Research for Landscape Practice
Selected research outputs aimed at practitioners working in Landscape Architecture and related disciplines
- Benefits of urban plants // health and well-being // mitigation for climate change
Vertical Stratification in Urban Green Space Aerobiomes
Certain microbial groups appear to have positive effect on human health.
We breathe in these beneficial organisms and they help our immunity and regulate our hormones – factors important for both physical and mental health.
Being in natural green space increases our exposure to these microbes.
Read more: academic paperRobinson JM, Cando-Dumancela C, Liddicoat C, Weinstein P, Cameron RW and Breed MF (2020)
Germaphobia! Does Our Relationship With and Knowledge of Biodiversity Affect Our Attitudes Toward Microbes?
Microbes have a ‘bad press’ especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet, we are absolutely reliant on microbial groups (95% are beneficial or benign). Microbes are required for global nutrient cycles, regulating our diet and allowing our crops to grow.
Yet paranoia about microbes means we destroy many beneficial species, by over-sterilising our living environment. This causes problems with our auto-immune system, and increases the number of allergies we may experience.
This paper explores whether a better understanding and empathy for nature in general, correlates with a more nuanced and balanced approach when interacting with microbes.
Read more: academic paperRobinson JM, Cameron RW and Jorgensen A (2021)
Green infrastructure for air quality plus (GI4AQ+): Defining critical dimensions for implementation in schools and the meaning of ‘plus’ in a UK context.
Green barriers used to protect schools from poor quality air, may bring a range of additional benefits.
A study using a primary school in Sheffield, showed that a green barrier also promoted pro-environmental behaviours, increased biodiversity and promoted well-being and social capital.
The project was effective in bringing together school staff, pupils, parents and local businesses.
Read more: academic paperdel Carmen Redondo-Bermúdez M, Jorgensen A, Cameron RW and Martin MV (2022)
Currently working on:
- Trees for a future climate – a big data approach
- Plants for building cooling
- Does higher biodiversity elicit greater health & well-being responses
- Impact of flower colour on emotional responses in the landscape
- Gardens // wellbeing // mental health // health & horticulture
Health and Horticulture Conference 2022
The international Health and Horticulture Conference 2022 was held over two afternoons, on 17 and 18 March, in the RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science at RHS Garden Wisley.
The fully hybrid conference had a total of 259 delegates from more than 155 different organisations and 15 countries across the world (including the UK). Attendees were key stakeholders from public health, science, horticulture, medicine, education, urban planning, design, community activism, and other allied fields.
The aims of the conference were to positively impact health and wellbeing and to tackle the decline in green space and gardens in the UK.
Watch more: conference videos
These three infographics are directly associated with three peer-reviewed papers that were published from my PhD.
Infographics make the research findings easily shareable and understandable by all.
They have been used to communicate with non-academic audiences and to summarise research findings in a single image, which is especially effective for social media.
Download and share: garden infographics
RHS Sustainability Strategy
Within the next decade, the RHS aims to become net positive for nature and for people, and to encourage and enable gardeners to do the same.
I led on the target of designing a new evidence-based Wellbeing Garden Blueprint by 2025.
This sets the agenda to further research and create a new evidence-based wellbeing garden blueprint, regarding both design and process, that enables everyone to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of a garden.
Wellbeing Fellow at the Royal Horticultural Society
Currently working on:
- The role of colour and scent on stress and wellbeing in the garden context
Creative Spatial Practices
- Landscape history // practice of landscape design // conservation // teaching history
The Politics of Street Trees
This book focusses on the politics of street trees and the institutions, actors and processes that govern their planning, planting and maintenance. It provides historical perspectives, discusses values, policy and management and explores cultural idiosyncrasies, while concluding with case studies of community engagement, civil action and governance.
Read more: bookJan Woudstra and Camilla Allen, The Politics of Street Trees (London and New York: Routledge, 2022)
Frontiers of Urban and Restoration Ecology
This paper on Oliver Gilbert (1936-2005), educator and pioneer in urban ecology, contextualizes his work on former industrial sites, referred to by contemporary politics as brownfield land, waste land or derelict land, but by him as urban commons- for everyone and everything. Similar developments and reappraisals of urban areas as being ecologically valuable took place around Europe, in the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.
Free download: bookJan Woudstra, ‘Urban ecology: a continental European context of Oliver Gilbert’s work’, in: Ian D. Rotherham and Christine Handley, Frontiers of Urban and Restoration Ecology (Sheffield: Wildtrack, 2021), pp.214-243
Capability Brown, Royal Gardener: The business of place-making in Northern Europe
This book investigates the professional practice of Lancelot, or Capability Brown (1716-1783), England’s best known landscape designer and puts him in a national and European context, with contributions from France, Germany and The Netherlands.
Free download: bookJonathan Finch and Jan Woudstra, Capability Brown, Royal Gardener: The business of place-making in Northern Europe (York: White Rose University Press, 2020)
Currently working on…
I am currently working on a book entitled The Future of Teaching Landscape History, which re-thinks the purposes of history and what is relevant to the students of landscape architecture in their future careers. Design history will remain on the curriculum, but environmental history, economic history, landscape history, cultural landscapes, ideas of sustainability and climate change amelioration may all be useful in serving the needs of a widening range of students in a changing world.
- Sonic urbanism // landscape representation // music and landscape
A Picturesque Vertical Montage
This article examines the under-researched relationship between the auditory and visual sequences of spatial experience at Rousham garden, a highly regarded Picturesque landscape. It examines historic sources and broader literature against contemporary data collected on-site, arguing that conventional readings of the Picturesque underplay the multisensory nature of spatial experience of these landscapes. It then argues that this relationship could be productively analysed and represented by vertical montage as defined by Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948), and in re-evaluating this auditory and visual experience, provides a new understanding of the Picturesque that moves beyond the conventional notions of the pleasures of seeing. Finally, in examining how this experience is related to time, movement, tempo and sound, it creates a new method for reading and representing design features from the senses of sound and vision.
A Musicology for Landscape
Landscape representation has been hampered by the constraints of the perspective with its monocular vision, static viewpoint, visual dominance and absence of time. This book seeks to address these by drawing conceptually and practically upon the creative practice with the longest history of temporal representation, music. It argues that the rich history of notating time in music provides a critical model for this under-researched aspect of landscape architecture, whilst also ennobling sound in the sensory appreciation of landscape. This book examines three innovative 20th century musical works presenting a critical evaluation of their work within music as well as a means in which it might be used in design research. The book seeks to offer valuable insights into landscape representation and sound by bringing together musical composition and landscape architecture through notation, affording a sensitive exploration of temporality and sound in both fields. Book: Paperback, hardback and e-book
Currently working on:
I am currently working on a paper that examines the history of performed music in the early public parks through the historic design and musical archives. I focus on Sheffield for this study due to its early leading history, together with its number of bandstands, including in Weston Park, Chapeltown Park, Hillsborough Park, Endcliffe Woods Park, Meersbrook Park, together with its musical heritage. In particular I examine this topic through the prism of the city’s Weston Park which having the last remaining bandstand in the city, provides a temporal and symbolic connection over time. It then explores the landscape aspects of the music performed, before concluding with a call for an enhanced role for natural sounds in future considerations of public open spaces, how they might supplement the musical history in public parks, and how this might benefit users. This article calls for not just a recognition of music and sound’s historical role, but for a reconsideration of their current contribution in the context of public park design, anticipating the enhanced role for sound with the decline of the combustion engine, with new sales banned in England from 2030.
Place, Inclusion & Equity
- Long-term landscapes // policy // implementation into practice // decision-making
Parks and Green Spaces Research Portal
I am working with Green Flag Award and the University of Leeds to create a free and accessible online Research Portal to connect national and international researchers, policymakers and green space managers. The Portal provides practitioners with easy-to-read summaries of research and events to facilitate knowledge exchange and foster collaboration. Find researchers using our paywall-free marketplace to help inform the best practice in management of green spaces.
Introduction to the Portal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DZaUMolcBo
The website: https://www.greenflagaward.org/research
Biodiversity and climate change assessment for the NHS Lothian estate, Scotland
Working with Alison Holt at Natural Capital Solutions, we created a spatial asset register of the entire NHS Lothian estate to measure how its green spaces can help pursue action on climate change. The findings showed many opportunities to enrich the estate by improving the quality and quantity of green space, connecting with surrounding green infrastructure and encouraging more nature-based health activities. Establishing this baseline is helping NHS Lothian fulfil its duty as a public body to conserve and increase biodiversity on its estate.
Summary report: http://www.place-keeping.org/projects
Holt, A., Dempsey, N., Hennberry, J., Ashby, M. and Lush, C. (2021)
Known but not done: how logics of inaction limit the benefits of urban green spaces
This paper is from the completed IWUN project. We identified greenspace investments that could lead to improved wellbeing in Sheffield and the reasons why decision-makers would not proceed with such investment. We describe these as ‘logics of inaction’, such as the mismatch between available evidence and the evidence practitioners say they need to justify investments. Another is the legacy of austerity, prioritising short-term cost savings, not long-term gains. Identifying these ‘logics of inaction’ can help us understand how we can address their limitations.
Open access academic paper.
Dobson, J. and Dempsey, N. (2021)
Currently working on:
I am examining how UK cities put their public realm management strategies into practice. I am also working with colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University evaluating the National Heritage Lottery Fund & National Trust’s Future Parks Accelerator programme. And my place-keeping work continues – catch our regular blogs at www.place-keeping.org
- Urban experience // streets // visual engagement // outdoor eye-tracking
Accordion content 2.
- Migration // Designing for diversity // cultural associations with nature // refugees // storytelling
New accordion content