Page personnelle de Roberta Pistoni


PhD Subject

Association: LAREP – ENSP Versailles-Marseille (France) and Landscape Architecture Group – WageningenUR (Netherlands).

Application of « energy-conscious design » principles in planning and design: new sustainable energy landscapes.

The PhD proposal relates to the ongoing discourse on energy transition, starting from the consideration that the energy transition generates a landscape transition too (Nadaï and Horst 2010), thanks to the long-lasting relationship between energy management and spatial organization (De Pascali 2008). The landscape is considered, according to the European Landscape Convention, as « cadre de vie », as perceived and conceived by the people and whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors (Council of Europe 2000). The concept of landscape also refers to a design category – landscape design and planning – that can have a central role in the transition processes, supporting decision making and knowledge synthesis (Nassauer 2012), thanks to the landscape’s visible and invisible cultural and societal components.

Different « energy-conscious concepts » have been developed over the past years to advance a more careful thought about the linear functioning of ‘take-make-waste’ of our society. We selected urban metabolism, circular economy, cradle to cradle and territorial ecology, to find out and analyze their operational principles with relevance for project strategies, that in this research I refer to as « energy-conscious design », referring to the conscious handling of natural resources, energy and materials and the utilization of infrastructure, technology or other systems and strategies to build a spatial/landscape project, considering production, supply, consumption, transformation and disposal of resources.

The research aims is to examine to what extent an « energy conscious design » is a conscious landscape design. Therefore the subject inquired are projects implementing an « energy conscious design » in the framework of the energy transition and  to analyze how landscape is shaped and transformed. The skills and roles of landscape architecture (as discipline) and landscape design (as activity) in project teams and energy-space nexus in public policy are questioned too.

The research considers case studies in France and in the Netherlands, nations that have in their political agenda strategies in order to transit from fossil fuels towards renewable and carbon-free sources. Furthermore, the two nations have an important and long lasting tradition in landscape architecture, but with different role and involvement in energy transition process. The comparison between countries can put in perspective the processes and the issues of energy transition in relation to space and landscape.


The overall research is conducted as research on design (Brink and Bruns 2014), combining project analysis and practitioners discourse. It’s divided in three parts.

  1. Literature survey

The literature study is carried out on three subjects:

  • « energy conscious concept »: urban metabolism, circular economy, cradle to cradle, territorial ecology
  • energy landscape planning and designing
  • Setting of landscape architecture and energy transition policy in France and the Netherlands.

2. Projects analysis

To analyze French and Dutch energy landscape shaping projects, developed on the basis of this « energy-conscious design », three to four embedded cases in France (TEPOS) and two to three embedded cases in the Netherlands will be selected.

3. Practitioners enquiries

The enquiries about practitioners in France and in the Netherlands, it’s conducted through three methods.

  • Online questionnaires survey to professional association as French landscape architects, members of the Federation Française du Paysage (FFP) and at the « Netherlands Association for Garden and Landscape Architecture » (NVTL).
  • Design competitions and calls for expression of interests relating to energy-spatial related projects. The subject of this part of the study isn’t the resulted project, but to see if there is an increase of the number of spatial-energy projects during the years and to analyze which actors are implied and at what scale.
  • Semi structured enquiries with the landscape architects, working in the team project of the selected embedded cases in France and in the Netherlands. This part is positioned the part about practice, to underline the sub-questions about of landscape architects role.


Barles Sabine (2008), « Comprendre et maîtriser le métabolisme urbain et l’empreinte environnementale des villes », Responsabilité et environnement, n° 52, octobre, pp. 21-26.

Brink van den Adri, Bruns Diedrich (2014), « Strategies for Enhancing Landscape Architecture Research », Landscape Research, n° 39, pp. 7-20.

Buclet Nicolas (2011), Écologie industrielle et territoriale: stratégies locales pour un développement durable, Presses universitaires du Septentrion, Villeneuve d’Ascq.

Council of Europe (2000), European Landscape convention, Florence.

De Pascali Paolo (2008), Città ed energia: la valenza energetica dell’organizzazione insediativa, Franco Angeli, Milano.

McDonough William, Braungart Michael (2002), Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things, North Point Press a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York

Nadai Alain, Van Der Horst Dan (2010), “Landscapes of energies”, Landscape Research, n° 35 (2), pp. 143-155.

Nassauer Joan Iverson (2012), “Landscape as medium and method for synthesis in urban ecological design”, Landscape Urban Planning, n° 106, p. 221-229.

Sijmons Dirk (eds.) (2014), Landscape and energy. Designing transition, nai010 publishers, Rotterdam.

Stremke Sven, Van Den Dobbelsteen Andy (eds.) (2013), Sustainable energy landscape. Designing, Planning and development, CRC Press.

Vandevyvere Han,  Stremke Sven (2012), “Urban Planning for a Renewable Energy Future: Methodological Challenges and Opportunities from a Design Perspective.” Sustainability, n° 4(6), pp. 1309-1328.

Related website:

Landscape Architecture Group – Wageningen University