Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Synergised Ecologies: How can Landscape architecture intervene in fragmented landscapes of infrastructure?

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posted on 2022-07-28, 05:04 authored by McLachlan, Eve Louise

This practice-led research critically investigates development patterns in transitional peri-urban landscapes through the lens of landscape design. Concerned with prevailing atomised land use, over-scaled infrastructures and resulting bereft social and non-human ecologies, the research pursues opportunities in the landscape for synergies between uses. Using a critical understanding of networked ecologies, the project aims to create landscapes that are more than the sum of their parts.

The research is sited in Taita Gorge, extending between the Silverstream and Pomare rail bridges and Western and Eastern Hutt Roads. This is a fragmented landscape, and an ideal site to investigate such prevailing tendencies amidst flooding risk. The study site is impacted by tectonic compaction resulting in tension between installed infrastructural systems and compressed spatial land uses¬. Here moments of conflict, or disharmonies, can be identified. The research discovers these points within the landscape milieu as both evident and latent conditions of the peri-urban situation. Using the notion of networked ecologies, the project finds a way to use conflict in the design process towards greater spatial integration and opportunity for public engagement to accrue quality and value for all human and non-human participants.

Using research into ecologies through key landscape discourse and precedent example projects, a clear understanding of open-system ecologies as a design tool is innovated. Thorough fieldwork and analytic is applied to understand and test the proposition that identified points of spatial conflict subtend compressed infrastructures of transport, and flooding incidence. The practice of landscape architecture is tasked with holding the potential to re-harmonise Identification of these conflict points is key to the design process. They are found through the exploration of past, existing and likely future infrastructural systems. By re-arranging these systems to allow for evolution together in a more coherent way, conflict points are exposed and realigned. This redefined spatial use generates design and identity gathering value in the process. The design led research thus labours to define discrete infrastructures acting in the landscape and reorganise them to create a revised network that is more than the sum of its parts. This research will contribute an alternative approach to the design of infrastructural landscapes that provision the social and the ecological in confined peri-urban contexts and may critically impact on land use zonings.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure Basic Research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Hopewell, Hannah