Amy Tsang

Towards an Ecological Model of Practice-based Landscape Design

In Progress

Ecological model
Ecological design
Practice-based research

Dr. Mathis Natvik

Towards and Ecological Model

Towards an Ecological Model of Practice-based Landscape Design

Exploration of context has led me to a greater understanding of many of the key factors that contribute to the challenges related to foregrounding ecological design in professional practice. One of the most critical insights that has been revealed through this process is the fundamental misalignment of many conventional approaches to landscape design, including my own, with ecological-based design. To truly explore and integrate the relationship between aesthetics and ecology from a design perspective, ecological principles cannot simply be overlaid onto an approach and associated body of knowledge developed towards a primarily ornamental and static aesthetic. One must first recognize and acknowledge that plants and plant communities are dynamic and living, and that ecological processes are open-ended and self-sustaining. With this in mind, my main research ambition is to develop and integrate an ecological model into practice-based design. An understanding of the relationship of context and scale, opportunities for integrated maintenance and management strategies, and advancement of a broader understanding of ecological models of landscape design will also serve as key objectives of the research. 

The Doctor of Design program and process thus far has allowed me to reflect upon the roots of my own personal connection with nature and how that has influenced me on both a professional and personal level. Presently, even at the early stages of research, I have observed a directional shift in how I am approaching and thinking about practice with the research ambition in mind, particularly with respect to deconstructing my existing approach and design process and mentally highlighting potential avenues of exploration and opportunity. I have also become highly attuned to the expansive community of practice who share similar and like-minded objectives. 

Main Research Objective

To build an expert understanding of how to successfully develop and integrate a self-sustaining and functional ecological model into practice-based design within the overarching framework of urban ecology and resilience. While the intention is not to create truly “wild” landscapes, but to design landscapes that allow natural and cultural processes to unfold, acknowledging and honouring the dynamic and self-sustaining nature of ecological life cycles.

Research Sub-Objectives  

Context and Scale
Ecologically aligned maintenance and management
Public awareness and education