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Walking - Conversing with the Landscape Katrina Duncan S3133948


Introduction Executive summary Drifting Pedestrian and the Path Tailoring the Design Process Scale, Proximity and Sequence Lost in Translation Intervening on Site Intervening With Site The Master Plan Conclusion Reference List Bibliography


Before delving into the pages of the walking vernacular I would firstly like to introduce myself. My name is Katrina, and I live in the suburbs – in particular the outskirts of where the suburbs sway on the boundary of rural and residential. My home, in Lilydale sprung from urban sprawl and my site is a direct result of this. Growing up in the burbs often required the ability to navigate the landscape through walking. I walked home from school every day, I walked to work, and today I walk for exercise and just because I enjoy loosing myself within the landscape. Walking has the ability to inject oneself into the landscapes that allows for a personal refuge. ‘The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through the landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts’ (Solnit, 2000, p. 6) Throughout this document I have dedicated pages to my walking and how I experience the landscape when doing so. Some of my accounts have guided my design process of thinking and others just exist. To design for walking may not be a grand statement to the field of Landscape Architecture but it is my statement.

‘Above all, do not loose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.� Soren Aabye Kierkegaard Danish philosopher 1813-1855


Walking is so much more than an addition to the typical streetscape. Walking can be understood as a language, having its own vernacular, dialects, and idioms. (Amato, 2004) Walking is inseparable to the land that it is walked on, the conversations that can be had with the landscape and the language itself commits humans to an individual interpretation of walking. Each synonym for going on foot offers a description and brings an interpretation with it. In the outer suburbs of Melbourne walking is typically designed for functionality and connection. Pedestrian paths often employ material palettes that are used as tools for continual movement where it’s more about getting to the destination than it is about the journey along the way. They remain somewhat neutral in the landscape. By neutral I mean they lack sensory activation. When walking along a typical neighbourhood pedestrian path you rarely get a feeling of confrontation or pleasure from these designs, and often it is the adjacencies and other pedestrians that affect the walking experience. Walking in the suburbs has a definite different feeling than that of the more urban environment. The lack of shop frontages, promenades and vibrant street activity is replaced for a quieter place for contemplation and reflection with the landscape.

There are two distinct types of walking paths that typically wind throughout suburban neighbourhoods. Type No One. The neighbourhood streetscape. The function of the neighbourhood streetscape is to provide a pedestrian path that acts as a place to walk through the streets without having to walk on the road. Type 1. Neighbourhood Streetscape

The neighbourhood pedestrian path typically consists of 1.5m wide coloured concrete grey path with street trees at regular intervals and although the tree species may deviate, the function remains the same. Type No. Two is the Connecting spaces within open space. Throughout any neighbourhood there are the open spaces that provide recreational and spatial relief within the suburbs. The pathways within these spaces are typically less formal with gravel although sometimes concrete and tend to be situated along the edges as they meander through the site touching elements of low planting, shade trees and large expanses of grass.

Type 2. Connecting spaces within open space

Type no two will be my primary focus however I think that it is hard to design with one without taking into consideration of the design implications of the other.

Designing for walking is to design for the traversing landscape. Often this translates to designs that incorporate for an ease in mobility and a flow through the landscape that is consistent. Surface materiality and vegetation are the primary contributing factors to this design process, manipulating space and engaging in the conversation with the landscape. Through the exploration of these elements along with topography my aim is to investigate walking as an aesthetic tool capable of describing and modifying these spaces and to challenge the notion of what it means to design for walking within the suburbs. How can I design for walking that engages a pedestrian with the landscape? Using walking as a design tool I’m interested in what it means to design for site and at what point does the design for walking takes over the design for site.






By providing multiple meandering green passages within the landscape acting as pedestrian connections to the core commercial area and green open spaces, i sought to provide pleasent spaces to walk.






(Officer) Proposed Residential Development



Increasing suburbanization has been accompanied by a continued decrease in walking, yet walking remains second only to cars as a means of transport. How can you design a conversation with the landscape through the median of walking that will impact on mode choice and support pedestrian travel?

Question My initial question revolved around ideas of connections in the landscape that could be conducive for walking, but what i was really interested in was the design aesthetics of walking

When considering what it means to design for walking my initial response was to delve into the primary principles of what it means to be able to walk within the suburbs. Getting lost in design principles of connectivity, directness of route and access to facilities, resulted with designs that were disjointed from the walking experience.

Pedestrian [puh-des-tree-uhn] A pedestrian is a person travelling on foot whether walking or running.

Path [path, pahth] The term ‘path’ simultaneously indicates the act of crossing ( the path as the action of walking), the line that crosses the space (the path as an architectural object) and the tale of the space crossed (Careri, 2009, p. 25)


Taking a step back I considered what the role of the pedestrian is, in the suburbs and more directly what the pedestrian path really does. Pedestrian paths are designed as linking tools. They offer a pedestrian the ability to move to different destinations freely without complicated navigation. They act as a Segway through the landscape and provide a relatively blank (mundane) canvas in which to work from. Surfaces and vegetation are constant variables, working as tools for connection, but not so much as a space that you would want to transverse through.

The loop around the lake envokes feeling of satisfaction as the journey undertaken is measured in distance.

Gateway Reserve (January 2011)

The vast open space of water can make you feel isolated along its edges.

Wondering around the edges of the park, it quickly became apparent that if i wished to engage with the site I would have to deviate from the track.

Gateway Reserve (January 2011)

The gateway reserve has attempted to engage in other activities through the implementation of the walking track but what it actually does is segregate uses.


Play With Scale

Realign path to connect with entrance

Vegetation For Comfort

Vegetation To Be Low To Medium Sized Shrubs So Not To Over Shadow building

Materiality to reflect a narrative of place

Different surface designated for rider? refernce to movie reel

Vegetation would be harder for cyclists to navigate

Encouraging flat surfaces vertical Offer more shade and visual interest for walker


Focusing on the same question, I shifted scale to an urban activity centre within the suburbs. This space had linear spatial qualities and already had connections in the landscape. This design form allowed me to concentrate on the concept of the pedestrian path and a traversing landscape.

Need spaces for design intergration between path interfaces resting/social/gathering

How much influence would the path have on the space? Use to having path networks as neutral assets to a space, rather than an influencing factor of design,

My first steps to design for the traversing landscape, I attempted to utilise the adjacent interfaces of a pedestrian path to engage a design response, for example employing the use of materiality and identity of the existing space. The problem with this, is, as I attempted to design with a narrative of elements along the path I encounted a problem, ‘the destination.’ Often the role of the pedestrian path is to arrive somewhere. This destination point often has its own design elements which is a response to context, in which the mundane pedestrian path finds it easy to integrate into. So when the pedestrian path takes on its own design persona when you reach the destination, a thought process has to begin, in which I had to ask myself ‘how do they come together’ This initiated a thought process that maybe these urban spaces only need to provide connections in the landscape to support pedestrian travel and as long as they provide the basic needs for comfort when walking, like shade trees, pathways and seating, then that’s all that may be able to be done.


The sounds from the highway are deafening, cant even hear myself think, but the promise of better things to come are budding.

Chirnside Park Green Spine Project (June 2011)

Traversing the recently constructed green spine project provides a different perspective of Chirnside, one that has not had access to before.


What if there was no destination point as such, except for the site itself, then how would designing for the traversing landscape emerge? How can I design for walking that engages a pedestrian with the landscape?


Once again shifting scale and site, my focus altered to designing for walking in my neighbourhood and in particular the circulation space within the open space. This change in site enabled my research question to be more pragmatic.

Still considering the adjacent interfaces, I thought about the primary influencing factors that could contribute to the design of walking. To begin to understand the traversing landscape, you have to start with how we organise the space around us. We move slowly on foot, and the human body is linear in orientation and our senses have developed to allow for slow, forward movement on horizontal surfaces. (Gehl, 2010, p. 33) When designing, it’s necessary to consider the client, the pedestrian and to reflect on the fundamental design tools needed to engage a conversation between the walker and the landscape.

As I move through the landscape, elevated from the ground below, a sense of greatness overwhelms me. Distant mountainous views draws my attention forward as I travel along with gravel moving under foot, occasionally escaping into my shoes. Warburton Trail (March 2011)

Waters are captured in the earth below changing the land form from a grassy Indentation into a temporal wetland.

Warburton Trail (March 2011)

Vegetation closing in, shadows on the ground define coldspots within the landscape.

Warburton Trail (July 2011)

Warburton Trail (March 2011)


Early renditions of similar design ideas were apparent in the works of Frederick Law Olmstead. Olmstead did not see the public park as just vast meadows, but rather he saw them as places of harmony; places where people would go to escape life and regain their sanity. (Beveridge, 2005) Olmsted had high expectations for his design’s psychology and visual effects on people. He believed that the perfect antidote to the stress and artificialness of urban life was a nice stroll through a pastoral park. He foresaw places with graceful undulating greensward and scattered growths of trees. He believed and promoted the idea that such an environment would promote a sense of tranquility. Olmsted’s vision was that the sense of calmness that would come from the park by his separation of the different landscape themes and conflicting uses.


Figure 1. Olmstead’s Central Park, New York Central Park is a prime example of Olmsted’s ability to create gaceful undulating greenswards with scattered growths of trees that were picture perfect.

Olmsted applied these principles of separation and subordination more consistently than any other landscape architect of his era. Subordination was accomplished in his parks where carefully constructed walks and paths would flow through the landscape with gentle grades and easy curves, thus requiring the viewer’s minimal attention to the process of movement. At the same time, many of the structures that Olmsted incorporated into his parks merge with their surroundings. Separation is accomplished in his park systems by designing large parks that were meant for the enjoyment of the scenery. Smaller recreational areas for other activities and where “park ways” handle the movement of pedestrians and vehicular traffic offset these large parks. (Beveridge, 2005)

Empty tree canopies fill the crisp cold air. Wet grass inhibits any deviation from the path, so am I reminded that this is winter.

Lilydale Reserve (July 2011)

The quaint white pedestrian bridge not only acts as a safe way to navigate the creek but allows for an opportunity to loose oneself in a history of place whilst contemplating the view downstream. Lilydale Reserve (July 2011)

The sound of timber boards echoing underfoot, is a gentle reminder of the treacherous waters that lurk below. Landscape composition is inspired by work done by Frederick Law Ollmstead. Olida Creek, Lilydale Reserve (July 2011)

Lilydale Reserve (July 2011)

Timber Pedestrian Bridge (July 2011)

Scale [skeyl] Scale determines the dimensional relationship of a representation to that in which it represents. Working with human scale mean’s providing spaces for pedestrians that take into account the possibilities and limitations dictated by the proportions of the human body.

Proximity [prok-sim-i-tee] Proximity is simple terms is nearness. Proximity can create uncomfortable situations in the landscape in the forms of other pedestrians or it can provide visual and spatial stimulation like vegetation.

Sequence [see-kwuhns] A sequence is an order of succession, in a sequence the same element can appear multiple times within different positions, this sequencing process will be explored through vegetation

Engage [en-geyj] The definition of engage: Is to involve oneself or to occupy ones attention or efforts. To engage in the landscape is more specific, engagement requires stimulation of the senses and needs to be able to provide connections on a physical and emotional level. In order to achieve this level of engagement, it would be necessary to design the landscape with meaningful things as opposed to just designing with things.


Although I agree with Olmstead’s primary ideas behind his design for the landscape, in particular the notions of design’s psychology and visual effects on people, I want to explore the notion of the landscape engaging with a pedestrian on a physical level as well as the artistic display. Much of Olmstead’s work was about subtle changes in the landscape in particular charges to topography and vegetation. By employing these tools as well surface and combining it with scale, proximity and sequence, how can I engage a conversation between the walker and the landscape?

Decommissioned steel tracks lost in blades of green, act as a reminder of past movements that once occupied the landscape.

Warburton Trail (March 2011)

Warburton Trail (March 2011)

These tracks navigate the pedestrian towards the station in an iconic statement within the landscape.

Warburton Trail (March 2011)

Warburton Trail (March 2011)


To engage with the landscape my initial design process investigated the organisation of space while traversing through it. Using vegetation, topography and surface, I teased out the possible spatial relations through scale proximity and sequence.



Elements within the landscape that are within close proximity to the walker have to be in mass in order to leave an impression, otherwise the pace in which they are passed are quickly forgotten.

When walking we can clearly see ahead, peripherally to the sides, downward to some extent and much less upwards. The Sensory engagement is a large part of what we experience, and what we experience is scale, proximity and sequence of objects within the landscape. If an object it in close proximity and scales above the pedestrian the sequence is integral to how that space my feel like when traversing through it. If it’s repeated within close proximity of the last, then the pedestrian can feel enclosed and isolated. On the other hand if you change the scale then the object becomes less about a spatial experience and more about the visual.




3 Primary spatial experiences

Constant spatial positioning of elements in the traversing landscape, can create a sense of knowing and is less likely to engage the pedestrian

Elements spaced further apart, creates visual breaks in the landscape and allows for distant views to filter in


Positioning of high elements, for example shade tree, large shrubs and even topography can isolate the walker from the surrounding environment, This isolation is conducive for contemplation and can enable a walker to get lost within the landscape. Medium elements can act as a buffer between the high and low offering a supporting role to the spatial configuration of a space. Low elements are positioned below eye level. Engagement because of this is initially from a distance, and then as you move through the space, awareness for the finer details of texture and colour can be appreciated.

Sight in the mostly highly developed of our senses. First we recognise an object from the shape in the distance, depending on light and time of day; we can generally make out what the object is when it is within 100 meters, at 50 meters we can begin to see detail and at 20 meters we start to see the finer particulars that are unique. (Gehl, 2010) I

Maze like, closed in, one directional

Typical Buffer Planting

Constructing onerhead space

A Fleeting moment

SCALE, PROXIMITY and SEQUENCE Possible spatial configurations between the path and vegetation using the three scales and close proximity.

In summary these observations about distance, senses and communication is to assume that very little engagement exists between the pedestrian and the landscape between 100m to 20m, so when designing for walking within the landscape its apparent that designing with close proximity it the primary design tool.

Castella Street, Lilydale (February 2011)

Castella Street, Lilydale (February 2011)

The blue stone cobble swale lies between the grand old oak trees and the deteriorating path, consuming you into a distant past not forgotten.

Clarke Street, Lilydale (February 2011)

Castella Street, Lilydale (February 2011)

The Gateway (January 2010))


Originally Development Plan

Proposed Development Plan

My site is situated in Lilydale and is the remnants of urban sprawl. Originally when the Gateway was designed to be developed over a decade ago, the site was initially bounded by the suburban grid with the adjoining site destined for development. The area, previously farm land was severely overgrown and infested with blackberries, making it nearly impossible to see the delicate landscape systems that were occurring underneath. As time moved on and the later stages began, slowly a different kind of landscape was beginning to be uncovered. In January 2011, the plan for the space changed as the developers formally acknowledged the space not only as a drainage swale (which it had been currently operating as under the blackberries) but as a wetland.

Existing Pocket Park





01 (September 2011)

02 (September 2011)



03 (September 2011)

2 3

4 04 (September 2011)


The site is part of a larger network of green spaces within the gateway. The pocket park situated west of the site, is to meet the quota of green space for the developers. The larger park south west, has the recreational facilities for the area. Within its grounds is a football/cricket field and children’s small playground with barbeque facilities. This park gets well used all year round as both passive and active recreation.

For this reason I need to consider how my site can connect to the larger context and in particular to the streetscape.

Aerial (Nearmap 2011)

Site Analysis


Existing Sections

Surrounded by the harsh edges of residential development the site competes for its own identity. Existing landform slopes into the site from the adjacencies, resulting in a wetland with natural drainage swale lines in the landscape, made evident not only through the visual and physical presence of water but also the lines of differentiating vegetation.

The sites surface, a composition of heavy clay and silty sands provide a visual display of colour and texture.


As a starting point to design for site, I decided to do exactly what I didn’t want to do.

To be able to gauge the successfulness of my project I felt that it was necessary to establish an initial point of critique for my design process. This was developed through the concept of how would I attempt to design for site as though it was a park. The first assumptions about site would be to extend the wetland area outwards, design a path network that circulates the site and connects to the existing park and streets. Add some buffer planting and canopy trees around the entry points and ‘hey presto’ you have another mundane landscape within the suburban environment.

Getting lost in a landscape, surrounded by a mass of bare limbs and a simplistic mud track, the suburbs easily forgotten

Transported from the suburbs and injected into another world just minutes from the mainstreet of Lilydale.

Near Lilydale Lake (September 2011)

Getting lost in the suburbs is a hard thing to do but with the help of the mass of bare trucks juxitoposing the lush carpet of exotic flowers, you are taken into another place.

Vegetation [vej-i-tey-shuhn] Vegetation is the general term for plant life. It refers to shade trees, large shrubs and grasses. Vegetation is the spatial configuration of elements in the landscape from the ground up. It enables a biological connection between the pedestrian and the landscape whilst building an environment that has texture, colour and softness.

Surface [sur-fis] Surface refers to a layered material with a boundary. Surface can be defined as the ground underneath the steps we walk. For this research surface is both, the pathways used to navigate site as well as the adjoining spaces.

Topography [tuh-pog-ruh-fee] Topography is the configuration of landform represented through a series of rises and depressions in the surface of the landscape.




Designing for walking is to design for the traversing landscape. Surface materiality and vegetation are the primary contributing factors to this design process, manipulating space and engaging in the conversation with the landscape. Through the exploration of these elements along with topography in a layering process, how can I design for walking that engages a pedestrian with the landscape?

Autumn transforms a space in so many ways, it provides temporality with a burst of colour, and it reconfigures spatial relationships. Falling tree canopies blankets the ground providing new surfaces to move through and interact with.

The mottled brown carpet crunched and moved underfoot

Disintegrating tree canopies, create gaps in the horizon

Melba Park, Lilydale (April 2011)

Lilydale Reserve, Lilydale (April 2011)




AS A RESULT The vegetation provided an alternative spatial relationship to the site although it lacked connection, The paths are longated and isolated from the water. The topograph,y overcome by the vegetation remains to the outer edges as a buffer

How can you engage a pedestrian in the landscape using vegetation? Retaining the existing form of the wetland I used vegetation (in particular deciduous canopy trees) to ask the question ‘how could I engage the pedestrian in the landscape?’ In the scenario, I imagined what it would feel like to walk through different spatial configurations of canopy trees as you moved through the space. The problem with this is I ran out of configurations to use and I also realised that this wouldn’t’ engage a pedestrian in the landscape, if you just pile on arbitrary elements, in retrospect, I was designing for a rambling conversation, It lacked meaning, depth and a connection to site.

A line of small canopy trees directs movement and creates a buffer.

Large canopy trees directs movement but still allow for pedestrian circulation space around the trees.

Irregular placement of canopy trees alters the spatial relationship of a site to provide a human connection but fails to direct movement.


Need to create other opportunities for difference in the landscape.

Next I tried designing the canopy trees for the site, utilising them to frame views and control movement. The problem with this is, as I was designing for the site and not the walker it was contradictory to my design intention.

Possible spatial relationship between the walker and the dfferent forms of tree canopys

Lost in the landscape


In the third iteration of this sequence, I decided to try to designing using the three scales of vegetation at the same time. Large canopy trees, Medium shrubs and low plantings.

I believe that this design would result in a level of engagement from the pedestrian, but with a design that was a similar projection to the one that I didn’t want to implement. This design lacked structure and resulted with the site being completely overtaken by vegetation.



At this point I realised to initiate a conversation with vegetation is equivalent to rambling; it lacked connection to site and any sort of coherent design. Shifting focus, I revaluated the layering process to use surface (pathway connections) as the primary driver for design.

The simplistic landscape demonstrats that not every moment has to be filled with vegetation.

The path diviates between the straight and meandering creating directional viewlines through the space.

Lilydale (August 2011)

Lilydale (August 2011)

Lilydale (August 2011)

Lilydale (August 2011)

Narrow paths often restrict movement and result with awkward passing’s as one pedestrian has to step off the path.

A visual break in the path, seperates passing walkers

Topography can be used to seperate walkers and also shift site perspective

Break in the vegetation allows for spatial and visual relief in the landscape

Camp Follie Through the use of symbolism I sought to investigate the concept of journey whilst traipsing through dense scrubland. Through symbolism the space was reorganised where the journey was guided. Symbolism allowed for deviation and interpretation. With symbolic gestures in the landscape your destination was not so much guided as it was discovered. By investigating the destination in this way I was able to enrich the journey through association of site to create moments in the journey to reflect the destination.

To design the path network there are necessary connections in the landscape that must be made. These connections are fundamental to how the site will function from the streetscape inwards and provide entry and exit points to the site. Camp Follie (March 2010)

Just as important are the internal circulating paths. These paths need to be considered in terms of access around the site as well as the materiality underfoot. These pathways need to be able to create a journey through the landscape and need to allow for two pedestrians to comfortable pass.

I would find the loops frustrating to traverse through. Path System

Pedestrian Movement



In the first iteration I designed the path network to follow the horizon. This offers a play with vegetation in relation to the time of day and the resulting shadows that are produced. The walking journey can be measured in time and creates a dynamic relationship with the landscape but the resulting path network is disjointed and lacks direct connections. The walking journey is aimless.

Path System

Paths, water, topography






The second iteration was a similar concept to the first but included additional connection points between the paths and was more elongated to allow for the transition through the space easier. This design works spatially well with the site connecting to the existing park and streets, but what does the space feel like to traverse though?


Taking to walking as a means of designing for walking. Not happy with the final form, I thought ‘What would it be like to walk this journey on site?

To further understand what it means to design for walking and how you can use walking as a design tool, I relocated my focus and design medium onto site. By implementing my design ideas of vegetation and surface on site at a 1:1 scale, in two phases of design I hope to gain a better understanding of the spatial relationships between the site, the walker and the vegetation.


Phase One. Phase one will investigate the path. On site using 12m of white calico cloth I will endeavour to shape and guide the desired journey through site. This will direct decisions of a meandering or straight or in which direction it should travel and for how long. Phase Two. Phase two will investigate the concept of the spatial configurations and sequence of vegetation within the landscape in relation to the path, entrances and adjacent edges of the site. Using cardboard boxes, I will stack them up in place to reconfigure the existing space.

After entering the site I weighed up my options, travel north – head towards the undulating hills in the distance or travel south – head towards the suburban street. Travelling north I played with direct and meandering lines of travel. Although the direct path sent you towards the water, the undulating path made use of the shifting perspective between the distant view lines and the water. Traversing the site I discovered approximately 15 meters from the water’s edge that the ground was severely water logged. This issue with drainage I revaluated the positioning of the path and the swale. Continuing on my journey I took the path through the plantation of birches and around the swale, moving south I meandered along the water’s edge.

Towards the distant views of undulating hills Site Lilydale (September 2010)

Towards the surburban street Site Lilydale (September 2010)

I started this implementation at the west entrance of the site, at the intersection of where Glenloath Avenue terminates and the site begins. This starting point allowed for the continuation of the existing pedestrian path into site. This method of design enabled a direct connection between the site and myself as the walker and allowed me the freedom to navigate the site as I wished and to make decisions about direction and form. Manipulation of the path in this manner provoked a feeling of control to make decisive decisions that would inform how a pedestrian could navigate my site.

The calico was an effective design tool however the lack of length was a hindrance to the process. Unable to see the path that I left behind made it harder to see the potential of where I could go.

The calico was able to articulate subtle undulations in the landscape.


My first attempt to design with vegetation was hindered by severe winds on site. Every time I stacked a box it flew into the air making it difficult to assess the outcome.

The focus for this design intervention was to test the spatial relationship and sequence of the notion of vegetation in relation to the path and the landscape. Realising that I would be unable to design the whole site in this manner I chose to focus on the entrance of the site and the water’s edge. This design intervention also started at the west entrance. Having my path aligned I began to position the boxes in close proximity to the path and stack them two high. Unhappy with spatial configuration and the little effect that it appeared to have on the landscape and the path I began to add more boxes. This resulted in a feeling of isolation and a separation from the greater landscape. The outcomes of this intervention did not meet my expectations. The boxes appeared to be too dense to successfully represent the spatial relationship of vegetation within the landscape. Vegetation has properties of softness and perforation, which the boxes could not translate to. The intervention at the water’s edge had a similar outcome, although the boxes were able to create an intimate space that blocked out the vastness of the site and allowed a direct focus on the water and the associated forms of planting and topography.

The shifting topography not only defines this space but depending on which route you choose has a major impact on the type of experiences that the pedestrian engages in. On the off beaten track decisions have to be weighed and judge. If the ground is wet, the high side it must be. To choose the other will result with sad consequences of mud underfoot. But if the ground is dry it takes precedent for the ease of navigation is far superior.

Fluctuating surfaces initiate a contemplation in the landscape, one that is based on evaluating the steps that we choose to take as opposed to self-regulating thought.

Shortcut to the Lilydale Station (September 2011)


Isolating or elevating will alter the perspective of a site for the pedestrian. Depending on the type of engagement that you want, will depend on how you design with topography.

Topography Model (September2011)

Having investigated walking through vegetation and the path it’s time to traverse through topography. Topography is inseparable from the ground that we walk. Undulations in the landscape have the ability to change the spatial configurations of a site and add points of visual difference. Topography can enhance experiences that would be lost if traversing on a flat surface. It can hide or reveal moments in the landscape and I believe that topography is an underutilised tool in the design for walking.


Topography influences numerous landscape processes that include hydrology and ecology. These processes not only interact with each other but also contribute to shaping the landscape. I have investigated vegetation in proximity and scale with surface but how does it interacts with topography and more importantly the traversing landscape.


Vegetation accentuates topography and controls hydrology. Canopy trees can be made taller but would be compromised by erosion. Dense low plantings can soften edges but would also absorb water runoff. When designing with topography and vegetation it is essential to consider hydrology. You have to reflect on how you want the site to function and the spaces you want to design.


How can you engage a pedestrian with the landscape using topography? Unlike surface and vegetation it’s difficult to intervene on site at a 1:1 scale using topography as a tool. Topography is a series of cause and effect at such a large scale that in order to test design I needed to scale down. Using plasticine I attempted to redesign the site at 1:1000 scale focusing on altering the topography to create different experiences in the landscape aimed at the pedestrian.

Adding water to the model I was able to see how my decisions of topography would affect the hydrology of the site. The topography would capture water in the areas that are designed for walking.


Using plasticine I modelled the existing topography and hydrology of the site. Currently the sites primary focus is to capture water runoff from the surrounding topography; the swale is pragmatic in form and is visual disjointed from the site. Topography Model (September2011)

My first attempt to design with topography as a tool to engage the pedestrian I decided to add topography to the landscape. By adding topography to the site it would hide existing edges and create new spatial configurations that are intimate for the pedestrian. My initial thought was to create sweeping forms in the landscape that would guide water runoff into a concentrated point in the centre of site. The topography in this form inherited maze like qualities and the lacked difference. The qualities of site are not enhanced but hidden. Topography Plan

The site functions as a catalyst for water runoff, ostracising the pedestrian from the site.


Topography Model (September2011)

My next attempt to design with topography I decided to make cuts in the surface and where I made cuts I used the fill material as rises along the edges. This resulted with accentuated rises and falls that caused the sites topography to function in a specific way. The impressions acted as spaces for hydrology and the rises supported the water flow.

Topography Plan

The deviating topography allows for altering perceptions of site.

Aware of the sites hydrology the topography sits on three levels. The lower level is designed for the drainage swale. The middle level is designed for the impressions in the landscape for the pedestrian to traverse through and the upper level is for the rises.


Topography Model (September2011)

In the third iteration I considered the outcomes from my design intervention of the path on site. Using the path alignment I thought about what it would feel like to move through the site and using topography how could I enhance the existing features. Manipulating the topography I created both rises and falls for the pedestrian to move through, constantly altering the spatial relationship the pedestrian has with site. Topography Plan


Taking to walking as a means of designing for walking. To further understand what it means to design for walking and how you can use walking as a design tool, I relocated my focus onto site. By implementing my design ideas of vegetation and surface on site at a 1:1 scale, in two phases of design I hope to gain a better understanding of the spatial relationships between the site, the walker and the vegetation.

Path Plan

Topography Plan

Vegetation Plan

I enter the space with a feeling of arrival, the overhead canopies provide a sense of grandeur and with a fleeting visual glimpse of the wetland though the grasses I endeavour to discover more. Following the path I ventured up the rise to a platform overlooking the water, with mountainous views in the distance and undulating terrain in the foreground I readjusted my stance to position myself away from the path just for a moment. Following the topography upwards I moved through the dense canopy of birches, imagining just for a moment that I was somewhere else. Continuing around the landscape the tree canopies move to higher ground. No longer lost in the tree tops but positioned under the wide canopies I suddenly feel quite small. Moving away from the water’s edge I notice how green the grass looks and how different the view must be on the grassy knoll.

The master plan is a collaboration of a series of processes and layering of surface vegetation and topography. Realising that there really is no single dominating factor but in fact an equation of all elements working together to design a traversing space that engages with the pedestrian.

Master Plan

Initiating the conversation with the landscape is the path. Used as a navigational tool around the site it guides pedestrian movement. When topography was added it altered the path alignment to enable the topography to create points of discussion within the landscape and produced a more meaningful relationship with site. Finally the vegetation was added. Vegetation allows for a biological connection to site whilst enhancing the spatial experience.


Engagement in the Landscape requires a stimulation of the senses and needs to be able to engage a pedestrian on a physical level, in order to achieve this level of engagement it would be necessary to design the landscape with meaningful things as opposed to just designing with things. There is a visual and spatial link with walking and design aesthesis, carefully planned details with layering of juxtaposing elements between surface, vegetation and topography are needed to create an appreciation for the individual parts that make up the whole and pedestrian engagement is about providing visual and physical experiences in the landscape. To design the landscape that can engage a pedestrian requires a thought process that includes the question ‘How would I like to navigate this site? What spatial and visual connections would I like to have?


One element that I have failed to deliver is how this site connects to the broader streetscape, which will be my next focus of design.

Through the design processes of surface, vegetation and topography and the exploration of different mediums I think that the most effective way to design for these questions is for the designer to become the pedestrian yourself. I found the design process was the most successful when I was lost in the landscape with calico and I could physically map how I would like to move through the site. I believe that this level engagement with me on site and the level of engagement from a pedestrian is reciprocal. If we, as landscape architects (the toughest critiques of landscape design) can be engaged as pedestrians then I believe so too can others. One of the other questions that I asked myself in this process was ‘When designing for walking at what point the design for walking takes over the design for site. I found that there was no definitive point between designing for walking and designing for site. The design process became entangled in a web of surface, topography and vegetation where by designing for walking you inherently designed for site. This raises new possibilities to design and what it could mean to design for other public spaces.

Images Figure 1. Unknown. (n.d.). Image of Central Park. Retrieved 09 17, 2011, from Lost Wallpapers :


Text Amato, J. A. (2004). On Foot: A History of Walking. New York and London: New York University Press. Beveridge, C. (2005). Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing the American Landscape. University Press. Careri, F. (2009). Walkscapes - Walking as an aesthetic practice. Spain: Editorial Gustavo Gili, SL. Gehl, J. (2010). Cities for People. Washington: Island Press. Solnit, R. (2000). Wanderlust - A History of Walking. United States of America: Penguin Books.

Text Amato, J. A. (2004). On Foot: A History of Walking. New York and London: New York University Press. Berman, M. A. (1996). The Transportation Effects of Neo-Traditional Development. Journal of Planning Literature , 347-363. Beveridge, C. (2005). Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing the American Landscape. University Press. Careri, F. (2009). Walkscapes - Walking as an aesthetic practice. Spain: Editorial Gustavo Gili, SL. Carey, N. (2005). Establishing Pedestrian Walking Speeds. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Unknown. Crane, M. G. (2001). Travel By Design - The Influence of Urban Form on Travel. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.


Text Gehl, J. (2010). Cities for People. Washington: Island Press. Llewelyn-Davies. (2002). Urban Design Compendium . Torrington Place, London, England. McCann, E. J. (1995). Neotraditional Developments: The Anatomy of a New Urban Form. Urban Geography, 210-233. Mouldon, A. &. (1990). Designing Pedestrian Friendly Commercial Streets. Urban Design and Preservation Quartely, Vol 13, 7-11. Solnit, R. (2000). Wanderlust - A History of Walking. United States of America: Penguin Books.


Electronic Bahr, M. (n.d.). Biomechanics of Walking . Retrieved October 17, 2010, from Keystone Health: Lewisville, C. o. (Unknown). Lewisville History Timeline. Retrieved October 17, 2010, from Lewisville, Deep Roots, Broad Wings:

Katrina Duncan Concise ADR  
Katrina Duncan Concise ADR  

Katrina Duncan Concise ADR