World Landscape Architecture Month

AKTUELT / 09.04.19

"... landscape architecture as a profession will only become more relevant as technology and disruption changes our world." IFLA President James Hayther reflects on landscape architecture in todays world

In this month’s IFLA News, the IFLA ExCo reflect on what landscape architecture means to each of us and what is our vision for landscape architecture in an increasingly complex, and at time challenging, world. These insights will, I suspect, be insightful, representing the many of the values of landscape architecture as it is practised globally.

Founding IFLA President Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe wisely wrote:

“Since its foundation in 1948 the International Federation of Landscape Architects has spread its influence throughout the greater part of the civilised world. There is a common unity among members that transcends language, colour, race and creed; it is this underlying unity, with its profound sense of creative purpose that may perhaps prove to be the most formidable of all forces directed towards universal understanding.”

The unity and clear sense of purpose of our profession still rings true. In my own practice, the common themes that distinguish the way we think are ones we are all familiar with: working with climate change and the impact it has on our environments and communities; food security, understanding that landscape, agriculture and clean food production is not a luxury but a necessity; the importance of involving local communities in the briefing, design and management of projects; health and well-being, contributing towards healthy and sustainable landscapes that comprise safe and attractive places that people want to use; and enriching our landscapes by valuing indigenous cultures and the lessons learnt from those who previously inhabited and managed the landscapes we work with.

As a professional discipline, landscape architecture is increasingly leading the way in addressing the complex ecological, social and economic problems confronting rapid urbanization and resource re-allocation in both established and developing countries, particularly those experiencing economic rationalization and profound cultural change.

These global issues affect all countries and all communities. Solutions must be holistic, contextual and collaborative in proposing outcomes that are site specific and developed in consultation with local people, respecting their particular needs and expectations, and understanding the complex interplay between nature and spirit. Landscape architecture is about discovering, exposing and reinforcing the sense of place that sustains environments and celebrates local traditions.

Landscape architects are trained to look first at a site and contextualize intervention with the existing physical and social conditions. We work with natural systems in enriching environments and ameliorating areas degraded through interruptions to ecological patterns. Equally importantly, we work with local people to discover what works, and what requires modification, to encourage local ownership of new proposal and to facilitate positive social interaction and healthy communities.

As a profession, landscape architecture is inclusive, seeking to actively promote consensus between stakeholders. Landscape architecture encourages interaction with the broader community and draws upon consumer interest. Users hold the key to how an area works and how it should work in the future. Collaborative planning and design through the involvement of those affected is a key ingredient to successful outcomes.

With these narratives and sense of unity and purpose, landscape architecture as a profession will only become more relevant as technology and disruption changes our world. We are, indeed, privileged in being part of this movement that can, and will, have profound influence and effect on our world.

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