The both polycentric governance and Living Labs concepts are based on decentralized participatory planning, co-design, and decisionmaking. While the concept of Living Lab is still emerging, the Isar-Plan (2000 ~ 2011) pioneered the approach for selecting, co-designing, and implementing nature-based solutions along the Isar River in Munich, Germany. Despite multiple governing authorities involved in the decisionmaking process of the Isar-Plan, the polycentric governance that led to the success of the project has to date not been analyzed. This paper presents the results of an ex-post-analysis of the Isar-Plan restoration planning process based on stakeholder interviews and a literature review. The contribution describes the evolution of Isar-Plan governance arrangements and discusses the Living Lab approaches to cooperative governance. The analysis demonstrates how polycentricity facilitated trust, learning, and the co-design of a resilient waterscape. The paper concludes that Living Labs can be a way of applying polycentric governance when autonomous and multi-scale decision-makers are collaboratively involved in the design of policy solutions, and vice-versa.
Streets are a focal point of human activities and a major interface of the social interaction between urban dwellers and urban built environment. A better understanding of the urban landscapes along streets is thus important in urban studies. The increasing availability of street-level images provides new opportunities for urban landscape studies to study and analyze streetscapes at a fine level and from a different perspective. In this study, we presented an application of a recently developed Deep Convolutional Neural Network on landscape analysis based on street-level images. Different urban features were identified from street-level images accurately using a trained Deep Convolutional Neural Network model. Based on the image segmentation results, we further measured the spatial distribution of the street greenery and quantitatively analyzed the openness of street canyons in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The proposed combination of Artificial Intelligence and the massively collected street-level images provides a new sight for urban landscape studies for cities around the world.
Many urban areas affected by flood disasters are also becoming increasingly ecologically and socially fragmented due to the accumulation of vacant properties. While redevelopment is often viewed as the primary objective in regenerating vacant properties, they can also potentially provide ecological and hydrological land uses. Rather than chasing developmentbased incentives for regenerating vacant lots in high flood-risk communities, a balance should be sought between new developmental land uses and green infrastructure to help counteract stormwater runoff and flood effects, or “Resilience through Regeneration.” This paper uses landscape performance measures to evaluate the economic and hydrologic performance of green infrastructure regeneration projects for three marginalized neighborhoods in Houston, Texas, USA. Each project site is characterized by excessive vacant lots and flood issues. Results suggest that, when using green infrastructure to regenerate vacant properties, 1) flood risk continually decreases, 2) upfront economic costs increase in the short term (when compared to conventional development), and 3) the long-term economic return on investment is much higher.
Wilderness is a cultural construct that is deeply rooted in many societies. For landscape architects and their predecessors, wilderness has long been important as a contrast to artificial garden elements, as an inspiration for naturalistic plant designs, or today as a timely contribution to reconciling cities and their inhabitants with the natural world. Since cities and wilderness have traditionally been seen as opposites, new approaches are necessary to better address the opportunities and challenges associated with wilderness in urban regions. From an ecological perspective, urban wilderness can be defined as an area characterized by a high degree of self-regulation in ecosystem processes where direct human impact is negligible. This allows two main types of wilderness to be distinguished: “ancient wilderness” represented by natural remnants in many cities, and “novel wilderness,” which arises in artificial urban-industrial sites. The two types require different approaches in designing and managing green spaces. Ancient wilderness is a traditional object of conservation and restoration, and offers inspiration for naturalistic plantings. In contrast, the emergence of novel wilderness has long been associated with neglect and socio-economic decline. Since the 1980s, however, early pioneer projects in Germany have started to integrate novel urban wilderness into the green infrastructure. The results are unprecedented green spaces that combine novel wilderness with design interventions. These places are attractive to visitors, contribute to biodiversity conservation, and support many ecosystem services. This article aims to illustrate the opportunities and challenges of integrating wilderness components and processes into the urban green infrastructure—a timely way to reconnect cities with nature.
This paper discusses the possibility and direction of public participation and edible landscape construction in China's high-density metropolitan areas. It is based on the different types of community gardens completed by Shanghai Clover Nature School Teenager Nature Experience Service Center in recent years under the concept of "Urban Permaculture." By endowing rights to the inhabitants of the community, these examples have helped the participants become owners and established cooperation mechanisms between government, enterprises, social organizations, and the public.
Natural wetlands play a vital role in maintaining regional water balance, regulating regional climate, and maintaining biodiversity. Due to urban sprawl in China, the loss of natural wetlands has been dramatic. In recent years, nature-based solutions, including wetland parks, have been advocated to compensate for this loss and to reduce vulnerability and disaster risks. As a result, inspired by natural wetlands or building on existing wetland ecosystems, hundreds of wetland parks have been created in China over the last decade. Most research on ecosystem services of wetland parks has to date focused on technical perspectives, with only a few addressing public perception; the public’s perception of wetland parks is not well understood. This research used social media (i.e. Sina Weibo) to access large volumes of data and provide temporal and geographic granularity. A semantic analysis of microblogs was performed to understand how the public perceives the ecosystem services of wetland parks in Guangzhou. This study explored the public’s perceptions and compared these with the ecosystem services as communicated by professional institutions, and probed into the factors that affect these perceptions. The results showed that the top three ecosystem services perceived by both the general public and communicated by institutions are recreation, aesthetics, and refugia / habitat. There is a strong interconnection between the perceptions of recreation and aesthetics services. Flowering plant species and colored-leaf trees are the most important stimuli affecting perceptions of aesthetics services, and birds are key to the perception of refugia / habitat services. These results provide a basis for better aligning management of projects utilizing naturebased solutions, such as wetland parks, with expectations from the public.
Urban green space is attributed a significant role in addressing health challenges associated with urbanization. This is supported by evidence confirming that urban green space may both promote health and well-being and support nature-based treatments. Landscape architects who design to improving health outcomes have an important task; but one which also come with responsibilities. This is also noted by the World Health Organization, which states that it is vital to understand how to design green space so that it actually delivers the intended positive health outcomes. In order to deal with this situation, various tools and design guidelines have been developed by them. However, considered from a designer’s perspective, these tools are seldom expedient enough to apply in the design process, and the guidelines are often not as generalizable as supposed.
In the current article, the authors present a process model for Evidence-Based Health Design in Landscape Architecture (EBHDL) and suggest that it may be useful as a means to deliver on stated health outcomes. The model has been developed over the last 15 years by the research group Nature, Health & Design at the University of Copenhagen. During this period, the model has been constantly enhanced via input evidence from researchers, practitioners, and university students. The EBHDL process model consists of four steps, all of which the landscape architect may be responsible for: Evidence collection, Programming, Designing, and Evaluation.
The model has been applied in the design of the University of Copenhagen’s therapy garden, Nacadia®, and health-promoting forest, Octovia®. Based on encouraging results from research projects, the first step towards a validation of the EBHDL process model have now been made. The benefits of the model include the fact that it is interdisciplinary, systematic, transparent, and dynamic. A weakness of the model is that it is time-consuming, and thereby also costly.
The street is a type of important urban public space with multiple social values, one of which is the restorative potential. Based on the “beingaway,” “extent,” “fascination,” and “compatibility” constructs of restorative environments proposed by the Attention Recovery Theory, this study elaborated the significance of restorativeness provided by street environments to people living in high-density cities. It used the traditional restorativeness scale with mobile eye trackers to explore the restorative experience provided by an urban street, and identified the specific streetscape elements related to restorativeness and the degree of their influences. The results show that “greenery,” “people,” and “cars” perform significant influences, and different streetscape elements have different degrees of influences on the 4 constructs of the restorative environment. For example, for the“being-away,” “extent,” and “fascination” constructs, the influence of “greenery” is the most important, while “people” plays the core role in “compatibility.” The findings can help professionals develop targeted design strategies to improve diverse street environments for a better restorativeness.
Uncertainty exists in the current urban development of contemporary cities and is getting diversified and complicated. Identifying and adapting to such uncertainty is partly defining the future development of urban planning and design. The concept of “resilient city” is developed from the current scientific demands in urban planning and design. This article suggests that Complex Adaptive System as a new system theory would help resilient city planning and construction. According to the Complex Adaptive System theory, a resilient city should possess the adaptability of its components, diversity, autonomy, appropriate redundancy, slow-variable management, and identification, in order to improve the ecological, social, and economic resilience and vitality of the city.
Many articles have appeared in mainstream media and in techoriented venues about Sidewalk Labs’ ideas for a new hightech neighbourhood in Toronto (a project named Sidewalk Toronto). By and large, international commentary has focused on the opportunities and risks of giving over control over many city planning decisions to a private data-oriented corporation, with people lining up for or against “smart city” ideas, in general.
This article will set aside generalities about “smart cities” and technology, and instead pose a few questions about the particulars of Sidewalk Toronto project. The first question concerns the striking lack of transparency of the agreement between Sidewalk Labs (a Google sister company) and Waterfront Toronto, the public authority promoting the project, which is not directly accountable to the city or the citizens. The second question concerns the equally striking ambiguity about which parcel of land is being sought by Sidewalk Labs — an ambiguity that suggests a worrying lack of concern, on the tech company’s part, about both local planning law and local real estate realities. The third set of concerns is about the ownership of the data that appears to be Sidewalk Labs’ real interest. Fourthly, problems in the contract award and procurement mechanisms will be raised. Finally, even though the agreement has not yet been seen even by city council, the process so far and the statements by both parties raise serious concerns about accountability, the fifth point raised in this article.
Suzhou City enjoys its regional water networks as a driver to promote the evolution of urban-rural landscapes, where water space is an important part of urban-rural public spaces that defines spatial characteristics, supports public health, and offers recreational opportunities. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) ranging from aesthetics, recreation, education to culture are the core public demands and a key aspect in shaping the identity and vitality of water spaces. However, along with the rapid urbanization, the historical city-water spatial pattern, social connections and relations, and regional cultural spirit have gradually faded away. Such problems can be addressed through inventory renewals and cultural revivals of water spaces based on CES enhancement. This research introduces the Importance–Performance Analysis to study CES of water spaces by examining representative water spaces of Suzhou, in order to examine the correlations between CES types and landscape elements/factors. By collecting the residents’ assessment data on the importance and performance of a series of landscape elements/factors, this research measures and evaluates the demand–supply relations of the studied water spaces, conducts a strategic zoning to identify the landscape elements/factors to maintain, of over-supply, needs no priority or to improve, respectively. Finally, the paper proposes planning strategies and construction guidance for enhancing water space CES in Suzhou in the aspects of ecological management of water network, highlighting of water town image, and planning and scheming of local projects.
Urban greenways play a key role to a city’s nonautomobile commuting and help alleviate traffic congestion. Currently, China’s greenway planning research and practice focuses mostly on suburban areas where greenways provide ecological, historical, cultural, and recreational services, while fewer studies explore urban greenways that serve citizens’ daily non-automobile commuting and recreational needs. Compared with suburban ones, urban greenways often face more spatial limits in the built-up areas and need to respond to more challenging demands. Supported by multisource data and the rise of big data technologies, this research explores the methods of urban greenway route planning that are underpinned through GIS spatial analyses (potential evaluation on spatial construction conditions of greenways) and big-data-based user behavior analyses (of citizens’ daily use of greenways). Demonstrating the authentic planning case for Haidian District, Beijing, the research proposes a series of construction strategies to urban corridors of roads, waterways, and railways, respectively, which integrate green spaces with non-automobile system, in order to improve the services of linear spaces in cities.
Nowadays, chronic non-communicable diseases have impacted the overall public health level of societies and caused severe socio-economic burden. Empirical studies have revealed that physical activities can promote active living and help prevent and heal non-communicable diseases. Evaluation of built environment factors associated with physical activities is the precondition of promoting active living through environmental planning and design. This paper focuses on environmental audit tools related to physical activities, reviews the background, interests, and progress of international research, and compares the option forms, main measured factors, scoring methods, and application suitability of 26 audit tools. It then categorizes these audit tools into the ones for community, open space, and other scenarios, and examines their indicator items respectively. The paper concludes a preparation pattern across various audit tools, and identifies that facilities, accessibility, visual quality, and safety are the indicators most commonly measured. This paper attempts to introduce international experience of developing, analyzing, and verifying audit tools to inform Chinese research and practice and provide references for evaluating the design and construction of healthy cities or communities.
Looking to Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) sites and traditional ecological knowledge-based infrastructures (Lo–TEK), we find nature-based systems that symbiotically work with the environment. This article suggests that by hybridizing Lo–TEK with high-tech systems, the GIAHS sites could offer designers a toolkit towards economically, ecologically, culturally, and technologically innovative systems that can improve productivity and resilience. Whereas urban development results in the erasure of history, identity, culture and nature, this idea explores how urbanization can be an agent for the migration and reapplication of agricultural heritage systems, rather than their greatest threat. Cities can leap-frog the typical Western model of displacing indigenous diversity for homogenous high-tech. Instead, catalyzing localized, agricultural heritage landscapes like those designated as globally important agricultural heritage systems, as scalable, productive and resilient climate change solutions and technologies. It requires a shift in the thinking about traditional agriculture and about the relationship to Nature, from superior to symbiotic.
Cities have suffered from urban heat island (UHI) effect due to rapid urbanization, which can be effectively adjusted by urban green space. Taking the community parks in central area of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province as an example, this paper explored the size and shape of smallscale parks to mitigate the UHI effect. Land surface temperature was retrieved from Landsat 8-OLI remote-sensing image of 2019. The 52 studied community parks were identified with ArcGIS 10.4, and classified by kernel building density. The threshold-size and optimal shape of community parks to mitigate UHI effect were then discussed. The results showed that 1) with the increase of buffer ring distance around the community parks, the cooling intensity decreased and the cooling extent were mostly less than 180 m; 2) the area, shape, and the NDVI of the parks were important factors affecting the cooling intensity; 3) the cooling intensity of community parks under a high kernel building density was better, with a higher threshold-size (0.848 hm2) than that of the low ones (0.384 hm2); and 4) the optimal cooling intensity would occur when the park in a shape of circle or square. In conclusion, it is suggested that small green space should be planned in the areas under a high building density. Through renewal design and refined management measures in the urban green space system planning, giving full play to the ecological benefits of urban green spaces in mitigating the local UHI effect can also be expected.
The Child Friendly Cities Initiative launched by UNICEF aims to protect child rights and promote the establishment of urban and community environment conductive to children development, and safety must be guaranteed first as the precondition of the child rights. Based on social, health, and mobility safety required by the initiative, this paper focuses on how to evaluate children’s mobility safety in the community environment. After literature review, 41 indicator articles involving 18 assessment tools and 82 other articles were screened, and safety-related indicators were selected to establish an evaluation indicator framework composed of three first-level indictors, i.e., motor traffic environment, walking / bicycling environment, and other indicators. They were further subdivided into 11 second-level indicators, 29 third-level indicators, and more fourth-level indicators. Although this framework needs localized verification and adaption in Chinese cities, it can help systematically improve the mobility safety requirements of the existing regulations and guidelines of urban environment construction to establish a multi-leveled indicator system and provide references for performance evaluation on related practice at all stages.
Landscape planning adjusts spatial structures and functions by altering the types of land use / land cover and the patterns of landscapes, and thus further impacts ecosystem services. This paper examines the impacts of landscape planning on ecosystem services and draws the conclusion that the control over the types of land use / land cover, the altering of landscape patterns, and the adjustment of landscape functional characteristics could change the type, quality, and performance of ecosystem services, respectively. Through an overall review on the application of ecosystem service evaluation, spatial mapping, and scenario simulation, this paper further concludes their roles in landscape planning: ecosystem service evaluation provides means to ensure scientific landscape planning; spatial mapping serves as a basis to the decision making; and scenario simulation visualizes all kinds of possibilities for an optimal choice. At the same time, such applications in landscape planning practices, ranging from green space planning, ecological conservation redline planning, land use planning to biodiversity protection planning, are exemplified. Finally, this paper summarizes existing research findings and limitations and proposes that future research is expected to study the relationship between landscape planning and ecosystem services, to build a dynamic composite planning framework that can improve ecosystem services, and to propel the research on the tradeoff-and-synergy among ecosystem services in landscape planning.
Decoding the relationship between crime and place has been the focus of researchers in both design and social fields for a few decades. Space syntax theory offers the possibility of examining the configuration characteristics of the environment and their potential influences on people’s activities and crime patterns; however, its implementation in landscape architecture has been limited. This study responds to such a gap by exploring the effectiveness of applying space syntax theory to predict safety levels in a park in Cairo, Egypt. depthmapX was used to analyze the spatial configuration of the park. Crime records from 2019 were collected through site observation and staff interviews, and analyzed using ArcGIS 10.3 software. Results indicated a strong correlation between space depth / integration / connectivity and crime pattern distribution. The park visibility graphs indicated the different impacts of vegetation (evergreen tree / deciduous trees) in summer and winter on visual connectivity and crime types. The research concluded that applying space syntax theory to landscape architecture is challenging; nevertheless, it represents a promising approach to predict committing crimes in urban parks, and the findings can be adopted to enhance park conceptual designs to achieve higher safety level.
This article first introduces the development of China’s urban water system management and the Sponge City construction. Generally speaking, China’s urban water system management has progressively turned into addressing water problems with integrated solutions, with the focus shifting from problem finding towards objective-setting and emphasizing theoretical significance. Meanwhile, the evaluation criterion has adopted more indicators valuing the quality and efficiency of projects’ actual performance, rather than a rough quantitative measurement. Then this article addresses the potential reasons for the public questioning China’s Sponge City construction since the implementation of pilot projects in 2015, such as the misunderstanding of its connotation, public perception of the projects’ actual environmental performance, and construction quality. Only by recognizing the reality and identifying difficulties and primary goals, can the targeted and systematic solutions solving on-site water relevant problems and meeting public needs be proposed. In response, the authors put forward the major difficulties in future Sponge City construction promotion, which include 1) coordinating the Sponge City construction and urban storm water management to facilitate onsite runoff retention and address urban waterlogging problems; 2) establishing a whole-process management system for China’s Sponge City construction projects that involves a series of stages; 3) identifying the accountability and responsibilities of the administration, design, and construction parties; and 4) updating knowledge and technical perception. Furthermore, the authors emphasized the importance of expertise collaboration and talent training to provide professionals with ability in practice, in-depth inter-professional and technical coordination, and active learning. Finally, the authors encouraged the key topics in the future—introduction of new market mechanisms such as storm water billing system, optimization of the current policy mechanism, and institutionalization of Sponge City construction.
The Yellow River Basin is one of the greatest and most important ecological barrier and economic belt in China. When the Yellow River Basin is seen as an ecosystem in whole, the floodplains in the lower reaches are critical to the basin’s health and biodiversity. However, due to the extreme complexity of the natural environment of the floodplains, current flood control policies, long-term agricultural activities, and extensive rural construction and production dikes, the river ecosystem has suffered from considerable damage and a serious decline of ecosystem services. In the planning and design project of the Zhengzhou Yellow River Floodplain Park, the characteristics of the lower, intermediate, and higher floodplains have been carefully identified, site-specific ecological restoration measures for each floodplain type were implemented, highlighting the authenticity and natural qualities and improving the overall ecosystem services. In addition, a slow traffic system and innovative industries along the Yellow River are introduced to enable high-quality cultural perception and recreational experience of the improved ecosystem services, promote green production and lifestyle. These measures help make the Yellow River a river that truly benefit the locals. In the context of ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River, as a national agenda, the ecological restoration planning strategies proposed in this article provides a reference for the development of ecological management and green economy in other sections of the lower reaches of the Yellow River.
Nature-based solutions can help build resilience in urban landscapes. New governance arrangements have been suggested for assisting local governments in implementing nature-based solutions. A dominant nature-based solution initiative is the activities and policies directed at the increase of the number of trees and treecanopy coverage in a city. This study explores how polycentric governance of urban forests may operate by focusing on how key decision-makers coordinate their priorities and actions in urban forestry decisions. A stakeholder-centered view on polycentric governance is taken, specifically focused on the view of municipal managers, to develop a better understanding of the social systems behind the implementation of naturebased solutions. This was done by using social data elicited from 19 in-depth interviews with urban forest managers working in nine local councils in Greater Melbourne, Australia. The data analyses show that the most important decisions that municipal managers make, and where other stakeholders have the most influence, relate to tree removal for developments, significant tree retention, tree planting for site renewal, and ageing trees removal. The most important stakeholders influencing these decisions include other municipal departmental units, developers, state actors, and residents. Non-governmental greening groups do not play a very important role. Various types of coordination, such as the ones between municipal departments, between nongovernmental stakeholders (especially developers and residents), between state government policies, as well as public consultation, are needed to better mobilize stakeholders’ influence and input. Capitalizing on greening groups that aim to retain trees in urban areas, not just planting more trees, can potentially support the current decisions made by municipal managers, which respond to urbanization pressures.
The multi-functional landscapes for sustainable stormwater management play a significant role in providing various benefits on the environment, aesthetics, education, economy, etc. through the cultural ecosystem services, which have been underestimated by both the professionals and the public, due to the difficulty in their interpretation and quantification. The Importance-Satisfaction Analysis (ISA) makes it easier by evaluating the cultural ecosystem services with human’s perception, and was tested with the multi-functional landscapes for stormwater management in this research. The results show that aesthetic value, recreational / eco-tourism, and sense of place are the most valued cultural ecosystem services. Those cultural ecosystem services with a gap between their perceived importance and the public satisfaction with their delivery are also identified. ISA can discover the public’s perception and expectation of the stormwater management landscapes, which helps the decision-making about their improvement a lot.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is profoundly changing our cities with a series of disruptive technologies, characterized for the boom of Internet industries and the everyday application and wide integration of intelligent technologies. Individuals’ traditional mechanical thinking has changed into a mindset based on big data, whose cognition also relies more and more on a combination of both virtual and physical reality experience. At the same time, cities, where we live, are witnessing a significant revolution in resource utilization, societal conditions, and spatial use. Along with the surge of new technologies and new data represented by computer technologies and multi-source urban data, the (new) Urban Science, as a transdisciplinary combination of urban computing, Artificial Intelligence, augmented reality, and human-computer interaction, rises over the past decade. Research institutions and programs on the (new) Urban Science are flourishing globally, and increasing related degree programs and courses are offered by colleges and universities worldwide to respond to the needs of this new era.
This article encapsulates the recent work of OSA, a practice-based urbanism situated in an academic environment (KU Leuven, Belgium). In the contemporary era of increased social, ecological, and spatial injustices, OSA’s work attempts to create resilient urbanisms through designing robust ecologies. Its worldwide sites of research and interventions are primarily addressed through three themes: water urbanisms, forest urbanisms, and creating new social ecologies as resistance. The first part of the article provides an overview of the ambitions of OSA with a number of examples. The second component consists of four excerpts of recent and on-going design research.
In the past decades, Space Syntax offers a series of theories and techniques to study the relationship between urban space and social-economic activities, and has been proved effective in analysis and design practices thanks to the open sources in the big data era. Taking the Chaoyang Square Renewal project in Jilin City, Jilin Province as an example, this article introduces the analyses of traffic volumes and visual integration of the square and the connected streets with modeling tools such as Segment Map and the intelligent multi-agent systems in Visibility Graph Analysis. All these analyses provided a basis for the full design process, from conceptual design to proposal evaluation, in order to activate this site through introducing pedestrian vitality. Prospects on new technologies in Artificial Intelligence, such as machine learning, are also explored to promote the research of Space Syntax and related application in urban design.
Artificial Intelligence is playing an everincreasing role in our lives, but what impacts might it have on the design professions? Will it introduce a new style? Or will it just help to improve the design process? Or will it have a completely different impact? This article attempts to offer an overview of the potential of Artificial Intelligence, defining the different forms of Artificial Intelligence, and illustrating its argument with the work of three designers. It argues that Artificial Intelligence will not generate a new style. However, it will have a radical input on the process of designing. It is also likely to force us to call into question many accepted beliefs within the design community. Certain traditional terms, such as the concept of a “design” and the very notion of “designing,” are likely to be replaced by a new lexicon that includes terms such as “searching” and “outcomes.” But, more importantly, the whole myth of the “artistic genius” is likely to be also called into question. What Artificial Intelligence tells us, as the paper concludes, is not how “artificial” Artificial Intelligence is, but rather how misguided our own understanding of human intelligence has been.
This article stresses the importance of positive image and perception of dynamic ecological processes for the implementation and care of areas which provide ecosystem services within the city. Those in turn secure the resilience of our urban environment. Aesthetic experience with emphasis on highlighting and revealing the presence of ecological dynamics, processes and cycles can increase the acceptance and interest for sustainable goals and projects within the city. Thus, several European cities are currently implementing strategies not only to enhance the capacity of their green networks for ecological services and resilience but most importantly to enhance the acceptance and active use of such areas. They are integrating the public in an open debate about implementing new attractive ecological amenities within a green network, and also stimulating landscape architects to find ways to design important ecological processes and functions in an eye-catching and spectacular way. The natural dynamics and cycles are thus brought to the attention of the people and present an important artistic and cultural component of resilience.
As our cities and environments become more complex and face unprecedented challenges, it is no longer sufficient to design for aesthetics alone. Urban design, landscape architecture, and planning now demand going beyond typical design services to support deeper insights via foresight, research, experimentation, and innovative advocacy. SWA is one example of addressing these emerging complexities through two-year-old XL Lab, the firm’s platform for structured research and innovation projects. XL Lab differs and shares attributes with dedicated research teams in firms from allied fields such as architecture and engineering, where research entities that inform practice have been operating for longer than in landscape architecture. This article discusses the need for research in design now, what factors formed distinct research and innovation teams across the industry, their models and approaches, and how firms identify and prioritize research themes or issues taking XL Lab and another two research teams as examples.