Concept of Landscape Design for Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is a pattern of economic development in which resources use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs do not only meet the present generation’s need but also the needs of the future generation. Sustainable landscaping is a way of looking at the landscape as an integral part of the environment.

Landscape design is concerned basically with the creation and preservation of beauty in the surrounding human habitation and the broaden urban and rural natural scenery with the aim of promoting comfort, convenience and health of the urban population which have scanty access to natural scenery and urgently need to have their boring working lives refreshed and calmed by the beautiful and reposeful sight and sound which nature aided by landscape art can abundantly provide.

Architectural Design Concept

A concept design may be summarized in a few simple sketches – but those sketches will have implicit behind them much prioritization, evaluation, team and client discussion and decisions. Synthesizing concept design proposals is a creative process. Earlier there was a problem to be solved and a possible diagrammatic approach, now a possible solution or design direction exists; a concept has been captured, so the project is able to move forward.

It is here that the plan form, volumetric, architecture and overall shape of the building is set, not in great detail, but captured in essence. The concept design should encapsulate the spirit, form, principal aesthetic and technical principles of the overall project within its urban context the real constraints of its site and local legislation.

From this design concept, there is sufficient information, either described or implicit, to prepare a generic cost overview based on floor areas, use types, likely forms of construction, facade treatments, parking, access, building performance criteria and technical systems. Concepts for external site treatments and landscape may also be included.

With the recent increase in emphasis on early public participation in the design process, the material generated may also serve as the basis for informal community consultations. Consultations may be organized by the client and architectural team in coordination with the local authority, and provide valuable feedback prior to the formal public scrutiny of a planning application.

Landscaping and Its Importance in the Beautification Process

The characteristic of a landscape help defines the self-image of the people who inhabit it and a sense of place that differentiates one region from another. Developing the landscape of an area of land, town, communities and campuses has long time been a vital aspect of human endeavour, which is gradually gaining credence into developing countries.

Benjamin (2016) cited Hull & Revell (1989) who defined landscape as the outdoor environment, natural, or built which can be directly perceived by a person visiting and using environment; Daniel et.al., (1990) stated landscape clearly focuses upon the visual properties, or characteristics of the environment, these include natural and man-made element and physical and biological resources which could be identified visually.

There are 3 components linking the landscape system, as in most environmental issues. These 3 include

  • Social
  • Economic, and
  • Ecological factors.

These 3 components are used collectively to manage the campus landscape. However, one or two of the components are considered more than the other when maintaining the campus landscape. These two components are economic and social.

The aesthetics of the campus is a very important part of the changes that happen – and do not happen with the campus landscape. That is one of the foremost factors acting on decisions with the landscape. The landscape needs to be aesthetically pleasing for the students and lecturers attending the polytechnic every day, the parents, family and graduates visiting for convocation and other activities, and also potential students coming to visit to take a look at the campus.

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People’s perceptions of the campus control how many naturalizations actually occurs and at what rate. Decision-makers such as the President, feel that areas with a lot of natural plantings, trees, bushes, and long grasses look unattractive for people visiting the campus and also people using the campus daily.

In the past, when decisions were made, ecological factors were not taken into consideration, even though it is an important aspect of the landscape. The campus landscape is firstly a natural environment, and only second is it an economical feature.

However, even now ecological characteristics are still taken into consideration only after social and economic characteristics have been satisfied when making decisions for landscape changes. The school environment is important to the student’s development.

Theories of environmental psychology suggest that environmental context influences social attitudes and behaviour. The research focuses on the relationship between the outdoor physical environment of urban schools and the students’ social behaviour in, Malaysia.

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The findings demonstrate that some relationships exist between the outdoor physical environment of the school and the students’ social behaviour. The design and planning of the school’s external environment should give more consideration in creating a conducive learning environment that could foster positive social behaviour especially for urban schools

The Means of Mitigating the Landscape Problems

Drainage Construction

The life of a campus depends largely upon proper drainage, and it is essential to give diligent attention to adequacy as well as to the quality of construction (Ben, 2016). In addition to providing for the passage of existing natural drainage channels through the project, a highway drainage system must provide for the collection and disposal to natural drainage channels of all rainfall on the right of way and of all groundwater flow that may be intercepted during roadway construction.

It is attempted during location and planning to provide for necessary drainage systems, however, particularly with respect to underground water flow, it is impossible to foresee all drainage problems that may result from the construction of the highway. It is the responsibility of the Project Engineer to evaluate the sufficiency of the provided drainage systems and to initiate action for changes or additions where necessary.

The Project Engineer should go over the project, particularly during severe storms, closely observing the quantity and action of the stormwater runoff to determine the sufficiency of openings and ditches. (WSDOT Construction Manual M 41-01.23 Page 7-7 August 2015).

Roadway Surface Drainage Curb and gutter systems must be constructed in such a manner that water will not pond on the roadway or flow at random overfill slopes. Manholes, catch basins, and spillways should be checked for location, size, and number to ensure efficient removal of collected water. Controlled drainage should be carried to a point beyond the roadway to where damage to the roadway cannot occur (WSDOT Construction Manual M 41-01.23 Page 7-7 August 2015).

Planting System

One important part of sustainable landscaping is plant selection. Most of what makes a landscape unsustainable is the number of inputs required to grow a non-native plant on it. What this means is that a local plant, which has adapted to local climate conditions will require less work on the part of some other agent to flourish. Also, by choosing native plants, one can avoid certain problems with insects and pests because these plants will also be adapted to deal with any local invader.

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The bottom line is that by choosing the right kind of local plants, a great deal of money can be saved on amendment costs, pest control and watering. As the redevelopment of the Campus occurs, there are numerous opportunities to provide for a coherent landscape treatment, provide a greater level of formal structure, and to “naturalize” the setting with specimen shade trees. Vegetation consists of trees, shrubs, ground covers, annuals, perennials, vines, and turf.

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Retention of trees and shrubs on the site and proper selection and placement of new plantings also provide a visual screen, give shade, reduce noise, separate different kinds of activities, provide a pleasing contrast with the architectural elements of the site, and generally give a feeling of pleasure and pride to students, staffs, and the entire community.

In doing this, attention should not only be a concern with the aesthetic quality of plants, but also with their environmental suitability, maintenance requirements, cost, availability, and durability. It is best to select low maintenance indigenous vegetation that is compatible with the natural character of the area. Select native plants or other vegetation that will thrive with little or no supplemental irrigation, fertilization, or pest control.

Plants used as windbreaks can save up to 30% on heating costs during the rainy season by the strategic placement of trees and shrubs, they help to break, guide, and deflect wind currents.

They also help to strengthen the appearance of the campus and improve the users’ quality of life, also in shading a residence or commercial building in during the dry seasons, helps reduce temperatures by shading the ground and by the cooling effect of water emitted from its foliage through evapotranspiration and can cool hardscape areas such as driveways and sidewalks; in fact, a building surrounded by local trees or bushes enjoys multiple benefits.

Deciduous trees (trees which lose their foliage) shade building surfaces in the dry season and, as a result, reduce the demand on air conditioning systems. During the rainy months, sunlight passes through the trees to provide natural solar heat for the building’s interior. Vegetation is a natural filter that removes dust and pollutants from the air; also, ground cover and turf reduce the amount of soil surface exposed to natural forces. The root structure binds the soil, thereby reducing erosion potential.

Plants release water vapour in the air through transpiration and water has the ability to reduce temperature extremes in the areas near it (as it boasts very high heat capacity). The larger and more leafy the plant, the most water vapour it produces. Additionally, the presence of trees is crucial in the creation of stable, healthy and productive ecosystems (such as forests). In fact, this is an important principle of permaculture.

Planting trees along streets can improve a campus’ overall function and appearance. Trees can define and reinforce roadway circulation, reduce glare, provide shade, and physically separate pedestrian from vehicular circulation routes.

Planting arrangements include the following

  • Formal Planting: Trees of equal size, spacing, and of the same species should be reserved for prominent primary roadways. This type of planting can require a greater degree of maintenance to preserve a quality appearance. If a tree dies or is damaged, the total scheme can be adversely affected.
  • Informal Planting: Trees of various species, sizes, and spacing are lower maintenance roadway treatment. If a tree dies in a naturalized, informal setting there will be less visible disruption to the total scheme.

Circulation Systems

The primary element that gives structure to the Campus is the vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian circulation system. The network of paths, streets, and parking exerts a high level of influence on the spatial organization of the Campus and represents critical functional and aesthetic elements of the campus landscape. The campus-wide system of pathways is a comprehensive and effective system of linkages to buildings, parking and activity sites, and helps to organize the form and pattern of other campus development.

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Without proper planning, an unorganized and haphazard system of paths will be constructed that results in a pedestrian movement network that functions in a confusing manner. The presence of a distinctive pathway hierarchy that is characterized by a range of path widths, paving materials, and landscape treatments assists with way finding and user orientation, and allows the user to clearly perceive the spatial organization of the campus environment.

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Roads, walks, and parking areas on the school site should be carefully located so that they are convenient without being obtrusive. Sidewalks on the school grounds should be placed so that they provide the shortest practicable route from one point to another and they should be separated from automobile and bicycle traffic. Since students tend to walk in groups instead of in single file, the walks on a school site should be at least five or six feet wide.

Automobile drives on the school grounds should be held to a minimum and the drives that are necessary should be carefully designed so that they do not present a hazard to the students. Drives to service areas, parking lots, and loading areas should be designed to connect in the simplest and most direct manner consistent with safety and good design qualities. Approaches to the school should be kept away from major streets.

Pedestrian Paths/Bicycle Corridors

Energy conservation calls for reduced dependence on automobiles and encouragement of pedestrian and other energy efficient alternatives. Pedestrian-oriented site planning and landscape design will contribute to the convenience, comfort, and enjoyment of daily activities. The pedestrian walk system includes the main and secondary routes, and comprises the majority of the internal campus circulation network.

The campus path system is less ordered, and a number of superfluous and uninteresting walkways create obstacles for wayfinding and campus legibility. In tandem with the redevelopment of the campus, more functional and direct pedestrian and bicycle routes should be constructed. There are several different ways this conflict might be mitigated including raised pedestrian crosswalks, road narrowing at crosswalk locations, change in crosswalk paving material, and centre road medians.

Other methods to improve the landscape includes

  • Provision of parking lots
  • Creating and planning for the location of standard buildings as well as ensuring all developments are physically sound and are in place
  • Create handicap parking lot as well as spaces for them in every area
  • Improve on entrance areas to ensure they are beautiful enough to attract passers-by and to give a good name to the institution
  • Provide open spaces and recreation areas with functional facilities
  • Create signs in walkways and every area to direct people around the campus
  • Ensure there are site amenities like chairs and others at specific areas within the campus to ensure the use of these facilities
  • Lastly, ensure there is adequate lighting especially at night to illuminate and bring out the beauty of the area

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About the author

I am Adegboyega Tunde Temitayo. A registered Town Planner with the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) and Town Planners Registration Council (TOPREC).

I love to think differently and possibly on various Urban and Regional Planning issues to proffer solutions to Urban and Rural Environmental Problems. You can subscribe to my YouTube Channel

As the Chief Editor of Town Planners Diary, I humbly welcome you to this platform which is about enhancing Planning Education through research on various Town Planning and Environmental issues.

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