Landscape architects leading projects

Over the past decade, we have seen landscape architects moving out of shadows and increasingly leading projects from residential developments, placemaking, urban design and climate change initiatives including Resilient by Design projects or reimagining a city precinct or leading a conservation and tourism plan. The profession of landscape architecture has increased in profile and also influence in designing cities and places.

The shift from being hired last to being hired first is great for the profession, however, we need to harness the energy of this shift to improve the profession and also increase our influence on shaping the built environment. There are numerous changes and movements occurring including smart cities, increasing urban density, water shortages, social inequality, climate change that we need to voice our opinions to ensure that the cities are changing for the better.

Read the full article over at my landscape architecture blog – World Landscape Architecture

Trying to get support for WLA

My landscape architecture blog – WLA has been a labour of love for 10 years and has luckily had supporters for about 6 out of the 10 years. It has always been hard to get financial supporters for WLA as it seems even now in the prosperous time’s people don’t see the value. WLA is not the only landscape architecture blog or writing that struggles to get funding.  I am not complaining and understand the pressures of running businesses. However, it is troubling when the industry doesn’t back its own in promoting the industry, especially when every month I am paying out $$$ and not getting a salary or stipend for promoting the landscape architecture industry.

Many ask why don’t get more suppliers support WLA due to the high traffic on the website (50K visitors/month and 235,000 ranking in the world) and often my response is a mix of “suppliers don’t understand the value of blogs, digital media and are still into buying print and going to expos” or “they do their own blogs, social media and marketing so allocate the budget inhouse”. It is challenging and frustrating at times, usually at the end or the start of each year I think it is worth continuing for another year? What am I gaining? What are the benefits? Many think that WLA is some large team with a large budget when the truth is it is a one-man show using my own funds to keep it going. Many landscape blogs and sites have come and gone over the years, there are four (some old and some recent) that remain on different platforms (some with institute funding), 2018 will be interesting to see the changes.

I hope that 2018 is a good year and that I can get some more sponsors and partners. Currently, I have a few for this year and are thankful for their support.

Launching the WLA Awards

I recently just launched the WLA Awards, in its second year. The first year was a learning curve and I hope that the coming awards will be as successful as the 2017 Awards. I am lucky that I have again have jurors who willing to volunteer to spend hours pouring over pdf files to score, comment.

I had a conversation with a few people at ASLA in Los Angeles recently and it was interesting that many said that their needed to be more awards to acknowledge the work of landscape architects. It reinforced my resolve to continue the WLA Awards as long as I can and promote the profession of landscape architecture to a broader audience.

I created the awards to allow for landscape architects across the world be honoured by their peers. I always hope to get jurors from different nations, backgrounds and experience. It allows for different views to be expressed and also for not one country or type of landscape project to win.

I also changed the award categories this year to include two scales for Built Award category – Small and Large. This change allows for the smaller projects to get recognition, I have had interesting conversations that big projects always seem to win the awards, so this year I set out to try and balance that problem.

Also I removed the Research & Communication category as it  received about quarter the entries of other categories and seem to be not acknowledged by academia(this is a common problem which I may write about at another time) and organisations as most entries were from design firms or individuals.

The next few months will be slightly stressful, seeing if firms will enter and organising the submissions for jurors, the chasing up and then the final announcement and ordering the awards. I feel for those who are in ASLA, AILA, Landscape Institute, who organise numerous categories and entries and then the final ceremony. I have thought of having a ceremony but it is hard to find a venue that would encourage winners to attend as they are spread across the world, let alone the cost of hold a ceremony.

I am looking forward to judging the Editor’s Award. It is always fun to look at the submissions and shortlist my own and then select one at the end. It could be seen as arrogant but after 10 years of curating this blog, I thought that I could have one indulgence. Hope you enter. Find out more at WLA Awards.

Who pays for the data? Why websites will start to charge

More and more data is being produced and consumed on the internet everyday as people become more mobile and more social. This data is paid for by the consumer to their provider whether it’s an ISP or their mobile carrier they pay for data download. Vast amounts of data we consume everyday comes from free sources whether its news sites, blogs, gaming or social networks and we ‘pay’ for this by having to see advertisements. But increasingly larger sites especially those in the business of news are creating ‘paywalls’ to access information and this has been successful for the major news and financial sites such as FT, WSJ and the New York Times. Others news organizations have also turned to paywalls but they have been met with some pushback.

Many see the internet as ‘free’ resource and many other see it as a ‘right’ to have access to information and data for free. However, the increasing issue is that for large sites advertising often doesn’t create enough revenue to cover the overhead costs and produce a profit for shareholders, so increasingly they are turning to paywalls. Many cite sites such as Facebook or Twitter that work on the advertising model and that works for sites with millions of hits per day and have a certain cachet or they can gain enough advertisers to meet the costs. However, numerous sites cannot sustain a large journalistic staff to produce quality news without creating a paywall or publishing huge quantities of gossip and tabloid level news to gain the visitors required.

The other issue is information overload and that many people now are visiting niche sites that pertain to certain interests such as design, sports, local area, etc. The news and information is becoming more fragmented, more localized and more refined as to the topic. However, many of these sites work off advertising and a store to keep themselves and a small staff employed.

Larger news sites and agencies have huge costs in employing staff and paying for data traffic. These sites we rely on will start to increase charging for the information they produce. The question is will you be willing to pay for access.