Evaluating Landscape Architectural Grading Designs with a Terrain Complexity Index

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Dawson, Corey

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University of Guelph


Natural landform shapes efficiently organize materials and functions with slope forms evolving towards stable states called equilibrium. Slopes have linear, convex, and concave forms with concave being the most stable and linear the least. More complex, heterogeneous shapes control runoff, allow biodiversity and are attractive. Landscape designs can alter terrains with surface geometry for drainage and safety objectives based on grading standards. Landforming designs diversify slopes while conventional grading implements more simple, homogeneous shapes. My project evaluated alterations from grading designs by comparatively analyzing existing and proposed terrains. A data sample of 17 landscapes were gathered from landscape architects, analyzed with a Compound Terrain Complexity Index (CTCI) that calculates surface area ratio, curvature, elevation variance, and relief, generating a proportional terrain complexity change. Results identified the CTCI as a useful measure of terrain complexity change, showing samples of increased and decreased values. Total curvature was influenced most by grading tendencies.



Landscape designs, Natural landform shapes, Slope, Grading standards, Landforming designs