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Landscape design benefits from a more integrated approach
Landscape design can no longer be seen as separate from architecture, architecture from architecture, or architecture from building. When looking at the landscape design from a larger perspective, we can begin to see the need for an interdisciplinary design process that is more integrated with its environment. The design of the landscaping surrounding a new or renovated structure will continue to evolve in concert with the structure itself, making the environment in which the building is situated an important factor in its success.
The new design process needs to incorporate the architectural elements. These include structure, massing, materials, exterior light levels, and the scale of these elements. The landscape design should be coordinated with these elements. The relationship should be an integrated one, which includes the interaction between the structures and the surrounding urban landscape. In this sense, a larger focus on the context in which we build will change the perception of the value of landscape design.
As a profession, we have begun to use the term landscape architecture more broadly to include aspects of the environment in which the building is situated. The changes in how we build have made this broadening of landscape design necessary. This is a natural evolution in our discipline. In doing this, however, we need to examine our process of design as well as our results. We need to look at what we do as being a process as well as a final product. The landscape as a part of the larger whole that is the urban environment needs to be a part of our process of designing. In other words, the design of the landscape must go beyond a focus on a static, permanent result to include aspects of how we build as well.
In terms of our process, we need to begin to examine how the city relates to our design. How can the architecture of a building serve to make the landscape a more beautiful and vibrant part of the urban experience? How can the physical elements of the urban landscape help us to understand the role that it plays in our lives? For example, a walk around one of our cities will reveal the extent to which we shape our environment, in terms of both the natural as well as the built environment.
This book is the first of a series that will focus on the relationship between the built and the natural environment. As we see these relationships more clearly, we are coming to see how they are deeply integrated into all the parts of our lives. Landscape architecture is that which integrates these different elements into the whole—not just the landscape but our lives.
# [Chapter 2
The Built Environment](contents.xhtml#bck_ht0016)
In this chapter we will look at how landscape architecture is related to architecture. At the beginning of this book we began with a few observations about landscape architecture's relationship to other design professions, and to us as individuals. This chapter looks at how landscape architecture is related to our built environment. We have already considered some of the ways in which our environment (natural as well as built) is related to our lifestyle. For example, a lot of the decisions we make about our homes, our vehicles, our public facilities, and so on, come directly from the way that we live our lives and the type of places that we live. But, how are we related to the built environment?
The word architecture means "art of building," and the word architecture also refers to the design of the built environment, or physical structures. We are not really concerned with the design of the built environment as such, because landscape architecture does not have the training or design process that requires such specialized knowledge. Rather, we are concerned with the process of understanding the built environment and how it relates to our physical lifestyles.
To do this, landscape architects have to work on a broader scale, looking at the landscape as a whole, the way that it interacts with the built environment, and the way that we shape it. We have to know how we live in the world.
#### **The Built Environment**
The built environment includes our cities, towns, villages, and everything else that we build. This includes all the buildings and places that we encounter on a daily basis, as well as the things that we don't typically see (airports, train stations, water treatment plants, schools, hospitals, churches, and so on). In these places and buildings there are rules about what we can and cannot do. In some cases, these rules affect our lives in ways that we may not be aware of.
Because landscape architecture has no formal process of design, we have to ask ourselves what we really want to accomplish in terms of the built environment. What are we trying to communicate to the people who interact with our built environment? Our goal is to be of service to the community.
It is important to know who you are serving and what their interests are. The types of people who use the built environment vary from urban dwellers who want to walk or drive in their cars to visitors who want to visit a park or a restaurant. The built environment has to be designed to be efficient and easy for everyone.
Often, landscape architects work with a general plan of a community. This plan will have different elements that relate to each other and to the built environment. A general plan is also a good way to think about your job as a landscape architect because it is something that we have to consider before beginning our design projects. We should not try to just go off on our own because we feel like it. Instead, we must know where we are going.
#### **How We Live**
In order to design places for people to live, we have to learn about what we want from our homes and how our homes relate to our physical environments. For example, we are more likely to live in our home to be able to access the types of food and clothing that we need. In a similar way, we are more likely to live in our home to have easy access to work, to medical care, and to entertainment options. We also live in our home because we can enjoy the types of natural environment that we desire. People like to be able to go outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. This is something that we have all learned through trial and error. Sometimes we have bad luck with weather, other times it is just a matter of choice. Living in a home also allows us to be away from the people that we do not like. Living with family is a common reason why people live in a house. We are also going to have to figure out what we want from our homes to meet our needs and desires.
#### **The Built Environment and the Human Element**
Before we begin any design project, we have to have a goal in mind. We may want to use a design approach that will maximize the value of the building and its occupants. We have to understand and take into account how the various components of the building and the people that live there can be used by the owner of the building. In addition, we have to determine if we are going to buy or rent, and if we are going to design for a new owner. The design principles that are discussed in this book are based on the fact that people are the major force of change in the world and that the physical environment also needs to be in balance with the people. For example, if we try to build too many roads to accommodate all the traffic, we will have a congested traffic situation. If we try to build too many parks and forests, we are going to remove people from nature.
Another question that we have to think about is if we are going to buy or rent a home and if we are going to design a home for someone else or build one ourselves. We have to decide if we are going to live in the