Not every project is a landmark competition winning project

Recently, I have been surveying World Landscape Architecture readers for their feedback on the design, content and user experience. I looked at some of the responses today and overall the feedback was good with some great insights on how to improve WLA. However, I think there are a couple of readers who miss the point of World Landscape Architecture with some reader comments about the level of design and build quality and also less projects from unknown designers.

When I set out to publish projects from across the globe the intention was to publish as many different projects from across the world – varying scales, qualities, and from different types of firms (landscape, urbanist, engineering, mega-firms to single designer shops). I feel that whether a small garden or large regional park or a urban masterplan that there is a need for landscape projects especially conceptual designs to published rather than linger on a shelf or hard drive somewhere never to see the light of day. Of course, there are some submissions that are of very poor quality and they are rejected, however I feel that we all need to see projects from across the globe to understand the profession and see how it is developing. Developing countries and design firms often don’t have the same finish as projects in developed countries(this is due to the skills of the builders) however, sometimes the designs and finished project give an insight into the culture and landscape of that place and nation.

Publishing work of various qualities allows the public and profession to see landscape architecture at it best and worst. I don’t make editorial comment or critique on projects as I feel that the text should be written by the designer or design firm. Should there be more project critique…of course, but there also needs to be a platform for work to be published by the designer unhindered by journalists, and editors. Although, I have made mistakes in the past by publishing text that was not of high-quality, often this was due to the text being written by the designer in their second or third language. I have also published text that was too much like a PR announcement, I am endeavouring to curtail these types of posts.

World Landscape Architecture will continue to publish projects that are not to everyone’s liking and expectations, but that is the beauty of the web and my publication; not all the projects are beautifully photographed places, some are raw places that we all experience on a daily basis.

Landscape architecture needs a voice that shows projects from not just the well-known design firms but also designers who are creating places across the world of varying scale and quality.

Thankyou to the readers who have given feedback for our annual World Landscape Architecture survey. If you would like to give feedback please fill out the survey or send me an email with your suggestions.

Stop going to your professional annual conference – go to someone else’s

Year after year I hear people go to the same conference. Why? Different city, different speakers? Isn’t it time your thought a little outside your profession and went to something a little or completely different. Seeing the same people year after year hearing the same ideas about what the profession should be doing or a variation on that new idea from 5 years ago. Maybe its time your went to a unconference or a tech conference or a music festival or a trade show that has nothing to do with your industry. Why? Well, think about the last time you felt inspired at the professional annual conference. Don’t you feel like everyone’s drank the coolaid and patting themselves on the back in your profession conference? Its time for a change in scenery.

If your an structural, civil, hydro engineer go to the architects or the planners conference – you may learn something and pick a bit of business. If your in PR, Marketing, Media go to CES or electronics trade show or the tourism show. If your in sales go to the distribution show or the logistics conferences.

I think you’ll be amazed at how seeing it from your customer, allied professional or another field may change the way you look at what you do and inspire you with new ideas.


Landscape architecture in China needs to become more professional

I have been working in China for over 6 years as a landscape architect and there are many differences in comparison to Australia and Canada where I have worked before including size of the project, speed of design and the materials used (some good some bad). But the biggest difference that strikes me about the profession is the lack of professionalism among designers, technicans and new graduates. I am not talking about whether they dress in suits, take short cuts or lie to clients (the last two obviously not professional) but what I am referring to is that the role of  a landscape architect in China is very blurred. In western countries, landscape architects are seen as professional consultants and advisers where their advice  to clients is in the best interests of society, clients, collegues and the landscape & environment.

In China, many clients are using architects or landscape architects for the first time and often see us as merely facilitating their vision and what they often don’t see or receive is the professional expertise that we can give clients to make their vision come true to last for decades. However, it has dawned on me over the years that many in the profession of landscape architecture in China don’t understand their role as a professional. They see their role as designing or constructing the landscape in the best interest of speed and saving money not the long term longevity of the clients project or the environment. This has occurred for many reasons, many of us strive to become registered landscape architects in our home countries where we go through a test/s and interview and have to sign a membership agreement to adhere to a set of rules and regulations regarding professional conduct. Professionals acting on behalf of the best interests of the client, the environment and your professional integrity whether your designing a masterplan or working on-site as client representative.

Why has this come up? Well, it just seems to frustrate me that many of my colleagues in the profession in China see their role as merely facilitating the clients wishes rather than advising the client as a professional on the best approach to their project or current issue for the long term not just the short term. I am not saying all landscape architects in China act this way but it just seems to be a reoccurring mindset.

How the chinese profession addresses this issue is left to be seen as the contemporary landscape architecture profession is still very young and growing with members every year. I hope that landscape architects in China become more professional and advise on the best interests of the environment, their clients and their fellow world citizens.

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