Landscape architects develop, analyse, and design open spaces and landscapes. Their focus on the natural conditions of topography, vegetation, ecology, and climate makes landscape architecture a discipline that drives the necessary transformation of anthropogenic and anthropomorphic habitats towards climate compatibility and biodiversity. At the ILA, we see landscape architecture as a field of cultural production, in which we must face up to fundamental social and sociopolitical challenges. Conceptual and creative answers to these questions are researched in teams and taught in practice.

We build on the experiences and achievements of the past and develop contemporary and sustainable solutions for the future.

We work on these complex tasks in international collaboration with stakeholders, experts from landscape architecture practice, related disciplines, and administrative bodies.

Urban Transformation

Cities and metropolitan areas around the world are undergoing radical change. Climate change and demographic trends are altering the needs and directly affecting the quality of life of city dwellers. In addition, urban densification, social differentiation, and changing behavioural paradigms are putting pressure on urban green and open spaces.

Parks and streets are undergoing a transformation from functionalized green spaces or traffic-dominated streetscapes to biodiversity-promoting, climate-friendly, and multifunctional spaces for recreation and exercise. Their integration into a comprehensive green infrastructure is a matter of great urgency.

The research focus “Urban Transformation” at the ILA aims to investigate the transformation of green and open spaces in the urban context and to contribute to the public and academic discourse. The focus is on form and design, socially equitable formulation, distribution, functionality, and long-term security. Resource consumption and possible cycles are researched, presented, and analysed so that they can be optimized and managed in the interests of sustainable and equitable use.

To this end, use will be made of specific research methods of landscape architecture such as design-based research, design and form analysis, the analysis of planning and development processes, and social science research methods. The projects are inter- and transdisciplinary and deal with public, private, and semi-public open spaces.

Landscape and Infrastructure

Infrastructure for mobility, energy production, supply and disposal, and communication is an element of the landscape, directly influencing its appearance. Examining historical and contemporary projects is a means to study the design integration of transport infrastructure into the landscape. The relationship with the landscape is analysed and illustrated using graphic methods of landscape architecture.

Art-based research methods are used to embed the topic in the wider cultural context and to reflect contemporary perceptions of landscape. The increasing demand for renewable energy is also visualized in the landscape.

Design-based methods are employed to explore the possibilities of embedding photovoltaic systems in the landscape and to examine synergies with other uses.

History of Landscape Architecture

The profession of landscape architecture is underpinned by its history. Landscapes and their design, use, and function are constantly changing. Like the profession of landscape architecture itself, they are continuously evolving.

Every open space we design today has both a history and a future. We research these histories and developments in order to understand them and to find innovative solutions to the current and future challenges facing our built environment.

The ILA maintains the LArchiv, Archive of Austrian Landscape Architecture, as a knowledge resource for international research, teaching, and practice. The collection of living and posthumous bequests of Austrian landscape architects (with a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries) secures the cultural heritage for the future and promotes the understanding of historical open spaces. Analogue holdings are being digitized, and an online collection developed.

The LArchiv is a founding member of NELA, the Network of European Landscape Architecture Archives, and part of Heritage Science Austria.

Planting Design in Landscape Architecture

Planting design is one of the unique features of landscape architecture. Plants make a significant contribution to our long-term quality of life and will become even more important as the effects of climate change become more apparent. In open spaces, plants create structure, play an important part in the overall ecosystem and are aesthetically effective. It is therefore essential that we broaden the range of horticultural plants in planting schemes and integrate them into the design of open spaces.

The creative use of plants in landscape architecture builds on botanical and horticultural knowledge and continues a rich cultural history.

The research and teaching focus at the ILA centres on the stress-tolerant vegetation of the open cultural landscape. The species-rich communities of the Pannonian floral region are adapted to extreme growing conditions and serve as a model for sustainable plant use in urban heat islands. Through plant monitoring and a development and maintenance analysis, specially derived plantings are optimized and designed for long-term use in urban green spaces.

A combination of artistic, ecological, and design methods will be used to develop new approaches to transforming near-natural vegetation images into planting plans. The ILA is in close contact with the main international planting design networks.

More about Planting Design »

Education through Design Competitions

In practice, competitions are an opportunity to work on new issues in an independent and creative way and to develop oneself further in the process. The ILA is researching the role of competitions in continuing education in landscape architecture.

We offer students the opportunity to participate in competitions outside the curriculum. They are accompanied in a real-life setting by partners from the administration and institutions.

Competitions for students are organized when the problem on-site is not (yet) suitable for a professional commission, thus excluding competition with the free market of landscape architecture. The impact on the lifelong learning of the participants, the impact on the decision-making of the municipalities, the transfer of knowledge from the university, and the impact on the perception of the profession are scientifically analysed.


The Institute of Landscape Architecture (ILA) takes a student-centred approach to teaching and learning, which is understood and practised as a collaborative working process. The ILA is the only institute at BOKU that specializes in design and design theory.

Open spaces are analysed and designed, and their development and effects are studied. Climate-adaptive and socially just design is combined with aesthetic and cultural requirements. The curriculum also covers the development of design, the evolution of open spaces, and the growth of the profession from a historical perspective. Theory, methods, the use of plants, and manual skills are taught as part of the programme and form an important foundation.

Teaching is based on the results of current research projects at the ILA and beyond, and the design component covers conceptual design at different scales, with special consideration given to spatial, social, and ecological developments. Examples of object design are found in both urban and rural contexts. Students will acquire basic knowledge and advanced skills in the use of drawing, digital tools, and model-making.

Lectures, reflections, discussions, and excursions are organized with a focus on current issues in landscape architecture.

Teaching at the ILA centres on the following:

  • Design in theory and practice (design theory and methodology, design projects, design theory, spatial perception)
  • The history of landscape architecture in theory and practice (garden art, trends and people in their context, conservation of garden monuments)
  • The use of plants in theory and practice (planting concepts and planning, maintenance concepts, ILA perennial teaching garden)
  • Skills (hand drawing, computer-aided drawing, representation and presentation, modelling)
  • Scientific skills (landscape architectural and social science research methods, seminar papers, bachelor’s and master’s theses)

Our contribution

We work along the competence fields of the BOKU Development Plan 2027 "Landscape, Water, Habitat and Infrastructures", "Ecosystem Management and Biodiversity" and "Resources and Societal Dynamics".

The Institute contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities, 13 - Climate Action, and 15 - Life on Land.