The purpose of this paper is to enlarge the body of knowledge on research through design (RtD) methods that can be employed by landscape architects and others working on (but not limited to) sustainable energy transition.
A specific approach to RtD – qualitative landscape structure analysis (QLSA) – is introduced and illustrated by means of diagrams and photographs. Two case studies showcase the application of QLSA for research on solar parks in the Netherlands and research on wind turbines in the Alpine foothills in Southern Germany.
The case studies show how RtD can help to define design principles for large solar parks and arrangement of wind turbines in particular landscape types in the Netherlands and Germany, respectively. In doing so, RtD can help to expand the breadth of spatial research beyond well-established methods such as multi-criteria decision analysis and environmental impact assessment.
The paper provides insights into contemporary RtD in two countries and affirms the importance of such research with regard to landscape transformations while starting to define a research niche for landscape architects and other environmental designers working on the topic of sustainable energy transition.