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RBMA Block 1: Systems Thinking and System Analysis

1.2 – Layer Analysis

The founding fathers of geography like Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) and Carl Ritter (1779–1859) recognized the landscape as a comprehensive system of systems. The American landscape architect Ian McHarg introduced the “layer cake model” for reasons of spatial analysis and planning in his seminal work Design with Nature (1969).

McHarg pleaded for a sound approach to landscape and ecology in planning major infrastructural works, using a ‘layer cake model’ to get a grip on the complex system of the landscape.

With the 3-layer planning concept in place, projects can be developed that make the best use of the different layers. If a project has a positive effect on all three levels, it is a good, integrated project and a very efficient investment. Such a project will easily gain public support.

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