With a growing interest in sustainable travel and ecotourism, landscape architects are playing a bigger role in the tourism industry than ever before. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we here at Landscape Architects Network want to showcase some of the coolest landscape projects in tourism today. Highlighting the diversity of what landscape architects are contributing to the realm of tourism, these projects were selected for their uniqueness, their contribution to tourism, and their respect for local and environmental context.
Tourism Projects in Landscape Architecture
1. The National Tourist Routes of Norway
Stunning landscapes come together with stunning design along Norway’s National Tourist Routes. In fact, here at LAN we love this project so much that we have previously featured it. Twice. With good reason. The 18 separate stretches of highway total nearly 2,000 kilometers in length. Each route has its own character and was selected for its unique and picturesque scenery.Along each route, stunning rest areas designed by teams of artists, designers, architects, and landscape architects deliver spectacular views of some the country’s most picturesque landscapes. The architectural elements are of typically minimalist, Scandinavian design. Their geometric forms contrast with the rugged landscapes, but manage to highlight rather than compete. Cultural activities, lodging, and local shopping have also been developed along each route, stimulating the economies of the rural areas through which they run. Why see it? Anyone who undertakes the cross-country trip by this route is bound to find himself mesmerized by the beauty of the Norwegian landscape. The 18 different routes were selected not only for their beauty, but also for their uniqueness within the Norwegian landscape, so it might just be the best way to get an overview of the beauty and diversity the country has to offer. The success of the project is indicative of a current trend in tourism: Visitors are seeking authentic experiences rather than manufactured attractions. As a result, more and more countries are choosing to attract tourists by highlighting their unique, natural beauty and local culture. Although not strictly a landscape architectural project, the National Tourist Routes are a great example of how the profession is playing an increasingly important role in tourism infrastructure projects.
2. Valley of The Giants Treetop Walk
Walpole-Nornalup National Park in Western Australia contains some of the most unique plant and animal life in the country, with many ancient species found nowhere else in Australia. Because of its unique landscape and wildlife, the park is a popular destination for tourists — but this popularity also poses a threat to the long-term preservation of the area. The Treetop Walk, designed by Donaldson and Warn was created as a solution to this problem, one that would allow the continued enjoyment of the Valley of the Giants, while better preserving and protecting the area for future generations.Even during implementation, preservation was an important consideration for this project. Even the way that the construction phase was carried out minimized impacts on this ecologically sensitive area, with the designers opting for slower, but less invasive construction techniques. The completed 600-meter-long walk is completely wheelchair accessible and consists of six bridges, each spanning 60 meters through the tingle tree canopy, rising into the treetops at heights of up to 40 meters. So lightweight are these steel bridges that they sway gently as you cross. Looking straight down, you can see the forest floor below your feet. All of this creates the sensation of being suspended in the air, as if you were part of the forest canopy. The Treetop Walk has been a huge success for the park. Opening to the public in August 1996, at a total cost of $1.8 AUD, by 2007 the walk had brought 2.2 million visitors to the park. Why see it? The unique biodiversity in the park, plus stunning views and vistas from the canopy of an ancient forest … what more could you ask for? The Treetop Walk offers a unique and unforgettable experience to visitors: The suspended bridges allow visitors to get up close and personal with the forest’s giant tingle trees and to see the landscape from an entirely new perspective while learning about Australia’s biodiversity. The Treetop Walk is a great example of how landscape architecture can use design to reconcile and balance the need for tourism with the need to preserve and protect nature. By treating these seemingly incompatible interests as an opportunity rather than a conflict, landscape architects are often able to successfully bridge these gaps and create effective solutions that protect both interests.
3. Puerto Vallarta Malécon
A collaboration between Trama Arquitectos, Estudio 314, and West 8, Puerto Vallarta’s seaside promenade stretches across the waterfront and the downtown, bringing tourists and locals together in the heart of the city. The project’s aim was twofold: to promote and grow tourism in the city, as well as to strengthen local identity and serve the day-to-day needs of locals.The resulting space is one that prioritizes the needs of pedestrians, creating an extremely accessible and pleasant waterfront park that is well used by both locals and tourists alike. The Malécon is especially lively in the evenings, and custom lighting is used both to create a stunning nighttime atmosphere and to reduce light pollution. This new, lower-intensity lighting reduces the disruption of the breeding and nesting of sea turtles. The seawall that separates the pedestrian traffic from the shore also functions to reduce the impacts of human activity on local wildlife. The planting plan makes use of drought-tolerant species native to the local area, reducing the need for care and maintenance. All along the Malécon, sculptures by local artists add elements of local culture, mythology, and tradition. The paving pattern is a traditional, river rock mosaic designed by Huichol artist Fidenzio Benitez and tells the origin story of the city. Why see it? With the heart of downtown on one side and stunning ocean views on the other, plus local life animating the space from morning until night, you could easily spend the entire day enjoying the Malécon. In the daytime, the area is bustling with locals going about their daily business. As it cools down in the evenings, the boardwalk is packed with people out for their evening stroll. Seeking a more authentic experience, tourists increasingly want to see the local life of a city, and as a result the separation of tourist and local areas is no longer as clear-cut as it once was. Many designers see this as an opportunity to create unique and lively spaces and to cultivate unique experiences for tourists and locals alike. The Puerto Vallarta Malécon is a great example of how designers can create quality spaces that respect and highlight local culture in an authentic way while still catering to tourists. This type of project emphasizes the need to create spaces that appeal to both groups, rather than catering exclusively to one or the other.
4. The Pool and Garden at Hilton Pattaya
The beachside city of Pattaya, just a two-hour drive from the capital of Bangkok, is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist areas. Once known for its beautiful, uninterrupted coastline, today the beachfront has become overcrowded with restaurants, shops, and nightclubs and has gained a seedy reputation as a destination for sex tourism.As a result, the beach city has lost much of the magic it once had. However, many are trying to change this, to revive the area and turn it back into the sophisticated destination it once was. Aimed at travelers seeking a more upscale experience, the word “stunning” might come to mind when describing the Hilton Pattaya, designed by Thai firm TROP terrains + and Open Space. Planting, furnishings, hardscaping, and waterscaping have all been carefully selected to create a soothing environment — an oasis escape from the overcrowded beach town. There is nothing “cookie cutter” about this project; every element feels customized. In fact, what makes the project so impressive is how each element and material has been purposefully selected. And the masterful orchestration of each of them has created a sort of ethereal beauty in the space. Use of water and lush greenery really makes the space feel like a tropical oasis. Too often, minimal green is incorporated into private spaces, but the results of TROP’s use of lush planting is well worth the extra care and maintenance involved. Perhaps the highlight of the project is a beautiful infinity pool that sits at the edge of the rooftop, overlooking the ocean and creating a seamless view that makes swimmers feel like they are floating toward the edge of the earth. Why see it? Simply put, TROP’s design work at Hilton Pattaya is beautiful. Each element and material feels purposefully selected and works harmoniously together, and the elegant rooftop pool affords a spectacular ocean view. Today, many travelers are seeking accommodations that feel unique and authentic, and the Hilton Pattaya certainly delivers. Providing an oasis escape from the chaos of the crowded beach city, Hilton Pattaya’s design creates a luxurious atmosphere that helps to make guests feel relaxed. The project is a good example of how landscape architecture is increasingly contributing to private projects in tourism. Landscape architects and designers can bring a unique perspective to private projects, often creating stunning results. In the past, the same standard designs would often be applied to hotels to save time and money, but today, more and more travelers are demanding a unique experience.
Landscape Architecture Brings a Unique Perspective
Landscape architecture is playing a growing role in tourism, and these projects are just a few examples of how the profession is contributing. Landscape architects often bring a unique perspective, and by focusing on place-making, are able to strike a balance between environmental integrity and human use. What’s on your bucket list? If you could travel to see any landscape architectural project in the world, what would you see and why? Tell us in the comments! Recommended Reading:
- Designing the Sustainable Site: Integrated Design Strategies for Small Scale Sites and Residential Landscapes by Heather L. Venhaus
- Lifelong Landscape Design by Hugh Dargan
Article by Michelle Biggs Return to HomepagePublished in