School of Design

Postgraduate research student profiles


Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard

Phone: (+61 4) 0650 8101


Start date

Sep 2011

Submission date

Sep 2014

Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard

Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard profile photo


Learning from the Edge: can the peri-urban landscape provide new possiblities for the urban expansion of Perth?


The Australian population is growing with much of this growth occurring rapidly at the peri-urban edge of our cities. The research is concerned with how the theoretical grounding of landscape urbanism, one that rejects the binary construct of city and countryside might assist in revealing inherent qualities of the peri-urban zone (ecological, economic, social and cultural) so as to actively determine and infer how and where future urban growth should take place.

Peri-urban landscapes are those that sit somewhere between urban and rural uses, existing in a constant fluctuating state of inner and outer boundary. These landscapes are constantly created and recreated by the processes of urbanisation. The transformation of this territory responds to both resistances and continuities within the urban field, creating occlusions and temporary or permanent points of interruption in the flows across the edge of the city. Typically, these zones are those of conflict, where new suburbia erases productive agricultural and ecological landscapes with little regard to the value and complexity of the multi variant conditions that the edge provides.

Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world with Australia’s fastest growing urban population and the site for this research. By 2056, the population is expected to increase from 1.6 million to 3.2 million people, with planning policies directing 53% of this growth to new greenfield development in the peri-urban zone of the city.

The research undertakes an explorative inquiry into the peri-urban landscape of Perth. It argues that the edge condition of Perth is ‘terra incognita’ and suggests how the theory of landscape urbanism can assist in extracting the values and potential of this dynamic and provisional zone for the city. The research demonstrates how the existing demands or values can be met, for instance in the case of new Greenfield development whilst also assuring the associated economies of ecological and cultural landscapes can be maximised. Through the processes of interpretive, evaluative and projective methodologies, the research begins to develop a series of hypotheses that can produce a framework for unlocking the ‘potential of the edge’.

Why my research is important

The research focuses on the role that landscape urbanism can play in revealing and articulating the embedded qualities of the peri-urban landscape in order to actively engage with the urban development front. It rejects the traditional binary approach of landuse planning and is projective of a new framework to inform urban growth.


  • Australian Post Graduate Award (APA)
  • UWA top up scholarship

Sampling the peri-urban landscape (GoogleEarth)