Research Design Connections
Studies examine appealing
landscapes, residential stormwater runoff, and why plants are good for
By Jean Marie Cackowski-Campbell, ASLA, and Sally Augustin
Landscape Architecture, in partnership with the web-based newsletter Research Design Connections, uses this
column to report current research of interest to landscape architects from a
wide array of disciplines. We welcome your comments, suggestions about future
topics, and studies you have encountered in your own practice.
Natural Highway Landscapes:
Drivers Like the View
When it comes to highway roadsides, less is more—less intensive management and more ecological management, that is. Canadian
researchers Jose Froment and Gerald Domon found that when highway embankments
are mowed less frequently and natural vegetation becomes more visually
prominent, drivers preferred the view. Switching from intensive management of
highway landscapes, which entails mowing the embankments several times a year, to
ecological management, which in this case means mowing every three to five
years, reduces the work of highway departments and creates the sorts of views
that drivers desire.
Seeking to investigate the aesthetic qualities of
ecologically managed highways, Froment and Domon gave disposable cameras to 38
drivers who regularly traveled a 52-kilometer stretch of highway. The
researchers asked the drivers to photograph the landscapes or features within
them that they found most enjoyable.
In the next phase of the project, the researchers sent
participants prints of the photographs that clearly showed the difference
between ecologically and intensively managed roadsides. The researchers asked
participants to circle the enjoyable scene or feature in the photograph and,
optionally, to provide comments about the images. Twenty-seven of the 38
participants returned the questionnaires, and all but one submitted comments.
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