Book Review

Landscape Architecture and Environmental Sustainability

Creating Positive Change Through Design
Joshua Zeunert

This very attractive book explores the role of landscape architecture in multi-dimensional sustainability. The author adopts a practical approach using projects and initiatives with project summaries, quotes and interviews with nine key figures to explore the themes. By the author’s own admission, the book is not concerned with providing great depth on each dimension, but instead it encompasses a wide spectrum of examples of sustainable design possible in landscape architecture.

Landscape Architecture and Environmental Sustainability is divided into nine sub-themes: historic environmental events which have had an impact on the environment, such as the Industrial Revolution; new ecological landscape ideas, which set the scene for the chapters that follow; landscapes’ ability to heal and mitigate post-industrial areas and green the city; sustainable environmental infrastructure which addresses landscape architecture’s multidimensional role rather than simply ‘adding parsley to the pig’ as in previous grey approaches; food interventions, such accommodating more productive space; social activism and artistic installations, to make political statements; social sustainability, bringing communities together; places with a light design touch to reveal their value; and finally, landscape and performance, which allow the measurement of processes. Zeunert concludes by asking how to move this ‘relatively boutique’ profession to a more important position.

Zeunert’s design background means that the book is generous in its illustrations and well-designed in a large format to best show the many images (although some could always be bigger).

The examples are excellent and inspirational; most fascinating are the before, during and after photographs of key international project sites, which readers may remember over long careers, and which help to make Zeunert’s arguments. Also valuable is the setting in context of many projects which are recognisable in passing, rather than in the bigger picture – such as Emscher Landschaftspark in the Ruhr and Duisburg- Nord Landscape Park, both in Germany. While many of the examples are Australian or North American, there are useful European and Asian projects too. Like Alan Tate’s updated 2015 Great City Parks (reviewed in UD141, p40), this book offers powerful arguments for landscape architecture and strategic urban design’s value in structuring places, and against the all too common incremental and land ownership-driven approaches to design that are seen the world over.

URBAN DESIGN 144 Autumn 2017 Publication Urban Design Group

As featured in URBAN DESIGN 144 Autumn 2017

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Landscape Architecture and Environmental Sustainability Publication Urban Design Group
Reviewed By
Louise Thomas