Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

David Hopman


This paper explores the similarities and differences between Roger Scruton's The Aesthetics of Architecture and Steven Bourassa's The Aesthetics of Landscape. The purpose of Scruton's book, according to Scruton, is to introduce readers to aesthetics. Architecture was chosen as the explanatory device because it poses unique problems to aesthetics. One such problem, Scruton explains, is that architecture is not just an aesthetic object; it also must satisfy human needs. This separates architecture from other arts that are not required to satisfy the same human needs. Scruton also chose architecture because in his opinion, no one up to that point, (1979,) had developed a philosophically defensible aesthetics of architecture.Early in The Aesthetics of Architecture, Scruton makes a distinction between architectural aesthetics and architectural theory. "Theory consists in the attempt to formulate the maxims, rules and precepts which govern, or ought to govern the practice of the builder", (Scruton, 1979, p.4). He further states that theory impinges on architectural aesthetics only when the theory claims universal validity. Scruton evaluates various theories and explains why they are not universally valid as aesthetics. Scruton then proposes a universally valid aesthetic of architecture. In the chapter regarding aesthetic judgment, Scruton proposes a tripartite aesthetic which includes personal experience, personal preference and personal thought. The tripartite aesthetic explains all the issues that bear on aesthetic preferences. Where Scruton's book is an introduction to aesthetics, Bourassa's book is an explanation of landscape as an aesthetic object, which Scruton expressly denies. Bourassa breaks with Scruton on the issues of sensory aesthetics, the possibility of natural objects being objects of aesthetic interest, and his definition of tripartite aesthetics which he defines as "biological laws, cultural rules and personal strategies". Scruton's entire tripartite aesthetic theory of architecture fits within Bourassa's "personal strategies". Scruton's aesthetic is detached and imaginative while Bourassa's is engaged and experiential.This research addresses the differences between the aesthetics of Scruton and Bourassa and tests their aesthetic theories by examining the aesthetic ideas of professors and practitioners of landscape architecture and architecture. Scruton's architectural aesthetic, as defined in the Aesthetics of Architecture (1979), does not allow for sensory aesthetics and does not provide for the possibility that natural objects can be objects of aesthetic interest and criticism. Bourassa's landscape aesthetic is largely a response to Scruton's book. This research uses a qualitative approach with interview questions generated from a literature review. The interview subjects were identified by key informants as elites in the universe of this study. Their responses were qualitatively coded to identify the differences in aesthetic points of view between architects and landscape architects. The findings are that landscape architects and architects do not wholly subscribe to either Bourassa or Scruton's tripartite aesthetic theories.


Architecture | Landscape Architecture


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington