New paradigms and concepts for urban nature: an integrative model practical applications in landscape planning education at Aalto university

Juanjo Galan Vivas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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Despite the numerous definitions of some of the new basic concepts supporting the use of urban nature in landscape and urban planning (e.g. urban green infrastructures (UGI), ecosystem services (ESS), nature based solutions (NBS), Urban Sustainability and Resilience, etc.), the establishment of durable terms, grammars and frameworks remains elusive and escapes the limits of the many involved academic disciplines. This situation affects specially the application of those concepts in urban areas governed by a complex system of drivers and interests, as well as their use in the academic arena, in which systems thinking and multi, inter, trans-disciplinary approaches, challenge the canonical academic and professional boundaries. In fact, a systematic review of the use of those concepts reveals that quite often they are understood and operated differently by different groups.
Urban nature, with its multiple meanings and dimensions, has historically been linked to landscape architecture practice and education, which in fact has acted as an amalgamating platform bringing together the formal, functional, ecological, perceptual, social, cultural and economic facets of nature and giving them a common purpose through landscape planning and design. Thus, and in contrast to other disciplines, the contribution of landscape architecture is located precisely in the intersection and integration of different types of knowledge, in the generation of potential synergies and in the definition of spatial and functional schemes that are often embodied with a high level of multifunctionality.
This strategic situation imposes some obvious challenges in landscape architecture education which become more critical when the conceptual and methodological foundations of highly related disciplines undergo substantial changes or when new scientific, planning and design paradigms emerge. If knowledge is a highly interconnected web, landscape architecture, by its very nature, is located in a highly connected node and, therefore, is especially sensitive to peripheral changes.
Following these preliminary remarks: the emergence of new urban-nature related concepts, their unclear interconnections and their relevance in landscape architecture education, this paper elaborates on three Research Questions:
1) Can the new set of urban-nature concepts be integrated in a more coherent and synthetic model?
2) How can this synthetic model be adopted in landscape architecture education?, Which kind of courses or activities could facilitate its practical use by landscape architecture students?
3) How does the synthetic model and its academic application respond to the expectations and needs of decision makers and experts from other disciplines?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLessons from the Past, Visions for the Future
Subtitle of host publicationCelebrating One Hundred Years of Landscape Architecture Education in Europe
EditorsShelley Egoz, Lei Gao
Place of PublicationÅs, Norway
PublisherECLAS, European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)978-82-575-1642-0
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventECLAS Conference: Lessons from the past, visions for the future - Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway
Duration: 16 Sep 201917 Sep 2019


ConferenceECLAS Conference
Abbreviated titleECLAS
Internet address


  • Landscape Architecture
  • Landscape planning
  • Landscape ecology
  • Urban Planning
  • Urban sustainability
  • Urban resilience
  • Ecosystem services
  • Green Infrastructures
  • Urban nature
  • Sustainable urban planning

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