Mapping the Evolution of Designed Landscapes with GIS: Stourhead Landscape Garden as an Example

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

159 Downloads (Pure)


Landscapes change because they are the expression of the dynamic interaction between natural and cultural forces in the environment. As such the landscape is a palimpsest that evidences many successive transformations by human interventions, changing land-use and management, natural succession of vegetation, but also caused by climatological and geological chances. Here the concept of the longue durée is crucial, understanding the landscape as a long-term and dynamic structure and process. The physical traces that time has overlaid can reinforce or contradict each other. Understanding of these layers is an important starting point for management and preservation of landscapes, but also an important basis for new transformations, or for adding a new design layer. In the field of landscape architecture the evolution of gardens and designed landscapes is therefore an important subject for design research. Through landscape design research it is possible to acquire design knowledge, design principles, or typological knowledge that can be used in the management and preservation of historical gardens and designed landscapes, but also for the creation (or refinement) of a new design.

This contribution aims to identify and illustrate methods and techniques for GIS-based modelling, analysis and visualization for exploring designed landscapes and their evolution from conception to the present day. Stourhead landscape garden is used as a case study. Stourhead is a well-known historical landscape garden and for centuries a top attraction in Wiltshire, UK. This contribution will address data gathering (using field instruments such as terrestrial laser scanning), the use and processing of available analogue and digital sources, the employment of plant physiological models, as well as cartometric analysis and correction of deviations in historical cartographic material in the interest of reconstruction of important stages of the landscape’s development. GIS-based analyses of the spatial structure, changes and coherence over time from horizontal (eye-level) and vertical (bird-eye) perspectives will feature prominently, together with different forms of representation such as maps, virtual landscapes and 3D prints. Insights gained by such explorations open new perspectives on the situational and cultural-historical aspects of designed landscapes, which can play a part in value assessment and decisions regarding the use and management of this living green heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMapping Landscapes in Transformation
Subtitle of host publicationMultidisciplinary Methods for Historical Analysis
EditorsThomas Coomans, Bieke Cattoor, Krista De Jonge
PublisherLeuven University Press
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-6166-283-5
ISBN (Print)978-94-6270-173-1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Landscape architecture
  • Historical GIS
  • Mapping landscape change
  • Landscape design research
  • Historical reconstruction
  • Living heritage


Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping the Evolution of Designed Landscapes with GIS: Stourhead Landscape Garden as an Example'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this