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.