Sie sind auf Seite 1von 16

Coutts 1

Landscape Architecture A Manual of Environmental Planning and Design Sam Coutts

Coutts 2

The Human Habitat

The world is a habitat for all sorts of animals, including humans. Other animals have been equipped for life on earth with great strength, speed and things like claws. Humans were born with none of these things compared to other animals. All humans have is our brains that we use to solve much higher level problems than all the other animals. It is our mind that has separated us from everything else that lives on earth. Our mind works with five basic processes; Perception, deduction, action, reaction, and interaction. Through these five dynamic drives all of human life is derived. However, sometimes these drives can destroy things that we need in the process. Humans have been destroying land and polluting the earth for years on end. Just like any animal, humans need the earth too. If you take nature away from humans we will lose our luster and pleasure just as any animal would. We have good reason to scar the land though; we

are always improving or living conditions. Even if some believe that the happiest a person can be is if they are in tune with nature, we are rebuilding our environment to better suit our needs. If some one wants to be in tune with nature, let them go to nature then. We have the best of both worlds now. Nature is every where in the universe. The same patterns are repeated in the universe over and over again. It is the job of a landscape architect to create humanized landscapes that blend flawlessly with natures own landscapes. For example, oriental land planning was designed to work in harmony with the energy that flows through the universe and earth. Hydrology and geology have everything to do with helping to create that balance and harmony that humans try to achieve time after time. Learning how the earth works as a biosphere can help us understand exactly what that harmony is and how we can obtain it. Natural systems of the earth need to be sustained in land planning to really make it a productive landscape. Everything the earth does as a process makes it a habitat for humans. To design land to do what we want we just have to look back at how it works in nature.

Coutts 3

The Climate

Climate is the average weather condition at a place over time. The climate affects everything on earth. Even the physical well being and attitudes of people are affected by climate. A persons height, weight and other attributes can all be changed by climate. We as humans just have to accommodate to the climate, we cant do much but just to adapt to it. Whether we migrate to a different climate or design things that help us adjust to climate. There are four types of climates; the cold, cool-temperature, warm-humid, and the hot-dry climates. However, for the first time in history these climates have been slightly affected by living organisms. Global warming is believed to have a huge impact on earth in the coming years. Microclimatology is the study of a climate in a smaller area. It is used to study principles of climate so we can use them to help humanity. For example, learning how to design things to help air flow through a

hot-dry climate could reduce the temperature by up to 40 degrees. There are many different design techniques to help control climate in a landscape. The most basic one is, avoid extremes of anything. Humidity, heat, cold, and others could cause extreme discomfort at extreme conditions. Using vegetation, structures, and natural happening of the earth can all help control climate. Each season brings its own climate with it. So every landscape that is designed has a purpose and a function during each season. A park with a lake in it can be used as a place to hang out in the sun in the summer, in the fall there could be out door concerts, in the winter the lake can be ice skated on, and in the spring kids could play in the lake. A lot of design goes into these landscapes to make sure that each season is well represented, depending on the location. Alaskas landscaping might aim more towards the colder season than say Floridas. Everything in design starts with climate.


The land has many different forms. Mountains, valleys, plains, deserts, each

Coutts 4 with a different meaning and use to man. Humans have always put their mark on the land, but with the increasing population, the marks get more apparent. Instead of making suburban homes by completely revising the land and making it perfect the best design technique is to use the land how it is and build around the things that stand in the way. Land is also a resource to us. One of the most vital is the topsoil reserve. Top soil is the most important tool in agriculture. It feeds our plants, who feed us. Without topsoil our agriculture would die. When land is redistributed in different areas sometimes it can offset the delicate balance that nature has already put forth between topsoil, organisms and other factors, The best way to ensure that good topsoil will be sustained is to change the earth as little as possible. Not to mention the other living things that inhabit that are will greatly appreciate it. Each animal holds its own purpose in the environment and to change their habitat might also offset the balance of nature. Land can be owned by any one in America. Corporations, the government, individuals and the public all have the right to own property. Other countries do no have the luxury of this. In Central America, records of land ownership are poorly kept and it is often hard to tell who owns what, so land can be easily stolen. When surveying land started, it was decided that America will be a rectilinear country. The land will be divided along lines that ran North to South and East to West. Now, these methods are being criticized because erosion has caused problems to farmers because they plant their crops parallel to the land lines instead of the contour lines. With the help of computers and new technology this is finally changing and the land isnt always divided into squares anymore. We are now learning to let the lands nature determine its use.


When planning the design of land that has water integrated into it we have to think about water as a resource. Whether the water is being used as a drinking source, a source of food, cooking, arts, or relaxation and hygiene, the water around a landscape is

Coutts 5 extremely important. Sometimes water is not present where it needs to be for the landscape. In this case irrigation is emplaced. If done right the water will flow with the contours below points of inlet. Also, if there is too much water for a certain landscape then drainage systems will have to be emplaced. When ever possible, drainage should be directed along existing lines of flow. This way the vegetation will be left untouched and the natural balance will be kept intact. Another big use of water is recreational. Oceans and other water areas have always attracted people to them. Boating, fishing and swimming are all recreational activities that can be enjoyed in the water. As long as the water is deemed to be under the limits of a 50-year flood then it can be used as a recreational landscape. Water is also a huge source of scenic value. Water is used to enhance many different landscapes through out the world due to the way the sun light bounces off the surface of the water. When designing land that is incorporated into the water such as wet lands, the number one goal is to preserve the natural environment. If the land is handled wrongly, disaster could ensue. Simple little tweaks to the wetlands could cause floods or droughts. There are many problems that come with using water in landscape. Erosion, flooding, drought, contamination and overuse are all things that need to be taken into account when working with water and landscaping. Despite common belief freshwater is not limitless and we are constantly running short on water in aqueducts. When designing water into landscapes we must remember to use it correctly and ration when possible. Also, when managing water we must remember to utilize, protect, rediscover, restore, and conserve water. Preplanning the system helps by planting native plants to help conserve water. Water edges require special attention in planning. Usually, when the water edge is calm and mild is usually best to leave it untouched and design the landscape around it. The more the water uses are intensified the more architectural help is going to be needed. Always try to minimize disruption, maintain smooth flows, and slope the banks. These tips will help in water edge detailing.

Coutts 6


Plants in nature serve several different purposes. They are part of the food chain, both of animals and humans. Plants help transpiration by providing oxygen and helping evaporation which cools us. Plants also help climate control. They are protection against storms and their roots protect the soil from frost. Plants absorb moisture and help prevent erosion as well. Plants have their own culture that they bring to humans as well. Humans breed and bioengineer plants to try to make the perfect plant for what ever it is that humans need at that time. Horticulture is an ever growing profession that can really help the landscapers, as long as they dont forget about the indigenous plants as well. Through out the 19th th and 20 century a lot of the farming land was cleared to make way for new suburban areas in America. This was troubling. We looked toward Germany, England and Scandinavia to find answers

on how to develop our communities in harmony with in the land. Now we are learning that eroded land can be rebuilt and healed. Not all hope is lost, natural vegetation is being restored slowly but surely. New trees are being planted, and meadows are being reshaped. The public is jumping on board to support the new idea of preserving the land and a new American landscape is taking form.

Landscape Character

Natural landscape character is very provoking to the senses. When you are in a setting of complete nature everything is working together in harmony and all your senses are acting together to give you one big sensation of overwhelming beauty. Landscape has many different qualities such as the picturesque, the bizarre and the majestic as well as others. It also has many different categories such as mountains, dunes, swamps and prairies. Each category can be subdivided into subtypes. An example of a category and its group would be an Aspen Forest.

Coutts 7 It is possible to modify the natural landscape character to enhance it. If there are certain things that stick out like a sore thumb in the natural character of the landscape they should be removed and replaced with something that would be found in that landscape. This is used to accentuate the natural form of the landscape and its major features. Minor features of the landscape should be left alone to preserve the naturalistic form. Contrast can be used in architecture to help really accentuate the landscape. For example Robert Maillarts Bridges in Switzerland and Bavaria are made out of a white concrete that make the surrounding landscape look wilder in contrast. Another way to create contrast is with color. If the grass is to look extremely green little accents of other colors around the white sidewalk would help increase contrast between the green and white. The final aspect of landscape character is to make it compatible. Twotrack gravel roads can be made more compatible by maintaining the green between the two tracks and the making sure the gravel doesnt spill into the grass. As long as the landscape is still harmonious then it should be compatible.


Topography is the art of showing in detail on a major map the physical features of a place or region. This is done with contour lines that show the elevation of the land on a map. Along with contour lines, sections can be added to a topographical map to show a cross section of the area that a line cuts through. The next step after drawing a topographical map is making a model of the area using matboard, plywood, or plastic. The model helps to give a small scale version of the land in a three dimensional view. To find out the different elevations of land surveys must be taken. There are many different techniques and tools used to survey land, varying from a simple compass to high-tech stereoptic projection tools. Along with the topo other data can be found from the U.S. Geological Survey that can be purchased. Using topography in design can be helpful in many different areas. It can help decided how to terrace a hill or where to expect

Coutts 8 erosion and water flow. Also, using topography correctly in design can be supplementary to the aesthetics of a site. meet all of the projects requirements, with the least amount of modification possible. After the site has been selected the next step is to analyze it. The best way to do this is to get out in the field multiple times to really get a feel for the land and what is going to be built there. Once the site has been finalized the next step is to draw up a conceptual plan. This plan includes the topography of the site, all the structures of the site, as well as where they are located, and all the vegetation that is projected to be put in. An Environmental Impact Assessment should be included with the plan as well. The final step before developing the site is to render the project with a computer. With programs such as AutoCAD we can draw up 3-D designs and render them to give us a view of what the site will really look like. A limit to the use of a computer designing program is that it doesnt actually design at all. The user still has to know what theyre drawing and designing, the computer just helps to present the plan in a better way.

Site Planning

For every site there is an ideal use. For every use is an ideal site. This is the main idea that should be thought of every time a site is being planned. The first step in any design is to have a firm idea of what exactly is being built. Projects can go down hill quickly if they designer has not fully thought about everything the land can be. Site selection is the first big step when designing a site. The site that is selected can sometimes seen like common sense decisions like not putting a school next to a highway, but to get the perfect site can sometimes be a very tedious process. Just incase the original site doesnt work out; an alternative site should always be in mind. The ultimate goal is to find the ideal site. Generally, the ideal site will

Coutts 9

Site Development

The ultimate goal of developing a site is to make sure the site works in harmony with the nature around it. There are several different settings for sites to be designed around. City lots and rural sites are completely different design techniques. City lots are usually compact and lacking space. They are also usually surrounded by other city lots. This can make it difficult to find harmony within the site. Different design elements, such as adding a tree here or there, will help to give the lot a natural feel despite the city around it. Rural sites have plenty of land to use. Even when the site has property boundaries the landscape should be considered outside of the boundaries as well. Things like mountain tops and the horizon should all be taken into account. Rural sites are often subtle and small things like the shading that foliage gives offer huge possibilities. Sloping sites open up an entirely new type of design. Slopes can be used as wind protection or used as

terraces to help retain the slope. The site belongs to the sky as well as the earth. When developing a site we must also consider the site systems. Drainage, movement, lighting and maintenance all need to be considered. If designed properly each one can bring its own special feel to the landscape.

Landscape Planting

The purpose of planting vegetation is not just just complete the project. Plantings are what give the site character, they can change the climate, break winds and define the conformation of the use area. The process of planting has three steps. Making a base map of the site to show where vegetation is going, selecting the plants that are being put in, and then installing the plants. Plant selection might be one of the most crucial of the steps. Installing different trees will do different things for the site

Coutts 10 that help determine the character of the site. There have been a number of advances in landscape planting in the past century. New textures, forms and ideas have transpired lately due to the change of the American culture. plane consists of the area and size of the space, as well as the material that it is made of and what material we are using with it. Without a base plane there can be no volume. Volumes also have overhead planes. Sometimes the overhead plane is the boundless sky, other times it is a roof that we create with wood, plants or other materials. The overhead planes shape is what gives the space volume. Some are shallow and slanted others are high and rounded; it all depends on the perception you want to give. The final part of a volume is the verticals. The verticals are space dividers, screens baffles and backdrops. They can be used as an enclosure for privacy as well as for a visual control. Verticals can also be used as a point of reference and traffic articulators. All in all, the element of vertical definition within a space is essential to a good design.

Site Volumes

Site planning is usually thought of as two dimensional; when we start thinking in three dimensions it turns into design. A lot can be changed and enhanced when we start looking at spaces instead of areas. Spatial impact of a site can make or destroy moods of the occupant. The essence of a volume is its quality of implied containment. Spaces can create the sense of freedom as well as containment, all depending on the spatial size. When defining a volume, first the base plane must be recognized. The base

Visible Landscape

Visible landscape all starts with the view. A view is a scene observed from a

Coutts 11 given vantage point. Views can be the center point of a design sometimes, others, it can be subdivided across the entire design. If the view is confined towards a dominant feature it is called a vista. Many vistas have an axis and a terminus. The axis is where every view connects and the terminus is the object that the view is focusing on. The axis does not necessarily dictate the development of a symmetrical plan. Symmetry can be formed around the axis as well. Symmetry is often used as a strong relationship to adjacent structures. But symmetry should not be forced upon the design because it can throw the entire balance of the design off. Asymmetry is just as useful as symmetry in design. Large-scale urban plans are usually asymmetrical. The two can work together in harmony. On a large scale the plan can be asymmetrical to keep the eye moving, then, within the plan symmetry is included to show organization. Visual resource management is a term used to describe the preservation or enhancement of an aesthetic quality. This is done to help us keep what is naturally beautiful in the world. Things like the U.S. Forest Service help preserve nature and the scenic beauty it brings.


Circulation establishes the rate, sequence and nature of its sensed realization or visual unfolding. Motion is the key to circulation. Motion can be inferred by the form of an object or landscape. For example, a sidewalk made to look like a meandering stream. There are many different forms motion can take in design. Distance has a huge influence on how the motion should be directed and what type of motion should be shown. Another way to show motion is through a sequence. A great example of a sequence is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial that interprets the four terms of his presidency. Like motion sequences come in many forms and ideas, each one with its own way of enhancing the landscape. Sequences are used to guide pedestrian movement as well as guide the eyes to the next scene. Cars are a great example of circulation and

Coutts 12 motion. Traffic flow is a huge consideration in terms of design. Certain designs can help unclog traffic ways as well as make them safer, all of which revert back to the simple designs of circulation. Even parking lots or garages need to have circulation to ensure that every one can get in and out easily. Apart from cars, all type of movement of people should be considered in circulation. Air, land and sea all need to be flawless in circulation. Fibonacci sequence. Even Leonardo da Vinci used detailed math in his architecture. However math alone can not make a landscape. Architecture by formula and site planning by sterile geometry are equally doomed to failure. The visual aspects of art must come out as well.


A habitation is what the dwelling wants to be. Shelters, family activity centers and headquarters for military operations are all examples of what a habitation could be. Habitations are usually made of materials from the earth around it. To do this you have to explore and analyze the site, adapt to the geological structure, and preserve the natural system around the habitation, among others. A habitation should give the inhabitants protection, utility, amenity (beauty), privacy and a spatial freedom all in one. This can be done by having a couple different things tied into one. An outdoor activity space will give the sense of spatial freedom. Supplementary structures like

Structures play just as big as a part in the landscape as the plants do. Both the area and the space are affected by the positioning of structures. The space around a building can be defined from the building itself. Larger, more abstract buildings can dominate the urban landscape around it. Buildings that have the same design elements can be grouped together to become an architectural entity. Math can be used in planning as well. The idea of the golden rectangle has been seen through out history in architecture as well as the

Coutts 13 gazebos and huts help provide the dwelling with utility. Furnishings will help give character and beauty as well as utility. Finally variations on a theme will give the last touch needed for the space giving it character and amenity. be dangerous and unhealthy living conditions. Things to look for in a well planned community would be things like separation of foot and car traffic through out the neighborhood by the use of footbridges over streets. Also, houses should be designed to better fit the land, traffic ways, and activity centers. These things would all help clear up any access or circulation problems that usually occur in communities. Finally, open space is required. Why? Because with out it there can be little sense of community. After all, living usually takes place in out door areas. The new ethics in community planning are preserve, conserve and develop. This way the site is required to be analyzed by a team of qualified experts. Many things can be done in the design aspect to ensure that these things happen. Just a few include, clustering of buildings, feature the schoolpark campus, and plan for all transit accommodations. Tie all these together and it will help in urban design as well.

Community Planning

Communities have been planned for centuries, whether they are inside the walls of a castle or within the gates of neighborhoods humans have always clumped together. The problem with this is that most communities that have been designed are not in harmony with the land. They are often monotonous and repetitive square blocks laid out in ease. Another problem is that some communities are not efficient. A well planned neighborhood should function as an efficient mechanism by having goods and services, such as schools and markets, within walking distances of each other. These areas can

Coutts 14

Urban Design

centers. By adding a dining area or patio in the middle of the complex the complex now serves as many different functions. Also, just because a freeway is large and repetitive doesnt mean it has to be boring. Freeway sculptures and art can be added along the way to make the drive more interesting. After all, the car is the number one concern when design cities.

Growth Management

Contemporary urban design has us believe that the best way to design a city is by blocks and blocks of buildings all piled into one tiny spot. This is the opposite of what should be done. When looking at city planning we should look at the ancient city of Rome. The streets arent cutting land into geometric blocks and the buildings reserve enough land on their lot to feel spatially free. A great example of this is New York Citys Central Park. The park gives the city much needed open space. Low-medium income housing can be tricky in a city. They have to be repetitive for the price to build them, however it is possible to make them more advanced mixed-use

One of the most important aspects of land design in the future will be growth management. Our ability to keep the landscape spacious while still estimating the population increase for the future will decided whether or not it was a good plan. Soon, wherever uncontrolled development is permitted, it will be banned. The best way to assure that growth management has been taken into consideration is to plan all the public services first before any other occupancy is planned. The term urban sprawl is used to define any unmanaged growth that results in cancerous American form of land.

Coutts 15 After WWII rampart sprawl occurred as we really started to develop our cities that were founded on the foothills of mountains. This was highly frowned upon by landscapers because the mountains are so naturally beautiful that they didnt want to scar them with cities. Urban revitalization is a major weapon against sprawl. Luckily, now more than ever cities are restoring their natural beauty by installing more city parks and making the area blend in with the nature more. However, the way that zoning attributes land to things regardless of land use or topography is killing our ability to harmonize with nature. Our regional landscape can be subdivided from the region to city to community all the way down to clusters than families. Each subdivision should be considered when designing the urban living of humans. Each should contain both greenways and blueways. Greenways are paths of movement enveloped in foliage. Blueways are simply the paths that keep flow going throughout nature like rivers and streams. Greenways can be man made, but blueways are best kept in their natural state. There are three approaches to regional planning. The first is a set of selected officials are elected as representatives and decided what would be ideal. The second is a more effective idea of the use of a citizens committee that way the people living there get to choose what their environment will look like. The Third is the formulation of an official regional planning commission with responsibility for certain metropolitan programs. Its orders are given by the state and the government.

The Regional Landscape

Regions have conflicted with each other too many times over meaningless disputes. Often its the city against the farmlands, or the city against suburbs or the city against the counties. Its not needed.

Coutts 16

The Planned Environment

Our country has destroyed the most of our land with strip-mines and by destroying forests. Now, we have seen the error of our ways and we are starting to try and fix it. Our new thinking can be thought of as dynamic conservation. This involves us cleaning up the earth while still providing a sustainable living environment. This act is being implemented to help designers think about longterm goals for earth and its inhabitants. One way landscape integrity can be protected is by conservation easements or gifts of land. This limits the use to that which exists. In other words if a farmer provides for his community he will be given a one time profit plus a tax relief. This is used to encourage the ongoing use of farms in the land they are on. Other things are in short supply as well. America has lost one third of its topsoil to erosion and our supply of freshwater is slowly diminishing as well. The only way to prevent this

is to educate people on the subject of soil and water resource conservation. Among this the public is being educated on pollution, climate change, and safety during natural disasters. However to top all of this there is one ultimate environmental disaster. War. It leaves the land overcrowded, hungry and its inhabitants in poverty. No war is a good war.

To end the book the authors, John Ormsbee Simonds and Barry W. Starke decided to give a bit of back ground history on their studies as landscape architects. They tell of how they started off as young rebels in the field and as they practiced and taught through out 50 years they watched the profession evolve into things they couldnt imagine. Their landscape art was first designed for shock value and now it is widely appreciated by the whole world. They leave the reader with a definition that they feel sums up the profession in general. What is the work of the landscape architect? It is believed that the lifetime goal and work of the landscape architect is to help bring people, the things they build, their communities, their citiesand thus their lives into harmony with the living Earth.