©EDSA | Insights | Evolving Places for People | Integrating Tech in Design

Designing outdoor spaces that adapt and respond to the changing needs of a community or place requires a thoughtful and dynamic approach that prioritizes people. By placing the human experience center stage in the design process, concepts and ideas become thriving realities – where individuals collectively bring spaces to life.

User-centric design prioritizes functionality, comfort, accessibility and adaptability with an aesthetic overlay for a memorable journey. But quality design represents only half the equation. It is individuals, families or groups of friends, and their desire to engage with the landscape, that transforms the ordinary into a sought-after destination. Whether a park, themed attraction, resort or mixed-use district, those who inhabit and interact within a space infuse it with their energy and shape the environment into a vibrant gathering space.

©EDSA | Insights | Evolving Places for People | New York Central Park

Experts in creating places for people, landscape architects use their design skills to define intuitive, frictionless frameworks that extend beyond the beautification of a place. With consideration for site history, existing context, programming and amenities, designers lay the foundation for people to create meaningful experiences with nature that evolve over time.

Take Central Park in New York City, for instance. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in 1858, the green oasis has undergone several renovations to better cater to the changing needs of visitors and residents. Enhancements related to public safety, recreation and overall maintenance have laid the groundwork for new moments of discovery while preserving the park’s original charm. Welcoming 42+ million people each year, the design reinforces the value of placemaking and showcases what fresh perspectives can do for a community and a site’s long-term prosperity.

©EDSA | Insights | Evolving Places for People | The Boca Raton

As such, developing spaces that serve a greater purpose extend beyond blending nostalgia with the desires of today. There must also be a conscious effort to enrich a space to its full potential while knowing when to take a step back and not over design. In example, legacy destinations like The Boca Raton in Palm Beach County, Florida are trading indoor ballrooms for additional green space, while the infamous Victoria Park Golf Course in Brisbane, Australia is in the process of converting 45-hectares into a public park. In both cases, the realignment of amenities ensures the user-journey isn’t too prescribed but rather allows people to orchestrate their own authentic experiences.

Likewise, as developments add layers of flexibility to their environs, they bring more value to end-users, clients and operators alike. Consider the live, work, play model and how multi-family residential towers are situating office pods next to yoga terraces for easy access to those who need a mental break. Convention centers are incorporating removable walls to bring meetings al-fresco while catering to events of various sizes. And quiet spaces are being interwoven into a resort’s fabric for parents who need to step away for a work call while enjoying amenities with their family. This adaptability is achieved by repositioning outdoor spaces to serve multiple functions – while celebrating the outdoors for its respite, rejuvenation, socialization and holistic enjoyment qualities.

©EDSA | Insights | Evolving Places for People | Grand Xi Beach

While there are many components to creating memorable places, impressionable destinations are the result of deliberate design decisions. Our role as landscape architects is to help users develop emotional and psychological attachments. As markers for enhancing quality of life and promoting overall well-being, a sense of place is timeless in its design formula – each site with its own unique combination of physical, cultural and social attributes that establish an identity and evoke a sense of connection.