easily understood standards, negating this idiosyncratic diversity.
Everyday and mundane, commemorative, and community lifeways together argue for “culture” to be central to design. Synonymous in their intent, they recognize that places and environments are maintained, sustained, or transformed by the people and bureaucracies that control them. A cultural practice is a framework that empowers all voices to speak out through their everyday actions and experiences.”