Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning

The societal challenges we explore include climate adaptation, transitions in the countryside, and urban developments. Many of these challenges are manifested within landscapes, which are broadly understood as complex socio-ecological systems that require comprehensive planning and design solutions.


The mission of the LSP cluster is to support the creation and preservation of sustainable, healthy and resilient landscapes and urban environments. We need to prevent and adapt to climate change, halt the loss of biodiversity, and prevent further landscape deterioration. In doing so, we have to respond to technological change (e.g. energy transition, digitization, new forms of mobility) as well as societal change (e.g. migration, welfare distribution, new international agreements). To this end, the LSP cluster generates planning and design recommendations to physically transform landscapes and cities. The LSP cluster cultivates an integrative and transdisciplinary approach in its research which is also called a ‘landscape approach’.

Research fields

The LSP cluster contains two chair groups: land use planning and landscape architecture. The spatial planning group focuses on interventions that relieve the pressure on scarce space and therewith improve the overall landscape quality. The landscape architecture group focuses on three dimensional spatial interventions that can cover scales from region (e.g. the Dutch ‘randstad’) to site (e.g. an urban square). Both groups integrate the fields of sustainable agriculture, the energy transition, climate adaptation, biodiversity, water management, mobility, liveability and cultural heritage. They cooperate with multiple disciplines (e.g. soil science, hydrology, climatology, social science, health, etc.) and transfer their work beyond academia by close cooperation with societal stakeholders.

Research methods

LSP studies the preconditions for planning and landscape designs through analysing both the physical contexts as well as the societal values. In the literature such research is called ‘Research for planning/design’. To learn from preceding projects case analyses are conducted on their impact on physical and value systems, which is called ‘research on planning/design’. Lastly, as a response to the current spatial challenges, new integrated spatial planning and landscape design intervention types are explored. To be convincing in the current democratic discourse these interventions need to be evidence-based, technically and societally viable. This calls for ‘Research through planning/design’ approaches in which various design options are tested with scientific methods. These methods encompass modelling future impacts of the design interventions through, amongst others, agent-based modelling, numerical simulations, visual simulations, or participatory research. The results of ‘Research through planning/design’ are either location-specific designs or spatial plans, but more frequently generalizable planning recommendations or design prototypes that can be implemented into planning and design practice.