Landscape Architecture Trends We Can Expect in the Coming Years
The pandemic has made many appreciate the outdoors more than ever before, as it’s been deemed safer for gatherings and brings people a sense of comfortability. As the need for outdoor spaces increases, the connection between these outdoor spaces and landscape architecture will play an active role in the relationship between people and their environment. While designing these spaces, it is important to keep sustainability and the user’s health and wellness top of mind. Pininfarina of America is well-positioned to share predictions as to what communities might expect for what is next for landscape architecture.
Green Infrastructure + Urban Identity
Landscape architecture, when executed properly, allows architects and designers to plan cities that are sustainable, yet inclusive while fostering healthy and vibrant communities. One way to do this is through the introduction of more green infrastructure. One type we can explore is the approach to water management that mimics the natural water cycle, in turn, this helps to protect communities and enhance the quality of life. Native flora as well as other semi-natural systems can mitigate waste and help us solve problems that are caused by stormwater and urban heat islands.
We believe the addition of rooftop greenhouses and green facades will also become more prevalent to help conserve the natural existing environment. The green facades act as a protective layer against harmful UV, as well as help remove air pollutants, help regulate urban temperatures, attenuate and collect rainwater and even help in the reduction of noise pollution. Within residential areas, we also predict there will be more of an interest to add community gardens. Here the herbs and vegetables grown can be used for cooking while simultaneously creating a deeper connection to nature and the local environment.
Within the workplace, we are also seeing changes take place, such as incorporating more outdoor working space to allow employees to feel more comfortable and connect with their surroundings. Adding in biophilic elements helps clean and filter the air, mitigate noise, and help block the elements like wind and sun. A well-designed outdoor space contributes to an employee’s overall health and wellness while offering resiliency.
In the hospitality industries, we are seeing both interior and exterior gardens being implemented, which help enhance the five senses to create moments of healing and tranquility for the mind, body, and spirit. By providing different textures, users can engage with their five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. While in residential areas, we predict there will be more of an interest in community gardens, where the herbs and vegetables grown can be used for cooking while simultaneously creating a deeper connection to nature and the local environment.
Biophilic Design + the Natural Environment
Plants provide a major value to the overall experience, playing with their meanings, seasonal transformations, smells, and fruits. Nature has always been a major source of inspiration for Pininfarina and we believe that the equilibrium of nature and technology are the right ingredients to humanize innovation. When selecting flora for a new greenspace, it’s important to keep in mind the characteristics of the location –– both the project site, itself and context. Native flora is more easily adaptable to the existing climate and soil conditions while providing nectar, pollen, and seeds that non-native plants cannot. Non-native plants need pest control and create more maintenance, which in turn could create higher maintenance costs for clients.
It is also important that we work with our clients to find ways to replenish the elements of our environment that may have been depleted through development overtime — such as our forests. We are in the process of planning an effort of this nature in one of our projects currently, with the goal of establishing a new way of living and coexisting in balance with the planet’s resources. Our architectural concept will be one with the jungle; we intend for our structures to integrate, conserve, and respect the environment, creating a place of peace, freedom, energy, security, and privacy. Landscape architecture is integral to that process, because we will need to conserve as much as we build to ensure the resulting infrastructure consciously coexists with nature.
Tactical Urbanism + Mobility
Landscape architecture and design will inevitably play an even more important role in our practice, as we continue to work toward enhancing the quality of air, comfort, noise pollution, and thermal control within public spaces. When we consider the human experience and the guest journey, especially in places of leisure, we need to make sure those spaces are easily accessible and organized in a way that promotes walkability or perhaps even micro-mobility in the form of scooters or segways. Additionally, we must re-envision the design of roads and sidewalks to accommodate e-scooters and e-bikes. At Pininfarina, we are exploring ideas around the “15-minute city”—meaning residents will have access to amenities like walking and bike path within 15 minutes. Creating the means for a 15-minute city will help minimize the need for using cars for transportation while promoting micro-mobility and human-powered mobility. Reducing the number of cars on the road helps lower the amount of pollution and congestion while adding added health benefits for those who choose alternative modes of transportation.
We must also take into account the emergence of self-driving, electric, and shared vehicles. The modes of transportation are altering the way architects and designers plan and design infrastructure in our cities. With more electric-powered and self-driving cars becoming available for consumers, designers will be forced to rethink the layout of parking lots. The ability to densify parking structures and downsize the space needed for passengers to get in and out of their vehicles because drivers will be able to call their car for pick up will allow more cars to be parked per square foot. Charging stations will also need to be installed throughout cities with an increase in electric vehicles.
The Introduction of the Hybrid City
After spending weeks inside our homes, we began to see our city’s streets and public areas in a whole new light. The pandemic has strengthened the value of our community networks and neighborhoods, and we can no longer deny the importance of green space and proximity natural systems. Through this lens, we also became more acutely aware of our consumption habits, which has encouraged a shift in the way many people will interact with their environments in the months to come. Consequently, this change in perception has created renewed demand for more sustainable mobility systems, such as wider streets for pedestrians, bicycles, and scooters, as well as dedicated lanes to protect these new types of commuters from traffic.
How we decide to stimulate the post-pandemic economy in response to these new demands will therefore also be crucial for establishing more aggressive policies to invest in public works, infrastructure, and urban forestry, connecting people to nature, especially in contexts with a high population density. As a result, designers and architects will be charged with developing a new model capable of creating an intelligent coexistence between the natural environment and the built environment –– instead of exasperating their dichotomy –– in which technology will be an essential component. In addition to supporting these new strategies for outdoor parks and green infrastructures, we envision technology will be better utilized indoors, as well, for applications such as integrated greenhouses and hydroponic systems that allow for vertical urban agriculture.
As interdisciplinary designers, we have grappled with the question of how we can design for an unknown future across all verticals, especially following a year of confinement in our homes, lacking green spaces. Our solution is placing the human at the center of the experience. Our teams are dedicated to exploring new and invigorating possibilities within the landscape design, enhancing experiences, and fostering wellbeing.
Andres Pineda, designer at Pininfarina of America
Samuele Sordi, Chief Architect Officer of the Pininfarina Group
Originally featured in commARCH on May 17, 2021