What are the stages of a Landscape Architecture project?

Landscape architecture design projects differ in scale and complexity, however they are separated into various stages to allow for ease of management. Due to the variation in project types the staging of landscape architecture projects requires a flexible approach to project management. The project stages often follow a similar pattern however, they may be shortened or not undertaken due to various factors including scale, complexity, client requirements, budget and so on.

I hope to assist those interested in landscape architecture by providing general information about the stages of design projects. The stage names and terminology may differ from country to country and region to region but there is a common process of managing a project through stages.

Before, the landscape architect gets to the exciting part of designing the project there are few stages that often occur prior to putting pen to paper. The client has contacted you and agree to provide a fee or proposal for landscape architecture services.

Read the more of my post at World Landscape Architecture

Improve tourism development through holistic design

In China, government and developers are looking more and more towards tourism development to captialise on the growing market of middle class Chinese who travel across China on national holidays. They are seeking new places, different cultures, different food and new experiences to remember for years to come. The current developments they are visiting are all to familiar to many of them as the style and features of these developments blend into a common Chinese or South-East asia style with similar architecture, food and generic landscape.

The development market needs to take a fresh approach and realise that the local area, people and culture is what differentiates the place and masking it with a veneer of mixed cultures does the place and development a disservice. A more holistic design approach needs to be taken using influences from the local culture, architecture and people to create a unique experience to the place. There are many examples around the world were places (especially tourist towns) have lost their identity as they bend and twist to service visitors with a wide variety of cultures and nationalities. You only have to go to some of the islands in South-East Asia to see the effect where nearly all resorts and restaurants have a similar architecture and have abandoned local food to fly-in large quantities of produce to cater to the tastes of world tourists.

In some of the design competition for developments I have been involved in Hainan (southern island off China), I have tried to introduce the local culture, architecture and of course local people. I had one competition project a few years ago were the beach was long and had a small fishing village which housed a few hundred people and numerous long boats, crab pools, along with vegetable farms and pineapple plantation. My idea was to to take a holistic approach, maintain the village and locate the development within walking distance of the village. The village could supply the food with assistance of other nearby villages. The architecture would reflect local styles and include various landscape elements including a natural lagoon on the site. Our design was not chosen but a Balinese style development with large chlorinated pools and overbearing architecture was chosen for the development. It was probably more commercially viable and investment return would be quicker, but the long term implications to the social and environment will be everlasting due to a lack of sophistication and understanding of tourism development.

Holistic approaches for tourism development in China needed to be taken as development increases across urban and rural China not just in the booming tourism markets such as Hainan, Xiamen, Xian, Yunnan, Xinjiang, Guilin, Jiuzhaigou Valley and Huangshan Mountain. The environmental, social and cultural elements need to be incorporated to maintain the culture of the place, too many places are becoming homogenised thus loosing their identity. Through using holistic approach the local place maintains its identity, the local people can maintain and hopefully improve their lifestyle and the environmental impact can be kept to a minimum.

I write this after reading and reflecting on China becomes 3rd biggest tourism market (Xinhua)

Shanghai starts promoting Precast Concrete in Construction

Nearly every building, landscape and piece of construction in China uses insitu concrete (on-site poured) concrete. There are many issues with on-site concrete include

Pollution: On site pollution, waste, noise, trucks, on-site mixers, soil compaction, water pollution

Inefficient Usage: Concrete goes off (bad) quickly if not used within 20-30 minutes, transport needs to be fast (causing issues with speeding trucks, pollution, etc), testing is lacking and can cause waste.

Finish: Final finishes can be too rough or inaccurate, requires rendering/screeding to get a good final finish.

Today, I read that Shanghai will start using Precast Concrete (PC) for many of its residential to save on energy, construction pollution and noise, however it will raise costs. I think it’s good to see Shanghai embracing a technique used across the world to construction various buildings including residential, commercial and industrial. The other reason as an landscape architect I am happy to see this occurring is that it will flow on to other industries including landscape and thus allowing designers to create interesting shapes and finishes in the landscape.

The move to Precast Concrete will also be good for Shanghai as it will reduce the number of large concrete trucks in the city and also eliminate many of the concrete plants along the Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek that although interesting as an industrial landscape can cause water, soil and noise pollution. Also precast concrete can save time on-site, if the precast is ordered a floor can be built quickly. In Australia, precast is used for housing and office buildings but the biggest benifit is in build factories where the footings can be completed in advance and then the frame and precast can be completed in a few days.

The Shanghai Government will be promoting Precast Concrete throughout the city over the next three years and encouraging construction companies to move to precast systems, I am hoping it the move also occurs in the landscape industry over the next 3 years.