Landscape as Method and Medium for the Ecological Design of Cities

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Mar 01, 2013
Joan Iverson Nassauer


“Landscape” refers both to a conceptual field that examines how humans affect geographic space and to real places, and the word has both analytical and experiential implications. Pairing the analytical and the experiential enables landscape to be a catalyst for synthesis in science and for insight in urban ecological design. Emphasizing that science is fundamental to ecological design, this essay broadly interprets urban ecological design to include intentional change of landscapes in cities, their megaregions, and resource hinterlands. The essay offers two laws and two related principles for employing landscape as a medium and a method for urban ecological design. The laws observe that landscapes integrate environmental processes and that landscapes are visible. Two related principles explain how these inherent characteristics can be used to effect sustainability by using landscape as a medium for synthesis and in a method that invites creative invention.

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