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Research article2019Peer reviewed

Bridging the gap between theory and design A proposal for regenerative campus development at the Swedish university of agricultural sciences

Bergquist, Daniel; Hempel, Christine A.; Green, John Loof


Purpose This paper aims to describe an exploratory research and design process that uses illustrative techniques to bridge the gap between theoretical principles of systems ecology, stakeholder input and a workable physical planning strategy for Ultuna Campus in Uppsala, Sweden. Design/methodology/approach Stakeholder interviews provide the empirical basis for this exploratory design process, in conjunction with landscape analysis, and review of previous proposals for campus development. Central principles of self-organizing systems are selected and concretized as visionary hypotheses in a physical context. Preliminary design concepts and plans illustrate sustainable systems while supporting new functional programmatic requirements: housing, industry-research collaboration, transportation and community-integrated landscapes. Findings The result is a proposal based on regenerative landscape design, envisioning campus Ultuna as a coherent whole.Research limitations/implications - A large-scale modern building program is already underway at Ultuna, and rapid urbanization in the surrounding region coupled with projected growth on campus suggests future intensification of university lands. A master plan to be implemented until 2040 is now in the preliminary design phase. Ultuna is home to significant cultural and ecological landscapes, and a holistic approach is called for. Practical implications - Illustrative techniques suggest ways to synthesize knowledge by creating future scenarios that are workable in practice. Social implications Global challenges call for designs that enhance environmental and human resources and their capacity to regenerate over time. Sustainability objectives are particularly crucial when envisioning university campuses; the environment serves as a laboratory for researchers, teachers, students and residents of the surrounding community. Originality/value This paper describes an innovative process for bridging ecological principles, stakeholder perspectives and practical design strategies for sustainable campuses.


Campus development; Systems theory; Place attachment; Regenerative design; Illustrations

Published in

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
2019, Volume: 20, number: 3, pages: 548-567

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Landscape Architecture

      Publication identifier


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