The Latest in Digital Landscape Architecture 2018 – Conference Report

Knowledge transfer at a very high scientific level: the Digital Landscape Architecture Conference 2018 at Weihenstephan-Triesdorf (HSWT) hosted 130 participants from 22 countries from May 30th to June 2nd discussing the latest research and applications of information technology in landscape architecture. At the same time, the conference honored 30 years of landscape informatics through Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kias.

The conference started with a geodesign workshop run by Harvard professor Carl Steinitz and his colleague Olaf Schroth at HSWT, since 2017 professor of geodesign and landscape informatics at HSWT. In the workshop, six stakeholder groups developed and negotiated different scenarios for the area between Olympic Park and city´s edge in the north of Munich. The workshop was facilitated through the open online platform geodesignhub.

Other international scientists and practitioners, who gave key notes, were Prof. Joan Nassauer,  University of Michigan, Prof. Kelleann Foster, Pennsylvania State University, Prof. Stephan Sheppard, University of British Columbia and Mike Shilton of the Landscape Institute in England. The public talk by Dr. Jörg Rekittke, addressing the “Challenges and approaches of landscape research and design in the global south”, was also highly appreciated by the audience.

In addition to key notes, the various lecture sessions addressed the themes geodesign and climate change, big data in landscape architecture, Building Information Models (BIM), drones/UAVs for data survey, social media and VR/AR. Various speakers demonstrated the latest developments and applications in practice examples such as the use of high resolution laserscanning data and digital terrain models, the use of environmental sensors and VR/AR displays.

If you are now interested, the next DLA conference will take place in Dessau in 2019 and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the conference series and in 2020, the well-established Harvard Graduate Design School will host the 21st DLA. For more information please see the conference website at

Papers and key notes can be downloaded at: gis.point

Research paper comparing 2D versus 3D landscape visualisations with regard to economic valuation

2D seminar room (a); and 3D presentation in the spatial lab (b) of the Vienna University of Technology (source: Getzner et al. 2016)
2D seminar room (a); and 3D presentation in the spatial
lab (b) of the Vienna University of Technology (source: Getzner et al. 2016)

In this fully open access paper, Michael Getzner, Barbara Faerber and Claudia Yamu compare 2D versus (stereoscopic) 3D landscape visualisations of different landscape scenarios in the Alps. Although there have been previous studies of landscape visualizations of alpine scenarios, I found that this paper is adding a couple of particularly new perspectives: a) the use of stereoscopic (anaglyph) visualisations and b) the link to the economic valuation of different landscapes through the participants. It should be said that this study like many others was conducted with students. However, I think it provides the legitimization to use landscape visualisations for other studies on the economic valuation of such landscapes.




VR First initiative by Crytek aims to create VR labs at universities around the globe

Crytek, a company famous for its first person computer games with vast landscape areas in cutting edge visual quality, has launched the VR First Initiative. Objective of the initiative is to support universities around the globe in launching Virtual Reality (VR) labs, where the next generation of computer programmers and designers can practice.

I’ve been involved in a couple of visualisation labs at European and Canadian universities and it was always the biggest challenge to manage and update the hardware over time. When the first Oculus Rift came out, I already wondered whether we could replace resource intense facilities such as visualisation domes (360º projection domes) with rather affordable and easy to update VR glasses. It looks as if Crytek is implementing this approach on an interconnected global scale now and with their knowledge in visualisation, this will be a most interesting initiative to watch.