Landscape architecture

Landscape architecture is the art, planning, design, management, preservation and rehabilitation of the land. The scope of the profession includes site planning, garden design, environmental restoration, town or urban planning, park and recreation planning, regional planning, and historic preservation.

Activities of a landscape architect can range from the creation of public parks and parkways to the site planning for corporate office buildings, from the design of residential gardens to the management of large wilderness areas or reclamation of degraded landscapes such as mines or landfills.

Landscape architects work on all types of external space - large or small, urban or rural, and with 'hard' or 'soft' materials. They work on:

  • The form, scale and siting of new developments
  • Small private gardens and private estates
  • The space around schools, universities, hospitals and hotels
  • Public parks, golf courses, theme parks and sports facilities
  • Housing areas, industrial parks and commercial developments
  • Highways and transport corridors
  • Town and city squares and pedestrian schemes
  • Large or small urban regeneration schemes
  • Forest, tourist or historic landscapes and landscape appraisal or conservation studies
  • Reservoirs, power stations, extractive industry applications or major industrial projects
  • Environmental assessment, planning advice and land management proposals.

The most valuable contribution is often made at the earliest stage of a project in generating ideas and bringing flair and creativity to the use of space. The landscape professional can contribute to the overall concept and prepare an initial master plan, from which detailed designs can subsequently be prepared. He or she can also let and supervise contracts for landscape work, prepare landscape and visual impact assessments, conduct environmental assessments or audits and act as an expert witness at enquiries on land use. He or she can also support or prepare applications for capital or revenue funding grants.

Landscape designers are involved in the planning, design and creation of all types of outdoor spaces. Many work in public offices in central and local government. Others work in private practice and act as consultants to public authorities, industry and commerce, and to private individuals.

Landscape managers use their knowledge of plants and the natural environment to advise on the long-term care and development of the landscape. They work in horticulture, estate management, forestry, nature conservation and agriculture.

Landscape scientists have specialist skills such as soil science, hydrology, geomorphology or botany that they relate to the practical problems of landscape work. Their projects can range from site surveys to the ecological assessment of broad areas for planning or management purposes. They may also report on the impact of development or the importance of particular species in a given area.

Landscape planners are concerned with the location, scenic, ecological and recreational aspects of urban, rural and coastal land use. Their work is embodied in written statements of policy and strategy, and their remit includes masterplanning for new developments, landscape evaluations and assessments, and preparing countryside management or policy plans. Some may also apply an additional specialism such as landscape archaeology or law to the process of landscape planning.

Entrance into the profession requires advanced education, training, licensure in all but five states.

See ASLA or Landscape Institute for a more thorough examination of the topic.

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