Experience of landscape: understanding responses to landscape design and exploring demands for the future
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Ward Thompson, Catharine Joan
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The research that forms this thesis is a portfolio of seven published papers together with a critical review, set out below, which gives a general overview of all the work. The work covers a period from the 1990s until 2008, with publication dates spanning a decade. The research has developed from an early interest in exploring the nature of landscape experience, responses to past and contemporary landscape designs, and what benefits people might gain from engaging with such landscapes. It has also reflected a desire to raise standards of scholarship and research in landscape architecture. The portfolio of work addresses three broad themes, interconnected but requiring different approaches in terms of method: the distinctiveness of place and design responses to it; design of public open space for the 21st century; and understanding people’s engagement with the natural environment. The research addresses the following questions and is presented under these headings, each representing a different strand or focus of attention. a) History, prototypes and local distinctiveness: what is the role of historic design prototypes in contemporary landscape architecture and how can an understanding of them enhance sensitivity to local distinctiveness in new design? b) Urban open space: how can an understanding of the history of landscape design inform the way urban open space is designed, planned and managed in the 21st century and what new paradigms might there be? c) Experiencing the landscape: how do people perceive, use and respond to green landscapes in their local environment, and what factors influence engagement with and benefit from such natural environments? The outputs in this portfolio are shown to have influenced other researchers as well as policy makers and practitioners; they are reflected in citations of the work and in government agency initiatives to develop new approaches to accessing the landscape. Finally, a conceptual framework is offered for understanding and responding to people’s diverse experiences of landscape.