|dc.description.abstract||Millions of urban residents around the world in the coming century will experience severe landscape change – including increased frequencies of flooding due to intensifying storm events and impacts from sea level rise. For cities, collisions of environmental change with mismatched cultural systems present a major threat to infrastructure systems that support urban living. Landscape architects who address these issues express a need to realign infrastructure with underlying natural systems, criticizing the lack of social and environmental considerations in engineering works. Our ability to manage both society and the landscapes we live in to better adapt to unpredictable events and landscape changes is essential if we are to sustain the health and safety of our families, neighbourhoods, and wider community networks.
When extreme events like earthquakes or flooding occur in developed areas, the feasibility of returning the land to pre-disturbance use can be questioned. In Christchurch for example, a large expanse of land (630 hectares) within the city was severely damaged by the earthquakes and judged too impractical to repair in the short term. The central government now owns the land and is currently in the process of demolishing the mostly residential houses that formed the predominant land use. Furthermore, cascading impacts from the earthquakes have resulted in a general land subsidence of .5m over much of eastern Christchurch, causing disruptive and damaging flooding. Yet, although disasters can cause severe social and environmental distress, they also hold great potential as a catalyst to increasing adaption. But how might landscape architecture be better positioned to respond to the potential for transformation after disaster?
This research asks two core questions: what roles can the discipline of landscape architecture play in improving the resilience of communities so they become more able to adapt to change? And what imaginative concepts could be designed for alternative forms of residential development that better empower residents to understand and adapt the infrastructure that supports them?
Through design-directed inquiry, the research found landscape architecture theory to be well positioned to contribute to goals of social-ecological systems resilience. The discipline of landscape architecture could become influential in resilience-oriented multi disciplinary collaborations, with our particular strengths lying in six key areas: the integration of ecological and social processes, improving social capital, engaging with temporality, design-led innovation potential, increasing diversity and our ability to work across multiple scales. Furthermore, several innovative ideas were developed, through a site-based design exploration located within the residential red zone, that attempt to challenge conventional modes of urban living – concepts such as time-based land use, understanding roads as urban waterways, and landscape design and management strategies that increase community participation and awareness of the temporality in landscapes.||en