12 May, 2012

The role of landscape architect in agritourism landscape design

"The combination of agriculture and tourism, under the scope of a rational development, may help towards a sustainable way of maintenance and planning of the Greek landscapes".

By Aikaterini Gkoltsiou

Greek version

Nowadays, agricultural landscapes tend to transform to other types such as urban, industrial, tourist and so on.

The contemporary needs seek for combined solutions, in order to increase the agricultural family's income, to maintain the traditional forms of cultivation, to protect the landscape and to promote modern activities on the countryside. The combination of agriculture and tourism, under the scope of a rational development, may help towards a sustainable way of maintenance and planning of the Greek landscapes.


Agricultural landscape. Umbria Italy. March 2009. Photograph by Aikaterini Gkoltsiou


Agritourism is a new type of rural tourism, which is generally implemented in disadvantaged agricultural lands. It is developed as a sector with the aim of not only a development instrument for local people who are dependent on agricultural production, but also for sustaining the agricultural lands. Therefore, agritourism can be defined as "a range of activities, services and amenities provided by farmers and rural people to attract tourist to their area in order to generate extra income for their businesses".

Landscape is the result of the ways that different components of our surrounding environment - physical, biological and social- interact and become perceived. Therefore, landscape is concerned with and manifests in the various forms of the complex interrelationships between people and place (Ιnterim Landscape Character Assessment Guidance, 1999). An agritourism landscape incorporates human-made and physical elements such as: 1) agritourism facilities and attractions, 2) infrastructures specifically developed for tourism (accommodations, food establishments, etc.), 3) environmental elements (air, water, soil), 4) basic infrastructures, such as transportation networks, water supply, sewage, solid waste disposal systems etc, and, finally, 5) the landscape as a whole and so on.

Landscape architects role is to plan and design landscapes and open spaces for projects such as parks, schools, institutions, roads, external areas for commercial, industrial and residential sites, and plan and monitor their construction, maintenance, management and rehabilitation. Its role is very important, since he is concerned with the shaping of landscapes at various scales. Aims are to create, enhance, maintain and protect places so as to be functional, aesthetically pleasing, meaningful and sustainable and appropriate to diverse human needs and goals. Landscape architects must have a holistic knowledge and understanding of landscape in time and space, and the pressures and driving forces to which landscapes are subjected; they involve not only specialist knowledge from a wide range of disciplines, but also the interests of the public." (ECLAS - LE:NOTRE: Tuning Landscape Architecture Education in Europe, draft 27, 2010:7).

The role of a landscape architect in the design of an agritourism landscape is to combine the production, representative and recreational areas. The designed area needs to be recognized, researched and analyzed with the methods used in the landscape architecture.


Landscape design of an agricultural farm. Attica, Greece. Αgrodesign ( May 2010. Photograph by Aikaterini Gkoltsiou

Landscape design of an agricultural farm. Attica, Greece. Αgrodesign ( May 2007. Photograph by Aikaterini Gkoltsiou


The analysis of an agritourism landscape design project consists at first, of an inventory of the agricultural area with existing plants, surfaces, small architecture elements, a soil pH analysis, a landscape valuation or valorisation of chosen elements, a landscape analysis, a functional separation of the area with specification of the zones designated for the determined recreational activities and adjusted to the age of the participants, an interview with the owners of the facility and the guests' survey allowing to obtain their opinion about the green space, their expectations and preferences The second task is to develop designing guidelines and to create the concept, meaning arrangement of the area in the form of the top view with the consideration of the greenery composition, communication system and the elements of small architecture, often with the preliminary measurements. That will be supplemented with catalogues of plants, surfaces, proposed equipment and elements, finishing materials, also review of inspirations.

In conclusion, the contribution of the landscape architect is crucial for the design, promotion and protection of an agritourism landscape. However, the design should meet those quality standards that will guide agritourism in safely predictable targets, not to begin to assimilate with mass tourism, a phenomenon which has already begun to appear in Greece.


By Aikaterini Gkoltsiou

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