Planning by design : landscape architectural scenarios for a rapidly growing city

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16 Citations (Scopus)


The Australian government predicts that Perth's population will increase from 1.5 million people to 3 million by 2050. Demand from China for Western Australia's massive mineral resources has caused the local economy to boom and over 700 newcomers are entering the state each week. This paper reports on the method, the theory and the outcomes of a landscape architectural research project conducted at the University of Western Australia to consider how Perth can accommodate this rapid growth in population. Rather than producing one masterplan, the methodology leads to the production of seven scenarios: four of them spread the city further into its landscape (horizontal scenarios) and three present infill development (vertical scenarios) within the existing city boundary. Thus the study even–handedly addresses both sides of the international sprawl debate. These development scenarios are related to the existing city from a regional landscape perspective. The horizontal scenarios are placed in situ according to guidelines derived from a McHargian sieve mapping analysis of existing landscape conditions. The vertical scenarios are placed in situ according to where the landscape of the existing city offers significant amenity value to offset the reduced personal living space that would otherwise lead people to prefer freestanding homes in the conventional suburban sprawl. The paper also briefly compares Ian McHarg's planning method to the contemporary work of the Dutch design practice MVRDV, for it is these two practices that inform the horizontal and vertical scenarios respectively. By occupying a space between these two practices it is suggested that this research represents an appropriate method for large-scale urban planning. This means that urban planning now involves a synthesis of what is traditionally meant by landscape planning on the one hand and urban design on the other. Where relevant, each scenario is related to classic models such as Ebenezer Howard's Garden City, Le Corbusier's Radiant City and Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre City. Although focused specifically on the metropolitan region of Perth, the research methodology could be adapted to any city undergoing rapid growth. The research aims to re-position landscape architecture as a discipline capable of holistically directing the future of the city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-17
JournalJournal of Landscape Architecture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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