Woodland aspects on an area level—overall design principles and. approaches to a contextual design

So far a lot of general principles for use in a woodland design have been presented, with the main goals being to reach beyond mainstream solutions and stressing more long-term dynamic thinking. Here, landscape character, basic landscape types to widen the understanding and the meaning of ‘urban woodland’, and reference landscapes have been the key words. In thinking about a design situation, there is a complementary need to be strongly contextual, which stresses both an intuitive ability and also training in a more contextual design relating to questions such as the following.

• How can you recognise different parts of the woodland as a series of places, walks, entrances, landmarks, views, focus points and zones inbetween? Are there reasons for a division of the woodland into different zones when thinking about the management level and strategies, stressing main strategies for: certain places for activities; places with a woodland park character; zones based on an aesthetic of care aimed at a character with a strong emphasis on scenic values; zones in which a mix of traditional forestry or agricultural methods and a production outlet would be appreciable in an aesthetic of care; and wilderness zones, including areas with no management at all involved in an aesthetic of wilderness? (Nassauer 1997).

• What natural processes are important for you to start, and what should actually be

avoided to allow for later natural processes or cultural-social events?

• What is preferable in the choice of a formal or an informal design language? How can

you create strong and distinct atmospheres, spans inbetween harmony and chaos, uniformity and complexity?

• How does the woodland area relate to other woodlands, other recreational areas as well

as housing areas and traffic zones, and how should it relate? Does it create an illusion of a world in itself, with a lot of surprises hidden inside, or does it belong to the surroundings as an extension which gradually changes in character but stimulates contacts in-between through its openness along its fringes?

• How will the users reach the woodland? Will there be possibilities to provide better

links, to give a whole series of alternative routes?

• Is it possible to distinguish between different routes in a hierarchical way by

considering length as well as atmosphere and seasons: broad walks, narrow paths and rides, providing a place for more ‘rational’ people or for those who want to socialise or feel secure, but also places for those who want to be alone, to feel a closeness to nature, or who are searching for more informal contacts?

Figure 7.16 shows Bulltofta Park, Malmo, which is the largest park area designed within a 50-year period in Sweden. Its design was influenced by the Amsterdam bos in the Netherlands. Conceptually it was also influenced by German ‘plant sociology’ and ‘potential natural vegetation’. Furthermore, it represents an example of the implementation of a basic structure of both open and woodland areas but also of a hierarchical network of walks. In a development perspective, ideas have now been raised as to whether parts will, in the coming years, be transformed to silvi-pastoral systems. Other questions concern the diversification of the woodland edges and how woodland interior zones can be improved for the experience of the visitors. The latter very much concerns how the network of paths should be changed.

Woodland aspects on an area level—overall design principles and. approaches to a contextual design


Bulltofta Park, Malmo, Sweden

Figure 7.17 shows major design principles for a woodland area. Figure 7.17(a) is the wall concept, creating an illusion of a world of its own by dense outer zones. In parallel, it creates feelings of surprise when discovering a pillared hall or an open room in the middle. Figure 7.17(b) is the open outer zones, half open or a light-giving pillared hall character, grazed or not grazed, creating links to the surroundings. It has an increased density; the more you enter the woodland, the idea of ‘the more we walked into the forest, the more it closed itself around us’ is strengthened. Figure 7.17(c) illustrates a concept which suggests a basic skeleton of robust vegetation, with indigenous species, which comprise both outer zones and interior ‘walls’. The robustness improves long-term sustainability for the woodland as a whole but, in particular, for the blocks inbetween, in which a more sensitive vegetation can be sheltered; like spruce stands or stands with exotics if you want them to be long lasting.

Woodland aspects on an area level—overall design principles and. approaches to a contextual design


Major design principles for a woodland are: (a) open outer zone concept; (b) wall concept; (c) robust vegetation