Contemporary landscape architectural design has been defined by the recent focus on large-scale design, ‘landscape urbanism’, and the development of mapping techniques. Mapping methods aim to consolidate environmental, topographical, and public life aspects of a landscape. However, on a large scale it is very difficult to represent the human scale (public life aspect of the landscape) within large scale mapping. While current literature attempts to reconcile the tension between large scale and human scale mapping, there are arguments that these are too abstract and removed from life on the ground, prioritising the large scale over human scale.
The aims of this study were to develop a mapping method that used the human scale and public life to inform the large scale design of a site. To accomplish this an undeveloped site in Paraparaumu, New Zealand was used to test and refine a mapping method that prioritised the human scale. The Paraparaumu site presented unique landscape attributes; the conservation of these topographic features also informed the developed mapping method. Suburban development within such a unique landscape will need to use the existing topography to enhance rather than hinder the new development. This research assessed neighbouring settlements and assessed landscape attributes of importance to locals which had an enhanced public life presence. The proposed site was then assessed for similar landscape attributes that may be able to replicate similar affects on public life.
Research, combined with field work, confirmed that particular methods of mapping can represent social topography on a large scale. In order to test the practicality of the new mapping methods, the suburban density of the respective design was compared to surrounding areas. The developed, ‘ground-up’, mapping method was also tested against several public life assemblages, comparable to surrounding neighbourhoods, to ensure an appropriate output. Being able to represent the social topography on a large scale allows the designer to easily navigate plan on the human scale. The human scale becomes a priority in the large scale design; paramount in suburban design. The mapping method outlined in this thesis satisfies the research goals by allowing large scale design maps to represent the human scale and maintaining unique landscape attributes. The thesis also discovers that the conventional method of suburban development can be altered to respond to and conserve a unique landscape. Prioritising the human scale on a large scale design allows an entire region to have a sense of cohesion on social, environmental and physical topographies, achieving a regional singularity.