Introducing ‘Branded Landscapes in Contemporary Cities’

Tali Hatuka & Cristina Mattiucci
17 Oct 2018

This special issue considers how contemporary cities have entered a new phase in terms of their relationship with nature, which has significantly changed through the uses of 'landscape branding'. Rather than seeing nature as the antithesis of the city, or simply a resource that might be harnessed to promote well-being amongst inhabitants of the city, the wider ‘landscape’ is seen a tool for urban development and more specifically a branding tool. Through the new instrumental uses of landscape the image and economies of cities can be changed. As a result, the urban landscape is now frequently used to reassess the city and more fundamentally to question the position of the city in relation to countryside, suburban and periurban areas.

Image 1: Bosco Verticale and Porta Nuova

The new city-nature relationships that are seen, in landscape branding, raise questions around the role and purposes of nature and the resulting image and power of the city. Our issue asks:

  • What is the role of landscape in contemporary cities? Has it changed and how?
  • What is the role of contemporary ideas, such as landscape urbanism, ecological urbanism on design trends and on the image of the city? 
  • How does the commodification of landscapes and nature influence urban processes and life in the city?
  • How do power structures influence the reclamation of the greenery in cities?
  • What is the role of landscape in the post-political city? 


Image 2:  Urban Garden

Starting from these questions, we have explored the issue of commodification of landscapes. We present the findings in the research articles published in this issue of the Built Environment journal. A collection of invited scholars present key reflections about the relationships between landscape and power, and together we grapple with the pressing debates around landscape as a cultural, economic, and political instrument. 

Image 3: Millennium Park


As ever we welcome further Built Environment blogs & tweets on this theme!    

Listing Image/Image 1: Bosco Verticale and Porta Nuova in Milan, Italy (Source: Matt Kieffer via Flikr, CC BY-SA 2.0, )

Image 2: Urban Garden (Source: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose Follow  via Flikr, CC BY-SA 2.0,  )

Image 3: Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, USA (Source: Jcrocker via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0, )