Landscape Design: an Instrument of Environmental Transformation. Essay

LANDSCAPE DESIGN: AN INSTRUMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL TRANSFORMATION. By: Arc. Abimbola A. Oke mnia, amnim LANDSCAPE DESIGN: AN INSTRUMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL TRANSFORMATION. ABSTRACT: Man, in his efforts to achieve comfort and a beautiful environment have tried to be in harmony with nature. One way by which this is being achieved is by Landscape design. Landscape design is hardly considered necessary by many in our society today; they see it as a luxury that can be forgone.

However, it is a well known fact that the human environment most appreciated, are those characterized by a relatively strong degree of special enclosure using landscaping elements. Landscape design has been found to have a lot of pleasurable attributes added to the environment. It gives the immediate environment an image that can readily distinguish one designed environment from another. The inclusion of Landscape design in Architectural design has produced more humane surroundings in the interest of the users if adequately implemented.

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Thus, for Landscape design to become indeed a hand tool or instrument in the hand of designers and planners of the built environment, the basic principles of Landscape design must be understood by these professionals. This paper will discuss these basic principles. Landscape design should seek among other things to reduce the adverse effect of the prevailing weather conditions and to create a functional, aesthetically pleasing and refreshing outdoor spaces.

The longman dictionary defines Landscape architecture as “the planning, modifying and arrangement of a large piece of land with an eye to scenic beauty” especially with reference to siting of roads, buildings e. t. c. In her book “The nature of landscape design”, Nan Fairbrother sees landscape design as “concerned with the process of creating an attractive outdoor environment”. She went ahead to say “this made man to be involved in the manipulation of the outdoor scene to produce a different kind of landscape to suit his uses”.

Garret Eckbo in his book “The landscape we see” agrees that Landscape design today begins with the backyards and front yards and all the miscellaneous open spaces left over by building, street and utility constructions within the preconceived patterns of standard subdivision and land planning practice. W. B Qurix in a paper titled “Psychological consideration in landscape design” defines landscape design as “the organization and management of physical elements within spaces so as to facilitate human responses to the environment”.

In the early part of the twentieth century the accepted definition was that of Charles Williams Eliot, then President of Harvard University which states “Landscape design is primarily a fine art and as such its most important function is to create and preserve beauty in the surroundings of human habitation and in broader natural scenery of the country, but it is also concerned with promoting the comfort, convenience and health of urban population. Following the above definitions of landscape design.

I wish to deduce that” Landscape design is the conscious or deliberate arrangement of landscape elements in outdoor scenery to obtain an almost entirely different landscape from the natural landscape due to man’s modifying activities on the virgin landscape. Landscape design is all about creating a better environment from one, which is not good enough. Man has a responsibility to change the landscape for his own greater convenience and comfort. Landscape design as a process occurs whenever the landscape is changed, developed or improved.

An example that easily comes to mind is the transformation of the “eye sore”, around the Ibom connection in the days before the democratically elected government of Arc (Obong) Victor Attah, to what is now known as the Ibom plaza. This transformation is due to the instrumentality of landscape design. Many more environment enhancement can still be achieved using the same instrument. The function of landscape design is to establish the best possible physical relations between people and the world around them, landscape is seldom pure nature, pure agriculture or horticulture nor is it pure architecture, it is more complex.

To design the landscape is to determine how best to develop a given program to suit a specific site or how best to develop a given site to suit a specific program. To design a landscape is to decide the exact form and arrangement of everything to be seen or experienced by any individual or group within a given area or movement zone. Whether you plan on “borrowing ideas” or plan on creating your own landscape design, you should have at the very least a basic understanding of the principle of landscape design. This doesn’t mean that you have to apply every principle to every part of your esign, but just having an understanding of these principles will help you generate ideas and increase your creativity, Great landscape design lies in the eyes of the individual. What appeals to you may not appeal to someone else. So while the principles of landscape design are a great guideline to follow, don’t feel that they are “the have to rules” of landscaping. I seem to agree with Dewayne. L. Ingram, a professor and extension horticulturalist in the University of Florida, who said “Landscape design combines elements of arts and sciences to create a functional, aesthetically pleasing extension of indoor living to the outdoor. He went further to say “To work towards a desirable landscape design, the landscape designer must have a working knowledge of art elements and design principles. I will also like to add that the landscape designer must also have the knowledge of landscape materials that are readily available for use. This paper is intended for the landscape designers and planner with little or no training in the uses of these basic principles, it is however, not a complete landscape design text. LANDSCAPE MATERIAL The Landscape designer has a lot of materials at his disposal with which to work.

Landscape materials are these elements that are used by man in defining his landscape and environment. We have two broad classifications of landscape materials as follows; Natural Landscape Material and Man-made Landscape Material. NATURAL LANDSCAPE MATERIAL These are the landscape materials that occur naturally and are used in their natural state or changed in form and/or appearance by man to define his landscape and environment. These materials include Earth, Rocks, Plants, Water and Relief. EARTH is the base upon which we build, it is a flexible element in that; it can be moulded into required shape to enhance a design.

A flat shapeless topography can be made more interesting by moulding, that is cutting and filling, to effect a change. ROCKS are prominent element in design. This is due to its exceptional structural and aesthetic qualities. Rocks can be used in their natural form; otherwise it could be sculptured into required shapes. Indigenous rocks to a particular site can be used to a great advantage in their natural states, they could be used as ledge, builders or outcrops as well as in building walls, podia and even sculpture. Man-made materials such as bricks or concrete made from natural aggregates can also be regarded as rocks.

PLANTS are very important, for their basic functions within the ecosystem. It is readily available and adaptable. Plants undergo continous changes depending on seasonal variations. With plants we can reduce glare, control solar radiation and control wind. Plants also filer the air of matters, absorbs excessive sound and minimize erosion. Plants provide colour in the landscape in their variety of forms and texture. WATER is an important element too, in both natural and man-made landscape, and in either it may assume a wide variety of forms of the largest and smallest scale {G. A. Jellicoe}.

Water as a landscape material has its own very special qualities of change, movement and a variation under the play of wind and light, which set it apart from all other materials. The fact that it is at times unpredictable in its changes and even somewhat difficult to control only adds to its interesting quality and its general appeal. RELIEF is the elevation or the inequalities of land surfaces, in other words, it is the difference between the maximum and minimum attitudes in a given area as physically measured or as determined from a contour map. Relief forms a very interesting landscape element.

MAN MADE MATERIAL Man has obviously succeeded in adding other elements to his landscape apart from the naturally occurring elements earlier discussed. In his continous search for a better environment, man has manipulated the existing natural landscape and its elements to satisfy his functional security and aesthetic desires. Man in some cases has completely destroy the original appearance of the landscape, the incorporation of these man made landscape elements into the landscape, and the result thereby achieved, whether harmonic or disharmonic will determine the degree at which the design has succeeded.

The principal man made elements includes the following; shelter, man-made water bodies, outdoor furniture, hard surfaces and soft surfaces. SHELTER is a major need of man and it includes all of buildings. A shelter is a structure of a certain shape, colour and texture which affords protection from rain, sun or wind. In a wider sense it is anything that serves as a screen or a place of refuge from the weather and otherwise. Shelter dictates the human movement and is responsible for the diverse change effected on landscape by an. The variation of form and shape as well as the aesthetics of forms and ornamentation determines the quality of the built environment. MAN-MADE WATER BODY are purely decorative features such as fountains cascades and similar elements, which for so long have formed part of the normal repertoire of garden design. Man made water bodies forms a focal point of the scenery, for example fountains convey water irrationally and delightfully from one spot to another, and these in all cases captures the interest of man.

OUTDOOR FURNITURE, this includes seats and sitting areas, plant containers, lamps and lighting, litter bins, sign and signboards, outdoor play things can also be regarded as outdoor furniture. Simplicity of form and detail, ease of maintenance, cost durability, finish and resistance to vandalism are all important factors guiding the selection of seats for private and public spaces. Seats could be of timber, concrete or mental, whatever material is used, scale is also important.

Plants containers can be used to provide vegetation in urban or paved environments, or used architecturally to emphasize space, pedestrian ways, or as an element of building design. They may act also as barrier separating spaces, defining spaces, etc. Street of open space lighting is of a complex technical nature, outdoor lighting is resolved into three principal types: -lighting for carriage ways -pedestrian or amenity lighting -lighting of a decorative nature All these when strategically located in an environment provides beautiful scenery. Litterbins should be simple, robust and easy to maintain, easy to handle and empty.

A good bin should not only hold litter but should also conceal the litter. Sign should be design to ensure instant recognition by the clarity of the message. Play things are abound in both public and private parks and range from those used by infants to those useable by adults, e. g. swings, slides, merry-go-round, joy wheel, etc. HARD SURFACES: these are very essentials elements in landscape design, especially in our highly increased urbanized civilization. In other words hard surfaces play a very important role on man and his landscape, most importantly it provides a hard dry, no slip surface which will carry the required load.

For pedestrian and vehicular traffic, it may indicate direction by the use of smoother flags on which people naturally walk to lead them across grassed or graveled courtyard, it should also indicate by its texture or otherwise pedestrian/vehicular priorities. Paving can also warn people against hazards. This can be achieved by the change of paving material, to draw attention to changes of level a negotiable by steps or ramps. Paved areas also indicate subtly focal points, as well as indicate ownership by a paving of material. SOFT SURFACES: Soft surfaces refer to the grassed part of the landscape, in other words called the lawn or turf.

These when properly kept and maintained looks very attractive. Soft surfaces have a number of architectural functions like the reduction of glare, absorption of heat, control of traffic, etc. ELEMENT OF ARTS Element of Art include, but are not limited to color, line, form, texture and scale. These elements are never independent of each other, but we will discuss these individual natures before considering their interactions. COLOR variation can best be explained by use of a color wheel. Primary colors are red, blue and yellow. Orange, green and violet are called secondary colors because they are combinations of two primary colors.

For example, yellow and red are combined to yield orange. Tertiary colors are the fusion of one primary and one secondary color. These colors would be between primary and secondary colors. Tint refers to a light value and is accomplished by adding white to the pure color on the color wheel, while shade is a dark value and is created by adding black to the pure color on the color wheel. Black, white and gray are neutrals and are compatible with any color. Light colors and tints tend to attract attention, as do bright, vivid colors. Colors are combined into color schemes for practical applications.

Three basic color schemes are monochromatic, analogous and complementary. A monochromatic color scheme consists of different tints and shades of one color and is seldom achieved in its pure form in the landscape. An example of an incomplete monochromatic color scheme would include white and pink flowers with a background of a dark pink and red brick house. Analogous color schemes combine colors, which are adjacent or side-by-side on the color wheel. An analogous color scheme could include green, blue-green, green-blue, blue and violet blue. This color scheme could be achieved by varying the foliage color from green to blue-green.

Complementary color schemes combine colors directly across the color wheel. For example, red and green would be complementary colors. A complementary color scheme may be achieved by using plants with green foliage against a red brick house. It is possible to have varying color schemes in one area of the landscape as the seasons change. White and pink azaleas flowers can yield a monochromatic color scheme with a red brick house. The green azalea foliage would produce a complementary color for the red brick during the summer. The landscape designer should consider the color changes throughout the year when developing a landscape plan.

Colors can be used to visually change distance perspective. Warm colors and light tints like red, orange, yellow and white advance an object or area toward the observer. These colors and tints placed near the foundation of a house would make the house appear closer to the street. Cool colors and deep shades like blue, green and black recede and can be used to make the house appear farther from the street. Cool colors are restful while warm colors express action and are best used in filtered light or against a green or dark background. Color can be used to direct attention in the landscape.

Due to this strong characteristic, color should be used carefully. When color is used for this purpose, consideration must be given to year-round color not just to seasonal color. Consideration may also be given to the time of day when this color will be enjoyed. White or light tints could be used to create interest on a patio. Dark colors would add little to family enjoyment of this area as the daylight hours passed. LINE is related to eye movement or flow. The concept and creation of line depends upon the purpose of the design and existing patterns.

In the overall landscape, line is inferred by bed arrangement and the way these beds fit or flow together. Line is also created vertically by changes in plant height and the height of tree and shrub canopies. Branching habits of plants, arrangement of leaves and/or sequence of plant materials create line in a small area such as an entrance or privacy garden. Straight lines tend to be forceful, structural and stable and direct the observer’s eye to a point faster than curved lines. Curved or free-flowing lines are sometimes described as smooth, graceful or gentle and create a relaxing, progressive, moving and natural feeling.

FORM and line are closely related. Line is considered usually in terms of the outline or edge of objects, whereas form is more encompassing. The concept of form is related also to the size of an object or area. Form can be discussed in terms of individual plant growth habits or as the planting arrangement in a landscape. Plant forms include upright, oval, columnar, spreading, broad spreading, weeping, etc. Form is basically the shape and structure of a plant or mass of plants. Structures also have form and should be considered as such when designing the area around them.

TEXTURE describes the surface quality of an object than can be seen or felt. Surfaces in the landscape include buildings, walks, patios, groundcovers and plants. The texture of plants differs as the relationships between the leaves, twigs and branches differ Coarse, medium or fine could be used to describe texture but so could smooth, rough, glossy or dull. SCALE refers to the size of an object or objects in relation to the surroundings. Size refers to definite measurements while scale describes the size relationship between adjacent objects. The size of plantings and buildings compared on the human scale must be considered.

PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN Color, line, form, texture and scale are tools, which are used in combinations to adjust design principles. Design principles include unity, balance, transition, focalization, proportion, rhythm, repetition and simplicity. All these principles interact to yield the intended design. UNITY is obtained by the effective use of components in a design to express a main idea through consistent style. Unity is emphasized by consistency of character between units in the landscape. Use of elements to express a specific theme within units creates harmony.

Unity can be achieved by using mass planting and repetition. Unity means that all parts of the composition or landscape go together; they fit. A natural feeling evolves when each activity area belongs to and blends with the entire landscape. Everything selected for a landscape must complement the central scheme and must, above all, serve some functional purpose. BALANCE in design refers to the equilibrium or equality of visual attraction. Symmetrical balance is achieved when one side of the design is a mirror image of the other side. There is a distinct dividing line between the two sides.

Equal lines, forms, textures or colors are on each side of a symmetrical design. Asymmetrical balance uses different forms, colors and textures to obtain balance of visual attraction. These opposing compositions on either side of the central axis create equal attraction. For example, mass may be opposed by color or linear dimension by height. The landscape designer must skillfully manipulate the design elements to create asymmetrical balance. The central axis must be predetermined and then developed by the elements of art and other principles of design discussed in this publication. TRANSITION is gradual change.

Transition in color can be illustrated by the radial sequence on the color wheel (monochromatic color scheme) previously discussed. Transition can be obtained by the arrangement of objects with varying textures, forms, or sizes in a logical sequential order. For example, coarse to medium to fine textures, round to oval to linear structural forms, or cylindrical to globular to prostrate plants. An unlimited number of schemes exist by combining elements of various size, form, texture and color to create transition. Remember, transition refers to the 3-dimensional perspective of composition, not just the flat or facial view.

It is possible to use transition to extend visual dimensions beyond actual dimensions. For example, radical lines in the private area of the landscape can be used to enframe and/or focalize a lake scene. Transition of plant materials along these lines can make the scene become a part of the landscape. Transition from taller to shorter plants with textural changes from coarse to fine along focal lines emphasizes the beauty of a lake scene. Transition from shorter to taller plants and from fine to coarse textures would enframe the scene and makes it appear closer, like a painting on a wall.

Generally, transition assists in the gradual movement of a viewer’s eye to the design and within it. PROPORTION refers to the size of parts of the design in relation to each other and to the design as a whole. One large towering oak may compliment an office building but would probably dwarf a single story residence. A three-foot pool would be lost in a large open lawn but would fit beautifully into a small private area. And of course, a colossal fountain would dominate a private garden but could enhance a large city plaza. Proportion in landscape design usually relates to people and their activities.

The desired size relationships of components in a design should pose little problem for the designer who considers this principle routinely in systematic thought processes. RHYTHM is achieved when the elements of a design create a feeling of motion, which leads the viewer’s eye through or even beyond the designed area. Tools like color schemes, line and form can be repeated to attain rhythm in landscape design. Rhythm reduces confusion in the design. FOCALIZATION involves the leading of visual observation toward a feature by placement of this feature at the vanishing point between radial or approaching lines.

Straight radial lines as in create a strong focalization when compared to curved lines. The viewer’s eye is quickly forced along straight lines to a focal point. Generally, weaker or flowing lines of focalization are desirable in the residential landscape. Transition of plants or other objects along these lines can strengthen or weaken the focalization. Curved lines are stronger when curved toward each other than when curved outward. Lines curved in the same direction create indirect focalization. Plant materials along the lines to create symmetrical or asymmetrical focalization can adjust focalization.

Asymmetrical focalization is indirect while symmetrical focalization is more direct, creating stronger focalization. Since focalization can be used to direct attention to a point, traffic in an area is usually directed to that point. Therefore, focalization could be used to direct traffic in a garden area. Guidance of view toward features of commercial, aesthetic or cultural value may attract the eye of the unaware without conscious effort. REPETITION refers to the repeated use of features like plants with identical shape, line, form, texture and/or color.

Too much repetition creates monotony but when used effectively can lead to rhythm, focalization or emphasis. Unity can be achieved well by no other means than repetition. Think of repetition as not having too much variety in the design, which creates a cluttered or busy appearance. SIMPLICITY goes hand-in-hand with repetition and can be achieved by elimination of unnecessary detail. Too much variety or detail creates confusion of perception. Simplicity is the reduction of a design to its simplest, functional form, which avoids unnecessary cost and maintenance. STEPS IN DEVELOPING A LANDSCAPE DESIGN

The benefits of an organized system in developing a landscape design are tremendous. As with most endeavors, the level of efficiency relative to time input is greatly increased with an organized approach. The game plan for the landscape designer should follow a sequence such as the one presented here: Steps In Design 1. Develop a plot plan. 2. Conduct a site analysis. 3. Assess user needs and desires. 4. Locate activity areas. 5. Design activity areas. 6. Plant selection and placement. CONCLUSION The need to plan the outdoor spaces of our environment is very important.

Physical planning and Landscape design is in a sorry state in Nigeria as a whole and in Uyo in particular. Nigerian architects have failed to see the need for the use of open spaces as structural elements in our designs until the recent times. They have also failed to see the need for the planning of these outdoor environments in order to function well and achieve satisfactory comfort conditions. To achieve a well-landscaped environment, planning process must first be implemented. Planning is a complex process requiring that all aspect and implication of the physical development of land to be taken into consideration.

A successful planning will reflect the following; 1. The promotion of accessibility, i. e. easy accessibility to all uses area. 2. The separation of incompatible uses and the assembly of compatible ones. 3. The undertaking of all forms of development in a visually pleasant manner or promoting the aesthetic quality of the environment. 4. The ensurance of the efficient and effective utilization of available resources. REFERENCES Dawayne L. I (1991) Basic Principles of Landscape Design, University of Florida, IFAS Extension. Fairbrother N. 1974) The Nature of Landscape Design, Architectural press, London. Garett Eckbo (1969) The Landscape We See, Mcgraw-Hill Book Company, Newyork. Hornby A S. (2001) Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, Oxford University Press. Oke Abimbola A. (1992) The Effects Of A Well Landscaped Environment On Man, B. Sc Dissertation, Unpublished. Qurix W B. (2003) Psychological Consideration in Landscape Design, Journal of Nigerian Institute of Architects, Vol. 3 No. 1. Weddle A E. (1979) Landscape Technique, William Heinne Mann, London.


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