Core Messages & Content

The core message of this website is that landscape aesthetics is a subjective quality which can be measured objectively through assessing people’s aesthetic preferences. When we view a beautiful landscape we immediately know that it is beautiful, we don’t need to analyze its content before deciding whether or not it is so. Like eating chocolate, listening to music or smelling a rose, we trust our senses to tell us whether or not we like it. To measure landscape quality therefore we measure people’s likes and dislikes.

A second core message flows from the first, that there is a simple and straightforward way in which the aesthetic qualities of landscapes can be measured and mapped. This is the author’s Community Preferences Method.


The Home page sets the scene by describing beautiful landscapes outlining landscape quality and its measurement, outlining the Community Preferences Method and setting the scene for the science of scenery. The Beautiful Landscapes page defines and describes landscape quality, sets landscapes in a taxonomy of aesthetics, and traces the origins of the word, landscape. The Science of Scenery describes the book written by Dr Andrew Lothian which covers much of the material of this website but in book-form. It links to the site where it may be seen and ordered.

Scenic Solutions is an Australian-based consultancy which measures and maps landscape amenity. Projects that have been carried out are described. The background of Dr Andrew Lothian who founded Scenic Solutions is described and Contact details are provided.

The Community Preferences Method which Dr Lothian developed for measuring and mapping landscape quality is detailed so that others may apply it. The Method has been applied in a series of projects both in Australia and in England.

The Science of Scenery describes the scientific method, traces the emergence of landscape quality as an area of inquiry, provides an overview of landscape studies. Theories of landscape aesthetics – why we like what we like, are described together with Landscape research typologies or ways in which we might measure landscape aesthetics. Methods of landscape quality research provides an extensive review of research methods. The History of landscape studies is also included. Landscape resources provides extensive links to organizations involved in landscapes along with a spreadsheet of study references.

Landscape research findings links a set of pages covering the findings from landscape research over the past 40 years or so. It covers Land use, Land form & coastal land forms, Land cover & forests, Water, Naturalness, Visual diversity, Color, Cloud cover, Miscellaneous (Antarctica, sounds, wildlife, landscape indicators, fractals), and a Summary. References from the studies are also listed.

Australian Landscape Studies covers themes much loved by Dr Lothian. It provides an overview of Australian studies and their various themes. Australian landscape appreciated provides quotes of settlers, explorers, writers and artists showing the growing appreciation over time of the Australian landscape. The History of landscape interest in Australia contrasts the early negative attitudes toward the landscape with the later positive attitudes. Australian physical studies trace the many studies which have assumed that scenic quality could be measured by describing the physical attributes of the landscape, but it never did. In contrast, Australian preference studies  describes studies, many by Dr Lothian, which use people’s preferences to measure scenic quality. Australian studies matrix is a spreadsheet of the study references.

Visual impacts summarize studies of the visual effect of developments on the landscape. A special section examines the visual impact of wind farms. Landscape change examines how landscapes change over historical time, for example, through urbanization, clearance of land cover and land use change.

Landscape Foundations 1 describe how we view landscapes. The development of the Western cultural influence and landscape is traced, based on the twin influences of classicism and teleology. In contrast to the Western approach, the Aesthetics of traditional cultures examines how four traditional societies view aesthetics. The Philosophy of aesthetics is examined, in particular how philosophers moved from regarding beauty as an inherent characteristic of an object to recognizing that beauty is our mind’s interpretation of it. Visual perception describes the way in which the eye perceives landscapes and how the mind interprets what the eyes see. The particular contribution of Gestalt psychology on aesthetics is summarized and the Perception of color is also reviewed. The inner view, Psychoanalysis and aesthetics, covers how we view aesthetic objects.

Landscape Foundations 2 provides three historical studies: Landscape art traces the development of portraying the landscape in art, the History of viewing mountain landscapes examines the radical shift in viewing mountain scenery that occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries, and Parks and gardens traces the role that parks and gardens have played in representing the wider landscape. A case study is presented of the Explorer’s view of new landscapes of Australia. A speculative theory of why water is so popular in the landscape is presented in Water, the secret ingredient. The contribution of landscapes in enhancing property values is documented in Pricing landscape quality, and recent research is described in Health benefits of landscape of the positive effects of viewing natural landscapes on human health.