For someone unfamiliar with contemporary discourses within the building sciences, the theme of this Atlantis issue would appear to be something of an oxymoron. The term ‘urban’ surely infers the spatial, organizational, political, social and cultural characteristics of city, a very different notion than the rural or natural environments inferred to by the term ‘landscape’. This paradox is not necessarily restricted to outsiders: within the faculties of the building sciences ‘urban’ and ‘landscape’ are separate and distinct disciplinary traditions. Both fields of enquiry arise from – and are connected to – independent arenas of theory and praxis. The traditional pursuits of these two fields however – the understanding, ordering and design of cities and landscapes - are becoming more and more urgent as time goes on and as such, their legitimacy as independent disciplines is unquestioned. The linguistic union of the two terms therefore, has nothing to do with disciplinary deterioration which commonly herald these kinds of mutations, and everything to do with the pursuit of knowledge and tools to understand and act in the increasing elusive contemporary city – of which more later.