Fall 2024
SCI 6241
December 31
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Ecologies, Techniques, Technologies III: Ecology and the Design World


Ecology and the Design World (Estefania Fernandez Barrancos): Landscape architecture incorporates an additional layer of complexity to design that is less present in other design disciplines: living organisms. The relationships among those organisms and between them and the environment define the dynamics of populations, communities, and ecosystems. Ecology is the science that aims to understand how all these relationships work and how they change through space and time. Landscape design can incorporate many of those relationships to create spaces that go beyond human value-laden functions and design complex systems that are able to self-organize and respond to current global changes, with lasting impact for centuries.Through lectures, discussions, readings, case studies, and design projects, the goal of this course is to understand the complexity of living systems to integrate it in landscape design. In particular, we will investigate the processes and functions that emerge from ecosystem structure to help you integrate these components in your future designs creating resilient and resistant landscapes. From small-scale projects where one or several processes or ecosystem components can be integrated at the core of urban areas or buildings, to large-scale projects aiming to design entire landscapes or manage large portions of land, you will learn how to use the power of life in design.The centerpiece of this course will be the development of this ecological layer in the context of your Core Studio III project. We will reach this goal with the help of two key course components. Field trips to key ecosystems close to the Cambridge area (coastal areas and forests) that have being affected by human disturbance and protection. Six guest lecturers from outstanding firms and the academia will join us to share their views on how to integrate ecology in design and gain a deeper understanding of key ecological elements. We will explore the integration of all these elements in the practice of landscape architecture in a rapidly changing world with an uncertain future. An Introduction to Woody Plants as a Design Medium (Matthew Girard): This portion of the course is for MLA AP students.Recognizing that plants are one of the essential mediums of landscape architecture, this module seeks to introduce the student to the relationships between plants and people (horticulture) and the relationships between plants and the environment (ecology). The class focuses on the following topics and objectives:- Concepts and practices necessary for using woody plants as a design medium.
– An introduction to the spatial, visual, functional, temporal, and sensorial qualities of woody plants in the landscape.
– An introduction to the horticultural requirements of woody plants particularly as it relates to the urban environment.
– Techniques and practices for using woody plants in the designed landscape.

Landscape Architecture
Harvard Graduate School of Design
Course Level
Interest Area
Design & Architecture
Physical Sciences
Cross Registration