Imagine trudging across a barren land and envision yourself walking through a land with well-constructed walkways and gardens with seatings provided and a variety of combinations of semi-open spaces. The pergolas, the shades with beautiful hanging pillars, the corners of the plot beautifully adorned with exquisitely carved balustrades. Which route would you rather travel on?
Pictures an ethereal landscape designed by a famous architect then think about what the piece of land would look like if it never came into contact with an architect’s touch. Will it hold the same value in your heart?
Finally, you envisage the roads as a ground simply for vehicles to pass by or the pedestrians to travel on to reach their destinations. Will you enjoy using a path without any form of interaction with the outside world?
This is where architecture and landscape come into play. Similar to the interior décor, the surroundings have to undergo modification and beautification to promote a sense of congruency with the space outside and interact seamlessly with the environment.
What exactly is landscape architecture?
Landscape architecture is the design of anything and everything under the sun both literally and figuratively. Think Central Park in New York City, Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Big Ben in London then consider your downtown square, local park right up to your backyard. Green roofs, urban forms and corporate buildings, these are all extensions of landscape architecture.
Landscape architecture encompasses a vast spectrum. Perhaps we may best understand it as striking a balance between the built and natural form. This field of architecture adopts a multidisciplinary approach towards environmental science, art, ecology and much more. It could also go beyond the more conventional landscape design and construction process to something more extraordinary such as restoring endangered wetlands, securing government and other buildings as well as removing toxins from rainwater. Landscape architecture could very well be a pie in the sky.
We often assume that landscape architecture is solely focused on the arts and sciences without any regard for human nature. This cannot be further from the truth. Landscape design and construction also serve to cater to the ordinary man. It is aptly described as a formal process of study, design, and development whereby pristine landscapes are created to fulfil your aspirations. The discipline is centred on intervention through the activities of planning, design, and management where art and science is the foundation for all activities. These activities are then collectively united to understand how we forge relationships with outdoor environments and places in both urban and rural, and at all scales from the smallest open space to the whole region. Our beautifully adorned gardens, public parks, playgrounds, residential areas, university campuses, shopping centres, golf courses and parkways are thus made possible with good landscaping design concepts derived from the study of landscape architecture.
Can boundaries that stand between architecture and nature be broken down? This is also where landscape architecture lends itself to the harmonious blending of a coherent shape into the surrounding wilderness. In landscape architecture, the location of buildings, roads and walkways on top of the flower, shrub and tree arrangement strategically arranged. A beautiful landmark that blends seamlessly into its natural environment cannot exist without a landscape architecture and design touch.
What exactly does a landscape architect do?
Unbeknownst to many of us, the job of an architect is not confined to merely designing your landscape. Yes, landscape architects are responsible for creating and planning both indoor and outdoor spaces. When working on residential landscape architecture, they also develop and plan gardens, plantings, pools, paving, stormwater management and more. Their job does not stop here. So what exactly does a landscape architect do? There is no definite answer to this question since they can are tasked with a variety of projects.
You may come across some architects that specialise in a particular area of street and highway beautification. Others could be in charge of waterfront improvement projects, parks and so on. And then there are those working in regional and resource management, feasibility, environmental impact and cost studies or site construction.
Today, landscape architects are increasingly meeting our demands for a more sustainable environment. They work in environmental remediation such as preservation and restoration of wetlands or reduction of stormwater runoff in new developments. Historic landscape preservation and restoration is another area where landscape architects increasingly play a role.
Landscape architects wear many hats. We owe the comfort and beauty of our living spaces and public facilities such as parks, plazas, green roofs, gardens, and museums to them. To put in plainly, landscape architects work hard in creating livable spaces for us.
Designers, not contractors
We tend to assume that architects are responsible for both the designing and building of landscapes. This is incorrect. Landscape architects are licensed and trained in creating feasible design drawings that they collaborate on with clients and contractors, but the latter is the one tasked with the construction of landscape architecture.
Many architects would love to spend more time outdoors surrounded by plants and gardens, but the truth is that these professionals spend a good chunk of their time at the drawing table and the computer to sketching design plans and managing projects. Any remaining time is spent meeting with clients and collaborating with other professionals.
It is true that they get to visit sites like habitual nursery and gardens but in no way are they responsible for the pruning, transplanting and mulching of the projects they design. Landscape contractors are the ones tasked with installing landscapes and performing maintenance work. They do, however, partner with landscape contractors to ensure that projects are built to the intent of the design.
The art of creating great landscape designs
Beautiful landscapes are a ubiquitous sight. It is not uncommon for us to come across breathtaking sites in our day-to-day lives. How many of us are aware that these structures are a mere snapshot of moments within a larger design of a landscape that thrives and evolves over time? Landscape architects can discern great spaces for our living pleasure before they materialise. They identify fundamentally great places to be in by looking at the designs and multiple photos from the same project alongside the design drawings. These potential areas are for you to relax in, throw a party, have a family barbecue or just admire the view of the sky.
How would you like an architectural space to be? Intimate yet vast? Cool and lush? Hot with minimalism? How you interact with and use a space is how a landscape architect will design the area. Landscape architects are more concern with creating an unforgettable experience for you over of how a landscape looks and what is planted. Questions like these form the user experience and program of the landscape and are fundamental to the design process.
Technical landscape expertise
Coming up with beautiful landscape design plans for alluring outdoor spaces only scratches the glamorous surface of the architecture world. What we do not always see are the nitty-gritty aspects of the job. The adage “the design is in the details” holds great truth concerning how landscape architects are expected to navigate grading plans and technical details for drainage, materials, finishes and layout dimensions. You can be assured of superior results with landscape architects working with the most current techniques and unique solutions that will bring out the best in your property by paying attention to the precise technical details.
Much like the scope of their work, the technical expertise of landscape architects transcends popular trends. Improved plant knowledge is an excellent example of the value of continued education on the part of landscape architects that significantly benefits clients like us. Through classes, they receive expert advice from research horticulturalists on the ever-changing status of various plants. The horticultural world is vast, with new cultivars to tackle diseases developed annually. Landscape architects need to remain updated on horticultural issues and use that knowledge to design landscapes.
Landscape architects go the extra mile for us. They work across a wide range of styles and expertise, from artsy to technical and flamboyant to create the best landscaping styles tailor to suit your needs and preferences.
Ask your landscape architect candidates what landscapes and concepts are sources of inspiration, as this may affect what the landscape architect creates for you. Is it the vista of a wide-open prairie or the calm of the deep woods? For some, the design inspiration is cultural and references things like fine-art painting or textiles. For others, inspiration is derived from historic Italian villa gardens or formal modern lines. Landscape architects bring something new into the landscape that they draw from various influences to create their work.
Do you need a landscape architect for your project?
So is engaging a landscape architect for your project necessary? First set up a meeting with your landscape architect candidates. Landscape architects respond to queries from potential clients all the time. With so many specialities and areas of expertise among professionals, it is a good idea to speak with a few landscape architects about your project to decide on one that is the best fit. Some landscape architects focus on small, urban backyards while others specialise in vast agricultural estate properties. It does not matter what type of property you own. There will always be a landscape architect out there to meet your needs.