From Maps to Morals: Landscape Architecture’s Critical Point

Image: ‘Climate Emergency’. A Public Domain image

In a world marked by increasing urbanization, changing climate patterns, and escalating consumption of finite resources, the role of landscape architecture is evolving to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Beyond creating aesthetically pleasing outdoor spaces, landscape architects can embrace a more profound mission: humanitarianism.

In today’s rapidly changing world, where the need for sustainable urbanization and conservation has never been more critical, landscape architects are stepping up to address the pressing challenges of our time. The profession has the capacity to contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future for our planet.


“Atlas for the End of the World” – Professor Richard Weller and his team at the University of Pennsylvania are pioneering a new kind of atlas: An illustration of the world’s current situations in the context of 21st-century challenges. land use and urbanization are examined in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth.

“By bringing urbanization and conservation together in the same study, the essays, maps, data, and artwork in this Atlas lay essential groundwork for the future planning and design of hotspot cities and regions as interdependent ecological and economic systems.”

Image: Global Landscape Connectivity Projects. From ATLAS for the END of the WORLD.


The urgency of addressing global issues often doesn’t become apparent until they reach a critical point. It is now! Landscape architects have the capacity to enhance resilience, promote transformation, and ensure long-term sustainability in societies. Our collective efforts can make a difference locally, nationally, and globally. Representing the profession IFLA has declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.

A quote from captures our situation:

“Meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift. Together with our clients and collaborating consultants, we will need to commission, plan and design landscapes, cities, infrastructures and buildings as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system in balance with the natural world.”

Win Phyo, a Chartered Landscape Architect, has delved into the intersection of humanitarianism and landscape architecture. “Humanitarianism + Landscape Architecture: Crisis, Commotion, and Collaboration” by Win on Land8 writes on the topic. Win highlights that landscape architects are contributing their skills beyond projects. That our profession’s approach to systems can be a valuable contribution.

The world stands at a crossroads, and landscape architects can lead the way toward a more sustainable future. “Atlas for the End of the World” and “Humanitarianism + Landscape Architecture” exemplify the profession’s power to address 21st-century challenges. These underscore that landscape architects need to embrace the cliche of being not just designers but stewards of the environment, promoting resilience, conservation, and innovation.

It is time to rethink urbanization and conservation, offering a vision where landscapes become regenerative, sustainable, and inextricably linked to the well-being of our planet.


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