No 13 (2015)

GIS-based landscape design research

Landscape design research is important for cultivating spatial intelligence in landscape architecture. This study explores GIS (geographic information systems) as a tool for landscape design research – investigating landscape designs to understand them as architectonic compositions and to acquire design knowledge that can be used in the creation and refinement of a design. The research aims to identify and illustrate the potential role of GIS as a tool in landscape design research, so as to provide insight into the possibilities and limitations. The critical, information-oriented case of Stourhead landscape garden (Wiltshire, UK), an example of a designed landscape that covers the scope and remit of landscape architecture design, forms the heart of the study. An adjusted version of the framework for landscape design analysis by Steenbergen and Reh (2003) is employed while using GIS as a facilitating and mediating platform. Using the calculating power of computers, combined with inventive modelling, analysis and visualisation concepts in an interactive process, opened up possibilities to reveal new information and knowledge about the basic, spatial, symbolic and programmatic form of Stourhead. GIS extended the design researchers’ perception via measurement, simulation and experimentation, and at the same time offered alternative ways of understanding the landscape architectonic composition. The research contributes to the development and distribution of knowledge of GIS-applications in landscape architecture in two ways: (1) by ‘following’ the discipline and developing aspects of it, and (2) by setting in motion fundamental developments in the field, providing alternative readings of landscape architecture designs.

Table of Contents

PhD thesis

Steffen Nijhuis