George RR Martin, on architects, gardeners and landscape architects

The opening sequence of each Game of Thrones episode needed better landscape architecture
The opening sequence of each Game of Thrones episode needed better landscape architecture

Game of Thrones’ author, George RR Martin, identifies two kinds of writer: the gardener and the architect (see eg this Youtube interview from 26:00, excerpt below). When a building is started the architect knows how many windows, flights of stairs and so forth there will be. It has all been worked out ‘in blueprints’ (Martin does not use a computer for writing). The gardener starts in an different and much older way. She starts by digging a hole, throwing in a seed, watering it ‘with blood’ and hoping something will grow. Martin describes himself as ‘about 90% gardener’.

Landscape architects, I believe, make a serious mistake by trying to be, in terms of design method, ‘about 90% architect’.

The landscapes, gardens and architecture used in the Game of Thrones TV series are pre-renaissance. In part this is because the series is set in the time of the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487) and the influence of the Renaissance had reached English literature without having a significant impact on its architecture, gardens and design methodology. Design-by-drawing had not taken hold. Buildings and gardens were designed by what Martin sees as a gardening method.

Landscape architects need to consider the extent to which what Martin sees as the gardener’s method could and should be used in contemporary landscape architecture. Obviously, it was not used for the ugly computer games imagery used at the start of HBO’s TV series (in the images above and the clip below). For the purpose of criticism and review, I have put quotations from the quoted interview and imagery in the video clip – seeing this as fair dealing and not an infringement of copyright law.

Tom Turner