continuing education and landscape architecture - garden design
travel+study programs for universities

former location: Cannero Riviera, Lake Maggiore, Northwest Italy

With projected ongoing socio-economic and political crises and breakup of the Eurozone, venue for programs on this website may be shifted to Canada. Focus on education of feeling and intuition for ecodesign of built environments remains.

A Garden Design School for You

HOMEOWNERS ~ Enjoy the rapture of creating your very own environment... get inspired to transform house and yard area into your private 'Villa'... an enclosed and integrated house-garden surround...   Please skip the following paragraphs for advanced students and open-minded professionals.  
Scroll downwards to...  Homeowners:

A Designer Finishing School with a View

master classes




~ You can participate in the delight of a unique travel-seminar and design-studio experience grounded in learning by discovery. It is an opportunity for you to begin, or continue to culture your integrative-vocational 'workpiece' as 'Master designer', centered within your own inner authority.  

A vocation (from Latin vocatus, calling) is what we are called to do with our life's energy. It is a requisite of psychological growth, individual self and maintaining our overall health to feel we are meaningfully productive... and not responding to one's calling can damage the human soul. But we do not really choose a vocation, rather it chooses us, and our only choice is how we respond.  

One's vocation may have little to do with earning money. By midlife one discovers the truth, that money will not buy happiness and economics is a life-long constraint and work may be a necessary component of health, but what kind of work? There is a huge difference between a job that requires us to function mechanically that is draining, and a vocation coming from within to work in the timeless way, which is energizing. One may be called upon to nurture and teach others, to be creative in the timeless way being more the artist as an authentic designer, or a creative writer in a time which does not reward universal design or creative teaching, from origins. Yet our vitality is sustained by saying 'yea' to the bliss of being true to ourselves despite neglect, even rejection.  

The voice within, the vocatus, which is our 'true self', may call one to a much different place than the job description based on materialism, conventional economic wisdom and the weight of commercial and professional training which erodes the value of spirit, originality, the liberal arts and universality.  

We become straight-jacketed by accreditation, narrowed definitions of academic preparation and professional licensing. The more trained we are and specialized, the more narrow we become, until we risk damage to the personality and a deadening of the soul. It can be depressing. But one does not ask, one is called, and a significant part of the meaning of one's life comes from saying yes to the adventure in the mystery of the self which asks us to become whole. The ego, or mask that we wear, frequently in the form of profession or academic/scientific discipline, does not run life as it really knows very little. The simplest definition of neurosis is 'disunity with oneself', a one-sidedness of the personality. Because of the specialized nature of the education process in Western society and a reactive character of an 'acquired' personality, largely based on narrowness of profession and technique, the definition of neurosis, which is Jung's, would include us all.  

Thus, how we decide to spend our energy, the activity which in turn energizes and enlivens us, plays a significant role in our journey. When we recognize and withdraw the projections that money, possessions and power represent in the first adulthood years we must ask from time to time radically: "What am I really called upon to do?" We must listen, humbly, to the answer, often, just when we have achieved a measure of economic stability, we feel undermined from 'downstairs' in the gut of the psyche as we are called to a new direction creatively, no matter our social burden, whatever the economic constraint.  

Creativity is, after all, our highest instinct on the ladder of human needs. The human soul has its needs and the vocatus is the creative, to become ourselves as fully as we are able -- the task is to find out how. Letting go of the security we have struggled to obtain may seem a frightening task, but not so awesome as denying that larger person we are called upon to be.  

A counterpart to your technical training, 'mastering' gives you the strength of independent vision and confidence of the 'true self' professional, grounded in a foundation of discipline and self-knowledge. The vision is in accordance with universals and an integrated psychological, religious/mythological and philosophical framework of understanding--the ideas that have shaped our world view, sifted from the sands of history and the unconscious. This vision, undoubtedly, was given the greatest advance by Carl Jung in the first half of the previous century and it became highly influential in most of the arts and sciences. Assimilating the vision can allow you to design 'in the timeless way', in a wider consciousness, while 'connected' with the wellsprings of creativity. In creative-self discovery process, you recover your inner and instinctively humanistic values and principles for the act of designing, and for evaluating the human-ecological impacts of the work you do.  

The work is of a fundamental human nature, rooted in feeling and value deep within the human psyche, at the archetypal level. It constellates universals complementary to the didactically and practically educated technical field. The work may be viewed as the foundation in the ground, together with the arches supported, reaching toward the sky, meaning in ego-consciousness. It is the 'arche' for design, complementing the formally taught technology you bring to it--the 'techne'. The 'arche' requires you to discover the 'keystone', the source and inner authority for creative design. It's the synthesis, what follows the inventory, analysis, programing and other preparation you do, prior to the act of bringing everything together in the transformation incorporating the design solution. When everything is constellated and ready, when you are able to let go and allow it to surface, more or less on its own initiative and timing, it wells up from the depths out of your own origins in the psyche. It works imaginally, in synchronistic-originative process in a chance, meaningful series of events, where inner and outer landscape come together, briefly, in the interplay of conscious and unconscious actions creating, refining and evaluating new environments.  

As a first step, you need an understanding 'about' some fundamentals of Jung's psychology: the opposites, archetypes, psychological types and functions, the creative process and the conditions for working with the unconscious. You need to be able to nurture your own inner growth process and allow the unconscious to be activated and connected with the ego--when your inner self determines you are ready and it is time to begin--to access original creativity while maintaining your ground. It means maintaining a good 'hands on' connection through all of the 5-senses to the phenomenal world: of fresh air, earth (rock/minerals, soil, plants, animals, birds, insects, etc.,) fire and weather (e.g. coldness and warmness, etc.), and water (aquatic life, etc.). With both feet on the ground, in nature's way, you learn how to sustain yourself, consciously and with a conscience, maintaining a balance between your instinctual - psychological functions and attitudes in an interdependent relationship between nature's nature, the ego and the self.  

The creative process is universal.
It is simply 'the timeless way'.

It emerges from the human psyche, everywhere, when individuals are receptive to it and sufficiently grounded. In today's more one-sided, cerebral world, which represses creativity and other instincts attuning us with soul and spirit, it takes time to remove the cultured blocks and a fear of the unknown, which is merely fear of letting go of a controlling, possessive, hollow and therefore ungrounded intellect. The excavation to lay a necessary foundation for higher spirit and intellect working integrated, in concert, is not without dangers for the one who would go it alone, however. Generally, it is advisable to be inducted by a special teacher--an instructor with vision--a guide or 'Maestro' initiated vocationally in the timeless way, well grounded himself and seasoned in working with his own unconscious and creativity--made skillful and wise through practise and teaching encompassing both inner and outer landscape.  

You have to be ready for your own initiation into the timeless way. You need to be open to creating in the way of the holistic self, from your own standpoint, in wholeness or wellness. You need to be receptive to imaginal work expressed in various forms. First, and foremost, with 'A Pattern Language' and 'The Timeless Way of Building' by Alexander et al--Oxford Press, and with some of the following:   ~ meditation and contemplation ~ creative writing and drawing in a journal used also for recording and working with dreams, fantasy and sudden flashes of intuition, or maintaining a kind of Socratic dialogue with the unconscious ~ 3-dimensional modelling in a sandtray creating or selecting and deploying miniature plant materials and a multitude of landscape objects and figures--on a one time, or short-term basis, if needed, to unblock creativity (should the daily round of outdoor walking in hill country, nature observation and/or gardening or construction activity not be ready at hand, or suffice).  

Psychological work is soul work.... By soul I mean the eternal part of us that lives in this body for a few years, the timeless part of ourselves that wants to create timeless objects like art, painting and architecture. Whenever the ego surrenders to the archetypal images of the unconscious, time meets the timeless. Insofar as these moments are conscious, they are psychological--they belong to the soul.... For me, soul-making is allowing the eternal essence to enter and experience the outer world through all the orfices of the body ... so that the soul grows during its time on Earth. It grows like an embryo in the womb. Soul-making is constantly confronting the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body. That's why it suffers and learns by heart.  

C G Jung  

The timeless way of creating built environments using languages containing archetypal patterns has occurred across the globe, irrespective of time, place, or communication between separate cultures. We find similar commonalities in myth, fairy tales and religions, where the underlying features are like a vernacular composite of elementary ideas expressed as figures clad in different dress adapted locally to situations.  

The timeless way is rooted in the human soul, which is like an instinctive animal. It leaves tracks in the sands of history for us to follow. In the West, making connections with the creativity of unconscious processes in the psyche may be traced back to wisdom uncovered by Ancient Greek Philosophers, in oracular Tradition in the Mysteries... with natural secrets free from pretention or calculation, for initiating people to access intuitive processes and values which are so deeply seated in the human psyche they are proven to be innate and, therefore, universal.  

The way of wisdom tends to get culturally buried and lost, from time to time, with a corresponding loss of soul in the general population. It happens in times of collective and personal insecurity, social upheaval, warfare, gross materialism, or when there is a loss of heart in too much industry of purpose, with a splitting-off of one human need or instinct from others. The collective ego then becomes inflated with too much head power. The wisdom of the Ancients got run over by the rationalism of people like Aristotle then buried in the chaos following the powerful Romans, but was rediscovered at the turn of late Medieval-Gothic into Renaissance times. It was cultivated by a handful of men who followed the tracks of the soul's naturalistic and philosophical humanizing instincts which led to a rebirth of a higher, more spiritual and creative culture.  

The conditions were especially fertile for it to manifest south of the Alps. It produced in Italy a heritage of undeniable beauty with a concentration of works greater than anywhere else. This cultural magnet drew unto itself a tradition over centuries where people have made the Grand Tour to complement formal studies. It was undertaken by travelers from within Italy and foreigners from various parts of the world, whether they were of the artistic or scientific mentality. One went on various sojourns, or was sent, happily, on the journey to experience the riches of Italy to broaden one's education. It had a humanitarian tendency, indirectly, for rounding out personality in a process of 'becoming', more in tune with the 'Harmony or Music of the Spheres'--literally within the brain hemispheres--in a greater wholeness of the self. There is the possibility for separating out, then reuniting the opposing dispositions of art and science or romanticism and classicism, of spirit and matter, etc., in a new synthesis in a higher state of being with a wider conscious awareness.  

The Grand Tour was experienced by so many over the centuries who returned, re-energized with new vision rooted in compassion, with a transformed view of the world and a new perspective on their own country's culture. It was a less conscious motivation behind various countries establishing an Academy for the arts, Prix de Rome and perhaps many of the recent foreign university study abroad semesters resident in Italy. Today, the magnetism of Italy's substantial world heritage may be the unconscious motivation behind hordes of busy tourists thronging to monuments or museums. They may or may not share the more consciously differentiated perspective of the 'traveler' on the 'journey' of personal discovery in the timeless way. It takes time for more settled life and to get one's feet on the ground to experience and assimilate the 'what is' of such a rich repository of beauty with an overwhelming sense of place, before returning to one's country or region with something quintessentially useful. That lies beyond what may be 'consumed' within a few days hopping between cities or regions and racing from hither to yon in each location--perhaps topped off with several weeks of intensively 'crammed' courses. The pace and informational barrage of that popular approach is exhausting, emotionally and physically, and one generally comes down with whatever bug going around, arriving home sick and confused instead.  

investing in the timeless way, you gain the wisdom of 'innerstanding'  

In the timeless way, you may make inroads toward the recovery of the inner wisdom and creativity of the self. It is bound up with and reflected in life experience and external knowledge, but it cannot be accessed directly, employing technology or library knowledge. In discovering the timeless way, you naturally build upon your own view of the world, philosophically, as you discover the ability to create, authentically, aided by a connection with the holistic self. It may happen when you are centered and well-grounded with a good connection between mind and body, when you are 'emplaced' in nature and the world, with a good sense of orientation and a strong feeling of self worth and identity. It requires that you work to acquire some fundamental knowledge of the opposites so they may be differentiated within yourself, in consciousness, along with an embodiment of the laws of nature, as you become embued with, enlightened by the wisdom and creativity of a 'true self' vocation.  

The true self encompasses a natural rounding out of personality, where you are grounded in the 4 cardinal directions which stand for the power of consciously intuiting, sensing, feeling and thinking, while centered over the wellsprings accessing original creativity, organically and originatively--from origins, within the unconscious psyche.  

Learning experiences which are likely to be more successful tend to be in small groups in which one person teaches, in situations where the 'student' is more like the apprentices in earlier times who actually assisted the 'teacher' who really knew what he was doing... whether a professional, tradesman, artisan, or independent scholar. In this tradition of the workplace-academy, students did something, or worked on a problem which the 'mentor' had mastered, or the next step, also journeyed at the philosophical level in the conscious realization, vocationally--from within--evolving from inner landscape to outer. In this timeless way, after a time, one would find oneself able to contribute to a profession or field of knowledge, and, upon review and consent of the elders, one became a member of a guild or a learned society, as one of the 'masters'.  

Moreover, on the lonely, learned path to maturity, via a typological and attitudinal differentiation which is functionally centered around the core of the self, in the 'timeless way' of the arche and the techne of tradition, since ancient times, the truely original, creative person individuated 'oneself', organically, from universal, creative origins in the unconscious, as the natural 'philosopher'. A being distinct from the mindsets of one's professional society 'in-group' and the general collective mentality.  

The timeless way is not an 'approach' or 'method' to be acquired by an act of will or by rote. It is not something to be adhered to, rigidly, in the way in which we have been accustomed in our mechanistic-electronic, post-modern view in the materialistic latter half of the Twentieth Century, an objective world that was to be manipulated, calculatively.  

An overall, teleological aim in a phylogenetic 'metaplan' would move us ever forward in greater consciousness. Consciousness does not create itself by an act of will... it wells up from unknown depths when we are warmed by good enough environment. It is influenced by our unconscious in a synchronistic relationship with the total environment, including the 'outer landscape', when a person is 'constellated' or activated... with an accompanying pattern of emotional reactions. Consciousness continually emerges out of the unconscious in the form of numerous spontaneous ideas and sudden flashes of intuition or thought, which also may be triggered in part by dreams or fantasies to be viewed symbolically, qualitatively, with feeling in compensation to an inhibiting, mechanical-quantitative-rational mindset.  

The need for a realization of the wholeness of the self, embracing both objective causal and subjective acausal viewpoints, manifested and was ultimately realized in relatively few individuals in the preceding millenia, but it is now surfacing in a much wider segment of the population, as the psyche continues its evolution in today's increasingly mass-educated, affluent, global society.  

Mythically speaking, we are leaving the dark, shadowy age of Pisces (AD 0-2000) and entering the astrological era of Aquarius, symbolized by the water-bringer. The sign is pictured by the aged sage, like Silenius, or the figure of Cupid (Eros), bearing one or two tilted earthenware pots from which streams the water which they contain. Aquarius is the medium between the underworld, the terrestrial and the celestial, which corresponds to 3 levels of being. The inner life is thus projected into space in accordance with the general process of myth-making. The Sage/Eros measures out manageable doses of what stands for the unconscious, with watery vibrations testifying to a nourishing fluid designed to quench the thirst of the soul rather than the body.  

The atmosphere of Aquarius is of the world of freely chosen affinities which turns us into beings dwelling in a spiritual community fully within the universal sphere, in the 'timeless way'. It symbolizes social cohesiveness, co-operation, brother and sisterhood and a healthy attitude comprising a well-grounded and confident indifference to material objects. The inner substance comprises the gift of indifference to the ego-self, together with serenity and self-sacrifice, friendship and concern for others. The liberated being is recharged, re-energized in the fire of Promethian-Epimethian intuitive power embracing both hindsight and foresight, so it may transcend itself in the vangard of progress, liberation, and adventure. The time (AD 2000-4000) is a more contemplative era of wisdom, characterized by world-wide organization, where the planet is the only proper 'in group'. Today, humanity stands at the mere threshold of what may become.  

For evolving, twenty-first century humankind, as explained by Jung in the previous century, it means nothing less than to divest the self of the false wrappings of the persona, a mask for one's occupational discipline or profession. The mask has become something like a substitute for 'light' and religion on the one hand, and of the suggestive power of primordial images on the opposite, more darker and compensative side of the psyche in the shadows, on the other hand. Few attempt this or succeed in the task, yet the widespread calling forth of the human soul for more refined differentiation of opposites into consciousness generates the utmost challenge, as considerable tension mounts between opposing internal forces which, if blocked, manifest in neurotic behavior and/or physical illness symptoms. These inner landscape forces also may be mirrored in events taking place within the landscape of the outer world. They may be viewed as a signal the task is at hand to work on the secret garden, the hortus conclusis of one's private inner experience, first and foremost to gain self-knowledge. Only by mining and cultivating the depths of darkness in the human shadow does one discover the golden light of the wisdom of the true philosopher, a prerequisite to authentic, more consciously derived creativity.  

Many project this internal need onto the outer world, seeing it as a wish to acquire more external knowledge, undertaking further academic studies toward the Master degree, or a PhD, for example. It very well may be the right thing at the right time for some. However, many think the course of action necessitates more work on an overworked 'lower' intellect, already overeducated, out of balance with and overriding other instinctive functions in the psyche. Acting out in such a way may repress and thus put off the individual's realization of the wholeness of the self, with collateral damages in the form of self-deception or self-delusion, loss of soul, psychological depression, dissociation, even marital divorce, etc., and/or a crisis in the form of physical illness. It would seem the entire culture goes off the deep end to poison itself, bringing individuals to a necessary Fall to the ground, but with a correctional purpose, revealing the importance of food for a soul that has been neglected.  

Toward the conscious-making creation aim, historically, from the Homeric-Platonic perspective onward, the fundamentals of existence have been the archetypal Ideas. They constitute the intangible substrate of all that is tangible, the very basis of reality and that which determines its order and renders it knowable.  

From knowledge of the inner-outer landscape relationship, the interdependencies, and of the higher significance and meaning of the garden or the act of gardening, in the ultimate sense of stewarding its resources and forces, and, from the vantage point of cultivating and integrating a mind accessing the internal wellsprings, it is the direct experience of the transcendent 'Ideas' governing reality which has been the primary goal and ultimate destination of the true or natural 'Philosopher'. Here lies the essence beneath the bliss, the personal ordeals and striving within the opera omnia or oeuvre, the substantial body of work constituting the artistic lifework of the creative designer--on life's odyssey, the long adventurous journey. It gives our existence meaning.  

It is the ancient and timeless knowledge of the heart that Psyche would move us toward in the philosophical quest--the 'philo'- thread in Latin, employed to gather, to bundle together, and to tie or bind as with thread. It is the meaning of religare--from Latin ligare, ligaments to connect and bind bones together and keep organs in position altogether, as in a bond of 'union' throughout the body, and religatio, tying up so to re-bind or bond together again, religio. This is reverence, awe, conscientiousness, sanctity of place, holiness or wholeness of sacred place, and hence the root of the English word 'religion', connected also with ceremony, observance and veneration--the 'sophy'. It means literally the creativity and wisdom of 'Sofia'. It is the feminine and creative 'source' in the subtle body with its knowledge of the heart, in ancient Greek from the 'anima'-soul relationship with the feminine principle ('animus' in the female) in the 'Tree of inner Life', the inner wisdom of the unconscious, tempered with the experience of life and trials in the phenomenal world as well. The latter may be viewed as the fruits acquired from the 'Tree of external Knowledge', including library knowledge. When external knowledge of intellect is measured out and taken in like water from the Aquarian jars of Eros/Cupid with feeling and in moderation and in proportion with the fruits of the 'Tree of inner Life', and when one is sufficiently connected and grounded in nature, reflected in a synchronous mirroring between inner and outer landscapes, the interplay of opposites is constellated, striving to differentiate a consciousness with a conscience, so one may maintain a balance between opposing forces such as psyche and soma or mind v. body, masculine v. feminine or 'yin' and 'yang', psychological functions of sensation v. intuition, thinking v. feeling, the attitudes of introversion v. extroversion, classicism v. romanticism, and etc. A somewhat linguistic or sophisticated definition of the sense of place with tongue (lingua) in cheek, of course. And it would follow that the form and character of our built forms and cultural landscapes may give insights into the collective sense of self and humanity and our general state of health or wellness, or lack thereof.  

Without the yin-feminine in the unconscious wellsprings being honored, there is no 'source', therefore no authentic or original creativity... from origins... and no mature masculine either... just a hollow, dried-up intellectual ego which knows very little and has no sense of its limitations, manipulating mechanical actions without soul, without life-sustaining vitality. Working purely mechanically with manipulative technique soon becomes boring and depressing drudgery. We feel alienated, cut off from our instincts and life force, and we are angered. When the unconscious is connected, the creative process is activated and wells up into consciousness on the higher spiritual and intellectual plane as we come to realize, in consciousness, the organic 'philosophy', or integrated, unconscious anima/Earth goddess wisdom of Sophia. We feel very much alive and breathe life into our work experienced by others as well. True, grounded wisdom stemming from roots in the soul, in our human nature, while we are grounded in the phenomenal world--in the 'here', 'now'--is, therefore, not found in the mere assumption of a hollow 'head trip'. Balanced wisdom is filtered through the heart connected with a system of values and holism at the universal level. We may think (obviously, necessarily with feeling) of the term 'universal design' in this context.  

Bringing wisdom and compassion into consciousness figured in the quest of the Sophists and the true wisdom was discovered by some but not all of the Ancient Greek philosophers. It has eluded mass society, yet, from time to time, it was rediscovered by gnostics, some of the alchemists and other self-realizing individuals on the path, whether the famous or unknown, through the 2 millenia since the time of the Ancient Greeks, in the unfolding of the Western mind with the ideas that have shaped our world view. In the Twentieth Century, in both the West and the East, the overwhelming emphasis in education to push a rational intellect acting in isolation upon the phenomenal world of the senses had the effect of walling off a good part of the psyche, blocking the wellsprings of creativity with a corresponding loss of soul in the general population.  

Soul and the inner knowledge of the self is often overlooked, bombarded and overloaded as we are with all manner of technology and computers, electronic and library information 'about' things. We lead a mostly 2-eyed existence which strives for a 5-senses observation, limited largely to the phenomenal-material world, manipulated calculatively, in the acquisition of mechanical degrees (i.e., the PhD). It doesn't matter what field, in today's highly fragmented world with so many disciplines which easily lose the holistic view. In contrast, the Philosophers' Stone, the lapis philosophorum of alchemy, is a useful metaphor for wholeness in the successful transmutation into gold of base matter. Aspects of the overall process may be mirrored for us in the outer landscape and in human actions in some internally driven hope we might, somehow, see it as a reflection of parts of our own unknown shadow. It is the prima materia of the alchemists, psychologically, in a totality imaged in circular or quadrate forms of the mandala, an archetypal image of wholeness with a union of opposites embodied in a single image. It is the unus mundus (one world) of consciousness. Consciousness is what maintains the relationship of psychic contents of the inner landscape to the ego, as distinguished conceptually from the psyche, which encompasses both consciousness and the unconscious. And there is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites.  

As a rule, the individual is so unconscious one altogether fails to see one's own potentialities, constantly and anxiously looking around for external rules and regulations to serve as a guide in a state of perplexity with a general feeling of human inadequacy. A good deal of the blame for this also rests with modern education which says little about the secrets of inner life and private experience. It wants more of the same after the Baccalaureat, in the form of the Master Degree, or to pile knowledge of the phenomenal-material world even higher and deeper, ever seeking outer authority to the PhD-Doctor of Philosophy, or even Post-Doctoral Studies.  

The present program, addressed to the more originally creative designer within each individual, is an attempt to provide a complementary service in compensation to education, in order to ease the way forward, by enhancing the possibility for the discovery of self-knowledge or self-enlightenment, affecting a kind of mythical initiation that has been lost to us. The deeper dictionary meaning of the 'research' objective here being to find again, to recover what has been lost, in a kind of contained 'letting go' experience of contents rising to the ground surface from the wellsprings of creativity in the unconscious. One needs to activate the creative process we all have in common which is our highest instinct and ultimate step to the place of inner authority in the wholeness of the self.  

The above process requires a safe and secure refuge, a protected place, like the personal therapeutic container for contemplation while connected with nature which, when projected in Roman and Renaissance times, took the form of the grotto and, in the Renaissance, the 'secret garden' or hortus conclusus. When the requirements of creative process are properly introduced and assimilated, a voluntary silencing of the calculative mind allows a state of chaos or incubation, enabling a psychological death, so to speak, necessary and prior to a rebirth, a 'renaissance', to regain authentic or 'originative' creativity, from origins. It would be obvious that there can be no rebirth without a death in collective attitude or on some level in the individual's previous consciousness.  

Creativity is our highest instinct. On the ladder of human needs it is the ultimate step and reality. It is one level above satisfying the religious function, a prerequisite step according to sociologist Abraham Maslow and others. In the process of ascending the ladder, one discovers an ever widening, more functionally and instinctually balanced human consciousness. It emerges from 'within', out of the psyche of the individual, in humanitas. It does not come from 'out there', outside of oneself.  

Now then, in the context of the above, in our case as environmental planners and designers, to get the best out of the 'Grand Tour' tradition of going to the source, our work will be experiential, contemplative and incubative. Something like beginning a journey leading, ultimately, to the experience of your own renaissance. It involves integrating the technical background and history-theory you acquired in schooling within your own process of enlightenment, by complementing and enhancing your image of self through design of a house+garden 'villa', as you continue to evolve a philosophy of 'vocation' which best reflects your 'true self'.  

You get to experience, first-hand in situ, kinaesthetically, as you actually move about them, timelessly inspiring examples of spaces and places you may have learned 'about' from lectures, books and pictures. You focus next on the underlying universal patterns embodied within them. You record in your sketchbook-journal your own personal and subjective impressions and meanings suggested. You then enjoy, in studio exercise, the freedom of expression to bring many of the patterns together in an integrative project in Mediterranean environment.  

Whilst finding yourself emplaced in an inspiring Italian setting you may work on a site of your choice handy to where we are staying, using traditional method and/or experimenting with vernacular design patterns from archetypal pattern languages. You thus learn to recognize the patterns. And you may also choose to work with the patterns, if you want to try it, to experiment with them and integrate them, designing in the timeless, cross-cultural way. You work on the unfolding of your own imaginal work 'piece'... a HOUSE+GARDEN design project... in the form of the 'VILLA'.  

This valuable learning experience helps you make the quantum leap from 'basic design' geometry and 'design concepts' with a cultured tendency to over-intellectualize unanimated 'things' in building abstract 'objects' or 'spaces'. The villa reflects how we see ourselves. The house and garden integrated is a symbol-of-self and the essential quality of being and dwelling, in-the-world, alive, and free. It is deeply ingrained in our cultural ethos, albeit unconsciously for many. It reflects, appeals to, calls forth the human soul and an ultimate centering in principles deep within psyche and body. The villa is sacred, a kind of sanctuary or refuge, which gives us a fixed point of reference from which to structure the world around us.  

The villa design exercise is valuable for designers to understand how personal and collective unassimilated shadow, in the form of dissociated past or present fragmented images and future holistic self images, is being concretized, unconsciously, in the design of built environment. The work may be interpreted from the perspective of a wider self-consciousness you may gain, spiritually and intellectually with a conscience, in contemplating values seen as a reflection of your integrating true self personality, as you meaningfully connect aspects of inner and outer landscape to reveal the archetypal interdependencies of 'places'.  

There is a striving principle in each one of us seeking a kind of personal and professional maturation. It seeks to find equilibrium as the heights and depths of personality balance each other as they are revealed together. It wants to integrate the all too familiar world of Earth = materials and materialism, base nature and impulsiveness, the 5-senses interpretation of phenomena, technology, analysis, abstract thinking, theories and concepts... a world which our present worldview emergent in the history of ideas has slowly come to the admission is 'interpretive'... with the 'other'. An even more subjective realm of emotions, feeling, values, being, dwelling and the intuition of meaning in higher spirit and intellect... one's conscience, ideals, altruism... everything that strives upward = Heaven. The roots must be in the ground so the self, like a rhizome planted in the soil, may produce stem and foliage and blossom. One part of the personality becomes the firm deep foundation so the other can soar into the sky.  

'High stands on low' (Lao-tzu)  

The Villa project is designed as if it were to be for your own living experience--created freely, originally--as a reflection of your most whole, most genuine, your most valued true self.  

The project helps you begin to understand how present images of the spaces and places which have been the setting for your past emotional development are being concretized in design, unconsciously. It is an advantage to the designer to recognize any biases due to these influences from the past introduced in your work. In order to really design with and for others... you need to learn to identify timeless qualities and archetypal patterns of wholeness. In order to design for your clients needs you must also be able to put aside your momentary personal desires, your acquired tastes in built environment... part of your well-schooled, cultured persona. The one you 'bought' in formal education. This 'look' of artifice, or mask may not be the design professional who is a reflection of the real 'You', or your true Self vocation which comes from within.  

You keep your valuable technology that has been well-schooled...  

In the field of our relationship with environment the type of approach which may be termed grounded-intuitive speculation has been forgotten in a world devoted to the supposedly more scientific approach of objective analysis. Now you can choose to 'Master' what cannot be schooled technically in formal education, the art of originative design--out of origins--in the wellsprings of creativity. These wellsprings nurture your roots in the human soul. They are the source of all organic and original ideas, and inspired the genius in the great masters like Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Frederick Law Olmsted and Frank Lloyd Wright.  

You discover how to ground a deeper connection with the self in your unconscious psyche which animates greater personality and informs creativity. Your creativity can begin to flow more naturally when you discover freedom from mechanical design and preconceived ideas, styles or fads, together with a genuine receptivity to the timeless way of designing with wholesome, archetypal patterns rooted in cross-culturally innate values.  

For more on the program for advanced students and professionals please continue reading '...Homeowners' in the paragraph below for background on the general approach to garden design.
It will take you to: Italy Studio and Traveling Seminar on
Landscape Design with the 'Music of the Spheres' -- Accessing the Creative Wellsprings.
For more background on the pivotal ideas and evolving worldview on which the program is based see Foundations 'Ecodesign with Human Nature'(c) 

...Homeowners: Learning Vacation  


Like the experts say, my garden has become an extension of my home, another room if you like, although I'm not a real gardener, more small fork than big fork! I love to sit back and admire the view, and its amazing how relaxed I feel after just being out in the garden for an hour or two: it's almost as if I've discovered my own private sanctuary. Mind you time and weather often mean this quiet time is more of dream than reality ...
Sue James, Garden Editor

A Garden Design Travel Experience  ...con 'La Musica'

...where you discover design ideas and ways to get more outdoor use, comfort and seasonal enjoyment from your house ...with garden extension. You experience a variety of garden types, good archetypal patterns which are timeless and how to combine them in design.  

Develop a plan for your garden as an extension of the house:  
~ to transform 'yard area' into magical and ever more delightful and meaningful experiences which are moving, which lead one around the garden ...and onward ~ with the evoking of emotional responses in addition to horticultural, or other interests ~ with year round changing effects, outdoor rooms and special places for different needs, activities and moods. For example, you may wish to have a separate, welcoming, entry garden, alfresco - convivial dining room and cooking place, secret or contemplative garden, the excitement of mixed borders with varying color/themes, delightful views from inside rooms, verandas, screened porches or gazebos (being mindful of the mosquito carrying West Nile Virus). You also may want patios with scented herbs between the cracks in the stones or decks with planted pots or containers ~ calming, lush greens massed in different plantings or backdrops contrasted with favorite color accents, rich or soft, but not gaudy ~ the sound and look of splashing water ~ the still mirroring of reflecting waters ~ deliciously scented lavender, rosemary and honeysuckle, or other aromatics and spices ~ vegetables, berries and fruit trees worked in ~ habitat to attract bird and butterfly life ~ play/games areas ~ outdoor heaters and garden lighting to stretch the day and season... and other features, such as bold or delicate artworks or exquisite sculptures representing your favorite figures or mythemes.  

MethodTravel days alternate with studio days (2 or more per week), beginning with a slide-talk and/or seminar, then a lunch break, followed by design demonstrations, or assistance on an individual basis. We enjoy 'grand tour' travel days with picnics or cafe lunches and experience the great places: the gardens and historic urban center piazzas, which are like private and public outdoor living rooms, and the natural and cultural landscapes and hill villages. We identify useful patterns for experiences. You will be assisted as you identify and incorporate your needs into a design program, overall/master plan sequence of projects, or a particular project. Later, you may build it yourself, or contract designers and/or landscape contractors and trades people for details, estimates and construction. Drawing skills are not necessary. You simply need a longing for inspiration and ideas and a desire to relax and enjoy your own creativity, being open to the mind-broadening powers of travel and learning by discovery. Late afternoons, evenings and weekends are free for relaxation and local exploring on your own.  

Slide Talk & Discussion Topics:  

The Garden as Paradise on Earth and Vessel for Human Aspiration ~ a brief overview on the history of the residential garden with emphasis on the Mediterranean basin, the cradle of western civilization and source of our garden-building traditions ~ including almost forgotten historical precedents that address the needs of both body and soul ~ the essential element in the garden's sacred soul according to the philosophers, the sound and light of water moving from different levels which no one can resist gazing into its reflections and listening to its gentle sounds ~ structural support for physical life with design of passive, non-energy comsuming microclimates ~ concretely expressed mythological foundations carved in stone, which nourish spiritual life with aesthetic/psychological inspiring images of fecundity, fertility, or heroic journeys personified by deities connecting humankind with the forces and resources of nature and ideas of underworld, earth and heavens.  

The Garden as an Outdoor Life Extension of the House Interior ~ It may provide sustenance, shelter and containment, offering healthy food for the table as well as for the soul, serving to root us in landscape with a sense of place ~ We can design the garden as an extension of the house to the property lines and even beyond, visually, so it becomes your own VILLA: a refuge of comfort and of safety, a pleasureable retreat and a meaningful sanctuary away from the trammels of the city and outer world, no matter how small the actual property, with a flow of spaces, views and pathways connecting indoor and 'outdoor rooms' as experiential settings. Enclosures with walls, fences and hedges form the architectural backbone for the garden, defining boundaries, framing wanted vistas or screening unwanted views while dividing large yard areas into more intimate room settings. Enclosures also protect plants and people from harsh winds, change patterns of sun and shade and provide a solid backdrop for colorful plantings and special water features or artworks which are meaningful to you. This Villa Veritas is not a mere assemblage or collection of spaces, or things, conceived materially, mechanically, and plunked down like objects. It is at once a unified whole and a sequence of 'experiential places' which resonate to the 'Music of the Spheres'. It is a balanced and unified creation which mirrors the soul, thus satisfying many needs from the practical and physical to the maturational and instinctual ~ from dining, games and social ~ to personal contemplation, rapture and delight.  

Essential Features of a Good Garden ~ from Mediterranean or warm seasons, to cold-temporate climates ~ including how to extend the outdoor use season with sun aspect orientation for cooling shade effects and summer breezes, to warmth and shelter from cooler weather and creating pleasureable views into the garden during winter  

The Easiest Way to Design ~ Choosing from a language detailing many experiential patterns, so deeply rooted below the emotions in real feeling they are said to be archetypal ~ patterns which everyone simply likes you can build into a setting which is truely timeless. This is not coldly mechanistic design based on abstract 'concepts' reflecting the latest obsession, passing fad or pasticcio (mishmash) of intellectualized 'styles' from the past.  

Planting Design Basics ~ ecology for the living vegetative layers set into organic and mineral foundations, structural bones and wall effects, mood, seasonality, accent/interest, color and mass, contrast, texture, etc.  

The Contemplative, Secret, or Sanctuary Garden as Place of Refuge ~ an outdoor and/or indoor conservatory for the soul and for the heart year round, providing warmth and beauty especially for those long, slow winters and for very busy and demanding lifestyles. Evolve your house+yard area into a home within an enclosed 'villa' ~ an inner-outer garden-roomed oasis ~ a private and sheltered retreat ~ a place of simple beauty and delight to enchant the soul with year round interest. Here you may seek that special place of being in the inner sanctum, a balance between human culture and wild nature, community and privacy, hard work and deep pleasure, inner/spiritual life and outer material world.  

Cost: Please phone or email for more information, or to convey your preferences, as this program including design projects can be tailored to the needs of special groups. Costs include instructional program, some studio and library materials, shared room accommodation or single rooms with a surcharge, transfers from the local rail station, ground transportation to sites visited, all garden admissions and a meal at beginning, middle and end of the program. Kitchen facilities available in main base locations. International airfare and ground transfers between airports and Orbetello Scala or other meeting/departure community rail stations not included. 

Studio ratio: up to 8 participants with 1 instructor, to a maximum of 15 with an assistant  

Notebook/Journal: You will need to bring along a journal to record your thoughts and ideas, your feelings, your aspirations about the garden experience, and the path for bringing your garden into fruition, as you go along, inspiring, accessing your own creativity.  

Before arrival, homeowners: you need a base plan, with your property dimensioned to scale on a sheet of paper with a grid on it, with flowering or shade trees, drains and structures located showing walls, doors or window locations and widths, location of services such as hose bibs, clothes dryer vents, transformers or utility poles, location of steps and paved areas, drain inlets, garden fencing or walls and planted areas (the grid sheet with detailed instructions will be sent to you). It will be helpful in studio for you to have a series of photos on hand, showing features outside and what may be seen from interior rooms of importance to you. You should include the views to the house and yard from the street, sides and back of the property and views from the house or outside to be enhanced or screened out of sight. 

Instructor:   Richard Forster

Italy Studio and Traveling Seminar

Landscape Design with the 'Music of the Spheres'
Accessing the Creative Wellsprings

'Ecodesign with Human Nature'
(c)--the Art of Organic Landscape Design, from Archetypal Origins in the Self:
Studio for advanced students and practising professionals

Great Italian Landscapes, Garden-parks, Piazze, Waterfronts, Streetscapes--What Makes Timelessly Beautiful Places: Traveling Seminar integrated with advanced Studio on 'Ecodesign with Human Nature'      

The above studio/workshop in Italy and its complementary EU-Italy traveling seminar introduce advanced students and professionals to the imaginal world of the inner landscape and the need to provide environmental food for soul and spirit in the outer, symbolic landscape. Students are introduced to the symbolic environment, including examples concretized in gardens and cultural landscapes which remind us of the nature of any creative processes for authentic design, the journey of life itself and the passages between its stages, particularly the passages from youth to adulthood with family and professional life, to psychological maturity with a rounding out of character and sense of emplacement at mid-life, and to wisdom and retirement in 'settled work' within or near the home later on, a prerequisite for peace of mind in old age.      

As goes the individual at mid-life, so goes society and the passage which used to occur around age 40 seems to occur earlier with each new generation as the species attempts to evolve, developmentally, with new levels of consciousness. The student gains a true picture of society in the Renaissance, of the Middle Ages just beginning to turn into modern times, a transition between 2 eras, which the philosopher-psychologist Carl Jung concluded was deeply interesting to our modern world, which is still more transitional in character. It introduces a subterranean line of thought from which sprang the alchemists' images with a duality of opposites and a premonition of the future in the early Renaissance 'Dream of Poliphilo', also named the 'Hypnerotomachia', which influenced the arts and especially architecture and the building of gardens and townscape for centuries. In studying it Jung found the 'key' that allowed him to infer human psychological growth and creative processes from the alchemists projections in their 'Great Works'. During the Renaissance, archetypal scenes from 'Poliphilo' were concretized in architecture and in the 'Italian garden', partly from copying, more from unconscious psychological projection of archetypes (prototypes) emerging from within, from the unconscious of those who influenced and designed the gardens. The hidden, 4-dimensional plan of the Villa Lante ('Mannerist', with opposites in tension) is more illustrative of a complete journey. It may be seen to mirror a compensatory psyche-soma, mind and body odyssey, a mythical journey suggestive of an inner, psychosomatic, mind and body-connecting, healing process in a deeply split culture, where the powerful were becoming more intellectually possessed and dogmatically 'in their heads', being alienated from other instincts with humanizing potential.  

Now, we may begin to appreciate references to the gods, the planets or 'heavenly spheres', the myths of creation and the constellations of the stars unconsciously projected outward from mind and body, from the inner onto outer landscape, in a process mirroring the soul and its needs at the inner, symbolic level. We may find examples of the Harmony, the Music of the 'Hemispheres', working in harmonious 'balance' being grounded in the 5-senses and centered in feeling, while connected with the older, limbic and intuitive parts of the brain suggested in the 'Kundalini' yoga image of a teleological body - mind - spirit meta-program. It strives for conscious differentiation of archetypal-instinctive functions in the form of opposites and multiples of a quaternity, and for their integration within the psyche... but requires 'good enough facilitating environment' (Jung, Melanie Klein, and D.W. Winnicott).  

In the past, depth psychologists have talked mainly about the social aspects of facilitating environments, but the significance of biophysical environment is increasingly recognized. And it was among the psychologists, C.G. Jung, a physician and psychiatrist, with his own example after midlife who demonstrated the significance of being centered in psyche and soma (or mind and body) for creative work, while maintaining a connection with physical place and in dwelling close to nature as he emplaced himself within biophysical environment in his daily round. In this way, in the second half of his life, his intellect, his research, 'insearch', creativity and writing were very much grounded. He lived with his family and maintained his practise in a 3-story house on a large property with a substantial garden surround to maintain on the lake in küsnacht ZH, Switzerland and he spent considerable time near the hamlet of Bollingen in the Kanton of St Gallen on the upper Zürichsee. There, especially, he maintained a mind and body - instinct balance, while constructing over 3 decades, then maintaining, a second home 'villa' property. It evolved organically, taking the form of a fairy tale, medieval 'Tower'-like building complex and courtyard all walled in stone.      

Jung made manifest in stone the symbol which at various times had stood for the self in his dreams. Unlike Freud, he saw the dream as a possible prognosticator of the future, that the unconscious not only holds personal and collective memories but the seeds of future action as well. In his dreams he had seen unexplored parts of the house as an unknown part of himself and symbol of an area of study with which he would become very absorbed in the future. The house-self linkage was indicative of a collective unconscious stretching through space and time beyond the individual and a very important archaic, unchanging symbol for that identifiable archetype in the physical world.  


Jung built the bulk of his tower complex spontaneously, over 2 decades in 4 phases, as a representation of his own evolving psyche and maturing personality which permitted him to expand on his earlier framework of understanding of the transformation of the self. Jung's studies in philosophy, psychology and religion, mythology, alchemy, and symbolism had provided considerable evidence of the completeness and wholeness represented by the figure 4 in the quaternity and in his fourfold of 'psychological types', or functions the psyche attempts to differentiate consciously and integrate before mid-life. In further study we may see his own functions with which we all relate to the world--of 'sensation', 'intuition', 'feeling and 'thinking, and what he called the attitudes, introverted and extroverted, for each of these functions--were projected from the self and were concretized in the 4 parts of the tower complex, and in a fifth work almost a decade later, a renovation which was like a 'crowning' achievement. The final modification integrated the central connecting part of the building complex in a more balanced overall composition. It reflected the more complete personality--like the 'Vitruvian Man', the Renaissance 'Uomo Universale' pictured by Leonardo da Vinci--a more conscious and refined 'Universal Man', with grace and character Jung actually achieved himself, being more like the Christ or Buddha image of the 'god within'. What he ultimately came to see as part of the Self's ultimate, realization goal inherent in a kind of phylogenetic and teleological metaplan behind life's living.  

In Jung's autobiography: 'Memories, Dreams Reflections', he describes the Tower as the place where he had a feeling of repose and renewal that was intense from the start, where...  

'I am in the midst of my true life, I am most deeply myself... From the beginning I felt the Tower as in some way a place of maturation--a maternal womb or a maternal figure in which I could become what I was, what I am and will be. It gave me a feeling as if I were being reborn in stone. It is thus a concretization of the individuation process... During the building work of course, I never considered these matters... only afterwards did I see how all the parts fitted together and that a meaningful form had resulted: a symbol of psychic wholeness.'  

The tower was on the edge of a wooded area at the shoreline with part of the foundations in the water. At Bollingen, Dr Jung was constantly in contact with, surrounded by nature's nature and the traditional peasant farming culture. He walked and observed wildlife, forest and landscape, farming and stone quarrying. He carved and placed stone, worked as carpenter and plastered, painted frescoes, illustrated dream material, gardened, prepared firewood, carried water, cooked over a wood burning stove, cleaned house, did hatha yoga, played in the sand, rowed, sailed, fished and bathed in the lake. These activities grounded Jung in the body and provided the necessary psyche+soma foundation, enabling him to integrate in his quest his library research and his personal, inner, spiritual Grail quest leading to compassion. He was able to meditate, contemplate and carry out his own 'Great Work', in the alchemical sense, and make a major, creative, written contribution to the history of ideas. It emerged from the eternal ground of the psyche and his ongoing personal and philosophical journey of self-discovery.  

In the symbolism of the Italian garden villa with its Giardino Segreto, or 'Secret Garden' plan, we may infer similar universal archetypes at work. It evolved for many reasons recorded in the history books. Moreover, the Renaissance garden appears, ultimately, to have come into being by way of a compensating principle within the collective, unconscious psyche... to the power being exercized at the time by the Church and an unrestrained, extroverted, patriarchal culture among the powerful, with a 'left-brained' approach becoming evermore intellectually calculative and one-sided. According to recent scientific studies in brain research this may be seen, developmentally, as being somewhat less than half-brained. The patriarchy, which eliminated the couterbalancing, matriarchal viewpoint, was closed-minded to the feminine principle, intuition and feeling residing in the opposite side and lower parts of the brain. Our resultant world view has become, increasingly, more rational-intellectual and mechanistic. One in which a controlling ego alienates and bottles up the human soul in repressed shadow content, which includes the feminine principle, the unconscious psyche, the undifferentiated wholeness of the Great Mother Earth archetype, that of the integrated and consciously differentiated Wise Old Man and thus, the potential for a greater and unified individual (female or male) reflecting the Logos of integration and the whole archetype of the self, striving for an ego-consciousness capable of maintaining a balanced, 'True Self' Individual. Popular writers who are very intuitive like Canada's Margaret Atwood are bringing this to our attention in their latest works, which do not point with pride to our collective achievements in environment, but view with alarm the trends of a single-minded civilization with blinkers on, as we approach an even colder, more shadowy Star Wars mentality that is capable of little feeling with survivors having to abandon a forsaken planet.      

Unfortunately, typically in compensatory process, with ego consciousness out of balance with the wholeness of the self, the less differentiated parts of the brain become blocked by repressed shadow content which may well up, from time to time, destructively, like an volcanic eruption or earthquake, bringing about a necessary grounding in a Fall, individually and collectively, which may be unpleasant, in order to learn something before orb Earth becomes uninhabitable. The Self functions like a hidden trickster in the psyche causing us to trip, then asking, "Now, are we getting the picture?" The individual and society need to be grounded, especially in formal education, taking care not to become possessed or overwhelmed by intellect and information overload, so the trickster archetype and shadow energy built up around the repressed feminine can be contained, released slowly and assimilated into consciousness, and with a conscience which originates from the center 'within', in the core of the self.  

Our evolving world view reflected single-minded thinking and materialism and a supposedly more objective approach of scientific analysis which oppressed the more subjective viewpoint, feeling and intuition, and creativity. With minor interludes of romanticism, with swings toward a more feminine receptivity and an openess to deal with and integrate the 'other', the prevailing classical and patriarchal approach continued until modern times.  

We thus developed design processes that are coldly mechanistic. They are being used, unconsciously, to create environments that can alienate the soul of the public/users who may suffer varied symptoms. Today, they are increasingly being connected with a widespread cultural imbalance, or malais, having many symptoms, from depression and anger to physical illnesses, connected architecturally with what has been termed 'sick building syndrome'. The emphasis on the so-called objective is rapidly becoming a global sickness, enabling modern educated people to retain a belief in a separateness of ego associated almost exclusively with intellect, from all that surrounds it. In compensation, we need to allow ourselves to be open to the consideration of relationships other than those which can be proved or disproved by scientific method, for it is here that a deeper truth may be found.  

And the problem of sick environments may apply to designed outdoor areas as well. Moreover, we are learning that abstract and mechanistic design processes are often stressful for the designers. Too much dis-ease, working constantly in conflict with the 'true self' (of Jung, Winnicott and others) ultimately may lead to life-threatening disease.  

In interpreting the Italian Renaissance garden we may see in the collective psyche's hidden message the unfolding of an initiation journey. In a kind of labyrinthine path through the garden, the boundaries of outer and inner landscape become blurred, temporarily for the wanderer, the true hero with an inquisitive, open mind. It is as if the garden was created to mirror a psychological death-and-rebirthing experience for the maturing creative individual, an initiation to a higher state of awareness. We often find portrayed 3-dimensionally in the garden either fragments or an entire process in 'the journey' for the one who makes contact with the holistic principle of the greater self. It mirrors and helps to constellate, to actualize internally for the hero, or heroine, the gradual process of self-realization, of becoming, wider in ego-consciousness with an awareness of the opposites, greater in depth of personality with grace, humility and wit, and very much the wiser... from knowledge assimilated in 'the library' together with personal life experience. It is the self-realized person in the process of becoming who then stands apart from the great herd. The one who is capable of living a more meaningful life--a restored individual--after the Fall from living in "Paradise", a really narrowly cultured ego-consciousness.  

the reason all us chickens are here... is to become

Joseph Wheelwright

The garden mirrors a phylogenetic meta-program in the psyche which seeks reminders of a certain harmony. It wants to balance what is more valued collectively and educated formally, the intellect, the 5-senses and extroversion--with what has more often than not been relegated to mature with life's 'warming' experiences involving suffering--introversion and the emotions refined to connect with innate feelings and values, and with intuition more connected with the 'source' in the creative-originative wellsprings and the archetypes, in unconscious synthesis process. We may begin to see a higher purpose in maintaining our essential contact with nature for our health and well-being. There is a vital, life-giving principle of the self and human potential which underlies the ultimate significance of an inner projection to concretize and mirror archetypal content creating meaning in constructed gardens and in the act gardening itself.  

As design professionals we need to be the cultivator of the self, the gardener of the inner landscape, in order to become capable of creating successful 'places'. The truly great places are so much more than enclosed, functionally derived 'spaces' that are contrived superficially, in artifice, to display an eclectic array of styles or 'looks'.  

True places create in us a sense of awe or wonder. They have a timeless quality with a special character about them instantly recognized by all. We find it in the Piazza Navona in Rome, with Bernini's Fountain in the center with the universal theme of the Four Rivers (symbolic of the directionally flowing waters of the unconscious creating 4 psychological functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking), expressed in ancient times as the 4 humors, or in medieval times as the alchemical elements of earth, water, air and fire. The quality is reinforced in the symbolism of the Baroque church opposite the main fountain on the South side and in other details and the remaining 2 fountain-sculpture basins built later, one at each end of the long, somewhat rectangular space with one curved end built along the footprint of a former Roman arena.  

In contrast, many of today's contemporary designed 'spaces' read more like an 'abstract concept', the way they were engineered, calculatively. Unfortunately, many people experience them that way. We may feel them unembracingly cold, mere zones that alienate the human soul. When these areas are dead there is no warmth or magic in them to inspire our breathing-in with awe, little to stir the imagination and our hearts and blood... with emotion.  

True places are holistic-designed experiences. They are layered with a multitude of patterns embued with timeless qualities of expression and metaphor. They animate us as they speak to the human soul... in the language it wants to hear. These special places resonate with the Harmony, or Music of the Spheres and we do too, as we move about in them, inhabiting them.    

It is highly desireable to differentiate our introverted sides and our feeling and intuitive functions to bring them into a wider consciousness. They need to be balanced with our more educated intellects and extroverted functions enabling 'synchronistic design' with access to holistic, archetypal patterns in the wellsprings of creativity, in the unconscious, collective psyche that is inborn and common to all.  

An engineered, willful, intellectual approach working with symbolism calculatively, as with signs, is likely to manufacture environments without qualities of soul which would bring them to life. Consequently, such mechanically contrived constructions may seem unanimated, dead. The whole quality issue of what is of value needs to placed at the forefront in landscape design, after initial inventory and analysis work, so intuition and feeling may be given their place, before intellect... a descriptive function that merely names. When extroverted intellect gets too far ahead of us it has the tendency to alienate receptivity to more informal inner processes that creatively may connect the designer with the unconscious wellsprings informed by the archetypes. This modern explanation is an attempt to conceptualize the unknowable, the true source and meaning of artistic works which radiate the 'Music', the 'Harmony of the Spheres', which also may exhibit characteristics as 'Divine Porportion', 'PHI' - Fibonacci sequences, etc.  

One of the easiest ways to begin to 'Master' the timeless art of organic-original design is with the aid of archetypal, cross-cultural pattern languages. Patterns animate us, are embued with qualities of warmth and containment, and many reflect a unity of opposing forces of classicism and romanticism, yang and yin or masculine and feminine, prospect and refuge etc., all deeply rooted in the androgenous, transpersonal psyche.  

Students learn how designed environments may enhance or repress the human maturation - spiritual growth processes known as self actualization and realization (Abraham Maslow), or initiation and individuation (Carl Jung) which are rooted in ancient understanding elucidated by certain Greek philosophers.  

Students discover the 'warming process' of the traditional 'Grand Tour' from the 16C onward, typically over the alps to Italy, where 60% of the world's cultural heritage resides. It was the peak of intellectual and artistic exploration for the famous and the unknown. Often it was a rather unconsciously inspired quest for the traveler who experienced the 'other' with the emotions, awe and the numinous in warmer surroundings with such a rich cultural heritage. It frequently was accompanied by a rather profound transformation in warmth and color of personality reflected in artistic original work.  

Students and professionals may experience for themselves how Italian cultural form can help constellate the inner growth process when in an initiating travel program with an experienced teacher who has been initiated in the timeless way. They may perceive and come to understand how places may be embued with archetypal patterns of character, color, warmth and meaning... animating the individual with renewed vitality and engendering a sense of freedom and being in place, as 'old feelings' are rekindled, that are archaic and inborn... while liberating your creativity.  

You travel to experience, in situ, the great, classic, formal spaces and sublimely romantic, or vernacular places. You learn to recognize universal qualities places are embued with, and identify patterns embodied, uniting archetypes, form, character, activities--and experiences--in an archetypal pattern language and timeless way of building historically alluded to by many, from the ancient philosophers, to Pliny the Younger, to Camillo Sitte, to Kevin Lynch, best illuminated by Christopher Alexander et al.  

We design not spaces, places or things. We design experiences, the spaces, places and things take their shape from the planned experiences.

John Simonds, in 'Landscape Architecture'

Initiates may experience the process of intellectual and spiritual grounding in Italian countryside in villeggiatura. In their revival of the Ancient idea of the contemplative life and Academies of Plato, Pliny 'the Younger' and others, Petrarch and his followers with academies in Tuscany--particularly Marsilio Ficino, mentor of Botticelli and Michelangelo--felt that authentic, artistic and philosophical creativity could only blossom in the quiet of the countryside. Ficino was the first to admit that the imaginative process was often the secret of good health. Read from the soul's perspective, Ficino is the man who set the philosophical course for much of the Renaissance. In his recognition of the subjective and the animating and healing imaginal world, he lifted the creative individual's tendency toward melancholy from the category of deadness of his 'Aristotelian' contemporaries, to profoundly ensoul life. Suddenly, everything was reborn, everything came alive with joy and with a numinous meaning larger than humankind, where the world was seen as a garden of gifts that the gods had bestowed upon humankind. What Marsilio Ficino and his contemporaries saw was 'Renaissance', although the actual word arrived in Jakob Burchardt's 19C scholarly work.  

By attempting to recreate aspects of the 'Academia' environment (after the name of Plato's own school of Platonic enlightenment) in the practical and down-to-earth life of an outdoor 'Gymnasia' setting in the countryside, and by placing the question,   'What is humanly of value?'   in the middle of the table and allowing it to guide us, you may experience in a newly felt receptivity and openess your own 'renaissance' and, more at ease, you may come to the realization of holistic process... how we may design more in tune with the 'Music of the Spheres'... to create true 'places'.  

When spaces are embued with qualities of   'placeness',   embodying the   'genius of place',   they seem more balanced, more whole. They contain multi-layered patterns sometimes echoing mythopoetic themes but they radiate warmth, receptivity and 'refuge', together with a sense of 'prospect' or adventure associated with biological habitat theory described by the geographer Jay Appleton in his Experience of Landscape. It helps people with a feeling of belonging or a sense of dwelling and of 'being' in the lived world of human experience described by philosophers William James (1842-1910), Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) and others, where people are free to experience the bliss of simply being-in-the-world, alive and free. The conducting of analysis of an objectified world was insensitive to this.  

You discover how to work with 'A Pattern Language' (1977), and the 'Timeless Way of Building' (1979) synthesized by Christopher Alexander et al, how to assimilate and describe additional patterns and ways to break through mechanistic approaches, to unblock 'analysis paralysis' and free designer receptivity allowing creative-originative design stemming from origins in the whole self, one's true potential. The process evolves taking freedom to explore informal design approaches from the vernacular. The timeless way is more in-depth and more flexible than some modern or post-modern design approaches by specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart, a nullity described by Max Weber (1864-1920) and others which imagines it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved, focussed on mechanical methods that border on the draconian, with a coldly, calculative tendency for the abstract and 'stylism', in the latest stages found in the extreme annihilation of soul in 'deconstructivism'. We have indeed reached a pregnant moment in history as a civilization and a species, a moment of truth with the future of the human spirit and of the planet hanging in the balance.  

Philosopher Martin Heidegger said at the end of his life, "Only a god can save us". And Jung (1865-1961), near his end wrote in 'The Undiscovered Self', Collected works, Volume 10, 'Civilization in Transition, where he compared our age to the beginning of the Christian era 2 milennia ago: 

(A) mood of universal destruction and renewal... has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the kairos--the right moment for a "metamorphosis of the gods," of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take into account this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science.... So much is at stake and so much depends on the psychological constitution of modern man.... Does the individual know that he is the makeweight that tips the scales?

In our little Platonic Academy studio, modelled to some extent on the out-of-doors, 'in nature' setting of the Ancients, we accept the challenge for boldness, depth, and clarity of vision that is now called for, in our EU-Italy Traveling Seminar, and in our Studio on Ecodesign with Human Nature. In the Studio practical ecodesign application comes together with the courage and imagination we now require. We recognize the diversity of the human spirit, and the necessity to translate constantly between differing scientific vocabulary and imaginative-artistic worldview... in a fun and exciting landscape design project. We also recognize that in both scientific and religious/spiritual culture, in classicism and in romanticism, all we have finally are symbols. But there is an enormous difference between the dead space and the living experience with a quality of place. Our work is grounded in the techne, while honoring the arche and pattern languages in the timeless, archetypal way... on a house+garden and park 'villa', in an inspiringly beautiful Italian, mountainous, countryside/seaside setting. The villa may be viewed as a symbol of the individual in you... your unfolding 'true Self'.

... according to reseachers in many fields, notably Jung, Winnicott, Gaston Bachelard (The Poetics of Space, 1966), and Clare Cooper (in her paper widely read in the design professions: 'The House as a Symbol of the Self', in 'Designing for Human Behavior', J. Laing ed.).  

Typically, at least one other, more traditional landscape/garden design project is offered in a 13-week semester. Such projects are usually in pre-consultants' engagement stages and may be undertaken cooperatively for exploration of program and design ideas... with charitable foundations such as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in Italy, or, the FAI - Fondo per L'Ambiente Italiano which is like England's National Trust, or, with Italy's National Parks, or with local communities.  

For more on   'Why the Grand Tour?'   or,   'Why Italy?'   go to:  
under the spell of "la dolce vita"...  

For a brief 'bio' on landscape architecture background leading to the above Courses, see  
Instructor:   Richard Forster

And for supporting information and discussion on the research, professional practise, community service and teaching experience, a pilot 5-year study abroad program experiment undertaken in EU-Italy, the pivotal ideas and the evolving new 'Aquarian Era', 21C worldview on which the program is based, see
'Ecodesign with Human Nature'
(c):   Foundations 

This one-of-a-kind 'villeggiatura' study abroad Italy program for Canadian universities based on personal creative experience, from origins, with the object of assisting others who wish to authentically 'Master' the art of creative design -- working with the unconscious with a connection to the inner whole 'Self' in the way of some of the greatest creative minds of all time -- effectively ended in Italy in 2006. The web site has been maintained and is updated continually for it's educational value. The lessons and wisdom gained from learned research, in-search and life experience are ongoing.


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Monte Argentario

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