Designing with pathways: A spatial design approach for adaptive and sustainable landscapes

Mark Zandvoort*, Nora Kooijmans, Paul Kirshen, Adri van den Brink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Despite rising attention to pathways thinking in multiple domains such as climate adaptation, energy supply planning, and flood risk management, their spatial translation is so far understudied. We set out to study how spatial design based on pathways thinking can help develop more adaptive and sustainable landscapes. Using landscape analysis, field research, and research-through-designing in a case study on climate resilience in Boston (USA), we argue for better understanding of the spatial and design consequences of pathways in general. Our results indicate that pathways can be spatially translated, demanding landscape-informed choices when sequencing different policy actions. We found that spatial designing makes the landscape consequences of pathways transparent and enables policy-makers to replace the input of policy actions with spatial interventions, select pathways according to different underlying design strategies, use the mapped pathways to initiate an iterative research-through-designing process to test and inform different designs, and spatially visualize the pathways and possible sequences of actions. We conclude that policy-makers should be cognizant about the spatial implications of pathways and offer directions to enrich applications of pathways thinking for achieving adaptive and sustainable landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number565
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2019


  • Adaptiveness
  • Climate adaptation
  • Decision pathways
  • Flood risk management
  • Landscape architecture
  • Spatial design
  • Uncertainty
  • Visualization


Dive into the research topics of 'Designing with pathways: A spatial design approach for adaptive and sustainable landscapes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this