Reflections of a Landscape Architect

''When approached by The Design Review Panel to scribe a piece for the month of May, I gave my article to my A level English teenager to read with hope that it would achieve a gold star! I failed drastically and was sent back to the metaphorical drawing board and not sure this version is any better following a re-read and roll of the eyes.

Both my children have worked harder than I ever did for their exams and they are keen not to be landscape architects. They do not see it as an exciting dynamic career and I wonder why I felt the need to train as one and would I follow the same path again if I was in their shoes? I am not sure I would.

Perhaps I the yearn for the nostalgic days of the drawing board, the scratch of tracing paper and the permanently stained fingers of rotring ink when the career seemed more creatively design focused.

The profession has changed, as I suppose all do, which is good. The status of landscape architecture has altered, grown and diversified with design specialisms adding weight within large scale projects, the industry and with the wider public. This has allowed us to have a voice at platforms like The Design Review Panel, whereas historically our role was not reviewed as seriously.

Yet, in the strive to be a profession taken seriously, landscape architecture is often used as a tool to get through planning, rather than an integral part of the design team. The element of being truly creative now makes up less of my working time.

Computers have made our job easier and those with less design skills can all use Photoshop or SketchUp to create elements of design work, but they lack creativity when examined in detail. So when a real design piece comes into the office, we tend to guard it, reveling in the process of drawing, sketching and spending too much time trying to find the marker pens!

So far this month, the marker pens have been scribbling designs for a mini rain-garden design for a small community garden, a science garden, a maths garden, playground design and the design of Minehead seafront.

Unfortunately, I am not the creative on this project but as an office we have been discussing, scribbling and finding lovely images that if the budget allowed could be included. The beachfront scheme is very community sensitive and features regularly in local newspapers and requires clever creative design to meet all expectations.

There is a joy to designing and creating something positive for the end user and am sure there is a place for report writing within the profession! Perhaps as I was not trained to write a methodical report but taught how to read the landscape, the old fashioned ‘sense of space’, that I find it less exciting. However, it is part of the development in our profession and perhaps why there has been a rise in urban and garden designers who are enjoying designing.

Watching RHS Chelsea this week on TV only enforces this desire for creativity.

Am I just being nostalgic? Perhaps.''


Many thanks to Louise Baugh, Chartered Landscape Architect and director at Swan Paul Partnership Ltd , Chartered Landscape Architects, who has provided the above blog article. Louise is a Design Review Panel member, attending Design Review Panels across the South West; in Cornwall, Devon (both Plymouth and Exeter), Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Swindon.

Swan Paul is a practice of Chartered Landscape Architects established in Taunton, Somerset in 1986 and a registered practice with the Landscape Institute. Our work covers a wide variety of project sectors across the South West region and Nationally and we work for both public and private clients, offering professional client focused services to help you realise your ambitions for your project.

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