Landscaping the Intangible 

Walter HoodAmerican Designer/Professor/Artist

How to begin describing Walter Hood, the creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio? His work, accolades, and influence are extensive, and a single article cannot hope to encapsulate it all. So, rather than peppering you, the reader, with nonstop paragraphs, this piece is built upon the language Hood so often uses. This is an invitation to sink into a favorite chair and have a conversation with an icon from the affinitive spheres of art, landscape, and urbanism. 

HYBRIDITY  How spaces evolve over time  

Linguistic references to space, Hood believes, can and have shifted over time just as cultural associations transform over time. How communities refer to their spaces, public or otherwise, often reflect a space’s changing uses. Hood Design aspires to uncover what Hood calls “linguistic hybridities” in landscapes. 

“The book I’m currently working on is Hybrid Landscapes, and that research involves post-colonial landscapes, like here in America. Think about these typologies that we’ve made, as if a ‘park’ is an American invention, but the ‘square’ and ‘plaza’ are not, or how the typology changes over time,” says Hood.

According to Hood, that’s how hybridity works: cultures and individuals look at their surroundings and hybridize them based on what they want in their environment. The “public square” is a typology that can sometimes involve a web of red tape, restrictions on use, or concessions made to private interests. “What ends up happening is the bureaucracy doesn’t question it, and they just go with it. So, you’ll see spaces, for example, called Plaza Park,” says Hood. Another scenario would be a site historically designed to function as a square, but over time, people started preferring park-like amenities—grass and trees, perhaps. Hybridity develops there. Not only in the physical space but also in the language used to describe 

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Author: Arbus

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