Understanding Green Urban Landscape: A Phenomenological Approach

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


The research grows out of an interest in green landscape in cities. The role of personal experience in shaping values is another important starting point. The aim is to understand green urban landscape profoundly, as multilayered totalities, in order to plan and design landscapes more empathetically. The dissertation explores and develops ways that phenomenology can in- form landscape analysis. Green urban landscape is explored in a cross-disciplinary manner using multiple methods. The ways to provide research material include arts-based research, analyses of the places’ design history and the results of a map-based public survey. The research makes use of phenomenology as a theoretical frame of reference and explores well-known green areas systems as case examples, primarily in Boston and Helsinki. To support a comprehensive understanding of landscape, the research introduces a phenomenology-inspired analysis framework. The analysis framework illustrates how phenomenological ideas, concepts and methods can be used in analyzing landscape, systematizing the exploration of its elements. The iteration of the framework illustrates the dimensions of landscape that different narratives make visible, seeking to capture the essential in these green sequences. The analysis framework exposes the invisible that lies under and beneath the visible, and the interplay between them. The analysis draws primarily on the concepts and approaches introduced by Husserl, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, as well as their later interpreters, assuming that the essential in the analyzed places will reveal itself as a result. For instance, processes of becoming are essential elements in the interpretive interface between the visible and invisible in terms of landscape, as well as the research itself, manifesting both the development and iteration of the analysis framework and the added understanding of the particular case example landscapes. The approach presented in the research, informed and inspired by phenomenology, seeks to recognize the multidimensional and multilayered character of landscape as fully as possible, acknowledging subjective experiences as intrinsic parts of landscapes’ narratives. The approach considers the multisensory experience and embraces multidisciplinarity in interpretation. The research contributes to the theory of landscape architecture by providing a starting point for holistic and empathetic landscape analysis, planning and design. As such, it adds to and complements the range of traditional methods of landscape analysis. Simultaneously, it ends up describing some particular,value-laden green urban landscapes as experienced places.
Translated title of the contributionUnderstanding Green Urban Landscape — A Phenomenological Approach
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Hautamäki, Ranja, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0439-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0440-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • architecture
  • landscape
  • phenomenology


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