The art of blending the natural environment with the built environment to enhance the experience of the end-user could be defined as landscape architecture. It uses elements of nature like soil, plants, and water to plan and design spaces to help establish a relationship between nature and people. The calming and thought-provoking natural environment is essential to refresh the human mind when it is surrounded by a rapidly changing urban jungle.
Sustainability and landscape are concepts that are interlinked as landscaping involves nature and nature has been self-sustained from the beginning of time. Sustainability is the need of the hour in the present context of climatic crises and through landscape architecture, these issues could be addressed and resolved.
The need for sustainability in landscape design has brought about its evolution from static and manicured lawns to adaptable and energy-efficient designs. Habitat restoration, energy efficiency, and conservation of flora and fauna are all important attributes of sustainable landscape design. Here are 15 such projects.
1. Nature Discovery Park, Hong Kong
Designed by LAAB architects, Natural Discovery Park is situated in the heart of the city. It is an urban farm that offers to learn and practice agriculture in a city. It also has a dining experience where the food is prepared using the produce from the farm. There is a glasshouse in the centre made up of IUG glass to save energy and reduce heat gain.
The park has a steel aluminium cladding framework holding the glass panes which creates a reflection of the farm against the surrounding skyscrapers showing the co-existence of nature and urbanism. The park has a special eco-tour that starts with a rare butterfly species archive followed by an aquarium which has the tropic marine species of the Victoria Harbour.
2. The Science and Technical Pole, Paris
With a sweeping green roof, this institution is a place built for education and research. It was constructed in 2014 by Jean-Philippe Pargade. The design is a blend of innovation and sustainability while maintaining aesthetics and functionality. It has a bioclimatic design approach aiding the local climatic conditions and resolving contextual environmental issues.
The south façade opens towards the campus retrieving solar energy and the north façade is closed offering an insulating wall with a strong thermal barrier. It has a groundwater body which is the main source of heat energy for the structure. The project very smartly shows the relation between the functionality and the purpose of the design.
3. Burj Khalifa Tower Park, Dubai
The tower park, designed by SWA Group in 2011, is inspired by an oasis found in deserts. The green oasis is filled with native plants and also has Islamic traditional elements like motifs and coloured tiles. It has a series of connected pools that reflect the Burj Khalifa. The harsh hot climate of the region is managed by the cool water pools, tall trees, and covered pathways.
The special feature of the park would be the irrigation system which collects and pumps condensed water from the humid atmosphere through a water-cooling system located in the tower. A total of 15 million gallons of water is produced annually, from which a part is used for irrigation.
This project not only fulfils the functional needs in an energy-efficient way but also meets the aesthetic standards of the highly developed nation.
4. Where the River Runs, Wuhan
Vienna- Beijing-based architecture firm Penda’s landscape pavilion ‘Where the River Runs’ won the international Garden Expo in 2015. The expo aimed to highlight the importance of clean water and protecting the environment. The pavilion is designed to take the visitor on a journey through hills and valleys that resembles the path of a river.
Stating that water is the main connection between people and nature, the pavilion aims to spread awareness about sustainable living. At the beginning of the tour, at the entrance, visitors are offered seeds of local flowers and fruits that are sown by them on the ‘river bed’.
5. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Spread across 102 hectares, Gardens by the bay is one of the largest landscape projects in the world. Designed by Grant Associates the project aims to strengthen the “city in a garden” vision of Singapore. The infrastructure involves the conservation of endangered plants native to Singapore. Exhibiting plants and flowers from the Mediterranean-type climatic regions and Tropical Montane are 2 biomes designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.
Designed based on sustainability and nature-inspired are two other structures – the Supertrees and the Cooled Conservatories. These structures are technologically driven having water and energy conservation systems integral to each other. Along with being a highly popular tourism spot, implementation of rainwater harvesting, ventilation, and micro-climate management are some other features that can be seen in the Bay.
6. Solar City, Linz
The Austrian town, Linz was redeveloped during 1998 as it was in urgent need of expansion. The design aimed to create an ecological and balanced washland landscape design. The town was placed between two adjoining rivers that restricted the area for expansion. Atelier Dreiseitl, an architecture firm, won the competition to design the town. The natural washland was not disturbed and agricultural lands were increased.
The first phase of the project had 32.5 hectares of building land that offered to house 4,500 people with the necessary facilities and 20 hectares of parkland. Groundwater supplementation flourished and man-made wetlands and gardens were occupied by natural flora and fauna. A dry streambed has re-flourished and a total of 1500 trees were planted in parklands.
7. Hoesan White Lotus Pond, Jeonranamdo
The largest habitat of white lotus is located in Muan, Korea, and is a famous tourist attraction. An ecological festival is held where people from different places come to see the rare white lotus flowers blooming in summer. It has a symbolic viewing deck designed by the Ctopos Design firm, based on the form of a lotus.
The place is divided into 5 different parts of the lotus that show the implication of the flower in design. With a breathtaking view, the pond is the largest habitat for the rare white lotus covering an area of 330,000sqm.
8. Railroad Park, Alabama
Designed by Tom Leader Studio, the Railroad Park is built along the railway corridor of 11 tracks that were once operational and a warehouse where bricks were made. The materials found on the site were remains of historic use. The park successfully brings in water from harvested water on-site and useable recycled industrial water from off-site. to create a large reservoir which is also used for irrigation and the summer fountains.
The park is also designed to have OATs and places for small and large events. The southern half of the park was excavated to build a new lake and water system. The excavated earth from the southern site was used to create knolls along the rails with seating carved into them.
9. Vanke Research Centre, Shenzhen
A research centre that is built in the rapidly growing city in China is a place where studies are based on special architectural materials, low-energy consumption methodology, and eco-landscape study. The main aim of the design was to reduce the maintenance and make the place self-sustaining. This was achieved by using a stormwater management system and low-maintenance construction and planting materials.
The “Ripple Garden” consists of two triangular portions where the slope of the lawn and water waves are adjusted to realize the infiltration process without logging the water. The “Windmill Garden” has a 32m tall windmill which is used to generate power for pumping the collected stormwater to the building roof for oxygen exposure.
10. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
The 274 acres of parkland is designed by Hargreaves Associates for the London Games, the “Greenest Games”. It is considered as the “Winner of the Games” by the Mayor of London. It is built on historical land and has seen many British traditions and events for the past 150 years.
The main aim of the design was to focus on sustainability by restoring River Lea, having themed gardens based on different countries that took part in the Olympic Games and ecological parks. The northern park has industrial canals which are converted into a natural river corridor with meadows and wetlands. The South park focuses on the themed Olympic Parks with colourful gardens and sculptures.
11. Aalborg Waterfront II, Aalborg
Located in Denmark, the Aalborg Waterfront II is a landscape/urban design which aimed to revitalize and redevelop the abandoned industrial harbor that was blocking the connection to the main city center. C.F. Møller Landscape in collaboration with Vibeke Rønnow Landscape Architects started the Stage II design of the waterfront which involved a concert hall and a house of music.
The main idea of the second phase was the continuation of the waterfront promenade as a “marsh” along with a curving urban plinth. It has a rich plantation that consists of trees, shrubs, and grasses that are native to North Jutland.
12. Guthrie Green Urban Park, Tulsa
Designed by SWA Group in the USA the park is built on a site previously used as a truck loading facility. The park is now a gathering space and acts as an urban square with fountains, a multipurpose lawn, an outdoor stage with vine-covered green rooms.
There is a ground-source heat pump under the park. It has 120 dried walls with a depth of 153m which generates 600 tons of heating or cooling distributed in underground pipes across 11,148gqm of land. The heat pumps are supplied with energy generated by the photovoltaic panels on the roofs. This saves 60% of the energy requirement. The geo-exchange system makes the park a successful sustainable design.
13. Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, Santa Monica
A flat parking lot was transformed into a dynamic landscape project with an urban square by landscape architect James Corner Field Operations and architecture firm Fredrick Fisher and Partners. A few hundred plants and trees were planted on the site. The irrigation of the green areas is done by obtaining water from the nearby Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) water reclamation facility.
Park lighting is an important element in landscape design which has been kept to a minimum in Tongya Park by using LED and other energy-efficient lighting fixtures. Materials were procured locally like the non-tropical hardwood trees. Recycled parts, low VOC paints, and anti-graffiti surfaces were used to reduce the maintenance of the urban square.
14. The Crystal, London
As a part of the Cities Initiative, Siemens hired Townshend Architects to design a sustainable public square. The aim was to create an urban landscape that is an ecological centre in the middle of a city. The project aimed to get BREEAM “Outstanding” and LEED Platinum ratings. The landscape materials used were grade A or greater than BRE Green Guide Specification.
The biodiversity aspect was supposed to be covered for a BRE rating. So, along with resourceful amenities, they added native wildlife meadows and traditional flower gardens. The plants specified are climate-sensitive to reduce water consumption. A black water recycling system is used for irrigation purposes.
15. Tianjin National Park, Tianjin
Located in one of the top cities of China, Tianjin national park was built to maintain the high-water table and prevent seawater from encroaching the city. The harsh climate was another key aspect that had to be taken care of with large open space dynamics with shading and landscape.
The waterfront has a great view of the gallery and the museum has a trail where rows of trees were planted to control the cold Mongolian winds and store water for irrigation. The urban waterfront square creates a calming and refreshing atmosphere amidst a bustling city highlighting the culture and traditions as well.