LANDSCAPE DESIGN OR ARCHITECTURE?
How do you choose a contractor?
Where architects take on large and complex projects that involve both the environment and structures and must be knowledgeable about issues such as grading, construction elements and drainage, a landscape designer, on the other hand, typically has more knowledge in different aspects of gardening and specialised plant knowledge – they focus on the flora.
LANDSCAPE DESIGN FOR CULTIVATION, OR GARDENING IN SMALLER, PRIVATE SPACES
Landscape design, like most professions, has a very simple origin: cultivation or gardening. It has been around for hundreds of years. One of the most famous gardeners, André Le Nôtre, was entrusted to create and renovate the gardens of Versailles in the 17th Century. These estates were designed to represent one’s wealth, but also to cultivate trees needed for the French fleet, the King of France, who would be able to harvest trees from one’s land as needed; so landscapes doubled as cultivation fields. Fast forward 4 centuries and the practice has grown into a full-fledged career that can be studied at university level.
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE FOR DESIGN AT MUNICIPAL SCALE
As the name suggests, landscape architecture is the design of outdoor spaces for use by the public. The need for the profession was born out of the industrial revolution when there was a mass migration of people from rural areas to the city. Almost all land was built up and when people had down-time, the only green spaces available were the cemeteries, which filled up with people on Sundays, having a picnic on or near graves, and children playing between tombstones.
A successful landscape design is one that needs no instructions, it is easily navigable by everyone and allows freedom of movement.
OUTDOOR SPACES SHOULD MAKE PEOPLE FEEL COMFORTABLE
Landscape architects and designers both design on human scale and therefore are often responsible for making people feel comfortable in a space. People avoid badly designed spaces, it’s that simple. Look closely when you navigate around your city, there might be some parts that are never occupied and it very often has to do with the way the open space is designed.
A SHARED PURPOSE: TO NURTURE AND MAINTAIN
I think the biggest challenge of being a landscape designer or architect is that one works with living material. There are definitely inert materials like hard surfaces, street furniture and lighting, but the most variable factor is plants and trees. You see, working with an element that is alive comes with a host of challenges. One has to simulate soil conditions that are favourable to those plants, or alternatively, only select plants that like the specific soil conditions of the site and make sure they get enough nutrients, water and sunlight. Then, plants in a constructed landscape have to be maintained if it is to thrive and continue to look its best. This means there is a need to feed it regularly, cut back appropriately, divide as necessary, uproot and replace, manage pests, and so the list goes on. In the history of successful landscapes, good management practices, affectionately known as ‘maintenance’ in the industry, is the key to the continued success of a man-made landscape. With all this being said, you can see there is a vast wealth of detail in both professions.
NOTEWORTHY IF YOU ARE A RESIDENTIAL CLIENT
“As is imitation to flattery, so is a landscape designer to nature. Being an avid user of the Mediterranean palette, whether it be plants, colours or textures, my mythical paintbrush is dipped in regions and I paint in themes.”
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