Theme 1: Preemptive Territorial Design
How can the risk of vulnerable territories be minimized through design strategies that not only understand and integrate geographical and environmental factors, but also take socio-cultural and economic complexities into account? How can change in climate, demographics, and material flows be anticipated, modeled and designed? How can investments in climate change protection and response maximize the long-term value of such inevitable expenditures? Can substantial urban afforestation and reforestation, for example, be used as a strategy to reconstruct or provide a frame for settlements, support and structure further development, and provide natural but nevertheless forceful resilience? Can such strategies contribute to water management, improve microclimates and environmental quality, potentially diversify the economy, and generate more beautiful cities?
Theme 2: Cultural Agency
In addressing such societal demands and challenges, how do landscape architects avoid the disciplinary rifts of the 1970s/80s/90s that polarized the field between the “science” of environmental planning and the “art” of landscape design? How can landscape architecture address the climatic threats to culturally meaningful places? How might conversations regarding landscape architecture’s utilitarian mandate optimize the discipline’s imaginative capacity? How do we continue to strengthen the representational practice of landscape architecture in the context of these dire challenges? Can landscape architecture’s “cultural agency” or instrumentality be positioned to address issues of social inequity, vulnerability and environmental justice?
Theme 3: Water Urbanism
How can the natural systems and processes of water dynamics be integrated into the development of land use and infrastructure policy and design to reduce damage from sea level rise and the increasing severity and frequency of floods? How can landscape measures for mitigation be developed hand-in-hand to strengthen and qualitatively upgrade waterfronts (oceanfronts, riverfronts, bays, lagoons and lakes)? How can waterfronts be (re)established as the primary organizers of territories and distinct eco-systems to create regional identity and insure more secure economic and supported socio-cultural activities? How can we turn the linear processes of water extraction, water consumption and water disposal into more ethical and equitable, cyclic and ecologically responsible processes?
Theme 4: Landscapes of Infrastructure
How can new forms of infrastructure strengthen and enhance the identities of the places they inhabit? How can present mobility systems be rethought in light of the coming post-petroleum era, become part of an integrative effort to reduce social marginalization and segregation, and stimulate new forms of interaction and forms of public space? How can we envision the integration of infrastructural thinking, ecology and regional planning? Technological developments and societal evolution indicate that the future of decentralized systems offers greater security compared to currently highly centralized systems in the face of climate change. How much can and should be effectively decentralized and how do these evolving infrastructural systems impact the landscape and vice versa? Where are economies of scale compromised?
Theme 5: Productive Landscapes and Food Security
In the face of climate change, how can landscape architects work to develop new strategies that simultaneously address the urban / rural interface and complex challenges of global food security? Can new coalitions with scientists lead to rethinking relations between the productive countryside and the consumptive megapolis? Increased climate variability will significantly affect agricultural productivity; can landscape architects develop strategies and farming typologies for new crops that respond to local needs and geologies (including soils and water), and that also tackle specific health issues? Can a new typology of a 21st century park complement the social, cultural and environmental deficiencies of the city, just as the 19th-century park did for the speculative metropolis of the industrial revolution?
Theme 6: Energy Fields
How can the natural forces of wind, water, air, and sunlight be harnessed to efficiently supply energy at scales from the household to the nation? How can the technology of energy production be combined with the aesthetics of landscape architecture and the integrity of ecological systems across scales, cultures, and geographies to move from the machine in the garden towards context-embedded, ecologically-supported energy landscapes? How can alternative sources of energy liberate the city and its people from expensive, heavy-handed, centralized systems of energy provision?