Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 44

GRADING: LEVELLING OR LANDFORMING?

CONVENTIONAL GRADING

CONTOUR GRADING

LANDFORM GRADING

2

THE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT:
LEVELLER? OR LANDFORMER?
Simply put, our research project set out to investigate whether
landscape architects are levellers or landformers. We began by building
our understanding of how complex landforms function, and how they
can be characterized. We needed to measure landform complexity in a
way that would allow us to compare terrain before and after changes
by landscape architects. Were landforms becoming more orderly or
more messy by design? And by extension, what might that mean for
the function and sustainability of designed landscapes?
COMPLEX FORMS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS
Complex landforms achieve dynamic stability by evolutionary
processes, as they progressively manage runoff. Erosion creates
concave shapes, and deposition creates convex shapes. The complexity
promotes biodiversity since the variations in terrain provide refuge
opportunities unavailable in open areas or plains. Yet complexity is not
universally appropriate: agricultural grading is restricted by safety and
operational standards to a maximum gradient, so landforming is not
applicable to landscapes managed mechanically.
An alternative to conventional grading designs, which simplify
surface geometry, is contour grading, which is often employed in golf
course design to increase difficulty of play through elevation variance.
However, neither conventional nor contour grading has the ecological
intent of landforming, and neither provides long-term stability. Rather,
sustainability is linked to terrain complexity. For that reason, methods
of measuring complexity are useful for evaluating the long-term
stability of grading designs in landscape architecture.
44 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES

3

LANDFORMING
IS A GRADING
APPROACH THAT
LOOKS MESSY
BUT...OFFERS
INCREASED
STABILITY AND
COMPLEX
VISUAL APPEAL.

DEFINING COMPLEXITY
Landforms can be described by the complexity of their slope forms
(linear, convex or concave), which can combine into nine basic
slope shapes, and thereafter recombine and reconfigure again into
highly-complex landforms.
But how do we evaluate and measure complex terrain? We
combined four measurable complexity components - elevation
standard deviation, local relief, rugosity and total curvature - into
a single value, the Compound Terrain Complexity Index (CTCI),
described in 2008 by LU Huaxing, in Modelling Terrain Complexity. The
complexity components are readily calculated with GIS. (We used
Arc Map.)
Elevation standard deviation and local relief are both statistical
measures. Standard deviation is a measure of the variance of
elevation points, providing information on the degree of vertical
diversity in a landscape, while local relief calculates the range of
elevations. However, neither measures consider surface roughness
between elevation points.
Geometric measures calculate terrain surface complexity with
rugosity and total curvature as components in the CTCI. Rugosity
compares 3D surface roughness with a 2D footprint of the same area,
while total curvature measures how curved a surface is in plan and
profile. These measures are useful for considering curvilinear swales
and ridges existing in landforms.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Summer 2017

TO BEGIN WITH | POUR COMMENCER
COLLABORATORS | COLLABORATEURS
PROLOGUE
ESSAY | ESSAI
Après le désordre vient le beau temps
A Fine Mess
Biophilic City
“I Am the Space Where I Am”
OPINION
Homo the Homogenizer? Do LAs Design Messy Terrain?
Waste-Less in Seattle: How Will This Look When It Gets Dirty?
Beaver the Disruptor Tolerating Disorder in the Heart of Vancouver
Messiness by Intention
CRITIQUE
@landtecanada Taking It With You
THE LAST WORD | LE MOT DE LA FIN
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - intro
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - cover1
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - cover2
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 3
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 4
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 5
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 6
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 7
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - TO BEGIN WITH | POUR COMMENCER
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 9
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - COLLABORATORS | COLLABORATEURS
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 11
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 12
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 13
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - PROLOGUE
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 15
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 16
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 17
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 18
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 19
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - ESSAY | ESSAI
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 21
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 22
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - Après le désordre vient le beau temps
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 24
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 25
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - A Fine Mess
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 27
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 28
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 29
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 30
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - Biophilic City
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 32
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 33
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - “I Am the Space Where I Am”
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 35
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 36
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 37
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 38
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 39
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - OPINION
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 41
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 42
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - Homo the Homogenizer? Do LAs Design Messy Terrain?
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 44
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 45
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 46
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - Waste-Less in Seattle: How Will This Look When It Gets Dirty?
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 48
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 49
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 50
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - Beaver the Disruptor Tolerating Disorder in the Heart of Vancouver
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 52
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 53
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - Messiness by Intention
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 55
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - CRITIQUE
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 57
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - @landtecanada Taking It With You
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 59
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 60
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 61
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 62
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 63
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 64
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 65
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 66
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 67
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 68
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 69
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 70
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 71
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 72
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - 73
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - THE LAST WORD | LE MOT DE LA FIN
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - cover3
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - cover4
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - LPPlus1
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - LPPlus2
Landscapes - Summer 2017 - LPPlus3
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