Drawing outside the line: green heritage in the rural-urban fringe

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Lewicki, Brydget
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Within the discipline of landscape architecture, there has been limited reflection on or contribution to the state of the rural-urban fringe, where city meets country. Conventional planning frameworks have left the rural-urban fringe as a site for abrupt visual and programmatic changes. This work introduces this unique spatial interface and highlights the opportunities and inherent intrigue in a site plagued with the dichotomy of rural agricultural aesthetic and an urban humanized condition. Reflecting on this spatial condition impacts planners as they are consultants to the process of urban growth and shows designers how they can improve the function of the rural-urban. This practicum proposes adapting a body of knowledge regarding landscape heritage formed by Dr. Ellen Braae and Sophie Boggild (2015) of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. This “green heritage” is a concept for integrating landscapes and reassessing heritage value in green infrastructure systems. Green heritage in Denmark is threatened by climate adaptation, similar to heritage landscapes that are threatened worldwide, including in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The concept of green heritage is adapted for this work as a theoretical device for uniting heritage landscapes in the rural-urban fringe. Through the lens of green heritage, we can understand how to manipulate the concept of heritage to be more encompassing and relevant in the 21st century.A literature review explores three separate approaches for which the rural-urban fringe can be physically addressed and formed. Frederick Steiner’s (1991) process of landscape planning is found to be the most appropriate approach to attempt a unification of the agricultural rural and the suburban outskirts. This unification is important for aesthetics, fosters responsible land management, allows for community integration, promotes ecological diversity, and improves infrastructure efficiency. A set of case studies focuses on specific landscapes that are both situated in the rural-urban fringe and are designed to be or are inherently inclusive of the surrounding agricultural activity. These provide principles and key strategies that can be tested and implemented in a design set in the rural-urban fringe of a city founded at the intersection of two rivers, in a valley of fertile soil and prime growing conditions established through treaty and trade and made a metropolis by agriculture and the grain market. In this inquiry, the design phase answers the research question by blending the theory of green heritage with the practical process of landscape planning to present a unified vision for a site within the rural-urban fringe - a park design that offers recreation, education, and production and new strategies for sustained continuity and connectivity between agricultural land and surrounding low-density communities. This proposal, unified by green heritage, landscape planning, and the agricultural context, will accommodate potential urban growth, climate change, highlight embedded heritage, renew a sense of place, and allow for a unique identity in this dichotomous landscape.
Landscape architecture