Design + Transition

Landscape & Energy

The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy represents one of the major and most complex challenges of the twenty-first century. Landscape and Energy is a book about the impact of this transition on our environment.


The relationships between people, the environment and energy will change dramatically in the coming decades. Presently, our energy is mainly sourced from underground fossil fuel and oil reserves. However, to ensure a sustainable future, an urgent increase is required in energy generated through the use of renewable sources. To ensure that our environment does not continue to be sacrificed and depleted in order to meet our current energy demands, we will have to work on a new balance between people, environment and energy.

The need for energy is a problem that will be face by all cultures in the near future

In this book, the options and choices for the coming post-fossil energy landscapes are explored through design examples on different scales. Energy is a universal concept and moves through all levels of scale – from global political strategies, to solar panels on roofs. The challenges associated with this diverse spectrum are analysed in a series of essays. Ultimately, the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is presented as much more than a technical task for professionals, but rather, a universal and cultural challenge that affects everyone.


The book presents five design case studies, which investigate options and choices for the post-fossil landscape: Europe; the cities of Rotterdam and Arnhem; the Green Metropolis (former energy region comprised of the Belgian, Dutch and German mining regions); and the current energy region of the North-Netherlands. In each of these case studies, we have mapped the current and future energy potential for the region, presented draft proposals for the transition to renewable energy sources, and graphically depicted how this would be expressed in spatial terms.


For each region, we have presented a hypothetical, but comprehensive and holistic proposal for the energy landscape of tomorrow. The draft proposals are not designed to be an exact blueprint, but are aimed to challenge, confront, inspire and reform. By continuing to integrate these ideas into future planning proposals and innovation, we will begin to see the diverse means by which society can adapt to the changing energy environment.

Prohibition on discharge of residual heat

One example proposed in the book is - due to a prohibition on discharge of residual heat - industries will (have to) invest in heat networks, and create thermal discharge into these networks. The built environment is connected to these networks, utilising the otherwise wasted residual heat. In a later phase geothermal heat sources can be connected to the heat infrastructure.

Energy cycles

A key design challenge is to explore means for renewable energy transition on the small scale, such as for individual villages. For example, if a village wants to independently meet its renewable energy needs, it will need to closely analyse and harvest the renewable energy potential from the natural landscape, and also redesign and convert existing structures to maximise energy output. For example, by redesigning large barns and commercial buildings to include solar panels or other energy saving and producing strategies, and by using a local wind turbine for electricity. Residues from agricultural production and landscape can provide heat. Thus, human society and environment can combine to create a series of relatively small-scale, rural energy landscapes.

New meaning

Urban energy landscapes have a great spatial impact. These landscapes occur on huge scales and are the result of past peat reclamation projects: dramatic, energy-dominated landscapes that are visible by, or associated with, cities. It is a huge design challenge to reconceptualise and rebalance the energy use of these areas, with the needs of people and the environment. Energy is, therefore, much more than an additional ‘layer’ on the natural landscape or the built environment. The landscape itself is fundamentally reformed and revitalised as an energy source, and for the people, the landscape acquires a new meaning.


+ Edgar Doncker Foundation
+ Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds
+ Netherlands Enterprise Agency
+ Municipality of Rotterdam
+ Municipality of Arnhem
+ Province of Groningen
+ Province of Drenthe
+ Parkstad Limburg city region
+ Städteregion Aachen (D)
+ City of Genk (B)
+ Creative Industries Fund
+ Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment
+ Cultural Heritage Agency