A city’s landscape, rather than the design of

A theory of design within both architecture and
landscape is Landscape Urbanism. It is also considered as a theory of urban
planning arguing that the best way to organize cities is through the design of
the city’s landscape, rather than the design of its buildings. The ecological
aspect has always been a minor thought during the design process. These
projects are considered as expensive schemes with a commercial and aesthetic
purpose. Landscape urbanism is largely theoretical, with a few, highly visible
actual projects. Being a complex definition it offers a way to consider the
complex urban condition; one that is capable of tackling infrastructure, water
management, biodiversity, and human activity, and one that asks and examines
the implications of the city in the landscape and landscape in the city.


Rather than being a theoretical concept, this ensures
to define and ensure design methods that would look into specifics of ecology,
economic and social conditions. Even the basic ideology of the middle ground as
referred by Michael Pollan (2014) “the idea of a middle landscape, equally
partaking nature and culture, striking a compromise or connection between the
two has received too little attention”. If the ecological advances were
incorporated, then one might imagine a truly new synthesis: landscape
ecological urbanism. Ecological urbanism is yet another new term coined by
Charles Waldheim, proposing increased focus on landscapes and urban regions. The
combination of landscape and urbanism introduces critical connections with
natural and hidden systems and uses these systems as means to propose a
flexible approach to current urban concerns. In other words bringing back the
urban and landscape resilience.

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As cited
by landscape architect Tom Turner “the city of the future will be an infinite
series of landscapes: psychological and physical, urban and rural, flowing
apart and together. They will be mapped and planned for special purposes, with
the results recorded in geographical information systems (GIS), which have the
power to construct and retrieve innumerable plans, images and other records.
Christopher Alexander was right: a city is not a tree. It is a landscape.”



In practice, landscape and urbanism have been set apart
as two different entities. These are reinforced by divergent tactics and urban
scales which recently sparked new ways of approaching the condition of cities
as vast horizontal networks. Built examples of landscape urbanism are still
rare because projects set to test its principles are still under construction.


The claim of landscape urbanist Charles Waldheim
(2006) that “landscape design can become the lens through which contemporary
designs are represented and a medium through which they are constructed” is one
of the small steps taken. This can be seen in the conceptual realignment of
landscape design away from advocating parks within the city or the region
toward the city itself as a park or landscape was momentous, as it not only
repositioned landscape as one of the primary professions shaping the built
environment but also relegated traditional urban design, focused on density
and, above all, buildings, to a lesser position. Landscape urbanism’s claim on
urban design was bolstered by its relationship to the environment and to
environmentalism broadly considered. During the 1990s and early 2000s the
finest landscape urbanism projects developed in places with healthy economies,
vibrant cities, and strong state support for urbanism, for example the High
line in New York. This is seen lesser in shrinking cities, where in Detroit,
conventional open space projects such as the Dequindre Cut rail- to- trail and
a pedestrian path along the Detroit River during the early 2000s, and urban
farming (a mix of landscape and everyday urbanism) proliferated in the city’s
neighborhoods, with more than eight hundred community gardens and urban farms
by 2010.


“Human based design theories will be more powerful in
how cities are designed”. The urbanists who believe that the ideal environment
is to design clusters of housing for wealthy individuals where the impact of
building on the city is only for aesthetic attention.  Human activities are one of the factors that
determine ecosystem structure and function. There is a need to reinvest in
research and a need for new creative interconnections among the social, density
and environmental networks to improve the quality of work. As cited by Jane
Jacobs (1961) that an ecological approach to designing and managing cities,
arguing that cities are problems of organized complexity, akin to living
organisms, and that there are lessons for urban design from the study of
systems where “half-dozen or even several dozen quantities are all varying
simultaneously and in subtly interconnected ways. People interact with other
humans and with other species as well as their built and natural environments.
The city is a human dominated ecosystem. Landscape urbanism projects, such as
the High Line and the Toronto waterfront, illustrate how designing with nature
can improve the quality of cities for people, plants, and animals.


Global temperatures are increasing at an alarming rate in just the past 50
years, northern hemisphere temperatures were higher than during any other
50-year period in the last 500 years, perhaps even the past 1,300 years. Given
the effects to climate change already considered, Landscape urbanism can be
used/practiced as a resiliency mechanism that addresses climate change. The
approach may differ depending on either the species or the ecology. Places with inherent properties
that build resilience will likely also be natural strongholds for species and
nature into the future. The permeability, complexity, resilience and change
could be the factors that needs to be approached in detail. The urban trees for
example intercept large quantities of precipitation, buffers cities from
flooding impacts, a high diversity of urban tree species directly contributes
to the response diversity function of precipitation interception. Large
scale interventions by planners and designers can shape the existing and new
communities to encourage the use of more sustainable lifestyles. Green
infrastructure is a network of spaces that are interconnected with our
landscape. It is a holistic approach that can be considered with respect to the
economy and green diversity. This can be seen by fully integrating building and
site into the landscape planning process, taking account of landscape
characteristics such as topography, vegetation and microclimate and helping to
maximize the benefits of shelter from intense wind and sun while seeking to
incorporate maximum solar energy and water heating benefits.


“In landscape ecology diversity and redundancy are understood
as ecological strategies for risk spreading”. A modular theory with discrete elements
and diversity is considered when resilience is integrated to urban design and
planning. Urban planning and design is inherently location
specific. Planning and design projects focus on, and respond to their specific
geophysical, social, economic and political contexts. Adaptive design provides an alternative
scientific and professional strategy approach in which plans and policies are
developed in a context of uncertainty and incomplete knowledge. Adaptive design
works with minimal knowledge.


With majority of the world now trending urban, focusing
on sustainable design strategies has become the main theme of urban and
landscape designs. Systemic relationships among landscape sustainability, people’s contact
with nature, and complex place-based problems are few of those factors that
play a role in this context. Landscape urbanism, even though it could be
majorly criticized as an expensive strategy, could be one of the major
influential design methodology that must be incorporated to achieve a resilient


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