“See the Change” – Article in Landscape Architecture Magazine December 2013 about Climate Change Visioning

On pages 64ff. of its December issue, the Landscape Architecture Magazine LAM is reporting about the Climate Change Visioning work at the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning:

New paper about the use of interactive web tools in environmental and landscape planning (open access)

Sebastian Krätzig and Bartlett Warren-Kretzschmar
Article: Using Interactive Web Tools in Environmental Planning to Improve Communication about Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2014, 6(1), 236-250; doi:10.3390/su6010236

Interactive Modeling of Self-Adapting Botanical Trees

Already a few weeks ago, a colleague drew my attention to a couple of new papers on interactive self-adapting botanical tree models, published by the computer visualization group in Konstanz, who had also presented at Siggraph 2011 (see my previous post about Siggraph). This new development in procedural modeling techniques makes tree models possible that will interact with their environment! For example, if you insert a building, the surrounding trees will change their shape and branches will give way to the new object in a most realistic way.

How are these astonishing results achieved? Input is a skeleton-based tree geometry. In contrast to traditional tree growing models, the new technique approximates biologically motivated transformations. Main factor is the light distribution and the amount of resources a tree receives. On that basis, the growth rate for the entire tree and individual branches as well as branch ages are calculated. A complex illumination model makes sure that light conditions are updated for different stages of tree growth. Additional factors are phototropism and gravitropism and I was surprised how realistic the outcomes look.

Because the approach does not require the tree model to be reconstructed from the beginning, it performs much better than previous approaches and is even suitable for real-time applications. That means, you could insert an object such as a building but also other trees and experiment in real-time how the surrounding trees might change their growth in response to each other and inanimate objects.

For more information and the original research paper, please see


SIGGRAPH Asia 2012:

Plastic Trees: Interactive Modeling of Self-Adapting Botanical Trees from Soeren Pirk on Vimeo.









Visualizing Climate Change

Today, I would like to present the new book "Visualizing Climate Change: A Guide to Visual Communication of Climate Change and Developing Local Solutions", published by Earthscan from Routledge. In four book sections, Stephen Sheppard, Professor in Landscape Architecture and Forest Resources Management at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, continues the topic of his recent journal papers on using landscape visualizations for the communication of climate change related topics. In "I. Setting the scene on climate change", he provides an overview of the challenges that perception and visualization of climate change imposes. Then, he addresses in more depth the issues around perception and recognition of carbon and climate change in everyday landscapes at the local scale ("II. Knowing, seeing and acting on community carbon and climate change"). In the third chapter, "III. Switching lenses: Changing minds with visual learning tools", he focuses on the techniques and relative merits/constraints of visual media and landscape visualization in particular.  Lastly, in Section IV, he presents a range of hypothetical local future scenarios of climate change mitigation and adaptation through landscape visualizations and narratives ("With new eyes to see: What the future looks like with climate change").

A broad range of target audiences is addressed with this book and the author presents various stories and visual examples which make it very illustrative. Many of the discussed challenges and concepts also apply to other topics of environmental communication and make this book an important resource for anybody interested in environmental communication and climate change, from local community groups to planners, landscape architects, graphic designers, educators, and scientists.

For further information and details on how to order a copy of the book at discount price or its Kindle version, please refer to the following flyer.

More art than science: the sources and effects of stylistic variation in visualization for planning and design (Lewis 2012)

John Lewis published a paper in Environment and Planning B that I would like to draw your attention to. He addresses the important impact of "entourage" elements, e.g. atmospheric effects such as sky color and light, and human figures on the perception of urban design visualizations. An argument which resonates with my own anecdotal experiences designing architectural visualizations a long time ago and developers asking for "happy people" and "expensive cars" in their visualizations. More scientifically, Lewis quotes Luymes (2001: 200) who suggested that visualizations are “rhetorical products” that are “constructed with an audience in mind, with a specific intention, and from within a framework of personal or agency values." Do you agree and if so, what are possible solutions to make visualizations more objective? In my thesis (Schroth 2007), I proposed more interactive visualization, an argument that Lewis also presents. However, Lewis points out that more advanced interactive technology is not sufficient but the viewers themselves have to be more critical and develop appropriate visual competence. For example, it would be most helpful if standards such as Sheppard's (2001) code of ethics would be disseminate beyond academia and be applied by the viewers of urban visualizations.

In the following, please read the abstract from the journal page:

Visioning exercises using computer-based environmental visualization hold significant promise for communicating information and engaging communities in the development and review of planning proposals. The field of visualization research and practice has achieved significant advances in computer technology to the point where it is now possible to represent alternative planning and engineering scenarios with a high degree of photographic realism, data-driven accuracy, and spatial and temporal interactivity. Despite the noteworthy benefits and developments in the field of environmental visualization technology comparatively little research has investigated how visualizations are used in urban planning practice. In particular, research is needed that examines how visualization presentation is affected by the social context of planning practice and the independent judgment of the preparer, which may in turn influence plan evaluation and decision making. In this paper I discuss the significance of visualization for urban planning and design and present the results from a study where students and representatives of a citizen-led planning committee evaluated four visualization presentation styles according to perceived realism, credibility and preference for the visualized environmental plans.

For the full paper:


Social learning can benefit decision-making in landscape planning

A very informative new paper:

Social learning can benefit decision-making in landscape planning: Gartow case study on climate change adaptation, Elbe valley biosphere reserve  
Landscape and Urban Planning, Available online 8 February 2012
Christian Albert, Thomas Zimmermann, Jörg Knieling, Christina von Haaren


► Participatory, scenario-based landscape planning may facilitate social learning. ► Social learning outcomes involve changes in participants’ understanding and skills. ► Learning outcomes can have benefits for subsequent decision processes. ► Challenges are issues of scale, personal involvement, and resource needs. ► Further research is needed in more case studies and on longer-term effects.

Future Internet, Special Issue Landscape

The Open Access journal Future Internet  has just published interesting papers from LVIZ authors Olaf Schroth et al. and Philip Paar (with Jörg Rekittke):

Tool or Toy? Virtual Globes in Landscape Planning

Low-Cost Mapping and Publishing Methods for Landscape Architectural Analysis and Design in Slum-Upgrading Projects

Strengths and weaknesses of landscape visualisation

I would like to draw your attention to a paper hot off the press that I am currently reading:

Identifying strengths and weaknesses of landscape visualisation for effective communication of future alternatives

Original Research Article
Landscape and Urban Planning, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 3 February 2011
Christopher J. Pettit, Christopher M. Raymond, Brett A. Bryan, Hayden Lewis

Research highlights

► Results from our end user evaluation suggest that visualisation tools have an important role in raising knowledge and awareness of future landscape scenarios. ► Landscape visualisation is valuable as an environmental planning and investment tool in terms of guiding priority investment and encouraging a more strategic rather than reactive approach. ► Landscape visualisation needs to be further embedded into the decision-making process to quantify its impact to environmental planning. ► Future landscape modelling and visualisation projects need to consider resourcing a dedicated community engagement capability.

New publication: From Information to Participation. Interactive Landscape Visualization as a Tool for Collaborative Planning


If landscape visualizations are applied as tools for participation, they should provide a high level of interactivity to facilitate planning process and outcomes. This book presents evidence for this hypothesis through demonstrative case studies in the Entlebuch UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Switzerland. In collaborative workshops, interactive real-time visualizations were used to respond directly to the dialogue, and long-term climate change impacts were illustrated through collapsing time animations.

This thesis is now available as a book and can be order at http://www.vdf.ethz.ch/vdf.asp?showArtDetail=3222

Preview ESRI ArcGIS 10: 3D GIS at ArcGIS 10

This video shows some lang to display, analyze, and maintain 3D data in ArcGIS 10. Visit: