Legible landscapes: the use of narratives in landscape design for leisure in Dutch cultural landscapes
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Nowadays, leisure and tourism have become significant factors in rural development, which is manifest in the ‘commodification’ of landscapes. However, leisure en tourist markets are very competitive and consumers increasingly demand high quality, unique and memorable experiences. Landscape designers are called in to contribute to the adjustment of landscapes for leisure and tourism purposes. Landscape design involves functional as well as perceptive and imaginative aspects of space. It is this particular combination that is essential to making contemporary landscapes more attractive. In the twentieth century, a specific design tradition concerned with leisure and tourism in cultural landscapes was developed in the Netherlands. My reconstruction of this tradition, based on an analysis of landscape designs from the 1920s to the present, shows that landscape designers used knowledge and theories from Leisure Studies and Environmental Psychology about functional use, behaviour and perception in their designs. However, imaginative aspects received less attention. Contemporary landscape designers search for innovative means to rouse peoples’ imagination. With the new demands for special experiences, imaginative aspects have become very important nowadays. An interesting challenge for designers is the use of narratives. The value of this approach will be illustrated with the concept of ‘the legible landscape’.
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Tourism and landscape narratives