Case Study of Landscape Urbanism


Landscape Urbanism has a long time track that from 1880s to 1970s, from green urbanism to limited planning, as well as today being as a strong theory that changing private focus to public. Landscape Urbanism for me means the taking public space as the starting point instead architectural massing. In addition, Landscape Urbanism also means the way using landscape to design. Last but not the least, Landscape Urbanism means change traditional planning theory into making public space as the main carrier instead of the spare space that crossing buildings and constructions.

The case I would like to talk about is Lower On Lands project in Toronto. It contains an ambitious plan, a comprehensive urban design development that based on ecology, and designed a landscape framework that including big and small parks, integral connections and wildlife space.


To make the post-industrial site of Lower Don Lands re-blend into the city it needs the determination to face the environmental, social and economical challenge directly. The estuary is the connecting point with two adjacent places, and inspired by this, MVVA design team reconsidered the relationship between city and the environment. So they designed a space with three important sites that makes this theme to be unique.


A large space of wetland park will occupy the core of new neighborhood development, through the change of typography, wide sight, and leisure will be the supplement of the high dense city. The large scale of change will highly improve the function of ecological and water feature. The whole plan improved landscape is the most effective reconciliation for urban ordering system and ecological economic block.


So the whole plan of Lower Don Lands will be developed a series of blocks that formed by river and harbors. This target is aiming to build up a exciting place to live and work, in this place, city, park, harbor and river will be the unique identity. Commercial, cultural and working spaces, public realm, water feature, different scale of parks will form this space.
However, what we need for Landscape Urbanism is making enough space for design. Landscape Urbanism should agree the potential of design, not being blind for ambitious. Also we need to change the arbitrary prejudice that all big projet is planning, all small project is design. So after we changed our mind, we can draw the conclusion that Landscape Urbanism can actually fully contain design and be presented by design. However, I think the important point is that nature also need planning and design, and we can not exclude the countryside and nature of Landscape Urbanism.
Image source:
Reference:Rachel Gleeson. Toronto’s Lower Don Lands. TOPOS, VOL. 73. 2011
Thorbjörn Andersson. Landscape Urbanism Versus Landscape Design. TOPOS, VOL. 71., 2010.

The Craneshaugh Cohousing Design

In the process of designing cohousing this site of Hexham, I had a lot of experience to share.

Hexham is a beautiful city which basically has both historical buildings and constructions with British modern architectures. People who living there are friendly and their income is shortly over the average level. Senior age level group of residents are about 20 percent, and this is a large occupation of population. This craneshaugh site, has a tricky typography with 13 meters height difference from north to south side, and it is not a flat ground from east to west. The Cockwood land actually became a shadow of sunlight on the south side of the site, and public transportation there are not very convenient.


source: Hexham (UK) Nothumberland postcode +NE46/@54.968475,-2.0725046,395m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x487d90620d319815:0xa83a2b78210dc004


Before we started, I have no idea of what is cohousing. In my cultural background, we have affordable housing for rent to those people who have needs, and they need to que for sign to live in those houses, besides, the form of these kind of housing are apartments. So after the visit of Lancaster cohousing site, me and my colleague finally get some point of the definition of cohousing, and agree deeply of this form of housing will largely enhance the opportunity of social interaction.




After the baseline analysis presentation, my partner got much more information about Hexham, such as social economic and historical background, and about cohousing, too. So based on those information we had, we decide to utilize this typography to have its unique identity, and also for mixed type of housing.






So we beginning to think out the appropriate road system, right housing types, and the most important, the unique typography that can contain these together.

After some tutorials, we finally made some progress that we will use blocks with natural way of roads to form a different neighborhood. Of course, we also designed large and small open and green spaces that may connect the different communities together as a whole, and share those facilities for making more social interaction of the whole site. We like to make residents love to live this kind of neighborhood, and getting more support from each other.




I have learnt a lot of things from my partner, and also from this program. Team work and hard working fulfilled this semester.

Application of urban design in residential design




Previously, my concept to the residence design was the planning of external space of the residence area, because I learnt landscape architecture in the past, which focus on how to manage and plan the space beyond buildings, so that the external space and the building are combined into a complete community. This is the thinking of residential planning from the perspective of the thought of landscape architecture, but now I learn urban design, so I must break through the previous limited thinking frame, and think how to introduce urban planning into the planning of residential area, so as to help us get different design results.

With the development of society and economy and enriching of culture, the construction of residential area has been gradually transformed to the improving of life quality, and the demands of human beings themselves in society, culture, material and psychology have been emphasized, and the urban morphology and spatial environment must be combined in design technique, so the single landscape design is only limited to one aspect of design, while urban planning is used for the detailed planning and management of the residential area to establish a systematic residential frame.

In the design process of cohousing project, we place the residence area within the whole city for analysis and design and think of the position of the site in the urban infrastructure, so as to get the principle of community spatial layout. First, we analysis that the infrastructures, school, store and office etc. surrounding the site will have a promotion role to the community society, economy and sustainable development and make it convenient for the residences’ life. While the important facilities surrounding the community are reserved, and we reserve the original foot path to make it convenient for the residents and surrounding people to enter the cock wood freely. A mutually connected road network is provided in the community, so as to arrive at each place easily, while the community road is also connected to the original urban road system, making it convenient for the residents’ traveling. The urban infrastructures where the public transportation outside the residence area and surrounding walking can arrive also encourage people to select an environmental friendly way of traveling. The community street is controlled within an appropriate width, and trees are planted on both sides to create a good traveling environment for the pedestrians and bicycles. As the site for residents’ daily activity, leisure and communication, the community open space is distributed in the whole community, so that each resident can arrive at the public space conveniently. Each space is connected with road or landscape to form an open space network, promote the residents to participate in the outdoor activity, increase the community interaction and enrich the community life. In terms of building form, we arrange the common house of the cohousing at the main road of the entrance, to create a strong sense of space and sense of site, so that it can be seen upon entering the community and that the residents can reach it in the fastest way. The house types within the community include cohousing, social houses and private houses to meet the different demands of different population groups, while each house keeps its own private space in the front and at back, which does not only ensure the privacy of the residential, but also brings a large development space for the residents.

To apply the urban design in the residential design, it is required to establish a perfect community system from spatial pattern, traffic system, open space and building form, which can help to improve people’s living quality.


Picture source:


Hexham Colorful Village: Final Design


After All the process we went through, Finally, this final design created. The first thing we did when thinking of the design of this neighborhood was determining the appropriate area for cohousing, social housing and private housing. After some discussion, we decided to create co-housing on the west side of the site because the surface of this part is relatively flat and also this area get a lot of sunlight. Then, the social and private housing placed in the eastern side. We do not distinguish the specific area for social and private housing because we think those two things could be combined without having to be separated.


Then, we started to think about how to connect these two zones. Our initial idea was to encourage every inhabitant of this neighborhood to walk more than using vehicles. Therefore, to connect those two zones we create a pedestrian road from east to west and south to north, with the center of activity in the open space of the co-housing. We want to make the area of co-housing become the main area of neighborhood.

Another thing that must be considered is how to make an exciting journey for the occupants. The thing we do is make the U-shaped layout to housing Group which is in the middle of a residential area so that public areas can be formed on the inside of that housing group. There are three pieces of public space in the form of small park that can be used by the residents to do anything. In addition, we also provide some different “pockets of activity” for the inhabitants in order to make the trip became more interesting. That “Pockets” will be outdoor exercise area, playground area and bench with colorful flower around it.


We also intentionally do not provide parking space in the unit as a way to encourage residents to walk inside the neighborhood. However, we understand that the parking area is an important thing. Therefore, we provide some parking spots which is scattered inside the neighborhood where the spots are connected properly and within the distance that can still be tolerated,

Finally, colorful village is a big dream. In this design, we expect an lively and vibrant area can be formed so that the Elderly people which inhabit in this area do not feel lonely anymore. Not only of colorful buildings, but also from some design which I described earlier.

Participation in the Blog (Semester 2)


Figure 1

Why should you Blog?

(Susan Geunelius, 2015)

Time flies fast and not all the memories stay in our heads. The university time is approaching to it’s end. This blog was a sort of a diary, a notebook. One day I will return to it again. I will definitely come back here to refresh my university memories and look at a work we have done during urban design master degree. New students will come next year. They will take our places. They will write about their student life, tasks and projects. It will be very interesting to look at the portraits and their short biography. I will be able to learn about the differences between their courses and mine. After frequent blogging experience I feel like I became a better thinker and a better writer. I have been always enjoying  the process of blogging! Each time I took pictures either myself or I created them in Photoshop. I always thought about the ways which would help me to catch attention of my audience. All the posts on this website will definitely help urban designer students from other universities and future students.


Figure 2 

Student Life

(Alina Pavlova, 2015)

There is no doubt that I faced several issues during my posting. I have been waiting for comments on my blog posts from the outside university audience, but only some of my classmates put comments on it. As a matter of fact, it is a big pleasure to read others posts but at the same time it is a big challenge to leave a comment on someones blog post. I always respect other people’s work and I feel that they spend lots of time to writing it before posting. One of enjoyable parts of the process of writing blog is making pictures.. Wherever I went, I tried to take a camera with me because I knew that it might be necessary for my blog. It is a nice process of preparation and editing of pictures before posting. I would like to use the knowledge which I obtained from Urban Design MA Blog posts in order to create my own page where I can describe my current part-time urban design internship with Sunderland City Council. This job is my first job. The first experience is always very valuable and I would like to share my own feelings with other students. I would like to reduce their fear and lack of confidence, which is usually present before the beginning of a new job through the stories about my working days.


Identity by Design – The Case of Co-Housing

Whilst developing the concept design for a new residential development on a vacant site, one of my first thoughts was the consideration of how to create different character areas and establish a settlement which portrays distinctive place identity. Sepe’s  (2013) argues that aesthetic elements arranged successfully to engage the senses are beneficial to the creation and enhancement of a place’s character and identity. By considering that character and identity are not static design features alone but are related to social identities (Stokols & Shuckers 1981), the concept and ideology of co-housing relates closely to discussions surrounding place identity. Co-housing developed as an intentional community is often based on a specific ideology, shared values or religious or spiritual beliefs  (Durrett & McCamant, 2011); which consequently contributes to the character of spaces.

Watson and Bentley (2007) suggest that designers are required to understand a place’s identity from the community themselves, defining both needs and aspirations. When designing the co-housing community it is of importance to consider at a practical level; how places are used and the symbolic level of their meanings. Through the arrangement of morphological elements as raw material designers should organise these in such a way to create relationships. For example this can be seen in the Lancaster Co-housing scheme, as shown in Figure 1; the pedestrianised street, meets the desires of the community as it creates a car free space for interaction as well as using design decisions to enhance the understanding and promotion of key spaces. As the material used changes in front of the common house and communal facilities the user becomes aware that they are entering a different zone of different use.

Figure 1: Enhancing Character Through Design Decisions and Material Choices

Source:(Author’s Own, 2015)









By influencing users perception, through engagement of the senses, ‘networks of symbolic significance can influence human behaviour’ (Sepe, 2013), returning back to the example of Lancaster the change of materials encourages people to congregate outside of the communal facilities instead of outside people’s individual homes. This observation suggests that when designing the future co-housing scheme landscapes, buildings and materials should be selected based upon the successful contribution to the scheme’s character and identity.

The opportunity of the forthcoming community engagement event can act as a stage to discuss and define the desired character and identity of the Hexham co-housing scheme and how this will be achieved. To later inform design decisions and create a viable scheme that is unique to the community which inhabits it.

References and Figures 

Durrett, C. & McCamant, K.,  (2011), Creating CoHousing, New Society Publishers, Canada.

Sepe, M., (2013), Mapping Place Identity, Routledge, London.

Stokols, D. & Shumaker, S., (1981), People in Places: A Transactional View of Settings, in Harvey, D., (Ed), Cognition, Social Behaviour and the Environment, p 441-488, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillside.

Watson, G.B. & Bentley, I., (2007), Identity by Design, Architectural Press, London.

Colorful Village Project – Study Cases


After all the site analysis completed, the design process will begin. The Selection of some study cases which meets the requirements is one of the process. Study cases are expected to help the designer to develop an empty land that has been given into a complete housing neighborhood design.

In this study cases, we observe two important things that we think are useful for further design process. The first is the layout of the housing group itself and the corner of the housing group that often become a problem if not thought out carefully.

The Staiths, Gateshead


Source :

From the case the study above, the thing that attract my attention is about how they create a layout for the housing group. The way chosen by the designer is y arranging few houses become a U-shape as shown above because here is no unit in its southern part. By doing this way, there are two things that can happen.

1. Each unit of this grouping can get the same light intensity because sunlight will be more to come from the south. Thus, the use of the heater will be reduced and the room becomes not too humid.

2. There is an empty land in that area of ‘U’ grouping which can be used as an open public space. The place can not only be used by residents, but also by the people that are around.

Pilot Project, Guatemala

PrintSource :

For this case study from Guatemala, the interesting thing to be noted is about the way they design a linear housing. In this case, they do not  normal linier housing, but they shift each unit in the grouping to one side as illustrated above.

In this way, every unit in that housing linear housing can get the same light intensity. In contrast to the usual conventional linier housing that the front row unit are the only unit which can get full sunlight.

Brownhills, West Midlands

 PrintSource :

Lastly, designing each corner of a housing group is not an easy thing. Sometimes, we need a special strategy for that part if we does not want to get any problems later on.

From the case study in the West Midlands, the strategy they do to every corner of the housing group is making the unit into an access and service area. A gate that can be used by every person to access the backyard of any units.

rom all of those study cases that have been described above, help us to improve our design to the next stage.After this, we get into the actual design. From the concept to the final design. I will try to describe in my next post. However, I have to wait because there is still a possibility of changes. After the final design accepted by the tutor, I will share it here for the discussion that helps us to make a better final design.


CABE (n.d) Staiths South Bank – Gateshead [online] Available at: photos=true&viewing=4437 [ACCESSED 25th March 2015]

ADU 2020 Pilot Projects (n.d) Social Housing As A Response Towards Worthy Housing [online] Available at: [Accessed 25th March 2015]

Brownhills Bob (2012) New Homes Planned for Brownhills [online] Available at:  [Accessed 25th March 2015]

Developing a Design Brief – Observations of a Participatory Design Process

Participatory Design Process

Semester Two sees the beginning of new projects and the exploration of new ideas, separated into pairs, this terms large scale design project is focussed upon the development of a CoHousing scheme in Hexham, a small town in Northumberland. Under instruction to construct a design brief for a residential development (including a co-housing scheme) within a 4.3 hectare site, we undertook extensive site analysis and research; and visited an established co-housing scheme in Lancaster (see previous blog post ‘A Visit to a Co-Housing Scheme’ for in-depth discussion of the case study).

The design brief of co-housing developments is often created by the future community that is intended to inhabit it. By considering the importance of participatory design processes; it is evident that in cohousing schemes such processes allow for the establishment of community relations before the actual development is constructed (Durrett & McCamant, 2011). Referring back to the example of the Lancaster CoHousing scheme, residents stated that design process allowed for the establishment of individuals adopting their own roles and understanding the responsibilities that they were required to undertake as being a part of the Forgebank community; which meant that once the scheme was complete social processes for example the rules of use regarding the common house were already established.

Responsibilities for the success of a participatory design process lie with both the community and the design team, as it observed by Durrett and McCamant (2011) the greatest difficulty of such processes; is receiving enough input from the residents to create the most effective design. However ensuring effective input is achieved is often a role undertook by the designer. Designers should work effectively with the group, demonstrating the understanding of the groups intensions and combining it with their expertise in order to define community goals and values and translate them into design criteria (ibid). Which in turn suggest that designs will benefit from the incorporation of public knowledge; as a forum for discussions to take place is established, meaning that advancement towards understanding and agreement can be achieved. Through the creation of a two way learning relationship, designers are responsible for balancing the desires and needs of the community with the characteristics of the selected site. Academic arguments support this as they suggest that it is the responsibility of designers, architects and planners to ‘learn and work with others’ (Forester, 1999, p23) to ensure collaborative processes are managed and conducted successfully to achieve desired outcomes (Levy, 2011). If conducted superficially, poorly designed efforts may be a waste of time and finial resource (Brownhill and Parker, 2012). Figure 1 below demonstrates the importance of links between different stages of the development of design, highlighting that each stage and therefore series of information is directly linked to others in order to understand and design most efficiently.

Figure 1: Understanding the Key Processes of Participatory Design

Participatory Design Process

Source: Government of South Australia, (2008).

I believe that there is an an important role and continuing role developing for designers within participatory design processes (RTPI, 2014), not only responsible for establishing the design process but producing the completed design, designers are required to establish a relationship with the community built upon trust (Botsman and Latham, 2001). By excepting and valuing public input into design decisions, designers are required to build consensus through facilitating discussions, identifying ways of problem solving and participating in negotiation and mediation. Therefore experience of involvement within participatory design processes allow for designers to reflect upon individual practice and to constantly continue the development and learning of new skills and techniques. From the above discussion I will consider the important role of the designer in such processes as in the future as part of the ‘Housing Alternatives’ modules we are required to undertake and lead a design workshop with an established cohousing group in Hexham.

References and Figures

Brownhill, S. & Parker, G., (2007), ‘Why Bother with Good Works? The Relevance of Public Participation in Planning in a Post-Collaborative Era, Planning Practice and Research, 22(1), pp.619-634.

Durrett, C. & McCamant, K.,  (2011), Creating CoHousing, New Society Publishers, Canada.

Forester, J., (1999), The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processess, MIT Press, Massachusetts.

Levy, J.M., (2011), Contemporary Urban Planning, Pearson Education, Boston.

RTPI (2014), Community Engagement – Our Viewpoint, available at:, last accessed: 23/3/2015.

Source: Government of South Australia, (2008), The Community Engagement Handbook, available at:, last accessed: 1/1/2015.

The Ways To Design a House In Sloping Site


One of the challenges we have to face when designing a housing on the site in Hexham is the condition of the site which is not flat. Site is a hill that starts from the northern site near the main road and goes up to the south. Therefore, we try to figure out how to design a house on the sloping site.

Before talking about the ways to overcome a site that is not flat, the figure below tries to explain the situations which is possible to be faced when making a home on the site. There are 4  possibilities i.e. down slope, up slope, side slope and rolling slope. All these possibilities are clearly explained in the image below.

TYPE OF CONDITIONAll people that work in any field certainly understand that a home should be made as flat as possible. Therefore, before starting the construction process, the contractors and designers have to think about what they should do with the sloping site. Perhaps, for the architects, this is a basic knowledges that already known by them, but this information may be useful to other colleagues who are not from architecture. Those ways are cut, fill and cut & fill.


CUTCut is a way of leveling the land where a house / building will be constructed by cutting the area of the land. Furthermore, to prevent the soil in the landslide, a retaining wall have to made in order to hold back the soil.


FILLThe opposite of the cut, fill is a way to level the land by filling the area with concrete or other materials. It is like creating a new platform in order to flatten the surface of the area so that a house can be built.



CUT & FILLCut & Fill is a combination of those two ways mentioned above. if we want to apply this way, we have to cut some area of the land and add it on the other side.

These 3 ways would have a different impact. All depends on site conditions, the concept of design and budget owned by the owner. When we talk about the price, “Fill” will cost higher than the 2 other because “Fill” needs more extra material. However, “Fill” could be the best option if the designer wants the house is in a higher position than the ground in order to get a view. This kind of thing can happen in other ways as well. Therefore, designers should think seriously before deciding which way that want to be used so that the selected method is good for all parties.



First In Architecture (2015) Tips for building on a sloped terrain [online] Available at:  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Home Building (n.d) how to build on sloping site  [online] Available at:  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Albermarle (n.d) The neighborhood model: building block for the development area [online] Available at:  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Tweed Shire Council, n.d. Together Forward, Australia

The Landscape urban that comes from Landscape Urbanism


In the past ten years, a new theory about city and urban design – landscape urbanism has been argued and became popular among the students in the north America and European landscape and urban design area. The main focusing point of landscape urbanism is landscape but not architecture that can be more capable to determine the typography and experience of the city. This idea made landscape design to the frontage of urban design, and that can be think as a re-discovery of landscape design. Beside, more interesting point is that it was developed by architects.

City is intensified by the forces of nature in the earth’s surface effect “uplift” and form, which is a concrete manifestation of natural process. Landscape urbanism all existing objects on the earth (natural or artificial) and its status and spatial summation of visual reading for the continuation of the spread of the landscape. This landscape is not only green scenery or natural space, more of a continuous surface structure, a kind of ” Thickened Ground “. As a kind of can exercise the function of the cascading structure, the ground of “thickening” to “sink”, “make up” across dynamic event and process, and can provide maximum contact, interaction, exchange, accumulation and dispersion, the possibility of mixing and into each other.

The case that FOA completed in 2007 of 2007 m2 in Istanbul, Turkey Meydan commercial center, is the a successful case in integrated architecture and field landscape.


The project from a three-dimensional multifaceted perspective, with sufficient emphasis on using the natural topography, such as city form, make the structure of the form no longer abrupt, instead it is the continuation of a city and the surrounding surface associated in the public space. Visitors can pass by not only through the central plaza, conveniently to the underground parking lot, shops and even roof garden on the floor; At the same time, because of the large area of building roof and surrounding streets are linked together, visitors can also be through the roof to the city in all directions. Meydan is no longer the traditional commercial square, because it offers visitors is not only a shopping experience, but a exchange hub. Here ” Thickened Ground ” represents an integrated shopping, entertainment, leisure, even traffic function of multidimensional system composition of landscape field, not only save the land, more fully embodies the “sense of place” and “place spirit”.



Reference: Landscape Urbanism, by Kongjian Yu, Available at

Image Recource: