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SULIS - Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series.
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Principles of Design

If several "professional landscape designers" were given the same design problem (a residence, commercial building, or public grounds), the same base map and design program, and the same budget, they would each develop a different solution to the problem. Their final designs would also look much different. While one design might have more appeal to the client than the others, all could be excellent solutions to the design problem and ultimately create excellent sustainable landscapes.

These different landscape designs would have one thing in common: the designers would all have applied appropriate principles of design in the development of their design solutions. Principles of design are guidelines to follow in determining the specifics that transform draft designs into completed landscape designs. In other words, it is this process that defines and ties all the individual components of the design together. This is often described as unity within a design. It impacts how the design looks on paper and ultimately as the installed landscape.

Unity in a completed Landscape

  • Unity in a completed landscape

What are the Principles of Design?

Designers differ in the number of design principles they feel are important. The number and specific definitions of these design principles are not as important as the overall philosophy of how they create unity within a landscape design.

By definition, some principles of design are almost the same, some are contradictory, and some may be appropriate in one design while others are not. Most importantly, there are countless examples of how a design principle can be expressed. All could be correct depending on the circumstances. In other words, there can be more than one correct answer to a landscape design problem.

For these reasons, applying principles of design to the creation of a final design is very difficult for a designer with little experience. It is much easier to learn how to apply the principles of design through observation and experience rather than by definition only.

Principles of Design:

 
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