The Vicissitudes of Criticism in the Landscape Metropolis


  • Lisa Diedrich Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Saskia de Wit TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Tom Avermaete TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment




critique, criticism, design disciplines


The editors of this themed issue of SPOOL place the discussion on the possibilities and impossibilities of criticism within the field of the design disciplines at centre stage. We are especially interested in how criticism can make an active contribution to taking a position vis-à-vis what we have called, in earlier issues of SPOOL, the contemporary condition of ‘the landscape metropolis’. Criticism is an important means of reflection on the creative processes and interventions that are part and parcel of this landscape metropolis. It throws light on particular projects by describing and explaining them, but also by evaluating and generalising these reflections in relation to an entire discipline, be it landscape architecture, architecture, or urban design. As Miriam Gusevitch sharply notices: “Criticism is riskier than commentary. It is willing to judge and to condemn, to stake out and substantiate a particular position. Serious criticism is the careful and thoughtful disclosure of dimensions that might otherwise elude us...”

How to Cite

Diedrich, L., de Wit, S., & Avermaete, T. (2018). The Vicissitudes of Criticism in the Landscape Metropolis. SPOOL, 5(1), 3–6.




Author Biographies

Lisa Diedrich, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Lisa Diedrich studied architecture and urbanism in Paris, Marseille and Stuttgart, science journalism in Berlin, and landscape architecture at the University of Copenhagen, where she received her doctoral degree. Since 1993, she has been running her own office as a critic and consultant in urban design and landscape architecture and is based in Berlin.  From 1993 to 2000 she was an editor of Topos European Landscape Magazine, from 2000 to 2006 she worked as a personal consultant of Munich’s chief architect at the city’s public construction department. Since 2006 she has served as the editor-in-chief of the book series Landscape Architecture Europe (#1 Fieldwork/ #2 On Site/ #3 In Touch/ #4 On The Move/ #5 Care Create Act) and of ’scape the international magazine for landscape architecture and urbanism. In 2007 she moved to academia, teaching and researching in the field of contemporary landscape architecture and urban design for universities in Europe and worldwide. Since 2012 she has been a professor of landscape architecture at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Alnarp/ Malmö where she currently directs the research platform SLU Urban Futures. Her research and teaching focuses on critical practices in today’s urbanisation induced landscapes, on transdisciplinary strategies for urban transformation in climate-change affected water landscapes, and on methods for capturing and communicating site qualities.

Saskia de Wit, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Saskia de Wit studied landscape architecture at Wageningen University (1987-1993) and Architecture and Urbanism at the Faculty of Architecture at Delft University of Technology (1990-1992). She worked as a designer at Jacobsen Landscape Architects (Cheltenham UK, 1992-1993) and the Department of Town Planning and Housing in Rotterdam (2004-2005). In 1998 she founded Saskia de Wit Landscape Architecture.

Since 1993 she has been connected to the Chair of Landscape Architecture at the Faculty of Architecture in Delft, where she is involved as a assistant professor in research, education and organization. She has also taught at other educational institutions, such as the Academies of Architecture in Amsterdam and Groningen and the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In 2014 she graduated with a thesis entitled 'Hidden Landscapes; The Metropolitan Garden and the Genius Loci.'   She also is actively committed to developing and disseminating knowledge. She is affiliated with the Dutch Association of Garden and Landscape Architecture (NVTL) and the Garden Historical Society Cascade. From 2006 to 2009 she participated in the steering committee for the establishment of the DSL (Dutch School of Landscape Architecture), a collaboration between Wageningen University, Delft University of Technology, the Academy of Architecture, Van Hall-Larenstein Velp, HAS College Den Bosch and NVTL. She has organised several seminars, workshops and exhibitions, has participated in juries, and has been a guest editor for the journal Tuin & Landschap.


Landscape architectural design and research on all scales. The starting point is the same on all scales: how are the patterns, the images, the spatial relationships, or in other words the characteristics of the existing landscape, translated into an architectural design for the landscape, an urban fragment, or a building? In research and practice her expertise is in Public Space Design, Garden Design, Dutch Polderscapes, the History of Landscape and Landscape Architecture, and Planting, with a strong emphasis on the relationship between Analysis and Design.

Tom Avermaete, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

After his architecture studies in Belgium and Denmark, Tom Avermaete (°Antwerp, 1971) has obtained an Msc degree and a PhD in the history and theory of architecture at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Avermaete was lecturer in the history of architecture at Copenhagen University (1997), leader of the Centre for Flemish Architectural Archives at the Flemish Architecture Institute (2003), as well as associate professor (2006) and full professor of architecture (2012) at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.

Tom Avermaete has held several visiting professorships, amongst others at the Politecnico di Milano, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Tokyo Institute of Technology and The University of Copenhagen. He is on the editorial board of OASE Architectural Journal and previously of the Journal of Architectural Education (JAE, until 2015) and of the Yearbook. Architecture in the Netherlands. (2012-2016).

Avermaete is a member of the advisory board of Architectural Theory Review and Docomomo Journal, and a co-editor of the series Bloomsbury Studies in Modern Architecture (with Janina Gosseye, Bloomsbury Academic). He is a member of the scientific board of the Jaap Bakema Centre (HNI, Rotterdam), the programme committee of the Berlage Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design, and of the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC).