Apr 2019, Volume 7 Issue 2

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    Kongjian YU

    Boeing aircraft crashes aroused the author’s thoughts on intelligence tools. He believes that they should be used to help humans solve problems, rather than put a burden on human life and work. From his own experience of measuring sites, drawing maps, and collecting information, the author is optimistic about the use of intelligence tools in human activities, especially in the field of landscape architecture — intelligence tools have undoubtedly freed designers’ hands for more creative work while acquiring more accurate data, helping humans realize the value of being designers. The author appeals the public to be alarmed by the trap of intelligence tools, and humans’ creative behaviors should not be replaced with such tools. Only in this way can we avoid being lost in the age of artificial intelligence.

    Ying LONG

    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.

    Zhaoxi ZHANG, Ying LONG

    With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, people have begun to explore the potential for new technologies and new devices in studying the relationship between human behavior and urban design. The emergence of wearable cameras offers more possibilities for monitoring individual behavior in built environments as a kind of “lifelog.” This article explores the applications of wearable cameras in studying the relationship between individual behavior and built environments. Using manual image identification, image recognition with Computer Vision Application Programming Interface (API), and color calculation in Matlab, this study analyzed 8,598 photos recording the volunteer’s behaviors and activities during a week. Based on high-accuracy manual image identification results, the research analyzed the volunteer’s behavior, time use, movement path, and experiencing scenes. The study showed that the big data base of images collected by the wearable cameras contained rich individual activities and spatiotemporal information that could be used to effectively describe the individual behavior in space and further contribute to the study of the relationship between individual behaviors and built environments.

    Fu LI, Hexing CHANG

    Traditional landscape measurement methods often lack automation and cost lots of time and manpower, resulting in a low level of digitization in the field of Landscape Architecture. This paper introduces new research and application of UAV measurement in Landscape Architecture and related fields for generating terrain and three-dimensional scenes and landscape correlation analyses. It also forecasts the application of UAVs in other fields that may inspire the practice of Landscape Architecture. The paper suggests that, compared with the traditional satellite measurement and ground engineering surveying, UAVs can quickly obtain two- and three-dimensional data by using airborne sensors with relatively high accuracy, high resolution, and short timeframes, capturing diverse data that supports the research and practice of landscape planning and design and improves the working efficiency. Therefore, this method is highly compatible with the existing research and practice mode. Through fusion and modeling, these multi-source data can help construct basic digital models to assist the analysis, planning, and design of sites. Taken together, this improves the overall level of digitization of the profession of Landscape Architecture.

    Yiwen HAN, Shu ZHANG, Lihua YIN

    As a significant habitat type in cities, green spaces can provide various ecosystem services. Among them, the carbon storage of green spaces would effectively alleviate greenhouse effect, which is particularly important under the global warming. Due to difficulities in accessing high-resolution spatial data, previous research has summarized green spaces into different land use types to calculate carbon storage. However, since different vegetation communities have different characteristics, carbon storage capacities of green spaces vary. Focusing on the Seoul City, South Korea, this research aims at exploring the carbon storage capacities of varied green spaces and its distribution patterns. Based on the high-resolution habitat data of Seoul City in 2005 and 2015, the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) model is used to estimate and visualize the carbon storage capacities of 17 types of green spaces to reveal the distribution patterns of carbon storage of different communities in the city’s green spaces. This study not only provides a scientific basis for ecological protection practices and sustainable land planning and management in Seoul and other similar regions, but also offers a reference for urban ecosystem service assessment and green space renewal strategy development in China.

    Bin JIANG

    There is no doubt that science and technology have progressed rapidly in the past decade and it is constantly challenging and refreshing people’s understanding of urban environment, human life, and even human nature itself. Meanwhile, its impact on urban environment planning and design should not be ignored and needs to be addressed promptly. The concept of science and technology is self-renewing and has no universal or authoritative definition. In a narrow sense, new science and technology may cover any new materials, technologies, and data invented or discovered by a human; in a broader sense, it might also study new behaviors, emotions, concepts, and philosophy arisen by new materials, technologies, and data. This article explores both positive and negative impacts of science and technology development on urban environment planning and design from nine aspects: image technology, image-tamed design, designers’ dilemma, virtual reality, personal mobile electronic devices, big data, human physical limits, public spaces, and nature. Instead of trying to provide definite answers to these questions, this article seeks to encourage readers’ to understand and think of these topics through a brief discussion.

    HE Wanyu

    With its increasingly wide application in the fields of architecture and urban planning, intelligent design tools require a review on its essence, core value, and evolution. Based on her several years’ experience of research and practice, the author points out that one of the essential characteristics of intelligent design tools is their ability to actively interact with humans (such as the assessment, optimization, and feedback of human designer’s schemes). The core value of intelligent design tools lies in that they can liberate human designers from repetitive work and break down the barriers in communicating design knowledge and ideas. Human designers and intelligent design tools both have their own strengths in the real practices; the two should complement each other and make progress together. Being a product of inspiration and integration between emerging sciences, such as artificial intelligence, and traditional design disciplines, intelligent design tools will enjoy an ever-expanding realm of application. It will facilitate cross-disciplinary cooperation in Architecture, Urban Planning, and Landscape Architecture at varied scales, which not only promotes explorations on design philosophy and deep design values, but also help improve design quality and the overall efficiency of the industry.


    Landscape architects are facing unprecedented challenges and complexities associated with design projects of today. To better adapt and evolve in light of these issues, the toolbox for the profession is currently expanding beyond traditional implements and devices to include emerging tools that have originated in other industries. The barriers to entry for these tools are continuously being lowered due to more user-friendly hardware, more intuitive software, and increased affordability, allowing them to get into the hands of more people. Yet, many of these emerging tools now available to professionals originated elsewhere and cannot be simply transferred over to the design world. This article argues that there is a need to critically evaluate and assess new technologies for use in landscape architectural practice. It unpacks how the XL Research and Innovation Lab at SWA Group has experimented with and tested the limitations of three new tools — unmanned aerial vehicles, immersive environment technologies, and machine learning algorithms — to better understand their potential for design. For each tool, the article provides an overview of its technology, a case study testing the technology for use in landscape architectural practice, a list of observed strengths and limitations, and a projected roadmap for future applications.

    LUO Yadan

    Modern road systems consist of a large amount of driving fault-tolerant space for security reasons, leaving much of the area vacant and underutilized in off-peak hours. The emerging autonomous vehicle technology may address this problem while reshaping the urban structure and space through transportation technology innovations. Once the algorithm-controlled vehicles can realize an accurate running, 80 percent of the existing roads can be transformed into vegetated permeable surfaces. As a result, the whole road system will be converted into a pervasive green infrastructure network, which provides an opportunity to enhance the continuity of urban ecosystem. Moreover, the cloud computing technology may help distribute more lanes to vehicles during peak hours and shrink vehicles’ right of way during off-peak hours. The saved road space could support activities such as outdoor restaurants and concerts. Finally, the author encourages more landscape architects to contribute to a better future of autonomous urbanism with their visions of eco-environment, public space, and humanity.

    Lenna JOHNSEN, Fábio DUARTE, Carlo RATTI

    Historically, in cities with robust systems of canals and rivers, boats were used for the movement of freight and people. In recent decades, this transport has shifted to trucks, vans, and cars, compromising the environment and livability of these cities. In this article we explore how an emerging technology, autonomous vehicles, can foster the re-appropriation of an urban infrastructure — in this case, the deployment of a fleet of autonomous boats in the city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which is imagined not only to serve multiple purposes, but also to become a novel urban infrastructure. The ideas range from the micro scale (public dashboards for water quality data) to the macro (a network of autonomous platforms that collect fresh produce from farms and combine together to form floating farmer’s markets). These ideas seek to engage the realities of everyday life in the city and propose Roboat as a platform to help citizens negotiate the 21st century urban life.

    WANG Teng, MAO Mingrui, CUI Boshu

    Under the backdrop of refinement of urban governance and the increasingly broad application of information technology, an urgent demand for intelligent investigation has emerged among urban planning and design professions. Cat’s Eye, an intelligent investigation tool developed by UrbanXYZ, operates with position information of survey photos and computational vision technology, realizing spatial mapping and photo management in investigations of medium- and small-scale planning and design projects. The Cat’s Eye applet is designed to collect information of spatial setting, facility / amenity conditions, and human behaviors and activities; and its PC terminal is developed for higher investigation needs such as result visualization, video analysis, and data management. This article introduces the product architecture, technical innovation, interface and operation, and investigation methods of Cat's Eye. Furthermore, by combining authentic cases, the article illustrates how Cat’s Eye investigates the spatial setting, facility / amenity, and human behaviors in survey areas. Finally, the article prospects the future of intelligent investigation tools.

    Yifei LIU, ingting MOUT, Ziwei HUANG, Rigui HA

    Visual perceiving is one of the most important and direct ways to perceive physical environment and instantly generate images of it. The data gained from visual perception lays a foundation for the research on city images. This study concentrated in the Jinsitao Waterfront of Shichahai area in Beijing. By collecting photos with wearable cameras and generating an image map of visual perception through image identification and analysis, this study explores strategies for improving vista view system in the study area, offering a reference for other research on historical district renewals in cities. Thirty volunteers were asked to tour along an 800-meter path from the north edge of Qianhai to the south edge of Houhai recording the scenery with GoPro cameras on their foreheads. Over 25,000 screenshots were then captured consecutively from the video documents. By identifying and analyzing these screenshots, mapping perceiving locations, and corresponding them to perceived objects, an image perception map was generated, from which a series of planning and design strategies were developed to suggest that future historical districts’ planning practices should enhance the protection of a site’s overall image and distinctive landmarks, as well as the improvement of visual corridors and vista view system.

    Jiaohua CHENG, Zhenjiang SHEN

    In this research, we used Augmented Reality technology to develop a planning support tool (ARPST) which combines virtual building models and building regulations with a real site to effectively check whether design alternatives obey the building regulations or design guidelines, and realizes detection of violations of the building form control regulations under the Building Standards Law of Japan. Through the AR-PST, the users can interact with the building models using mobile devices (such as smart phones and tablets) to further understand design proposals as well as their influence on the environment around the real construction sites to achieve a more reasonable evaluation of them. User experience investigation for this tool was then carried out via questionnaire and interview. The results show that the ARPST has creative functional design and good interactivity which can improve the communication efficiency between designers and users and assist urban planning and design.

    Xiaoxuan LU

    WeRobotics is a young U.S. / Swiss based non-profit organization that builds inclusive participation and local capacity in the application of emerging technologies in the Global South. It bridges the digital divide by localizing robotics technologies like drones and artificial intelligence through its growing global network of local knowledge hubs — Flying Labs in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the South Pacific, accelerating the social good sector through best practices and training programs and sharing knowledge through its global community. Taking WeRobotics’ first drone agriculture project in the Dodoma region in Tanzania as an example, this article exemplifies how to transfer relevant skills and robotics technologies to Flying Labs’ partners and openly share learnings of pilot projects and best practices to build local resilience and competencies.


    In a time shaped by technological developments dissolving the boundaries between the real and the virtual world, we are challenged to newly define the potentials of virtual and mixed reality in the field of landscape architecture. Critical analyses of the primary application areas of these technologies show that the current focus mostly lies on the optimization of 3D visualization and navigation in virtual space. Within professional practice, mixed reality tools are increasingly being used to test and communicate design decisions, for marketing purposes, and more often, within the smart building industry as well.

    Thus far, the incorporation of immersive environments in landscape architecture is lacking research on human-centered data interaction and the perception of space. At Aalto University, Finland, the team of Pia Fricker, Professor of Practice for Computational Methodologies in Landscape Architecture and Urbanism, researches new immersive co-design methodologies to introduce new meaningful trajectories for participatory processes. Mixed reality applications are thus extended beyond common and conventional uses to help create multidisciplinary immersive interactive spaces using data informed processes. The research and teaching results showcased in the article address international discourse on the larger theme of “Digital Humanism — Big Data and Human-Centered Design.”