MSD at HOME: Melbourne Speaks :: Alexander Felson

Alexander Felson

Online - ABP Zoom Webinar

  • MSD at HOME

Climate Adaptation Bridging Landscape Architecture and Urban Ecology

Landscape architects are primary agents in negotiating and adapting built environments to respond to hyper urbanization and anthropogenic climate change. In this capacity, they are called upon to synthesize multi-disciplinary knowledge from concept to construction and interpret the different scales of impacts of the environmental, social and political pressures, in order to generate a contemporary chronicle of urban socio-eco-dynamism in design. How effective landscape architects are in executing this role depends on their understanding of how urban, rural and more natural ecosystems work. Oftentimes, however relevant scientific evidence is not available to inform sustainability aspects of design projects. There is as yet a dearth of ecological scientific understanding informing practice, especially of urban ecology and of social-ecological systems. Moreover, research to fill these gaps is limited or otherwise out of sync with project timeframes. This lecture introduces “Designed Experiments” as a methodology for landscape architects to robustly tackle contemporary urban design through a scientifically informed approach integrated into the design process. It utilizes the design process itself as a framework for choreographing stakeholder and cross disciplinary inputs to expand and integrate the research and design agendas. This approach fosters urban ecology FOR cities, by embedding ecological research experiments into landscape and urban designs to adaptively study and shape buildings, landscapes, and the infrastructure of human settlements. Concurrently, designed experiments introduce geometric, modular, temporal and process-based aesthetic with purpose into landscape architecture. This aesthetic connects experimentation and testing with civic space making and ecological processes and functions to inform earthwork and materiality. Experiments for ecologists are no longer a means to an end, but become legible landscapes conveying the experimental agendas. The data outcomes are fed back into the physical form and management of the design projects. Designed experiments re-envision city spaces as living and learning field laboratories providing opportunities for testing ecological hypotheses, and a platform for experiential learning.

About the presenter:

Dr. Felson is the Elisabeth Murdoch Chair of Landscape Architecture at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. He is a senior certified ecologist and a registered landscape architect. Felson works as an academic and practicing professional to advance resilient livable cities and sustainable planning, landscape architecture and urban design. He focuses on climate adaptation, green infrastructure and constructed ecosystems across multiple scales. Felson founded and runs the Urban Ecology and Design Lab (UEDLAB) and Ecopolitan Design, where he integrates applied ecology with landscape architecture and urban design. Felson also serves as the Deputy Executive Director for the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation overseeing resiliency for the State of Connecticut and as Associate Research Scientist in UConn's Department of Marine Sciences. Prior to joining CIRCA, he held the position of Associate Professor at Yale University jointly between the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Architecture. Dr. Felson specializes in constructed ecosystems, and he directed the NYC Reforestation Plan of the MillionTreesNYC while working at AECOM. He works on suburban development projects creating conservation developments that are responsive to the local forests, wetlands and amphibian habitats. He worked with developers and with Stanford University on planning for amphibians and large-scale land development. Felson has worked across the United States on resiliency projects including New York, Connecticut, Florida and California. He built bioretention gardens in Bridgeport through a community process, worked on the first resiliency plan for the State in Guilford, served as a core team member on Rebuild by Design, and recently completed the Regional Resilience Framework Plan with the Nature Conservancy. Alex holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University an MLA from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and an MS in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Presentation and Q+A

Date: Tuesday, 08 September 2020

Time: 18:00 - 19:30 AEST* Melbourne (UTC +10)

Venue: Online - ABP Zoom Webinar

Event link: Once you have registered for the event, the event link will be sent to you via your Eventbrite confirmation email and reminder emails.

*Singapore: Tuesday, 08 September 2020, 16:00 - 17:30; SGT
*Dubai: Tuesday, 08 September 2020, 12:00 - 13:30; GST
*London: Tuesday, 08 September 2020, 09:00 - 10:30; BST
*NYC: Tuesday, 08 September 2020, 04:00 - 05:30; EDT
*Los Angeles: Tuesday, 08 September 2020, 01:00 - 02:30; PDT

Topographical map of the Felson Lagunita project

Gallery showing woman viewing different signs around the park

Images: Alex Felson and Ecopolitan Design.  Stanford University Lagunita Habitat Conservation and Education Signage Plan, 2018

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