e-lecture ‘how to design a landscape machine’

Here is the complete video of the e-lecture on landscape machines.

It contains some minor technical failures, as were part of the original e-lecture,


Yours, Paul R.

Community Supported Landscape Regeneration

Msc. thesis project Flore Bijker and Lian Kasper

whole report can be viewed here

Is there social support for the implementation of large-scale landscape machines in populated regions? What is the role of (local) people within the landscape machine concept? What allowances does the re-design of landscapes offer for the creation of (local) maintenance structures and appreciation?

These are the type of questions that came to mind when we first encountered the landscape machine concept. We were of the opinion that the concept would benefit from an increased attention to social aspects of landscapes and landscape change, especially if a large-scale landscape machine is intended to reach implementation in a societal context. In our thesis project we investigated the issue of social support for large-scale landscape regeneration projects, which could include landscape machine designs of the ‘system repair type’.

social feedback model_17_06

In the thesis project, we introduce the ‘Social Feedback Model’,  which enables analysis of complex social-ecological systems. The phenomenon of ‘social feedback’ between landscape appreciation and consequent attitudes and behavior towards the landscape proved particularly helpful in understanding social mechanisms that either disable or support landscape change and large-scale regeneration efforts.

Through the use of the Social Feedback Model in a multidisciplinary literature review, three case studies of regeneration projects and an analysis of the existing socio-spatial situation of the Vechtplassen region in the Netherlands we increased our understanding of social mechanisms. We were subsequently able to introduce conditions that underlie critical support for landscape regeneration, based on the need for empowerment of local people in the landscape on input (governance), output (use and accessibility) and social feedback level (knowledge and awareness). These conditions imply the need for new social contracts for responsibility-sharing between governments and local parties, the creation of local capacity through communal networking and agreements, and prospects of (new) direct relationships between local people and the natural environment.

social feedback model_10_09

The conditions are applied in a strategy for socially supported landscape regeneration as well as in a spatial design for the Vechtplassen region. In this way we show the possibility to deliberately plan and design for landscape regeneration that is supported by local communities. Application in design also leads us to our final suggestion towards the landscape architectural discipline: to increase  focus on the facilitation of social processes, the exchange and accessibility of knowledge and the shaping of new ways for local people to be directly connected with the natural system.

This project shows the concerns that may come up when large-scale spatial plans like landscape machines are proposed to local people in their social/spatial reality. Concepts like the landscape machine will need strategies in order to  avoid local resistance to change. We therefore propose that designers do not only occupy themselves with the design of the technical landscape machine, but that they also use their expertise to tackle social issues and build social support, and that they think of ways to embed (roles for) local people within the machine landscape. This will greatly affect the ability of these types of large-scale plans to leave the drawing board and become reality.


Program 1: an enlarged scope of focus for the landscape architect: enticing large parties in the area to open up land, resources and knowledge for initiative by local communities. Creating prospects for local people in the landscape in terms of use and enjoyment of ecosystem services.


Program 2: an interactive platform on which knowledge and information about the area can be shared, lowering the threshold for people to be well informed, gain awareness and connect to each other.


Program 3: facing (sometimes drastic) changes, communities are encouraged to get together and form local agreements and responsibility structures. Local visions get institutionalized by the municipality.


Example of an initiative: the ‘houses of nowhere’ (inspired by the concept of ‘huisje van niks’, WTS architecten) form an example of new entrepreneurial initiatives that can take place in a changed (partially inundated) landscape. People can ‘sail’ with the floating, autarkic houses through the landscape, and stay overnight at a quiet place.

image11_fish and duckweed

Another example of an initiative: the ‘water machine’ landscape can be seen as both a ‘productive’ and a ‘system repair’ landscape machine,  triggered by the need for inundation of a deep reclamation. The plan of combining fish and duckweed farming with recreational initiatives in an accessible landscape resulted from the wishes of the local community and is carried by a local cooperative in which (most) local people own shares.

Doorstep Landscape

ImageThe landscape of Venray (in de Southern most province of the Netherlands) is for an important part shaped by the presence of a successful livestock sector. This sector is obviously important for the region, but faces drastic changes. Approximately 50 to 70 percent of the farmers will quit their production, and the other farming entrepreneurs will take over their production. A transition resulting in numerous farms of mega proportions scattered over the rural landscape. The development of a metropolitan food cluster can prevent these consequences. By radical and technologically advanced clustering of the industrial activities of agriculture, the overall rural landscape will be spared from fragmented large industrial buildings. Moreover the disappearance of scattered industrial activities offers space for other functions to develop. As of consequence, a radical clustering will result in a residue of not essentially needed (former agrarian) buildings and fields, a phenomenon that is described as the space-pump effect.

The design for the space-pump in Venray is created as part of the landscape machine design lab. Nevertheless, the ‘Doorstep landscape’ is not consciously designed according to the principles of the landscape machine concept. The landscape machine aims, for good reasons, for an input-output balance in living systems. But the farmers, who are searching for a better economic, or productive balance within the metropolitan food cluster, do not share this aim. Especially these farmers are essential for the regional development by starting the metropolitan food cluster, and in that way the space-pump. The concept of the landscape machine in relation to the space-pump in the livestock sector would conflict too much with the interests of the farmers, and in that way cause a collapse of the space-pump development.

Based on this thesis one can question the applicability of the landscape machine design concept in the current economic context. The concept seems to lack a good reason for those groups who currently have the power in the rural landscape to get involved in the landscape machine concept. On the other hand, the definition of the landscape machine is quite open-ended, and makes it hard to determine whether a landscape is a landscape machine or not. If one is consciously willing to find the characteristics of a landscape machine in this design for the space-pump in Venray, it could turn out that also this design will function as a landscape machine, whether or not a in a perfect way. The landscape machine concept should in my opinion therefore be interpreted as a method to asses whether there is a stable balance within a landscape.

Fig. 1 The size of the livestock sector in Venray is far above average, and therefore very important for this region.

ImageFig. 2 298 livestock farms scattered over the rural landscape of Venray. When autonomous developing, 30-50% will grow to mega proportions.

ImageFig. 3 When the space-pump occurs in the current monotone agricultural landscape, this space can be used to restore the stream valleys, connect the villages with the landscape again, and offer the small farms an opportunity to transform their function.

ImageFig. 4 By transforming the stream valleys in a recreational, and ecological attractive framework, the lost relation between the village and the rural landscape can be restored.

ImageFig. 5 The transformation to the Doorstep landscape offers farmers in Venray an opportunity to change, or diversify their function of intensive livestock, like for example the sale of local products.


full thesis here: Doorstep_Landscape_Renze_van_Och


Researched by Marie Baartmans and Marijn Struik of Happyland Collective


Through conducting a research about Lean Startup and Design Thinking we became aware of the fact that a designer can, besides designing the product, also design the process. How to arrange the context in such a way that the implementation of the product will be more serviceable and effective? Design in general is quite focused on content, where Design Thinking and Lean Startup are both more focused on designing processes and the combination of design skills and process/social skills you need for this. This research gives us the tools to bring landscape architecture not to the end product but to the beginning of the process. Therefore other skills are needed and in that way the theory of Lean Startup and Design Thinking on entrepreneurial and social skills forms a guide for broadening our scope.


The research builds upon earlier conceptual investigations conducted by Dr. Ronald M. Müller and Katja Thoring (Müller & Thoring, 2012). They compared and integrated the essence and processes of two user-driven innovation strategies, Design Thinking and Lean Startup. The outcome is a combination of both strategies, which is called Lean Design Thinking (Müller & Thoring, 2012). The knowledge gap we address in this research is that the current state of the development of lean design thinking does not yet clearly define which skills are needed when using the integrated process of this method to come to innovation through design. To divide the general skills from the skills for innovation through design (Lean Startup and Design Thinking), the framework of design skills by Lawson (2005) was used as a basis.


The concluding list of skills (see image) evolves the method of Lean Design Thinking by helping to clearly define what skills are needed when using the integrated process of Lean Design Thinking to come to innovation through design. Generally the research is significant, because it leads to a sophistication of Lean Design Thinking and addresses certain gaps. The research shows that skills in entrepreneurship and social skills that are also important factors in design that need to be taken into account. Besides this important critique on the framework of Lawson, it is doubtful whether the integrated list of skills under for example iteration can be considered too broad for a good understanding. Another factor that needs to be taken into account is that formulating and moving were by far the most important categories. It could be argumented that the other categories are not that important when it comes to the combination of design and entrepreneurship.


How someone should use these innovation skills is very personal and has to do with the field in which the design skills are developed and used. For us – as landscape architects – the most valuable outcome of the research was the realization of the importance of entrepreneurial thinking as a first step for initiating and facilitating projects or starting up a business. Thus we see the envisioned outcomes of the research in that way that landscape architects already learn how to think and design for innovation, but as the field is changing we need to develop the skills to undertake the action needed to come to innovation through design.


Concluding list of skills for Lean Design Thinking. Please note that the text marked in black represents Design Thinking skills, the blue text marks the Lean Startup skills and the text marked in red indicates the similarities.

Concluding list of skills for Lean Design Thinking. Please note that the text marked in black represents Design Thinking skills, the blue text marks the Lean Startup skills and the text marked in red indicates the similarities.