Conceiving a design as both a history and a fiction is not exclusive to the analogy of architecture to landscape. But it is central to this tradition because of the simultaneous and interdependent emergence in the early eighteenth century of new art forms, each of them a creative and questioning response to empiricism's detailed investigation of subjective experience and the natural world: the picturesque landscape, analytical history and English novel, which its early advocates conceived as a fictional autobiography and characterised as a history not a story. The conjunction of new art forms stimulated a lyrical environmentalism that profoundly influenced subsequent centuries, and is increasing relevant today due to anthropogenic climate change, which is now the principal means to consider the relations between nature and culture.
While a prospect of the future is implicit in many histories and novels, it is explicit in a design, which is always imagined before it is built. Creative architects have often looked to the past to imagine the future, studying an earlier architecture not to replicate it but to understand and transform it, revealing its relevance to the present. Twenty-first century architects need to appreciate the shock of the old as well as the shock of the new.