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Issue 8.1

Enabling a Future-Focused Practice in an Uncertain Age

Humans face an unprecedented challenge in scope, time, and scale when considering climate change. In the design disciplines that most affect the built environment—architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, planning, and civil engineering—we need to speed up, better equip, and be deft in changing course to begin to meet this challenge with meaningful impact. This article presents one approach to enhanced climate action within a private, professional services practice using foresight, prediction, and proactivity. 

Unique among design disciplines, landscape architecture and landscape-driven urban design provide many opportunities for climate change mitigation, sequestration, and adaptation. The diversity of design scales, project types, time horizons, and geographic diversity, plus the fast-moving nature of climate effects, has meant that dedicating a practice-based research and innovation group to this challenge has worked best. This article describes such a group, XL Lab—its way of working, its research methodologies, how it integrates research into design projects, and examples of its practice-based research projects that are future-focused and aimed at making positive climate impacts. 

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