Eco-revelatory design (ERD) emerged in 1998 as a reaction to polarity within the field of landscape architecture. Two predominant schools of thought, one insistently cultural and the other assertively ecological, reigned over the conceptual and theoretical dialog in landscape design and planning. The authors of ERD proposed a design theory in which landscape architecture is “intended to reveal and interpret ecological phenomena, processes and relationships” (Brown, Harkness, Johnston, 1998).
Proponents of ERD recognized that landscape architecture alters and directs both cultural and ecological systems. Furthermore, they acknowledged landscape architects’ capacity to direct human experience and reveal, through design, aspects of ecology and culture. This integrated approach provides opportunity for people to place themselves in and as part of an interconnected socio-ecologic world, reinforcing the relationships between humans and the bio-geosphere.
In this thesis I explore phenomenological design as a method to reveal ecological systems and comment on the cultural systems impacting them. The intention is to reveal, through design, the cultural relevance of ecological imperatives at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In design, phenomenology is a method used to understand place as a gestalt of concrete, qualitative phenomena. Phenomenological design methods will be used to explore a series of eco-revelatory design interventions along a transect loop path. The interventions seek to translate seven process indices of the sedimentary rock cycle: weathering, erosion, transport, deposition, lithification, collision, and uplift. Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge (SIWR) is the site and lens with which I will explore these concepts over a period of three seasons. SIWR is an ecologically managed peninsula along the floodplain of the French Broad River in east Knox County, TN. The site provides an uncommon opportunity to explore a landscape that appears natural, but is managed for surrounding human development and habitat.