An Application of Autism-responsive Landscape Design in Commercial Plaza Space

Xu, Zihan
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University of Guelph

Contemporary urban landscape design, prioritizes a generalized population, overlooking families and children with autism. Outdoor commercial landscapes in particular are regularly visited but fail to account for the diverse needs of visitors. The aim of this study is to explore and evaluate landscape design strategies for outdoor commercial landscapes that minimize environmental barriers and support diverse needs of children with autism and their families. Following an analysis and synthesis of autism-focused design guideline, a case study of a commercial plaza in Guelph, Ontario was used to assess the design guideline application. Findings showed that there are several issues that need to be addressed in an outdoor commercial environment, including safety risks, sensory stimulation, and lack of legible environment. Finally, this study provides critical reflection for landscape and urban designers to improve outdoor commercial environments in the future to make them more suitable for families and children with autism.

Children with autism, Commercial landscape design