Recently I have moved into a more senior role in our landscape architecture team at Thomson Ecology. At the same time I have passed my Chartership exam and so am, in general, feeling very pleased with myself and like I know it all.
Turns out I don’t. No one does. But what I do know is that the role of a landscape architect can be varied and dynamic. When I say what I do, the standard response quite often is, “You must come and help with the garden.” I am quite happy to do this, but there is sometimes a lack of understanding of the quality and character that a landscape architect can bring to a development.
As a discipline, landscape architecture has a professional code of conduct which at its core states that our role is to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the benefit of the public. (Standard 5.1 of the Charter learned by rote for my exam. At least something stuck!) So although the principles of people-orientated place making remain the same at any scale, the potential impact of our role goes well beyond the garden.
So what do we do?!
I actually believe our strength as a profession comes from the manner in which we approach a project – be it a site to be analysed, developed, managed or protected. We will look at its context: the environmental, social, historical, physical, botanical, climatic and geographic elements that surround, embody and inform an area and work with them to help develop it in a way that makes the “end result” look like it belongs to its context, like it was meant to be. In doing so, the likelihood of its long-term success greatly increases as it is accepted by the local community and the environment.
It is a bug-bear of the industry that we believe our services are all too often engaged too late, after the proverbial design horse has bolted from the stable (which has been put in the wrong place because no one thought about the topographic surrounds and site access properly). But regardless of whether your work is in the residential sector, education, environmental, defence, healthcare, heritage, community, regeneration, infrastructure, site management, character assessment, leisure, public or private, big or small, our early engagement can truly shape and benefit your project.
We will engage with you through a holistic review of need and opportunity across the board, with the emphasis on creating flexible and sustainable communities that can accommodate our growing population whilst conserving and enhancing our natural and cultural assets. We think creatively, spatially and strategically and approach every site with the aim of exploring and enhancing its unique character and strengths.
Perhaps as a profession we need to be better at advertising who we are and what we do, to shout it more from the rooftops – We can help you deliver a better quality, more sustainable project and save you money – but as a starting point, come and talk to us about your project and what you need, want and hope to get from it.