Designed Ecology

We redefine the relationship between nature and culture, enhance ecological biodiversity and produce innovative planting schemes and technologies.

Public garden

What is the role of nature within our cities? Is the only way to experience its benefits by escaping to the countryside?

The designed ecology research cluster aims to redefine the relationship between nature and culture in urban areas. By producing innovative planting schemes and technologies for urban greening, the work in this cluster aims to enhance biodiversity.

Working primarily in public space, the cluster aims to develop new models of urban form, innovative green infrastructure and groundbreaking urban design.

Featured projects

Creating the Urban Meadow

The Urban BESS Meadows Experiment is a unique experiment, set up in the real world, to scientifically measure the benefits of introducing meadows in urban areas. By planting nine different experimental meadows in Bedfordshire, this work found a positive relationship between the aesthetic value of meadows – how attractive they were to people – and their benefits to biodiversity.

Turning Grey to Green

Transforming the heart of Sheffield city centre, the Grey to Green work is the largest continuous greenway and sustainable urban drainage system project in the UK. The project will transform 1.3km of redundant road space into attractive new linear public spaces. This will include developing innovative perennial meadows, interlinked water features, rain gardens, public art and high quality paved footways and street furniture.

Read more about Grey to Green

Climate Change Impact

Research is being conducted into both how climate change may alter the range of landscape plants used in the UK and people’s attitudes to new climate resilient designs. The early results suggest that species may be more resilient than their cultivated counterparts. The public may be willing to accept better-adapted plantings, but the strength of response varies with perceptions about climate change itself.

Current/recent projects

  • BESS - F3UES Project (Fragments Functions, Flows and Urban Ecosystem Services) “Urban BESS” (NERC)
  • BESS Inter-Disciplinary Scholarship – (NERC).
  • Health and Well-being in Gardens (RHS).
  • Road Landscape Amelioration using Native Chinese Vegetation.
  • Sheffield’s Grey to Green Initiative (SCC).
  • Transforming Melbourne’s Park Landscapes through the Woody Meadow Concept.
  • Wardown Minigolf Meadows: Public and pollinator response to annual meadows of varying colour and species diversity (NERC, Luton Parks Service, Pictorial Meadows).

Cluster members

Affiliated people and organisations

Associated research centres

Affilated PhD students

  • Khalid Al Farsi
  • Sarah Baharudin
  • Lauriane Chalmin-Pui
  • Debbie Coldwell
  • Hannah Ismail
  • Emma Lewis
  • Adrien Lhomme-Duchadeuil
  • Baiyun Li
  • Michael Livingstone
  • Veronica Love
  • Emad Salih
  • Behdad Alizadeh


Some of the organisations who have collaborated in Designed Ecology research are:

Grey to Green, Sheffield

Champions of Landscape Architecture

As the UK’s only independent department of Landscape Architecture, we are passionate about the power of our profession to address pressing global issues.

Centres of excellence

The University's cross-faculty research centres harness our interdisciplinary expertise to solve the world's most pressing challenges.