The Changing Roles of Landscape Design in Nature-Based Solutions, Part 3

by Lee Parks, International ASLA, and LIAO Jingjing

The Singapore-Nanjing Eco Hi-tech Island / image: © Zoom Arch

Exploring of the Changing Roles of Landscape Design in Nature-Based Solutions: A Reflection on Professional Practice over the Last Two Decades

Part 3: A Nature Positive Future

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are actions designed to work with and enhance natural habitats to take advantage of the ability of healthy natural and managed ecosystems to sequester carbon and support biodiversity recovery. The first part of this series focused on greening grey infrastructure; part 2 covered incorporating naturalistic landscape into the public realm. Here in part 3, we continue to explore how NbS can be pushed into the realms of social awareness and everyday recognition by policy makers and the public at large and in turn, support wider and longer term international environmental successes.

4 Towards a Nature Positive Future

4.1 COP26 Advocacy

Prior to the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) held in 2021, leading scientists presented a conceptual shift which puts forward Nature (the environment) as the context for all life, human society, and all human activities (including all economic activity). Similarly, at COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Prince of Wales, who has for over fifty years championed action for a sustainable future said: “…after billions of years of evolution, Nature is our best teacher – in this regard, restoring Natural Capital, accelerating Nature-based solutions and leveraging the circular bioeconomy will be vital to our efforts..”

Continue reading

The Changing Roles of Landscape Design in Nature-Based Solutions, Part 2

by Lee Parks, International ASLA, and LIAO Jingjing

Constructed wetlands
Taibai Lake District landscape design project, constructed wetlands / image: © Lee Parks

Exploring of the Changing Roles of Landscape Design in Nature-Based Solutions: A Reflection on Professional Practice over the Last Two Decades

Part 2: Incorporating Naturalistic Landscape into the Public Realm

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are actions designed to work with and enhance natural habitats to take advantage of the ability of healthy natural and managed ecosystems to sequester carbon and support biodiversity recovery. The first part of this series—on greening grey infrastructure—was published last week; here in part 2, on incorporating naturalistic landscape into the public realm, we continue to explore how NbS can be pushed into the realms of social awareness and everyday recognition by policy makers and the public at large and in turn, support wider and longer term international environmental successes.

3 Incorporating Naturalistic Landscape into the Public Realm

3.1 NbS for City Green Infrastructure

Qufu, a county-level city in Jining, Shandong Province, is the birthplace of Confucius and Mencius, the great Chinese sages of the Spring and Autumn period. Around 2010, impressions of Jining were of a coal-based economy and a city in need of a transformation. When considering a transformation towards an ecological future, an article published in 2001 by renowned Confucian scholar Tu Weiming, a professor at Harvard University and Peking University, called “The Ecological Turn in The New Confucian Humanism: Implications for China and the World” inspired a landscape concept called the ‘Ecological Turn.’

This concept by Lee Parks promoted an ecological image for a new streetscape, canal, and lake for the southward expansion of Taibai Lake District. It also provided an opportunity to put Nature-based Solutions into practice in Jining.  Taibai Lake District landscape design development covers some 350 hectares where AECOM led the planning and design of a new lake and park, canal parkland, streetscape, and administration center. The project represents a shift away from formal urban streetscape planting in favor of naturalistic swathes of ornamental grasses and perennial communities. A proposed land use plan placed a large new commercial complex over a planned canal—this was challenged by the landscape architect, who subsequently shifted the development parcel 200 meters northwards, re-aligned roads, adjusted the land use plan, and restored the integrity of the planned green and blue infrastructure. Nature-based Solutions were employed to create vegetated canal embankments, provide purification of water, and ensure habitat creation through to the new lake.

Continue reading

The Changing Roles of Landscape Design in Nature-Based Solutions

by Lee Parks, International ASLA, and LIAO Jingjing

Landscape practice of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in the Scottish Highlands: The Howard Doris Centre in Lochcarron is a care center for adults with supported accommodation, social facilities, and day care. The landscape was designed to enjoy views to nature, native planting, and to encourage community gardening for social interaction. / image: © Lee Parks

Exploring of the Changing Roles of Landscape Design in Nature-Based Solutions: A Reflection on Professional Practice over the Last Two Decades

Part 1: Greening Grey Infrastructure

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are actions designed to work with and enhance natural habitats to take advantage of the ability of healthy natural and managed ecosystems to sequester carbon and support biodiversity recovery. Informed by a career dedicated to working with nature, this article explores the evolution of a landscape planning and design approach from single-purpose solutions to systemic thinking and holistic design, together with a change from experiential/qualitative decision making to quantified solutions. This evolution is presented in three phases of professional practice:

  1. greening grey infrastructure,
  2. incorporating naturalistic landscape into the public realm, and
  3. a nature positive future.

Over the next three weeks, each section will explore how NbS can be pushed into the realms of social awareness and everyday recognition by policy makers and the public at large and in turn, support wider and longer term international environmental successes.

1 Introduction

1.1 Nature-based Solutions

Cities are facing an increasing frequency of disruptive events and many sustainable development challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, drought, extreme heat, wildfires, and water security. Our cities need more pioneering approaches to meet sustainability and carbon neutral goals and address biodiversity loss while also benefiting people’s health and well-being.

Continue reading

SJTU School of Design Launches Professional International Master of Landscape Architecture Program

by Lee Parks, CMLI, International ASLA

Masters students for the course of Metropolitan Landscape Planning and Design on a site visit with Teaching Fellow Lee Parks, International ASLA, Director and Landscape Practice Leader, AECOM, Shanghai. / image: courtesy of Lee Parks

Founded in 1896, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in China. At the end of 2017, the university integrated high-quality resources in the design fields, and amalgamated three departments—Architecture, Design, and Landscape Architecture—to establish the School of Design. In 2021 the School of Design launched a professional (international) master’s program in Landscape Architecture (M.LA.) and began a new initiative to create practice-oriented academic positions and further emphasize design studio teaching and talent development.

The M.LA. program aims to achieve harmony between human and nature with the comprehensive application of scientific, technical, and artistic approaches. Students who graduate from this program will be interdisciplinary, creative, international high-quality talent, engaged in the professional field of landscape architecture planning, design, construction, and management. Research focuses include: Landscape Architecture Planning and Design, Landscape Architecture History and Theory, Landscape Plant Resources and Applications, Landscape Planning, and Ecological Restoration.

To attract design practitioners from around the world with backgrounds in architecture, design, and landscape architecture, teaching fellowship positions were created. Outstanding design practitioners from leading external universities and from professional practice are employed as teaching fellows to enrich hands-on experience in design.

Continue reading

Shanghai Landscape Forum: The Future of Landscape

by Lee Parks, CMLI, International ASLA

The 8th Shanghai Landscape Forum was successfully held on the afternoon of December 4, 2021 at 800-Show, a Creative Park in Jing’an District, Shanghai. The event was broadcast on four live media platforms, which received the attention of the public and many peers. / image: Shanghai Jingan International Design Festival

The community of international practitioners in China represents a dynamic group of current and future landscape architects forging collaborations and deeper connections with people and organizations that share similar values to ASLA and serve the landscape profession.

In August 2021, the three founding firms of the Shanghai Landscape Forum (SLF)—Sasaki, SWA, and AECOM—met to share ideas and focus on issues that will shape the future of international practice as China advances use of technology and strives to address climate change and restore its natural environment. The 8th Shanghai Landscape Forum theme grew out of those discussions and led to ‘The Future of Landscape,’ which was held on the afternoon of December 4, 2021 after multiple delays due to the continuous disruption from COVID. As the forum could not be attended by a live audience, the event was broadcast on four live broadcast platforms, which received the attention of the public and many peers, with some 6,000 views of the live broadcast.

Continue reading

The Seventh Shanghai Landscape Forum: Pandemic Revelations

by Lee Parks, International ASLA

Forum poster graphic
7th Shanghai Landscape Forum – The Revelation of Pandemic (poster) / image: The Shanghai Landscape Forum Committee

For the full event summary in Chinese and English, please visit mp.weixin.qq.com.

International practice has been an incredible challenge during the global pandemic as offices around the globe have adapted to new ways of working, attracting and retaining talent, and relying more on digital tools and communication platforms. During the early phases of returning to a ‘new normal,’ international practitioners in China came together for the 7th Shanghai Landscape Forum with the aim to share experiences of the pandemic. It was the first time the forum was held as an online event since it was initiated in 2017.

Speakers from seven world-famous design companies discussed the pandemic from a variety of viewpoints, including personal experience, academic exploration, and practical experience in the profession. Three invited guests included Qi Wei, Design Director of Vanke, Shanghai; Du Pengzhan, Planning and Design Director of Guangzhou Wanxi; and Dong Nannan, Associate Professor in the Landscape Architecture Department, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University. They shared views on development trends, new technologies, big data, autonomous vehicles, and future industry trends, offering advice to practitioners for the post-pandemic era.

Pandemics—Shaping Humanity, Our Landscapes, and Future
AECOM
Speaker: Lee Parks, International ASLA (Director, Landscape / Landscape Studio Leader)

Lee Parks, Chair of the ASLA International Practice Professional Practice Network (PPN), kicked off the forum with a personal viewpoint on pandemics. As a frequent speaker on nature conservation, biodiversity loss, and ecological design, he discussed the underlying causes, looking back in history at pandemics that shaped advances in public health, urban healthcare systems, and the provision of public open space.

Continue reading