The Growing Geodesign Reading List

As someone who came to GIS from a background in design, I’ve long wondered why more design and GIS professionals don’t see themselves as natural collaborators. The analytic power of GIS and the creative, problem-solving intentionality of design are complementary forces for understanding and improving the world around us. Geodesign is an attempt to put a name and a set of working methods to this synthetic process of combining geography and design.


ESRI has been a leader in promoting geodesign through its annual Geodesign Summit; it’s also published a couple of books in the last few months that are taking on geodesign from two different angles. A Framework for Geodesign by Carl Steinitz provides just that: a framework for understanding what geodesign is and how different professionals can incorporate it into their practice. The second book, Geodesign by Shannon McElvaney, is driven by a series of case studies that explore how geodesign is being put into practice across the world. Both books seem to be natural complements for those looking to understand both the conceptual aspects of geodesign and best practices for putting it into practice.

Scenario planning is fundamentally creative. Many of the tools and tasks common to scenario planning, like painting and sketching placetypes, are themselves examples of using design thinking and tools. The growing body of work in geodesign is fertile ground for thinking about how scenario planning tools can become more effective at helping communities make informed and creative decisions about the future.


both images courtesy: ESRI


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