THE ECOLOGICAL CONTEXT AND LANDSCAPE CHARACTER
Visitors to national forests expect to see
natural-appearing landscapes. To fulfill those
expectations, Forest Service facilities should
harmonize with their landscape settings.
Landscape character results from a combination
of ecological and visual factors. Design should
grow from the character of each site: its ecology,
geology, landforms, colors, plant life, microclimate,
and cultural setting. Structures and roads
should not disturb ecological integrity. They
should match visual features of the landscape
such as color, texture, form, and line. For example,
design in the Southeastern United States can
respond to the slender nature of vegetation in
forests by including slender structural elements.
In areas with massive vegetation and geology,
such as the North Pacific, designs can include
massive structural elements such as boulders
and large logs. (The relationship of landscape and
architectural character is shown in table 3.1.)
Table 3.1 Effect of Ecological Context on Architectural Character
Low precipitation (318")
Hot summer temperatures
Mild, clear winters
wall material and mass
thick walls for insulation and heat retention
bright intense colors
recessed windows & doors
shade overhangs, arbors
solar design commonplace
Open pine, juniper forests
wood used sparingly
wood logs, poles for roof
xeric, sparse landscaping
thick, adobe block walls
plaster finish walls
sandstone light colors, tans
wall texture of surrounding soil
Each ecological setting should be analyzed to
determine suitable materials, colors, textures,
and forms. Elements to analyze include:
Vegetation: Type, canopy coverage, patterns.
Climate: Prevailing winds, precipitation,
temperature, freeze-thaw cycles, seasonal
variations, heating and cooling loads.
Color: Degree of lightness or darkness;
tones based on local plant life, geology,
soils, water, quality of light, and sky.
Solar: Orientation, aspect,
intensity, and available days.
Surface geology and soils: Type, texture,
size, color, scale, construction capacity,
Hydrology: Runoff, drainage patterns,
subsurface conditions, and aesthetic
qualities of lakes and streams.
Fig 3: Massive vegetation suggests
massive structural elements
Fig 4: Slender vegetation suggests
slender structural elements
Careful consideration of the following questions
will help illustrate how landscape factors influence
architectural character and materials:
Will the design visually complement the
Does the design respond to the areas
Does it use colors and shapes found within
Are important views created or blocked?
Does the design respond to climate?
Does the design require regrading or clearing
Must new utilities be extended to the site?
Are the building materials locally produced,
recycled, or recyclable?
Can the structures be made energy efficient?
Can they take advantage of energy sources
such as solar, wind, or water power?
Will the project have an adverse effect on
Will it increase runoff and erosion?
Materials respond to the scale of the setting
· Fig 5 -Large mountains, rocks, or trees suggest a larger scale of materials
· Fig 6 -Grasslands suggests a finer scale of materials
Fig 7 - Climate-responsive building characteristics for
Cold, dry climate: promote solar gain
South-facing window to promote solar gain
Berm toward the north
Fig 8 - Climate-responsive building characteristics for
Hot, humid climate: insulate and ventilate to reduce solar gain
Reflective roofing color and material
Windows positioned to promote cross-ventilation
Under floor ventilation