If you don’t specialize in something, you play the risk of being highly replaceable and achieving standard results. Carving out a niche for yourself is one way to avoid this happening. Have you ever had any doubts that landscape architecture may not be your calling? Perhaps everyone’s had such uncertainties at some point of their studies. After all, to become a landscape architect, one must sacrifice a great deal of time, resources and efforts. It is perfectly normal to speculate on the question, “Did I choose the right career for myself?” And what if five years at the university have passed unnoticeably, and you find yourself at the crossroads because you don’t have a clue which way to go. If you have come to the conclusion that being a landscape architect isn’t your dream job, what actions would you take? Would you chuck away everything and direct yourself to something entirely new and different? Naturally, you have every right to do so. But you have one more right as well. To take a view from another angle with us.Remember, whatever you do, make sure you make the most of it. Landscape architecture is a multi-disciplined subject. Once you’ve gone through this field, you are faced with a sea of opportunities. Just imagine diving into that infinity. Imagine that landscape architecture is the sea, and there are numerous secret treasures hiding in the sands. These are the niches. They are small, narrow, and often hard to spot. But that’s only because precious things are hidden inside them. Niches in landscape architecture can be either a way to stand out from the rest or they can be a rescue beach for those who want to lead out of the mainstream. Regardless of which one of the two cases refers to you, dive with us to uncover what lies at the bottom of the sea. You will surely be surprised.
As it is hard to cover each niche individually, we will start with one of the most extensive – the hardscape. It is assumed that planting design is landscape architects’ speciality, but not unless opportunities lure on the built environment’s components. Think of pavement and lighting design, pool and water features, or for example fire pits, barbecues, and planters. Each one of these hardscape elements can become your niche and your trademark. But this will only happen if you make every endeavor become the virtuoso of it.One such example we would like to present to you is a landscape architect who has found her vocation for natural pools. Draw on Claudia Schwarzer’s experience in designing natural swimming pools in the article below and snatch a grain of inspiration.
2. Outdoor furniture
The second niche a landscape architect can flourish in is the field of park or garden furniture. An additional interior design qualification may be required, but in some cases it may not be compulsory. And even if you have to invest some resources, regardless of money or time, or both, this is how our world functions – you have to give to get. Do you wish to become an outdoor furniture master? Are you willing to know how to design or combine furnishing? What styles, what materials, what colors to use? If you feel curious about the answers of these questions, you may have just found your niche. And if right now you’re wondering where to start from, check out the article on Vanessa Gardner Nagel’s book – The Professional Designer’s Guide to Garden Furnishings.One more source of exquisite furniture design can be found in the innovative work of Escofet, a Barcelona-based industry designing and manufacturing high-quality products in architectural concrete and cast stone.
3. Art Installations
Diving deeper into the matter of landscape architecture niches, we keep carving out to reach the favorite of all – art installations. Perhaps that’s the part of landscape architecture where art prevails over everything else. And when accompanied by mechanism and interaction, the final result is unthinkable, irresistible and most of all – a magnet to people. Are you seeking for a more creative aspect of landscaping? A field which takes you beyond the limits of the traditional profession? A niche where the impossible happens in a most enchanting way?The matchless work of names like Anthony Howe, Giles Rayner and Cao & Xavier Perrot from Cao Perrot Studio, are world-class examples of staggering art installations and sculptures. See for yourself:
WATCH: Contemporary Art Installations by Cao | Perrot Studio with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS
4. Children Playgrounds
Our opportunity exploration continues with another adventurous part of landscape architecture – the playgrounds. The greatest concern here is not to forget that besides being fun and exciting, designing for children is first of all a huge responsibility, requiring extensive knowledge of regulations and safety standards. Do you think you possess both, immense imagination and, on the other hand, a strong sense of conscience? If you believe that you can coordinate them, then you should direct your efforts to become a professional in children playgrounds.Carve is a design and engineering bureau well-known mostly for the planning of spaces for children and young people. Engaging and interactive design, accessibility and integration are keywords for Carve’s designing team. Their projects speak for themselves.
5. Planting Design
Now that we have come to the “living” matter of landscaping – the vegetation – we should examine what chances sneak in that niche. Just like the hardscape, the soft scape offers a variety of trends. A landscape architect can become for example a florist, or why not study the principles of ikebana or bonsai? Even if you’re not interested in something particular, why don’t you try to create your own new niche? Study those top ten names in planting design in the article below and pay your attention onto what makes each one of those designers unique? Don’t miss the chance to see how Adam Woodruff, a successful plant designer, uses tropical plants and seasonal annuals to frame his recognizable individual signature.
Getting to the heart of our topic, we have reached one of the hottest and most eccentric niches – the aquascaping or as some call it, the water gardening. Aquascaping is the art of arranging aquatic plants, rocks, pebbles, and driftwood in a visually aesthetic manner within an aquarium. Most often, the aquascape houses fish, or other aquatic animals, but it can be filled with plants or cliffs only. All that underwater fairytale, however, needs to be designed with great consideration. Numerous factors like filtration, carbon dioxide levels sufficient to support photosynthesis underwater maintenance, algae control and lighting should be confirmed in order to get functional and artful aquascape. If you find the underwater world luring, magical and captivating, think about directing to that incredible craft. Take a look at those grand prize works from the world’s largest nature aquarium and aquatic plants layout contest – the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC)
7. Vertical Gardens
Living walls are another attractive subdivision of landscape design. Brand-new and antique at the same time, their fascination is overwhelming and continues to spread all over the world. Is it because we are so used to perceive landscape architecture only in its conventional horizontal appearance? We can’t know that for sure but one thing is indisputable – when we speak of vertical gardens, one name occurs to our minds – Patrick Blanc. Patrick Blanc is a French botanist, who is known as the first to design the ‘modern’ pattern of green walls, supplied with a full hydroponic system, an inert medium and multiple exotic plant schemes. His spectacular projects include Quai Branly Museum in Paris and the Parliament in Brussels. He has become an inspirer to many designers like Flora Grubb for instance, who designs living walls for private clients accentuating on succulents. Before jumping to any conclusions, we offer to you some helpful information on the history of green walls and a few amazing facts about them in the two following articles: Would you dare to become the next Patrick Blanc? It’s all up to you.
8. Ecology and Sustainability
We are switching over to our next tendency in landscaping – the ecological and sustainable design. It is yet another popular movement nowadays, which gathers speed not without reason. If you are a broad-minded and forward-looking person who cares about causes such as nature preservation, biodiversity stimulation, recycling techniques, rainwater management or anything related to our environment’s welfare, you might consider specializing in that stream.There is a plethora of credible sources which you can use as a starting point, if you’re still hesitating on whether that is your calling or not. Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden may help you on that task through their insights shared with us in their book Rain Gardens. See the book review here. One more book review reveals the basics of Designing the Sustainable Site, as the name suggests. Sustainable practices and strategies are gathered to provide a useful tool in the hands of future-oriented designers. Take a look at it here.
9. Tourism and Theme Parks
Our niche exploration is setting on one more obscure part of landscape architecture – the correlation between tourism, theme parks, adventure trails and landscaping. Are you keen on planning thematic tourist routs, studying various places’ folklore and history and reinterpreting those traditions in design? If tying nature, authenticity and people together in a beneficial social and economic manner sounds thrilling to you, you may have just found your walk of life. One thriving example of tropical tourist resort design displays excellently how strong the power of interaction can be. How to design a sensory experience and make it unforgettable to visitors? See how Enviro Tec did it.The second project deserving your attention is Quilotoa Crater Overlook, which stands out with minimal yet sheer human intervention in design, community support approach and mostly, natural wealth preservation. How did Quilotoa Crater Overlook capture nature without destroying it? Find out here:
10. 3D visualizations and graphic design
Our last number is set for a niche suitable for technology lovers. As landscape architects, we have to be able to work with numerous computer programs to visualize our ideas. Some designers suck at renderings, but others seem like they have a bent for it. If you are from the second kind, why don’t you master that skill? If spending long hours in the company of a computer doesn’t frighten you and if 3-d modelling is your way to express yourself, go for it. Check out our useful articles on computer renderings and see if the artist in you is awakened.
- 5 Top 3D Modeling Software Programs for Landscape Architects
- 10 Incredible Plugins for Sketchup
- 10 Photoshop Tutorials for Advanced Photoshop Skills
Are there more niches to carve out?
Having gone through those ten different niches within landscape architecture, we can generalize that each one of them has something special, significant and stirring. That only proves once again how mercurial and versatile the art of landscaping is. We managed to carve out ten amazing niches for you, but don’t you think there are more numbers to be added to the list? The sea of opportunities is infinite, so even if you can’t find your niche now, why don’t you create it yourself? Which niche would you add to our list of opportunities? Recommended Reading
- Landscape Architecture: An Introduction by Robert Holden
- Landscape Architecture, Fifth Edition: A Manual of Environmental Planning and Design by Barry Starke
Article by Velislava Valcheva