Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Elizabeth Dean Hermann

Second Advisor

John O'Keefe

Third Advisor

Griffin Smith


The most popular video games have attracted a large number of young people with their immersive digital landscapes which offer rich opportunities for active navigation and thought. This has likely led to many spending more time exploring virtual environments rather than the real, outdoor landscapes. Meanwhile, many citizens have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of interaction and spiritual resonance in modern urban public spaces. In this context, a common criticism of Landscape Architecture is its frequent use of a formulaic design language in contemporary landscape design. Critics such as Christophe Girot argue that this approach causes landscapes to lose their unique appeal and have called for a rethinking of design approaches. In response, one possible approach to rethinking design is to seek inspiration from other cultures. Therefore, this thesis analyzes traditional Chinese gardens, a sublime form of landscape art with a different purpose from the contemporary urban landscape, which primarily focuses on mental experiences, then proposes a view of the way to design and experience the landscape with mental exercise. Additionally, given the popularity of immersive video games, this thesis explores potential insights from these game exploring experiences that could inform future landscape design. The thesis reimagines landscape design using the principles of video games, aiming to understand why and how people are engaged by stimulating mental navigation, active problem-solving, and co-creation of meaning. Finally, the thesis proposes a design experiment on a public urban site in Providence to explore and develop a framework that can serve as a reference for re-engaging contemporary public landscape design. This framework aims to actively promote contemplation and reflection, and to attract more young people back to outdoor spaces.



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