Since the early 1970s, Ian McHargâ€™s design-with-nature concept has been inspiring landscape architects, community and regional planners, and liked-minded professionals to create designs that take advantage of ecosystem services and promote environmental and public health. This study bridges the gap in the literature that has resulted from a lack of empirical examinations on the multiple performance benefits derived through design-with-nature and the under-investigated social aspect emanated from McHargâ€™s Ecological Determinism design approach. The Woodlands, TX, USA, an ecologically designed community development under McHargâ€™s approach, is compared with two adjacent communities that follow the conventional design approach. Using national environmental databases and multiple-year residentsâ€™ survey information, this study assesses three landscape performance metrics of McHargâ€™s approach: stormwater runoff, urban heat island effect, and social acceptance. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was used to assess the development extent and land surface temperature distribution. Results show that McHargâ€™s approach demonstrates benefits in reducing runoff and urban heat island effect, whereas it confronts challenges with the general acceptance of manicured landscapes and thus results in a low safety perception level when residents interact with naturally designed landscapes. The authors argue that design-with-nature warrants multifunctionality because of its intrinsic interdisciplinary approach. Moreover, education and dissemination of successful examples can achieve a greater level of awareness among the public and further promote multifunctional design for landscape sustainability.
Yang, B., Li, M. H., & Li, S. (2013). Design-with-nature for multifunctional landscapes: Environmental benefits and social barriers in community development. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(11), 5433–5458. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph10115433