PhD defense Silvia Minichino

Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Diverse, Homepage, Research, Team

On Monday the 5th of May, Silvia Minichino successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Landscape architecture and sustainable energy transition. Designing for renewable energy policies from the Italian perspective” at the University of Florence, the department of Architecture.

The thesis committee existed of Giampiero Donin, full professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Reggio Calabria, Leone Manfredi, assistant professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Palermo, Lorenzo Vallerini, assistant professor, University of Florence and Sven Stremke, assistant professor of Landscape planning and design, University of Wageningen. The thesis was supervised by Carlo Natali from the University of Florence (tutor) and Sven Stremke (co-tutor).

The positive peer review of the overall research work given by Dr. Daniela Perrotti, Institute National de Researche Agronomique in Ivry sur Seine (FR) and Dr. Sven Stremke, Wageningen University (NL) qualifies Silvia for the extra title of Doctor Europaeus.

The thesis will be published online in due time. The thesis abstract can be found below.



Thesis abstract

The thesis discusses the contribution of landscape architecture to sustainable energy transition, focusing mainly on Italy, including a comparison with the Dutch situation. The discipline and profession of landscape architecture is rooted in design and uses a design approach based on sliding spatial-temporal scales. Recently, landscape architecture has started dealing with the emerging paradigms of complexity and sustainability (Musacchio, 2009b). In order to contribute to these paradigms, landscape architecture proposes a collaborative approach aimed at the democratization of design processes. Due to this reason, landscape architects are more and more involved in the emerging field of sustainable transitions which, for instance, concern climate change, water management and energy.

Renewable energy deployment is one of the strategies to promote sustainable energy transitions (Strong, 1992). These kinds of processes involve the whole territory and deal both with the formulation of energy strategies and with their implementation. These actions occur on different spatial scales and involve an increasing number of actors. The main objective of this study is to investigate the contribution of landscape architecture to sustainable energy transition, focusing mainly on Italy. To this end, it isexplored how landscape architecture can bridge the gap between the formulation of renewable energy strategies and their implementation.

This research grounds on two propositions: the first one is that landscape design, which is at the core of landscape architecture, can provide information for energy plans and energy policies. The second one is that landscape design is also a means for integrating the landscape into sectoral policies, especially those regarding renewable energies.

This research follows the research on design approach (Deming &Swaffield, 2011) and considers as case studies Italy and the Netherlands. Energy-related landscape architecture projects are analyzed in both countries. Moreover, renewable energy-related precedents were analyzedas embedded cases, according to the transition management theory (Loorbach&Rotmans, 2010).

This study has three main outcomes. The first shows that the landscape architecture-sustainable energy transition link has a powerful role in dealing with renewable energy deployment. The second demonstrates that landscape design processes and products, elaborated at the site scale, are also used for energy spatial visions. Finally, the third shows that such operational knowledge, if strategically used, can be essential to provide information for energy-related decision making processes, as well as for the formulation of renewable energy policies.

In Italy, as elsewhere, the analysis of the embedded cases showed that landscape architecture knowledge and skills have started to be used for the formulation of renewable energy strategies at different levels of the territorial governance. Therefore, landscape design has started to be envisioned as a method to discuss various design solutions. Starting from the discussion on design, the formulation of renewable energy policies includes landscape development scenarios.



Deming M.E. &Swaffield S. (2011) Landscape Research. Inquiry, Strategy, Design, Hoboken, New Jersey:Wiley.

Loorbach, D. &Rotmans, J.(2010) The practice of transition management: Examples and lessons from four distinct cases, Futures, 42(3), pp. 237-246.

Musacchio L.R. (2009b) The scientific basis for the design of landscape sustainability: A conceptual framework for translational landscape research and practice of designed landscapes and the six Es of landscape sustainability, Landscape Ecology 24, pp. 993–1013.

Stake, R.E (2006) Multiple Case Study analysis, New York, The Guilford Press.

Stremke S. & Van Den Dobbelsteen (2013) Sustainable energy landscape. Designing, Planning and development, CRC Press.

Strong M.F. (1992) Energy, Environment and Development, Energy Policy, 20 pp.490-494

Yin, R.K. (2003). Case study research, design and methods, 3rd ed. Newbury Park: Sage Publications