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Whitford, Philip; Whitford, Kathryn (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume 74 (1986)

Murray, Bruce H.; Law, Charles S.
Simulation in landscape planning and design: the art of visual representation,   pp. 27-33 PDF (3.2 MB)

Page 27

Department of Landscape Architecture 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 
 This paper examines the subject of visual representation in landscape planning
and design by subdividing the subject into several related sub-topics including
its relationship to environmental impact assessment and contemporary problem-solving,
the benefits associated with simulation use and how that has led to the development
of a simulation course at the University of Wisconsin. 
 Throughout history man has used visual representations such as drawings,
paintings and three-dimensional objects to simulate visual modifications
to his world. Some of the earliest simulations used by environmental planners
and designers were pottery models built during the 1st and 2nd centuries
AD in China. These miniature representations illustrating ornate wall and
roof details were used to guide the wooden architecture of the time.' Other
early simulations included maps, plans, sections, elevations, sketches and
perspective drawings—techniques that are still in much use today.
early development by the landscape architect Humphrey Repton used illustrations
hinged in such a way that both existing and proposed environmental conditions
could be displayed at the same time. This technique using "slides"
of proposed
improvements could be flipped up to cover only those parts of the landscape
to be changed. Repton believed this provided a far more effective means than
maps or plans to help clients visualize the effects of environmental changes.2
Similar overlay techniques are in wide spread use today and serve as the
basis for much of the work produced by planners and designers. 
 Early techniques like Repton's slides which were dependent upon pen and
ink, pencil, and watercolors were subsequently augmented by photography as
a tool for visual representation. Initially in the nineteenth century, on-site
eye-level photography became popular and later with the advent of World War
II, aerial photography became available and gained widespread use. More recent
advancements including the use of photo-mosaic and stereo-pair photography
have greatly facilitated large scale analysis of land areas for design and
 Recent technological developments have made new visual tools available to
land planners and designers including movies, video and computers for analysis
and communication. On the horizon are the use of highly realistic computer-generated
animations similar to those used in many recent "box office" hits.
 This discussion might lead one to believe that there is an ever increasing
reliance on the use of visual simulations in landscape planning and design.
Such a conclusion would be only partly true. As noted, the practice of landscape
planning and design has always relied on the use of simulations although
it is now adopting the use of more sophisticated technological innovations.
 The growing use of more complex and sophisticated simulation techniques
in landscape architectural practice and research poses a new set of challenges
for professionals. These include keeping abreast of new developments and
understanding their strengths and weaknesses, limitations and opportunities,
and knowing where to integrate them into the design and planning process.

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