Building the Future of Health 2  Time:10:00-11:00

Theme:#healthy cities

Source: Building the Future of Health

Serious Landscaping, Healthy landscapes, transforming experiences


During the nineteenth century it was debated whether ‘land’ could be described in terms of beauty or sublime, as these were words related to the experience of nature. It was then generally agreed that landscapes needed ‘that kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture’ (Gilpin, 1802). Recently, however, the agenda for an understanding of landscapes has toppled towards more immediately embodied nature and landscape experiences instead through the arts (Carlson, 2014). One of the explanations why the aesthetic character of ‘the sublime’ has become relevant again, is that there is need for a revolt against industrialization and ruthless urbanization combined with an increasing acceptance of ecological ideals (Brady 2013). If this is the case, the notion of the sublime can be explained as a critique of the current inadequacy of imagination on how to build cities and manage natural resources.

In this session we will first elaborate on this notion and then discuss two examples, made by young landscape architects. A new generation of landscape architects is concerned with large-scale landscape transformations that both heal the physical aspects of these landscapes, as well as their experiential character. We thereby interpret the future of health as both a physical as well as an experiential phenomenon. The combined ecological and experiential character will be explained by use of a framework for six archetypical landscapes that each poses a different challenge for healing. In general, we acknowledge healing as a transformation process of both body and mind.


Landscape Machine CHECKLIST

Figure 2: An energy systems diagram of a hypothetical Landscape Machine described by making use of COOS – the key concepts of evolutionary thermodynamics described by Tiezzi. A set of interacting processes, energy and material flows that resemble functions and services performed by a hypothetical landscape machine. Processes, systems and connections among them have a spatial and temporal dimension, each of which is the potential object of a deep investigation and design. By Riccardo M. Pulselli 2012.

The design follows a procedure that is besides being dependent upon local circumstances, roughly generic according to these points:


examine (4 points)

  • examine the confinement of the landscape machine
  • examine potential ecosystem services
  • examine historic systemics of the site and past/present social engagement (e.g. cultural embedding)
  • examine external and internal metabolic relationship and mark by what they can be measured


define (4 points)

  • define desirable nutrient cycles and feedback systems (recycling)
  • define nutrient cycles geographically and describe what has to be connected/isolated?
  • define desirable human, animal and plant life involvement (affordances and landscape ecology)
  • define what type of yield is possible over what timespan (strive for abundance and diversity)


A rather pragmatic part of the procedure is to administrate an input-output scheme of the metabolism. This scheme, together with accompanying cross sections that show the dimensions in the landscape, indicate what types of interactions may take place. We argue, and have witnessed, that such schemes can serve as the neutral ground for both the designer and the involved specialists to foster the research and design process.



Tiezzi, E (2011), ‘Ecodynamics: Towards an evolutionary thermodynamics of ecosystems’, Ecological Modelling, (222), 2897-902.

Best (Dutch) Sustainable Building Project Award 2012

During the Dutch Sustainable Building event (DUBO) in Rotterdam on September 27, 2012, the DUBO-award was presented to the design of the motorway N329 in the municipality of Oss. Commissioned by Oss and the province of Northern-Brabant, a designteam lead by RoyalHaskoningDHV, landscape architect Paul Roncken and artist Wim Korvinus (on behalf of the BKKC) created the design masterplan for this sustainable innovation. A road that cleans itself, a drivable landscape that is producing electricity, heat and both natural and exotic biotopes.

The design is explicit in its appearance by integrated designs of tunnels, tunnel-gardens, verge landscapes, management by sheep, smart LED lightning, a CO2 neutrality and the largest plantdesign for a public roadside in the Netherlands (3km long, consisting of 10.000 biological adaptive plants). Combining efficiency, design and technique in a not too obvious expression but a sincere landscape machine that expresses local identity and conveys a hopeful perspective on the future, everytime you drive the road – even on the special holiday events when the road is closed for cars and open for slow-traffic events and seasonal celebration (picture below).
More on: (in Dutch)

of by this pdf N329_wegvandetoekomst_final (in Dutch)

or by this google imagery


What is a landscape machine?

The definition of a Landscape Machine according to the first publication is threefold: (1) it is a productive landscape that clearly addresses an existent malfunction or disfunctionality related to landscape systems. An improved design to deal with this situation can be evaluated by the input-output ratio and quality of living system components. The ratio is not driven by maximum efficiency – as in Victorian hard-cast machines, there is rather an excess of input and an abundance of output to allow diversification by eco-system services; (2) the machine-aspect consists of naturally occurring processes that are either enlarged or stimulated to perform (lushly) while continuously interacting with each other, effecting the shape, size and position of components within the landscape; (3) the landscape machine should therefore be designed and understood by various stages in its development: an initial state, a process state and a first yield state in which the output can be assessed. During the initial state, the machine may depend on human-provided inputs (also non-renewables). A process state is transitional due to various parallel successions that might interact or might be necessarily isolated (e.g. due to extreme water or soil conditions). During the yield state (i.e. climax) the machine runs entirely on the basis of renewable resources and provides a mininum amount of entropy (or: a maximum amount of dissipative structures).

A landscape machine needs to be ‘grown’ rather then produced.

What was mentioned in the first publication and will be clarified in the upcoming paper in November 2012, is the human relationship with the landscape machine. One could expect that a landscape machine could be very large and yet only managed by relatively few human beings. This impression is too much in contrast with our philosophical position that human beings are part of nature. In the prior publication the quality of the human involvement was related to a ‘future sublime’, meaning an aesthetic interaction that is challenging instead of conforming to familiar standards of beautification. This interpretation was referring to self-initiated learning, multisensory experiences and involvement by both physical and technological yield methods. In thermal dynamic language this can be referred to as a ‘social-experiential resource’.