This year’s Southworth Symposium series revolved around the Culture of Nature as depicted in garden design. The symposium featured¬†historians, landscape architects, and the like, studying various locations around the world: the Middle East, Asia, Europe and America. Each of the speakers referenced the role that gardens and landscape architecture play in the shaping of culture and national identity.

James Wescoat’s lecture discussed the use of water, water systems, and gardens as a way to protect cities, provide refuge, and maintain control over the people. Valued both for their aesthetics and utility, waterways and gardens in the Middle East were important symbols of the past and of progress.

It was interesting hearing about Akbarnama and the design of the garden complex. The garden followed an intricate grid design, called the Char Bagh Quarter Design. The garden is an example of the detail and mathematical knowledge of designers of the past. The whole landscape had a certain structure to it, and a part to play in the grander image of the garden. With repetition of shapes and lateral linkages, the garden established itself as one of th greatest of the Mughal empire.

These landscape architectural practices influenced many gardens in the region, which is why the Middle East is known for its intricate, lavish, and grand landscape practices.  Although many have been lost, the theories and histories of these gardens remain influential to landscape architects and designers, alike.