All project sites sit in relationship to a larger context, and in terms of ecological sustainability, understanding the dynamic of this relationship is the most important site condition to understand if one is to make design decisions that can enhance ecological function. To understand this relationship we draw upon two Landscape Ecology assessment models.
Richard Forman’s PCM model looks at the landscape as a network of ecologically important patches and corridors, located within a larger, dominant area (matrix). The size, shape and relative location of vegetated patches and corridors influences the ability of ecological processes and functions (including the movement of wildlife) to continue. The larger these patches are, and the closer they are to one another and to large ‘reserves’ of indigenous vegetation the more likely the landscape will, in the face of development, continue to maintain healthy ecological processes and support significant populations of native flora and fauna.
Patches and corridors analysis for the SW Christchurch Biodiversity & Urban Growth study.
McGarigal and Cushman argue that a landscape is comprised of continuously varying landscape features, not simply discrete spatial elements, and that these influence ecological function as much as the PCM view of the landscape. Landscape elements including: slope and aspect; hydrology; soil types; types, configuration and distribution of vegetation; interface/edge conditions between elements; and land use and activities.
Mixing development with ecological process in SW Christchurch.
design for dynamic landscapes
We apply both of these models to enable us to more comprehensively assess the current conditions of the site and its context and, to propose more informed planning and design interventions. We also believe that responding to the ecological particulars of context, distinguishes one place from another, and enables relationships to develop that are unique to a particular place. Among the various design tools we use to enhance ecological function and connectivity fall within the realm of Blue and Green Infrastructure
-Bioswales & Rain Gardens