60 508 Landscape Urbanism for Deltas in an Era of Climate Change


Passed foundation level courses / Bachelor

Course content

The design research studio will begin with a critical reading of key sections of the 2013/2014 Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change Report (IPCC 2013/ 2014). The focus will then be on a selective number of deltas—which host more than half of the world’s population and produce the lion’s share of global economic value. Deltas are amongst the earth’s most inherently vulnerable territories with regards to climate change and man has yet to figure out how to appropriately respond to the predicted consequences of increased vulnerability, which includes storm surges, sea level rise, both increased flooding and drought, and extreme rainfall. The hazard-prone areas threaten water and food security, human settlement and transport. Clearly the stakes, in terms of human and financial capital, are extremely high and need urgent attention. Design attention and creative thinking is part of the necessary ‘game-changers’ that must figure into a paradigm shift for such deltaic landscapes.

The design research will investigate the evolving relationship between environmental concerns and rapid urban growth by focusing on deltas, which are facing tremendous challenges regarding the interplay between culture/nature and city/water. It will parallel work being carried out in the Institute on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and studio participants are to choose a delta—for instance the Ganges-Brahmaputra (Bangladesh), Mississippi (US) Nile (Egypt), Indus (Pakistan), Irrawaddy (Myanmar), Yangtze (China), Zaire (Congo)—in which they would create interpretive maps and projective cartography.

The main objective is to develop maps in order to first understand, by way of critical comparison, the challenges facing development and the opportunities to re-edit the existing urban and rural environments of deltatic cities and fertile lands. Thereafter, landscape urbanism scenarios, across scales, will be made to restate the balance between city and nature, consumptive and productive space, impermeable and porous surfaces, urban and rural.

This design research studio-atelier is different than a normal studio in the sense that it does not meet regularly/ weekly, but instead is designed around intensive workshop sessions and independent work of studio participants. It is intended as a very small studio-atelier for maximum 6 students who are highly motivated and primarily for students who have followed the landscape urbanism studio in the 2nd semester of the master course.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the design research studio-atelier students should have the tools to carry out independent work that has prepared them well for the diploma semester ahead. In the best case, a particular aspect of work itself can be extended into the diploma in one way or another. Regardless, students would have developed skills in critical reading of complex texts for fields other than that of design, refined the creation of interpretative maps and projective cartography and developed a skill for scenario development (asking and making design possibilities, across scales, for ‘what if’).

Professor in charge

Professor Kelly Shannon


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Prosessvurdering underveis
Prosjektoppgave Pass / Fail

Reading lists / teaching materials


Holling, CS (1973) Resilience and stability of ecological systems,’ Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, Vol 4, pp. 1-23.


Holling, CS (2010) ‘Engineering resilience versus ecological resilience’ in Gunderson, L.H., Allen, C.R., Holling, C.S. (eds) Foundations of Ecological Resistance, Washington: DC, p. 55-66 (reprint from 1996, National Academy of Sciences: National Academic Press).


IPCC (2013) Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basics, Group I Contribution to AR5 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Geneva: IPCC Secretariat.


IPCC (2014) Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Group I Contribution to AR5 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Geneva: IPCC Secretariat.


IPCC (2014) Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, Group III Contribution to AR5 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Geneva: IPCC Secretariat.