What is landscape architecture
Landscape architecture or design uses nature and culture to create public spaces, landmarks and structures. It involves a holistic understanding of the planning, design and management of the land to produce the desired outcome.
Types of landscape architecture services
- Civic and cultural space design
- Construction management
- Contract administration
- Land art, fountains and plazas
- Parks and public space
- Playgrounds and educational landscapes
- Residential landscape design
- Site Planning
The impact of landscape architecture on the environment
The practice of landscape architecture aims to create beautiful public spaces where people can live, work and play. However, landscape architecture has an intimate relationship with nature and the environment as well.
Unlike buildings, landscapes are living. They host many different kinds of ecosystems and influenced by the history of the space. Often, it will take many years for it to fulfil the intention of the designer or architect.
The role of a landscape architect is incredibly valuable, especially as we move toward reducing our carbon footprint and protecting our natural environments. Landscape architect Kristen Struthers highlighted how nearly two-thirds of Canadians spend less than two hours outside each week, and almost one-third of Canadians spend less than 30 minutes outside each week. Yet, studies show that the majority of people are happier outside in nature.
While this is an alarming statistic, what’s even more disturbing is the decreasing relationship people have with nature and how much it influences their desire to protect it. In another article, Kristen wrote, “The World Wildlife Fund of Canada (WWF) published the Living Planet Report Canada in 2017 illustrating that between 1970 and 2014 almost half of the species they monitored have declined. Moreover, the index showed that out of 903 monitored species, 451 had "an average decline of 83 per cent” (Miller) with mammals falling 43 per cent, grassland birds falling 69 per cent, reptiles and amphibians falling 34 per cent and fish falling 20 per cent.”
It’s hard to inspire urgency if people don’t see what damage we have inflicted over time. However, we must encourage sustainable developments and solutions because diminishing wildlife and ecosystems along with increasingly erratic weather due to climate change, will affect people too. Environmental scientists have predicted that climate change will increase the number of people living with mental health issues. They stipulate that short-term exposure to extreme weather conditions, multi-year warming, and tropical cyclone exposure will worsen mental health for people around the world.
At Nadi, while we make a conscious effort to implement and integrate sustainable and resilient technologies in our work to combat the effects of climate change, we also understand that just because a space has been disturbed by resource development, landfills or human interference—doesn’t mean we can't transform it into a new, beautiful public space. Land reclamation involves returning the landscape that was disturbed and affected by natural resource development projects back to the desired state, or one that re-establishes the ecosystem and habitat that was once there.
Public space and land art practice lead Meaghan Hunter has written about landfill reclamation and has managed landfill reclamation projects. She writes that these types of projects are an opportunity “to increase public awareness of waste management, engineering, science, and design to show how we can re-establish these ignored and unsavoury sites into productive landscapes.”
What’s very evident is that part of a landscape architecture’s job is to create spaces that bring communities together, encouraging people to use and engage with the area, but also to work to protect it. Much like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to help save the environment.
Areas of expertise and landscape architecture
Landscape architecture has a significant role in every area of expertise. It’s the foundation of public space and land art, and essential service to complete communities, mixed-use environments and campus and institutional. Landscape architecture produces an array of outcomes, including public or green space, spray pads or parks, and land or public art—to name a few.
Often in the realm of public space and land art, it can transcend the outcomes mentioned above, producing a destination place or community gathering space. Moreover, it’s about creating an immersive experience, whether it’s through the use of water can transform the spatial qualities of a place and influence how people perceive the landscape—alternatively, a lighting installation, which alters the natural landscape without interfering with it.
Landscape architecture’s role in the remaining areas of expertise is, while complementary, necessary to create holistic spaces. A complete community is not complete without public space, a mixed-use environment (exterior) is not complete without ‘
Nadi’s marketing associate Rebecca Henderson discussed how landscapes can produce its narrative, whether it’s real or imagined. She writes, regarding Hever Castle in England, “[the landscape] generated a different kind of experience every time I visited. Perhaps it had to do with whether I brought the kids I cared for to play in the water maze or if I brought along my friends to play cards and eat ice cream in the rose garden. At the time, the continually changing experience seemed to be a thing of magic to me. After working at a design firm and being immersed in landscape architecture, I now realize that it was simply great design.”
Landscape architecture project spotlights
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park
Manitoba Housing enlisted Nadi on behalf of the City of Winnipeg to incorporate Landfill 24 into the overall master plan for Bridgwater Trails—an emerging neighbourhood in southwest Winnipeg. The city experienced increased growth in this area, requiring additional recreational spaces to address residents’ needs. According to the city, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park is one of the largest urban prairie parks in Winnipeg. Learn more.
Every year, Storefront Manitoba holds its annual Cool Gardens Competition, which draws entries from around the world. The competition asked for participants to create a land art installation that provides a cooling effect for Winnipeggers during the summertime. Storefront selected Nadi’s Shovel Garden as the 2018 winner. Learn more.
Morehouse College is a private liberal arts college in Atlanta, GA, and the largest all-male college in the United States. Notable for its alumni (Martin Luther King Jr. and Spike Lee), Morehouse College is also renowned for its sports teams such as the Tigersharks (swim team) and the Fighting Maroon Tigers (baseball and soccer). Learn more.