4 min readUnderstanding urban design and its effect on our cities and homes is key to creating multifunctional and attractive spaces. This unique design process plays a pivotal role in shaping the interaction between people and places, the environment and urban form. With that comes the design of landscaped areas that don’t just look lush, but serve a valuable purpose too.
The ever-expanding public environment and the blend of architecture and landscaping must continue to come together to boost our quality of life, drive value in suburbs and cities and craft spaces that are livable, healthy and environmentally beneficial. The importance of urban design in landscaped areas is undeniable, but how does it affect you and what can you do to contribute?
How urban design & landscaping work together
From the trees that were planted to shade city sidewalks to the design of beautiful parks and other vegetated areas, landscaping contributes to the way our cities look, feel and work. Have you ever thought about the city you live in? How it looks and interlinks together? Cities that are well-designed look and feel beautiful. This is where urban design comes into play.
Urban design is a problem-solving tool. Public spaces, streetscapes and landscaped areas that are effectively designed can lead to lower crime rates and increased economic activity. Great urban design drives the way we live and use our cities, and landscaping is just a small – but highly valuable – part of the big picture.
Sustainability in landscaping
For landscaping to fuel urban design, sustainability must be incorporated. Well-planned landscape design can moderate extreme heat, recycle water, reduce energy consumption and lower carbon emissions. It also helps attract people to urban areas, making the space more livable.
It’s more than just green roofs, pretty plants and lush landscapes too. When it comes to urban design, the landscape isn’t just about decoration. It’s fundamental to how cities operate. Thus, it must be planned properly, be protected and be designed in such a way that people want to use it. Without sustainability and effective landscaping, people are less likely to collectivise and live in cities.
Using landscaping to manage microclimate
As cities struggle with climate change, landscaping has developed a more crucial role in urban design. Landscapes are vital to preserving ecosystems and well-designed growing zones can control the microclimate of a particular location dramatically. Walkways lined with trees can lower temperatures in their immediate surroundings by as much as five degrees, shrubs can channel breezes and improve comfort levels both inside and outside.
To use landscaping to manage and control microclimate, you need to select appropriate plants. This includes knowing where to grow plants, shrubs and trees, and how this location will affect the ecosystem around it.
You can use smart landscaping to make a microclimate in your backyard. Do this by combining landscaping with hardscaping and choosing plants that benefit from microclimates in small pockets of your outdoor space. Other tips can be to reduce hard paving and attract nature, like butterflies and birds, to your plants.
Essential features of urban designed landscapes
Sustainability and managing microclimate through urban designed landscapes is only part of the process. To define character and add charm and beauty to a city, landscaping must work within the overall design to craft soft, contrasting spaces. For exceptional landscape design, it must:
- Improve user experience: The full space should be considered, how it will be used and its purpose. Are you looking to attract visitors or guide them to a different location? The landscape must work with climate and environmental considerations, for example, climate and drainage may limit the types of plants that can be used.
- Incorporate straight and curved lines: Using both reinforces order and creates movement and flow to a space. Straight lines are common in urban settings and complement traditional building architecture. Plants in straight line configurations can be harder to maintain, needing more pruning to keep their intended forms. On the flip side, curved-line landscapes focus on more natural forms and are common around water features, drawing attention to ponds and fountains. Naturally, curved-line landscapes will encourage movement and link to a central point.
- Balance and symmetry: Both are integral to urban design.
- Design for people: Landscape design is mainly used to benefit people. Use texture and colour to inspire emotional context and balance hardscapes with landscapes. High traffic areas will generally have more hardscape materials, whereas decorative courtyards and parks will benefit more from natural green spaces.
Through effective urban design and lush landscapes, our cities and homes become visually exciting, liveable and appealing. Great urban design pushes the limits of what a city and suburb can be and benefits everyone that lives in them.