Water is so fundamental to everything that it is almost impossible to meaningfully conceptualise it, which is why it forms the basis of pretty much everything. To suggest that landscape architecture has some sort of privilege with it would be deluded. But, as alchemists of “the world”, we are both expected to deal with it professionally, as well as being forced to do so practically in making anything real, built in that same “world”.\ud When people use words too much, that is the signifiers of things in sound, they become a kind of conceptual short hand to what they are referring to. You can hear this short hand when they use the word, as it gets grammatically dealt with differently – it becomes a conceptual object – a different type of noun. Water is one of these words, and as a supervisor I have almost universally seen students refer to it like this, by the end of their projects, and then have to force themselves to reconsider what it was about water that made them interested in water in the first place. This process is a transition of ideas and technology and technique, and will be the subject of this essay, tracking students responses to the weird substance in design subjects I have taught or projects I have supervised at RMIT since 1997, to and from and then again back to the qualities and issues of water for people generally, and landscape architecture in particular
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