Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Processors and Processes: Exploring Computational Design and Landscape Architecture

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posted on 2021-11-13, 12:18 authored by Belesky, Philip

The computer can be a highly efficient drafting table. It can also be much more. Architects can use programming to engage with the computer on its own terms, and in doing so gain a better understanding of complex geometric, structural, or conceptual design scenarios. This ‘computational approach’ to design is increasingly common in architecture, but comparatively rare within landscape architecture. In this thesis I examine how and why landscape architects might employ computational design. I start by reviewing the work of computational architects and landscape urbanists. I identify that both emphasize diagrammatic and processual strategies as a means to confront complexity and indeterminism within the design process. However, this conceptual overlap masks a technological divergence, as computational tools are presently ill-suited to the needs of landscape architects. Their focus should be shifted away from formal exploration and towards the analysis, simulation, and generation of landscape systems. Doing so would offer landscape architects new forms of representation that would overcome some of the current limitations within their design process. To test this proposition, I create a series of generative tools, or ‘patterns’, that use computational techniques to model ecological systems. This pattern-based approach introduces a methodology that improves the accessibility and flexibility of computational design. These patterns are applied in tandem with standard computational techniques to create a concept design for a post-industrial landscape. Through this research I identify computation as a powerful tool for designing landscapes. The conceptual and technical methodologies it offers enable landscape architects to better understand and explore open-ended and indeterminate systems. Computation offers a novel opportunity to combine conceptual openness and technical rigour when designing complex landscapes.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Moloney, Jules; Moleta, Tane