Case Study 2: Bringing Sustainability into the Studio

Bachelor Landscape Architecture

8.Culture & Community

 Who was Involved?

Tactical urbanism is taught in Landscape Studio 6 [LAND 7226], a core paper within year three, of the four year, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture programme. Sustainability is fully embedded across the degree, with tactical urbanism, a leading emerging landscape design methodology, used within this studio to:

  • provide a valuable methodology to ensure the success of student’s future designs and
  • encourage more sustainable design outcomes

The studio is led by Senior Lecturer Pete Griffiths, Pete holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from Unitec. The studio is co-taught with Fiona Ting from Resilio Studio. Resilio is an Auckland based landscape design practice which is dedicated to creating a regenerative and resilient Tāmaki Makaurau, through ecological design, social innovation and education.

What Happened?

Fiona Ting from Resilio Studio describes the methodology “Tactical urbanism involves a number of temporary ‘design experiments’ which test the future change an urban environment could take, using a low-cost and low commitment approach. The aim is that these experiments are measured for effectiveness, and those that work are either left in place, or implemented in a more permanent manner.” This approach to design avoids the “designer as hero” scenario where grand designs are proposed without certainty of their success.

Proponents of tactical urbanism include Jan Gehl, a Danish architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen whose career has focused on improving the quality of urban life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist (featured in the movie Human Scale) and Mike Lyden who co-authored the book Tactical Urbanism.

It is this process that the 25 students which complete this course each year utilise in studio. First students choose a facet of tactical urbanism to write an essay on, then they are spilt up to complete a group project.

Each group is partnered with a community group e.g.: the Te Atatu Penninsula Bike Club, and they then go through a consultation process with them to identify their needs. Based on these the students undertake a series of presentations back to the group based on their research and design solutions. The hope is that after the assignment community groups may choose to continue and run with these designs.

The design studio has collaborated with a wide range of stakeholders and in 2017 will be collaborating with The Southern Initiative (TSI) together with three community partners, all based in south Auckland.

What was the Outcome?

Students get to work with a variety of community stakeholders and experience public feedback first hand as part of the design process. This allows students to examine, re-evaluate and adjust to ensure their designs will serve the stakeholders’ needs. It can also allow designers to test the response of the initiatives on ecological processes.

The tactical urbanism approach to landscape is known as quicker, lighter, cheaper. Under this model rather than quickly forging ahead to build an expensive design solution that may or may not work for a community, students take a slower more community based process. Application of this approach will result in more sustainable outcomes for the community and the environment.

Teaching Approach

Studio teaching allows students to work on real projects with facilitators providing support. Partnering with a practice which has a strong emphasis on sustainability is an ideal way of reinforcing sustainability within the classroom.

Links to related Sustainability Approaches and Resources:

Resilio Studio

Tactical Urbanism Opportunities for Auckland City

Tactical Urbanist’s Guide and Examples on Facebook

The Human Scale