Solving conflicts iteratively: Towards a taxonomy of design approaches

K.M.C. Raaphorst, S. Lenzholzer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Designed landscapes are the result of collective processes wherein different perspectives from different disciplines meet. This leads to a constant negotiation aimed at resolving conflicts and attaining design outcomes that enjoy broad public support. One of the challenges for landscape architecture students is to determine which design approach is most appropriate for a given situation because each design context and brief differs. The question central to this paper is therefore: what set of criteria is suitable for preparing students to use appropriate approaches in different physical and social contexts? To answer this question we developed a ‘taxonomy’ of design approaches through the analysis of design literature and a broad variety of design projects in landscape architecture and urban design. Through this analysis we extracted the approaches used, e.g. ‘blueprint design’, ‘framework concept’, incentive design approaches, evolutionary approaches and others. We firstly differentiate two main approaches: end-product oriented processes and open ended design processes. Especially the latter show a broad range of approaches that can only be applied in specific circumstances. To get to grips with these circumstances we defined a comprehensive list of criteria for discussing and evaluating the suitability of the different design approaches for meeting specific design challenges in a consistent way. We distinguish four key criteria that influence the field in which these ‘open ended’ approaches can be applied: levels of complexity, levels of predictability, spatial scale, and time scale. All approaches we distinguished can be mapped in so-called ‘radar diagrams’. These diagrams indicate the degrees in which the different approaches are situated in levels of complexity, levels of predictability, spatial scale, and time scale. Using these ‘radars’ could help students of landscape architecture in applying the suitable design approaches depending on the project context. Generally speaking, they help the students (being future professionals) to apply design approaches more consciously by adhering to the demands posed by the context of the design project. In turn, the odds for conflicting perspectives to derail a design project can be lowered and consequential costs of failure (monetary or social) can be reduced.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventECLAS 2018 - Ghent, Belgium
Duration: 9 Sept 201812 Sept 2018


ConferenceECLAS 2018


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