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5 Ways Landscape Design Can Reconnect Urban Dwellers With Nature

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Landscape design in urban settings has many challenges. Cities aren't usually planned from scratch to include green spaces from the beginning. As the typical city grows, the proportion of paved areas to open green space slowly becomes overwhelming. The push to hire urban design firms to increase the amount of green areas is usually a reaction to the fact that too much of the city has become hardscaped.

Landscape design in the city works within existing constraints to produce a more livable balance of nature and urban amenity. We've compiled a list of 5 ways that landscape architecture firms reconnect urban dwellers with nature:

Making the Original Connection

In order to reconnect urban dwellers to nature, they need some connection to nature in the first place. Landscape design in urban settings relies on visual cues that might be lost on residents who never developed a close association with suburban, exurban, rural, or wild landscapes. A majority of the world's citizens now live in urban settings, and the percentage is growing yearly. Many people live their whole lives surrounded by pavement and concrete. That poses certain challenges for urban design firms.

It's common for city dwellers to lack experience with gardening and other practical outdoor pursuits. That means a landscape architect needs to make an appeal to potential visitors that they'll find compelling. Using technology to attract visitors to urban oases is a smart approach.

People who live in cities rely on technology to find everything they need for everyday life. All landscape design firms should make every attempt to list their work on mobile apps and public databases to attract more visitors. People search for everything using smartphones and computers, and there's no reason they can't find a park the same way.

Make Green Spaces Safer

Urban landscape design takes more factors into account than landscape design in more rural areas. Reinforcing a feeling of security in green spaces is an important part of making an urban oasis useful for citizens.

Some cities restrict access to urban parks to daylight hours to combat crime. Other parks are seasonal. While both these approaches have a certain practical appeal to city budget managers, they ignore the needs of citizens to have access to nature as often as possible.

Landscape design for public places should make people feel as safe as possible. Designers should increase sightlines, plan for proper lighting, and incorporate congregation points that make people see the park as a friendly, social spot.

Pull People Out of Their Cubicles

Cubicle work dominates city commerce. Millenial workers are often lured to urban campuses by the promise of green areas and proximity to water. Unfortunately, they're also subject to intense pressure to stay inside their cubicles almost continuously.

Smart urban design firms should accommodate the needs of the new urban worker to increase the use of green spaces. Urban parks should make it easy for nearby workers to gather and confer instead of using a sterile indoor meeting room. A simple arrangement of appropriate seating near a landscape landmark with easy access is all it takes.

Mix Landscape Design and Artwork

Mixing art and greenery is a staple of landscape design. If you've ever told a friend to meet you at the statue in the park, you understand the usefulness of focal points in landscapes. Artwork should be chosen with care, however.

Many artworks are somewhat ambiguous and intellectually challenging. This can have the opposite of the intended effect in a park. In order to fulfill their primary function of reconnecting citizens with nature, parks should incorporate more soothing examples of art. Mimicking the sinuous shapes of nature and incorporating natural materials is a smart way to safeguard a feeling of rest and repose.

Mind the Gaps

Urban landscape design has to take advantage of every nook and cranny in a crowded landscape. Good designers look for opportunities everywhere in the urban landscape. If no natural opportunities for greenery present themselves, designers use objects like planters and vertical gardens to increase the amount of living, green things.

If you'd like to learn more about transforming urban landscapes in the Los Angeles area into more livable, socially enriching environments, contact Samuel K. Kim at SQLA.

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