landscape matters volume 3 - Flipbook - Page 18
three years simultaneously as head of the Leeds School of
Landscape, I moved to Edinburgh in 1972 to set up in private
practice with my base at 16 Randolph Crescent for 21 years.
While Landscape Architecture remains my core profession,
the inescapable fact is that it is a plural discipline calling for
collaboration and work integral to other construction professions. Those were the great years of the profession in
Scotland, with Bill Gillespie, Douglas Sampson of Lovejoy’s,
and Brian Clouston as our primary competition. We all took
lead positions by concentrating on major projects straying out
of the incarceration of a single discipline and building
Crucial to this paper is that landscape architecture is a plural
discipline involving science and both of its engineering and
architecture design needs must lie within its competencies.
Naturally, one became embodied within the broader scope of
infrastructure and environmental management and the generic
title apart from my name became Environmental Consultants,
landscape architects, architects, and planners.
To enable consistency in our project operations we adopted
the Intersphere concept as shown in the model opposite. I
initiated this at Leeds Polytechnic School of Landscape as
a model upon which to structure the CNAA Honours degree
programme in LA. This combines as its central coordinating
node an interlinked problem identification and solution arena
into which and dependent on the nature of the problem determines the relative feeder inputs that are needed. The powerful
message is that landscape design and its successful implementation depends a great deal on analytical data sourced not
only from environment and ecology but also from demography,
and social anthropology, philosophy and values, economic
factors, and technology. All of these are determining factors in
criteria selection in problem identification and solution building. They are not essentially supplied from the professions
which traditionally are the custodians of their own expertise
honed within their own knowledge silos built for convenience
and specialised skills development. In today’s world, such
boundaries are no longer tenable and increasingly may be
The Intersphere Concept
regarded as a prime cause of sub-optimal solutions, and perhaps of pre-circumscribed and constrained vision.
This is not to say that the traditional professions are obsolete
– far from it. However to reach perfection in any area whether it
be science determined to know more and more about less and
less or reconstructive methodologies such as in city design, or
restoring critically damaged ecosystems, or in the case of landscape designers retained to orchestrate macro visual enhancement programmes, all of us are in need to reach out to experts
who may come from highly diverse and different educational
backgrounds than our own but have a valid contribution to make.
We must see ourselves as Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe viewed us 'as
conductors of the environmental design orchestra'.
In a world facing the prevailing extremes of climate change
and restoration of the catastrophic trends in the depletion
of our forests or damage to our agriculture on a global scale
whether tropical or cool temperate, landscape architects and
the Institute are hugely challenged by the opportunity of serious involvement in carbon bio-sequestration and are commendably upscaling their expertise and capabilities in planning and design for ecologically effective carbon offsetting on
a global and local scale.
My final message is that landscape architecture must continue
to recognise its interdependence with a myriad of other professions and disciplines and maintain the highest levels of intellectual curiosity and rapport in search of optimised solutions
that combine style and elegance.
Our genesis as a profession is on-going and the challenge is
to ensure that our collaborative genius is ever ready to meet
society’s needs whether at a larger or more intimate scale.