Landscape Disturbance: Using Initial Conditions to Establish Urban Terrain as an Ongoing Negotiation
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Rethinking the traditional urban design function of a master plan has become increasingly important in recent years. Not only is there now a recognized need to design in order to accommodate change over time, but there is also a requirement for civic involvement in the development of the everyday landscape. This study shows how the public may be given a greater role in the ongoing development of its own living environments. It provides a chance for communities to design their own futures. The study utilizes the concept of landscape disturbance to solve the problems associated with traditional design scenarios. By treating urban terrain as a continuing negotiation between people and place, the designer can provide an opportunity for small communities to direct spatial change themselves and have more say in their spatial futures. Territories can unfold on the basis of people’s participation, changing over time just like the lives of their users. The study focuses on two sites in North Birmingham. After careful analysis of existing social and environmental conditions in each case, it proposes a readjustment or disturbance of those conditions in order to set in place a sequence of ‘stimulus-response’ events that enact a transformation of human relationships with their environment. By establishing initial conditions, designers permit environmental change to occur as time goes by, on the basis of feedback from the change itself. The designs focus on specific potential scenarios that are played out through the users’ response over time on the site. These responses include pedestrian pattern shifts, tree growth, and the emergence of new gathering spaces, generating a greater range of choice and a rich, open environment.