New Book Looks to Forests for Urban Inspiration


Since the beginning of time, the forest has encompassed the necessary elements to invent, grow and sustain life. It shelters and provides nourishment, carves out spaces without interest and adherence to spatial norms, insulates and amplifies. It’s no wonder that the ecosystem of the forest is teeming with life, with city-like environments on a natural scale. It is equally not surprising, that this terrestrial environment has captivated and inspired human civilizations for centuries.


In her new book, Architecture and the Forest Aesthetic (Routledge), Assistant Professor of Architecture Jana VanderGoot examines and imagines the forest/urban connection and how the constructs of this natural terrain continue to inspire and test how we design our urban environments. Using 21 unique case studies, VanderGoot explores how the elements and properties of forests—from protective canopies and permeable floors to carbon-capturing properties and food sources—serve as a model for innovations in urban architecture.


See Jana share examples of using forests to inspire innovative urban environments at this year’s Land8x8 Lightening Talks

Case studies include the Chilotan building craft of Southern Chile; the Yakisugi method of preserving wood of Japan; the Biltmore Forest in the Southeastern United States; the Australian capital city Canberra; Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy; and the Beijing Olympic Forest Park in China. Through these examples, VanderGoot makes a case for leveraging the properties of forests well beyond their beautiful aesthetic to create sustainable, active and connected urban environments.


Purchase Architecture and the Forest Aesthetic here.

Jana presents her book and research next at the AMPS Critical Practice in the Age of Complexity conference, February 22-23, 2018, and CELA 2018 Transforming the Discussion Conference, March 21-24, 2018.


Jana VanderGoot is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame. Jana is a registered architect, founding partner of VanderGoot Ezban Studio and the 2011 recipient of the Rieger Graham Prize ICAA affiliated fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.

Posted on February 8, 2018 by Maggie Haslam