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The geographical dimensions of patent innovation: history, precedents, praxis, and pedagogy, in an expanded field of landscape technology.


Innovation has geographical dimensions, ranging from site and building technology, to infrastructure and environmental systems. As the allied professions of environmental design expand disciplinary scope beyond aesthetics into questions of territory, landscape infrastructure, performance-based design, and issues related to climate adaptation and the Anthropocene, an expanded concept of technology and innovation becomes essential to address new pedagogical adjectives and praxis. One of the most effective ways to track technological change in a specific sector of technology is through patent innovation. The global patent archive is the world’s largest technological dossier. An estimated 90 million patents have been granted globally, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) alone has issued more than 10 million patents since 1790. A unique subset of these inventions relate to site and building technology as well as large-scale environmental systems such as rivers, coasts, and cities. Since patent innovation is an ongoing process, patent documents provide insights into the ever-evolving sectors of technology, which may be understood as an expanded field of landscape technologies that define site, cities, and regions. This paper explores the histories of patent innovation related to the physical built environment and argues for an expanded definition of “Landscape Technology”. The paper also includes examples of New pedagogical approaches that integrate patent innovation studies into environmental design curriculum, and a discussion of strategies for implementing novel technologies and patent innovation studies into professional design projects.

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