TU Graz – Institut für Architektur und Landschaft
Institute for Architecture and Landscape at Graz University of Technology / Instituto Planejamento Urbano Palmas / Universidade Federal do Tocantins.
Inter-American Development Bank

When modern separations of city and the living space are fundamentally questioned – unexpected combinations of urban form, processes, performance and actors emerge.

In the wake of climate change, our attention then shifts towards a design strategy in which landscape becomes a formative force within cultural operations.

Landscape as such, transforms from the passive backdrop to a “formative agent” within the future development of the city. This strategic positioning of landscape illuminates future development of the city. This strategic positioning of landscape illuminates future urban goals and demands through the development of sustainable and ecological guidelines - integral thinking about the environment and our societal development.

With this approach applied – the Institute of Architecture and Landscape (ia&l) developed the integral landscape concept for the 600 hectares site within the city of Palmas, Brazil. The city is the capital of the new state of Tocantins founded in 1989 and today has a population around 280.000 inhabitants. Located in the transition zone between the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado (bush land), the subtropical climate alternates between rainy and dry season.

The Palmas Integral Landscape Project is a unique opportunity to develop strategies for landscape-based urbanism that can act as a link between different issues such as neighborhood identity, economic growth and ecologies of changing climates. 

After local experts, stakeholders, representatives of the urban planning department, and the Institute for Architecture and Landscape met for a joint workshop in Palmas, initial design concepts and strategies were developed in the successive master studio. After continuous design development, the project was presented to the partners in Brazil and subsequently included in their urban master plan 2025.

The comprehensive design work is featured in the design manual „Paisagens Integrativas Palmas“ (TU Graz Publishing House).


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Landlab CASE (153.805)
Prof. Klaus K. Loenhart
Univ. Ass. Andreas Boden
Univ. Ass. Bernhard König
Univ. Ass. Tobias Brown

During season, the climatic conditions in Palmas, Brazil change dramatically. Founded in 1990 as the capital of the new state Tocantins, it bears the legacy of a much older example of modernist town planning. Similar to the modernist icon Brasilia, a urban approach was superimposed onto the land. The city since is growing on a street grid with a block length of 700m. In 2003, a hydroelectric power plant was built, to produce electricity for the growing urban needs. The emerging water reservoir not only suddenly formed the new edge of the city, but also established a dramatically changing relationship on the western city’s edge with its new waterline. A new public landscape is now to be designed, that is connecting and newly relating the city of Palmas to its adjacent lakeside. Environment and landscape will be raised to protagonists and the practices of all actors will be related to each other in new ways. The project aims at the design of new complex landscape typologies for the city of Palmas and at unfolding a new potential within the performance between the city and its natural agents.

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