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Enabling transformation: Linking design and land system science to foster place-making in peri-urban landscapes under increasing globalization

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GLOBESCAPE (Enabling transformation: Linking design and land system science to foster place-making in peri-urban landscapes under increasing globalization)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

Unprecedented urbanization is threatening landscape diversity, bringing along new social and environmental problems. Standardized business centers, single family residential areas and shopping malls displace highly productive agricultural land, while the culture and lifestyles of local communities become absorbed into the sphere of globalization. Up until now, however, models and tools developed in land system science have not caught up with the needs to understand and ultimately foster humans’ capacities to shape their landscapes.
This project will contribute to a next generation of tools and methods to understand and foster place-making in peri-urban areas. Main goals of the projects include (1) Obtaining an improved understanding of and empirical evidence for recurrent patterns and processes of place-making in a set of typical peri-urban landscapes.(2) Developing innovative methods and an operational tool to activate intentional change of the landscape that generates a sense of place. (3) Analyzing the role of place-making in adaptation processes across heterogeneous peri-urban landscapes to provide recommendations for resilient landscape development under increasing globalization.
(1) Conceptualization of place-making and identification of indicators to operationalize place-making: Based on a literature review on place studies, we outline the challenges of place studies by referring to the methodologies, which incorporate place within land use change research. We then propose a description of place and place-making, closing with a discussion of how to apply it to possible research tasks in land system science. The results of this process are consolidated in a manuscript submitted to the journal of Sustainability Science.

(2) Preparation of stimuli for assessing place-making in peri-urban area: The challenge in visualizing peri-urban landscapes lies in the fact that a pedestrian view only shows one scene, while peri-urban areas are characterized by the repetition of these same scenes over large areas. In order to understand how the extent of uniformed landscapes can be visualized and communicated, we investigated various methods to visualize peri-urban landscapes. The effect of flying into a scene and seeing more of the larger context of the area was evaluated against only showing the scene in an experiment lab using electrodermal activity (EDA) measurements.

Furthermore, based on the idea of the GLOBESCAPE proposal, we investigated the use of point clouds as a method for linking inductive and deductive landscape design. We developed a modeling workflow of a georeferenced three-dimensional digital environment in an iterative design-simulation loop to inform the design with scientific methods.

(3) Identification of indicators for place-making and set-up of questionnaire: We conducted a literature review on indicators to measure place-making. These include social aspects (social cohesion etc.), place-related aspects and governmental characteristics. The indicators provided the basis to develop the questionnaire, which was pre-tested in Olten (CH) and which will be used in the full experiments aimed at understanding recurrent patterns and processes of place-making.

(4) Pre-test of experiment to understand recurrent patterns and processes of place-making: In order to pre-test the large planned experiment, we conducted a small experiment in four peri-urban neighborhoods in the region of Olten, Switzerland. For this field experiment, we developed new methods for a mobile laboratory in a camper. In addition, the scenes were recorded using 360° videos instead of pointclouds. As a first step, a conceptual framework for the selection of different sites in peri-urban areas was established and tested in the field. These sites were then used to record affective reactions and cognitive assessments of the scenes. Results show that participants prefer environments with high biodiversity, independent of their bindings to that place.

(5) Design of participatory workshops: In the frame of a semester thesis, a concept was developed to elaborate visions in the frame of participatory planning processes. Based on a literature review and expert interviews, Marion Hangartner designed a three steps procedure and highlighted the importance of using a 3D modeling workshop and the combination of digital and analog methods to collect concrete visions related to the development of peri-urban areas.

(6) Coordination: As the research will be conducted in four different countries, we set up a network of collaborators in the different countries to ensure that the experiments can be run successfully in 2020. Furthermore, we intensively collaborated with acoustic specialists and well as psychologists to set up the cognitive psychological experiments in the lab and design the stimuli. Finally, we secured knowledge transfer from the ENERGYSCAPE Project ( in which similar experiments were set-up, to GLOBESCAPE.
Advances beyond the state of the art have been made particularly in three areas:

(1) Definition and operationalization of place-making: The publication of Switalski et al (2020) provides an important conceptualization of place-making for land system science, which was missing to date. It provides the basis for operationalization of a socio-ecological model, which will be used to predict place-making in peri-urban areas in the frame of GLOBESCAPE.

(2) Point cloud technology for landscape planning and design: The publication of Fisher et al (2020) and the one of Urech and Grêt-Regamey (2020) show how point cloud can allow to integrate landscape form and aesthetics with landscape analyses and indices. By using the same dataset, landscape planners and landscape designers can together work on generating landscapes supplying humans with the necessary services. The point cloud technique will be used to create a decision support tool to foster participatory plannin in peri-urban areas and ultimately foster place-making.

(3) Measuring the affective dimension of place. The pre-tests have shown that the perception of places can be measured by skin conductance responses (only weak response, but the sample size was small) and is related to various indicators of place attachment, place dependency and place identity, as well as low visual features of the landscapes. The experiments in the various countries will help identify the role of the affective and cognitive dimension in preferring a certain peri-urban place and in actively participating in the modification of these places.