Landscape as Method and Medium for the Ecological Design of Cities

  • Joan Iverson NassauerEmail author
Part of the Future City book series (FUCI, volume 3)


“Landscape” refers both to a conceptual field that examines how humans affect geographic space and to real places, and the word has both analytical and experiential implications. Pairing the analytical and the experiential enables landscape to be a catalyst for synthesis in science and for insight in urban ecological design. Emphasizing that science is fundamental to ecological design, this essay broadly interprets urban ecological design to include intentional change of landscapes in cities, their megaregions, and resource hinterlands. The essay offers two laws and two related principles for employing landscape as a medium and a method for urban ecological design. The laws observe that landscapes integrate environmental processes and that landscapes are visible. Two related principles explain how these inherent characteristics can be used to effect sustainability by using landscape as a medium for synthesis and in a method that invites creative invention.


Ecosystem Service Landscape Pattern Boundary Object Landscape Change Green Infrastructure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Work on this essay was supported by funds from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, a Center funded by NSF (Grant #DBI-1052875) and the University of Maryland. A revised version was published in Landscape and Urban Planning 106: 3. I thank Joshua Newell, Paul Gobster and Wei-Ning Xiang for their thoughtful review of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Natural Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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