Article by Lidija Šuster These 30 reasons why landscape architecture is more important than you think will bring you closer to the core of the profession. Every person who is even in the slightest touch with landscape architecture knows that this profession’s field is incredibly broad. And when something is that complex, it must be important, right? Here is a not-so-short list of reasons that show the importance of landscape architecture. The complexity of the profession is divided into six categories in this article, so it will be easier for you to follow all the reasons. Now, let’s go and see what this list is about. Enjoy!
Landscape Architecture is More Important Than You Think
ENVIRONMENT 1. Evaluating the quality of the landscape and determining remediation requirements Before starting with the development of the design, the site must be assessed. This means evaluation of the site’s characteristics and contamination. It’s a very complex process which includes input from professionals like engineers, ecologists, and landscape architects. Landscape architects identify areas of opportunity or setbacks that may provide constraints, and also evaluate aspects of the landscape (geology, hydrology, scenic characteristics, etc.). With the assessing of the site we get information such as whether a site is safe for construction and which actions should be taken for that site’s remediation and organization. If the evaluation is done right, the site’s further design then has a better chance at success, which is shown in Top 10 Reused Industrial Landscapes.2. Preservation of the environment As the global consciousness about the preservation of the environment is rising, the importance of landscape architecture is also going upwards very fast. There are plenty of landscape projects in the world that are all about environmental ecology. Besides bringing new solutions for all kinds of existing environmental problems, landscape architects also work to protect and preserve untouched natural treasures. A perfect example of the preservation of nature is Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, which shows us how one national park can be balanced between healthy environment, beauty, and human needs. 3. Developing sustainable techniques in favor of the environment This is the point where we need to discuss the word “sustainability”. But what is it, actually? It represents holistic strategies which are making our environment healthier and cleaner. Landscape architecture has a major role in this practice, starting with energy saving and going all the way to water purification. As you can see in these 10 Practices, the profession is deeply involved in sustainability, and here is the article which explains How Landscape Architects Are Leading the way in Sustainable Cities. If you need a concrete example, see these awesome 10 Projects That Put Sustainability at the Forefront of Landscape Architecture. 4. Regeneration of polluted areas Many regions of the world have been subjected to some kind of pollution, particularly if there are factories located there. Regardless of the fact that factories are crucial for our survival, we’re all conscious of their negative impact on environmental health. Depending on the type of factory, the surrounding area could stay contaminated for years after the facility is closed. Fortunately the consequences can be withdrawn, of course with a lot of work in cleaning up, landscaping, and proper planting. Take a look at Westergasfabriek Park to see how a major clean-up was successfully accomplished in this heavily polluted area of Amsterdam. 5. Stormwater management Stepping further into sustainability, it’s clear that water management is a must-discuss subject. We are faced with the degradation of ecosystems, climate changes, and dealing with water can sometimes be a real issue. As it is known, wetlands are endangered, and it’s a big issue because they are biologically very diverse, purify the stormwater, and control the floods. With the aid of landscape architects, these ecosystems can be rejuvenated and brought back to life; projects like Qunli Stormwater Park lead straight to the point of stormwater management. The usage of water can be improved outside of the wetland too, as represented by these 5 Projects That Make Incredible Use of Water. 6. Cleaning the soil and water Due to increased soil contamination, the world had to come up with a cost-effective solution for its cleaning. You probably already guessed that the solution is phytoremediation. In certain areas the soil is severely contaminated with heavy metals and other toxic materials, which means that the underground waters are endangered too. Usage of plants as natural remediators has a major positive impact on the soil because they’re capable of taking in the pollutants, concentrating them and metabolizing them in their tissues. If you want to know more about phytoremediative plants, read 5 Best Plants For Phytoremediation. 7. Contributing to air purification We know that trees (and vegetation in general) play a vital role in air cleansing. In addition to producing oxygen, leaves also absorb polluting gases thorough their stomata, which actively purify the air and improve its quality. And besides the concern over outdoor air quality, the indoor air should be plant-purified too, and NASA has done extensive research on that subject. According to the results, we have found The 10 Best Houseplants to Improve Indoor Air Quality, shown here infographically. 8. Natural materials are always welcome As landscape architects we’re striving to preserve our environment, and when working on some project we’re trying to make it as compatible with nature as possible. This means implementation of natural materials wherever suitable – whether in paving, seating, decorations, etc. Of course, the purpose and function of the project will dictate which materials we’ll use, but usually it’s realizable to implement wood or natural stone at least partially. Two projects that totally promote the usage of natural materials are The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat and Hasomrim Park; check them out. WATCH >>> Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.
PLANTS 9. Caring about plants’ needs As landscape architects, we need to take care of plants, which are our main tool and also living beings. They need to have a proper quality of soil, right amounts of water, sun exposure, and good protection from pests in order to grow and give their maximum. Sven Henrik Karlsson has created a perfect online search tool called PlantSelectr – with this you can search for the most compatible plants for your site. For more information about this tool, read the article Find the Perfect Plants for Your Projects, and be sure to try it for yourself.10. Introducing roof gardens; the multiple benefits of roof plantings As time passes by and the population rises, cities are getting bigger and bigger. Lack of space for gardens sounds terrifying, but there is a solution – roof gardens. The first thing that may cross our minds is how much more beautiful a garden is than the standard roof of a building, but their other benefits are just as amazing. They’re sustainable in many ways, including cleaning the city air, retaining rainwater, and increasing biodiversity. If you are interested in green roofs, read this review of Ashley Penn’s book Living Roofs, and you might consider ordering it immediately. The book features 35 of the world’s rooftop projects, which covers all that you need to know about this subject. LAN’s content director Ashley Penn composed the text of the book Living Roofs. Landscape Architects Network offers a FREE Ebook Download on Green Roofs to all our VIP Subscribers, you can sign up HERE. 11. Bringing in green walls and facades If something is certain in landscape architecture, it’s that green walls are as cool as green roofs. They have their own benefits which are irreplaceable and always welcome. Besides hiding unattractive facades, there are plenty of useful things that living walls can provide to our cities and indoor spaces. They’re improving the quality of our lives by lowering the temperature of the air during summer, lowering the energy loss of buildings, and acting as air-purifiers. For more amazing information about vertical planting, read The Essential Guide for green walls, The History of vertical landscapes and 5 Amazing Facts about them. 12. Implementing orchards in urban areas, not just in private gardens If you like to eat fruits, you would certainly want to have at least one fruit tree in your backyard. In addition to growing food for eating, many trees with edible fruits can be used as decorative plants because of their attractive appearance. Local communities in many urban areas are now considering planting urban orchards, because that will provide not just edible fruits to the residents, but also will strengthen their social bonds. The article Can Urban Orchards Really Help Create Amazing Communities? will answer some important questions, and read these 9 Ways to see how edible planting can be incorporated into the urban landscape. WATCH >>> Wall and Rooftop Gardens, Living Walls and Green Roofs
SPATIAL FUNCTIONS 13. Landscape skills: highlighting the good, beautiful and important views; hiding the bad and poor views When talking about these skills, it’s clear that landscape architects are here to emphasize any valuable or attractive element in space, thus making it easier for visitors to spot it and approach it. Also, it’s here to hide any bad view, e.g. a deteriorated facade or an old warehouse that is not meant to be seen. All of this is accomplished by implementing the curvy paths, adding a green wall, etc. That’s why we’re able to make stunning landscapes, because we can get to the core of the space and really understand what’s necessary there. Recommended Reading: a book review of Landscape Site Grading Principles: Grading With Design In Mind. 14. Providing proper organization to the space For the success of any landscape design, organization is the key word. Proper organization of the space is related to right plantings, appropriate planning of paths and shortcuts, implementation of all necessary program elements (seating, parking for bikes), etc. People like to move through a space with ease while enjoying the view, and landscape architecture is there to fit in people’s needs. Just take a look at these 10 of the Best Urban Projects in the World, although it is just a glimpse of what the world’s landscape architects have to offer.15. Hot days are alleviated thanks to the precious shade from trees Everybody likes to sit under the crown of a tree, especially during summertime. The cooling effect that trees provide is irreplaceable, but in urban conditions temperatures can be much higher due to concrete surroundings, and in cities of high density there is not enough space for large parks. Pocket parks are the perfect solution for such environment, providing not just shade, but a quiet and peaceful escape-place. We’re introducing you the 7 Top Pocket Parks, and additionally for tree lovers, we have 8 Amazing Facts About Trees That You Didn’t Know. 16. Creating safe places during the night by using street lights wisely Street lighting is for night time street life much more than day time. The reason for that is quite obvious – if there is no lighting, it can look pretty scary. Almost every space needs to be illuminated in order to be visited, considering that every person who walks down the street at night wants to feel safe. Ordinary lights are just enough to break the fear of darkness, but the landscape architects hold the key for more fun stuff. The Neue Meile project reveals a completely new way of street lighting, by introducing extraordinary light-rings designed with LED technology. Related to safety, another article may be useful: How to Design Out Crime with Landscape Architecture. 17. Any aspect that relates to water is strongly recommended for multiple reasons In the Environment category we were talking about water management, but now we’re switching to water enjoyment – people have been drawn to water elements since ancient times. Today decorative water features are more than welcome in every space where they could fit (especially if they’re decorative-utilitarian, like these 8 Incredible Pools With the WOW Factor or Cyan). Besides pools, water features can be implemented in the form of fountains, ponds, jets, canals, and even waterfalls. They’re contributing either to the dynamics of the space or to calmness – depending on their pace and construction. Also, water always serves for refreshment, relaxation, and noise-blocking. See how multiple water features can be combined in one project in Central Park of Hunnan Axis. 18. The birds eye view of a designed landscape is just amazing From the ground we must rise a little bit higher, perhaps on an airplane or a high floor of a nearby building, because some landscapes are so amazing from a bird’s eye view that they take the breath away (hopefully because of the beauty, not from fear of heights). The look from above can allow us to see things that we can’t see on the ground, esepecially if we’re dealing with some masterpiece of landscape architecture. The Haven Lakeside Residences and Earthly Pond Service Center are just a glimpse at what the world has to offer. Earthly Pond Service Center of International Horticultural Exposition 2014, by HHD-FUN. Photo credit: DuoCai Photograph WATCH >>> It’s (not) about landscape architecture: Mary Scipioni at
CREATIVITY 19. Appreciating the beauty of the plants by providing aesthetically shaped spaces Rarely something can beautify the space as much as plants. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, not to mention the variety in their cultivars. Humans have been enchanted by the beauty of plants since ancient times, and so are we today. Many landscapes are enriched with plants by different approaches, as you can read (and watch the videos) in the article 9 Awesome Ways to Use Plants. Additionally, plants are used indoors as well as outdoors. Read the article 10 Great Plants for Interior Planting, and you’ll see which plants are adapted for the interior, and maybe even get an idea for your next plant-shopping adventure. 20. Using the power of colors to create more attractive places The impact of colors on our psyche is a big deal, and it’s not just a simple nonsense, but it’s scientifically proven a long time ago. Actually, you don’t even need science here, just imagine being in some gray, dull space, and then in an amusing, colorfully-decorated space. What feels better? Exactly what science said. A striking example of this is the Spark Your City project, where one boring and depressive tunnel was turned into a joyful experience.21. Tasteful and functional paving – a green light for an attractive space In landscape architecture the pavement style is as important as the planting. If there isn’t a two-in-one combination of beauty and functionality, the design probably won’t be very successful. Technical things, such as proper selection of materials or construction layers, play a major role in the making of permanent and beautiful pavements. Because this is a very demanding process and it’s easy to forget some crucial things, read 8 Common Mistakes People Make When Specifying Paving, and How to Avoid Them. 22. Lighting is a powerful tool for creating stunning landscapes Other than for decreasing criminal activities and increasing safety, lighting is widely used all over the world as an artistic expression of landscape architects. Considering that we’re all creative souls, there are literally countless ways and combinations for creating amazing lighting designs. The world is full of light-oriented projects, and instead of continuing to talk about it, we recommend you to take a look at 10 Great Projects Showing Lighting Design and Application, where the examples will speak for themselves. PEOPLE 23. Caring about people’s needs With caring about what people need in certain areas, landscape architects are giving them the opportunities to enjoy their outdoor time in the best possible ways. The most common technique for finding what people really want in a space is to take a survey of the local community members, as the designers of The Lyon River Bank did, and then they created a successful and highly-visited area. Additionally, there is a relatively new science (or rather a holistic perspective) called environmental psychology, which may help you to make a better designs. Read the article The Best Ways to Apply Environmental Psychology and think about these principles. 24. Raising playgrounds to a higher level Everybody knows how important it is for children to have proper physical and psychological development. All around the world there are playgrounds that aren’t just ordinary spaces for children’s jumping or running, they’re in fact much more than that – designed to be beautiful landscapes with numerous practical and psychological functions. We recommend you read The 10 Best Playgrounds of the World, to see how diverse and yet harmonious the world’s playground projects can be. 25. Providing an outdoor recreation Physical activity is also greatly important for adults’ health. If we exercise regularly, we’re lowering our risk of heart disease and also keeping ourselves fit and strong. For people who like to go outside to work out, outdoor gyms may be a favorite place for recreation and even socialization. They’re free, easily accessible, and fun. Landscapes designed for recreational purposes represent an interesting and health-boosting area, just like The Pulse Park – open space relieves the tiredness from exercising, and if you really get tired, there is always a place for relaxing. 26. Positive influence on people’s psychology and mood In the previous statement we saw that physical activity has a great health benefits for our bodies. But what happens with the mind? Even if you spend some time in nature just walking or sitting, not working out or running, you can see that your mood has changed. Nature has a tremendous influence both on our physical and mental health. If you’re planning to spend some time in nature, check out these 5 Top Health Benefits of Landscape Architecture, and you may go for a walk outside immediately. And if you’re a passionate gardener, we have 15 Reasons Why Gardening Is Good For You. 27. The history of landscape architecture has a strong influence on today’s gardens and landscapes Like any other profession, landscape architecture has people from history who are never forgotten. They shaped, developed, and celebrated our profession in such a manner that we will always know their names, as well as their projects. Needless to say, they marked their era with new ideas and styles, and therefore their work can be the source of inspiration for us today. Explore the Top 10 Most Influential Landscape Architects of All Time, feel free to say who your favorite person is, and of course add their name to the list if it’s not mentioned. WATCH >>> Garden design ideas and history
EDUCATION AND SOCIALIZATION 28. Botany-oriented educational function Botanical gardens are places for the exhibition of plants, dedicated to their collection, cultivation, and representation. However, these gardens are not just simple areas for displaying the diversity of plants, but rather places where people can learn while enjoying in beautiful landscapes. The Chenshan Botanical Garden represents a place where people can relax and learn in numerous themed gardens, simultaneously asserting the importance of bioenergy and sustainability.29. Encouraging social interactions Just like education, socialization has always been a vital element in people’s lives. Whether it is a walk with your significant other, or just an ordinary “hang out” with friends, everybody likes to spend some quality time outdoors. Without any further thinking, we know that landscape architecture is the right profession to provide people comfortable and enjoyable outdoor places. Landscape architects are delivering, wherever possible, an inviting “package” of landscape elements for people to gather in, just like at Vanke Chongqing Xijiu Plaza, by meaningfully encouraging social interactions. 30. Preservation of historical heritage When we look back at times past, we can notice that many events had a great influence on people today. Whether it is about important national heroes, wars, revolutions, or any other kind of historical events – they all deserve to be remembered in the present. Some of them are really tragic, and they must remind us that something similar should never happen again. Many sites are dedicated to certain events like the Bluff (historical war site), some display national symbols like Place de la République, and some are an eerie reminder like a Memorial to Victims of Violence. For more examples of great memorials, check out the article 6 Unusual Memorials Where Landscape is the Element of Memory. WATCH >>> National Mall & Memorial Parks | Experience Your America
After reading this, it’s clear why we can rely on landscape architecture today, as well as in the future. Respect towards nature is a driving force that directs landscape architects to beat all the challenges that modern life has caused. Besides beautiful landscapes, we, as a profession, are striving to ensure a better and healthier life for future generations. Do you have any other reasons to add to the list? Feel free to comment! Go to comments Recommended Reading:
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Bayer
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature by Douglas Farrs
Article by Lidija Šuster Featured Image: From Ebook – Green Roof Construction- The Essential GuidePublished in