Landscape and Environment

Technion –Israel Institute of Technology
Course Description

This course offers an introduction to contemporary urban landscape architecture in the Israeli context, exploring the environmental and social issues that shape the design of public space. Basic concepts in urban ecology and sustainability will be discussed as frameworks for design. Students will be introduced to seminal figures in environmental planning and urbanism, from F.L. Olmsted, Ian McHarg to Jane Jacobs. Sustainable practices will be discussed in relation to contemporary urban landscape design including parks, streets, neighborhoods and public works.

Course Objectives

  • Develop understanding of urban ecological processes
  • Acquire a conceptual vocabulary for the understanding of landscape architecture as a social and spatial art
  • Explore design strategies in contemporary works of landscape architecture and urbanism in Europe, N. America and Israel
  • Understanding the unique characters of Israel in the international context

Course Format

The class will combine lectures and discussion of readings. Lectures will be illustrated by visual documentation of built projects. All readings will be available on Moodle. Attendance is required.

Students who are ill or need to miss class must notify me in advance by email.  Students who miss more than    3 classes without justified cause will not get a passing grade.


Course themes

  1. Every day landscapes and public space: the origin of public parks, public life of the street and open space, landscapes of memory
  2. Landscape as urban structure: relationship of landscape to urban design and ecological systems
3.      Systems and flows: urban ecological principles, environmental planning methods; water sensitive design,  urban greening and reclamation of industrial sites.4.      Field Trips


Course Requirements

There will be 2 assignments and a final exam.


Urban Diary and pecha kucha (25%)

  1. Reading Presentation/lead discussion: (25%)
  2. Final exam (50%)



  1.  Haifa guide: urban diaries and Pecha Kucha

This is an exercise in the discovery and observation of a small urban space, and the documentation of how people interact with the physical environment. The purpose of the exercise is to develop new ways of reading public space by discovering relationships between the design of the physical environment and the way it is used and inhabited. Choose a public space in Haifa- either a park, a main street, a market, etc. that is an active space. Document the public life of the space with  photographs that capture the different activities that take place. (include close-ups of materials and wide angle shots of the whole space, as well as the surrounding area, where you find it to have an impact on your space). Try to understand how the space itself encourages or discourages certain activities, patterns of movement, places of rest or gathering. What gives the space its unique identity?  How does the space “make the social order visible” (J.B.Jackson)? Pay attention to the patterns of movement; the relationships of buildings to open space; shade, sun, wind, noise, visibility, safety, intimacy, accessibility.  What kind of activities did you observe? Which areas are active, and which areas are dead?  Why?


Arrange your photos in a powerpoint with a caption for each. You will be asked to present your “urban diary” as a “pecha kucha”-  20 slides x 20 seconds per slide. Include one title slide and one map that locates your site. You may also include several supporting slides that give historical information on the site, or other background visual materials that help you explain your ideas.


  1. Reading- critique and presentation

Prepare a powerpoint presentation on one of the required readings.  Provide a summary of the article, clearly indicating the main arguments of the text. Include your own response to the article:  what did you find interesting/problematic/ unclear.  Prepare questions for class discussion.

1 Introduction-Nature in the city, nature vs. the city.
2 The idea of the public park:“The country in the city” Low, Setha,  et al,  Rethinking Urban Parks, Chapter 2  “Urban Parks.” Pp. 19-36
3 S, M, L, XL:Pocket parks, playgrounds to metropolitan parks Crawford, Margaret. 1999. “Introduction”. In Everyday Urbanism.
4 The social life of the street 1(Film: William Whyte, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces)  Whyte, William, 1980. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces,  pp 8-23; 54-59
5 The social life of the street 2 Jacobs, Jane, 1961.  The Life and Death of Great American Cities.  Chap 2 “The Uses of Sidewalks”
6 Urban Diaries- Pecha Kucha In Class presentations – slide shows (pecha kucha)
7 Landscape and urban designFilm: “Urbanized” Lynch, Kevin, 1960.  The Image of the City, Chap 3. “The City Image and its Elements”, pp. 46-90.
8 Environmental planning approaches and green infrastructure Spirn, A. “ Ecological Urbanism:A Framework for the Design of Resilient Cities” inBanerjee and Loukaitou‐Sideris, Eds. RoutledgeCompanion to Urban Design pp.600‐610.
9 Water sensitive design Shannon, Kelley, 2013.   “Eco-engineering for Water: From Soft to Hard and Back” in Pickett, Cadenasso and McGrath, Resilience in Ecology and Urban Design, NY: Springer.
10 Post-industrial nature and brownfield reclamation Rosenberg, E. 2009. “Gardens, Landscape, Nature,  – Duisburg Nord”. In  Sanda Iliescu, ed. The Hand and the Soul: Aesthetics an Ethics in Architecture and Art