How can Landscape Architecture contribute to a new professional free market?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE How can Landscape Architecture contribute to a new professional free market?

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    Gabino Carballo

     How to organise a profession across national boundaries?

    The European professional market is in need of reform.

    For many decades, certain professions have been protected from competition, whilst others have been marginalised or declared “illegal” in certain countries.

    This absurd situation has led to lack of specialisation, lack of competitiveness, inefficiency and massive unemployment among professionals in several countries. In the meantime, other nations suffer a short supply of skills and knowledge in several areas of activity.

    Landscape Architecture has been one of the least favoured professions, particularly in Southern Europe.

    After years of waiting for action from IFLA, the body representing allegedly Landscape Architecture Worldwide, a number of European Landscape Architects have challenged the landscape establishment in Europe and have appealed directly to our elected politicians to ask for Landscape Architecture to become a Europe wide regulated profession.

    The surprising result is that most of them seem to think that it is a good idea and that Landscape Architecture’s current situation is a bad thing for business and the environment.

    One of the questions put forward by European Members of Parliament to the European commission is this one:

    “Landscape architecture is recognised and regulated as a profession in various Member States, with a separate identity from other professions and studies. Unfortunately, it is not officially recognised as a profession in Spain. Without any proper regulation or official definition of this profession, with no professional associations to protect and promote it or any system for the recognition of diplomas and qualifications obtained in other Member States or in other parts of the world, it is difficult to carry out the profession in dignified conditions, thereby creating an unjust situation. Professionals in this field are unable to take part in public procurement processes, contracts or calls for proposals and even have difficulties in obtaining civil and professional liability insurance.

    This lack of recognition has legal consequences which contravene the rules of the single market; more specifically, it does not comply with the terms of Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market.

    The European Commission has recently acknowledged that updating Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications is one of the priorities of the Single Market Act and will contribute to making the European economy more competitive, in addition to stimulating job creation and growth.

    — Is the Commission aware of this discrimination?

    — What action will the Commission take to ensure that qualifications in Landscape Architecture are recognised and accepted in Member States such as Spain, which do not acknowledge its existence or the fact that there are trained professionals (Spanish or otherwise) in this field who wish to practise their profession in these countries, under the same conditions applied to any other profession and without hindrance to its development and recognition?”

    You can check the original Question to the Commission

    What are the implications of this political move?

    How can Landscape Architecture contribute to a new professional market?

    How to organise a new profession across many boundaries?


    Yikes bro and we thought we had it bad here.

    Gabino Carballo

    You wouldn’t last two minutes in bizz over here my gringo friend, I can assure ya…


    Did you just call me a gringo? (LOL) I’ll give you a pass because you obviously don’t know what the word gringo means here in the States. And I thought I was being quite empathetic by calling you bro. Where’s the love? No wonder we can’t get along on this planet. I extend my hand in LA solidarity, offer you bread and wine and you punched me in the face.

    Gabino Carballo

    Don’t really know what Gringo means in the States in the same way that you probably don’t know what calling somebody Bro might mean in Spain.

    In yester days, Gringo used to mean from across the border ie: US citizen, as opposed to local ie: Mexican. But that was a while ago.

    Don’t you worry about about a little misunderstanding or two: there is action in friction.

    For everything else, you’ll always have an iPad or two!


    You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t be so casual with my use of new world slang. What’s funny is I picked up the habit of call guys bro from my Puerto Rican and Cuban friends from high school. Anyway, bro = brother and usually not meant to be offensive.


    Oh and I’ve lived most of my life with Spanish speaking people from all over the planet and I’ve never been called a gringo. Negro, homes, homey, Moreno, mostly bro, but never gringo. I take it that gringo means Americans of all ethnicities over there in Spain. If that’s the case then it’s all good, ahem…I mean very well indeed.

    Gabino Carballo

    No worries, I didn’t know that Gringo was anything than north American (I think it includes Canadians too, but I don’t want to offend you any further).

    I had been called Gaucho in some other discussion and I guess that I was primed for my own casual use of slang.

    Anyhow, you keep up the quality comments!


    I’m a bit surprised to learn of this as some of the most original landscape architectural work I’ve seen in print has been in Spain. I like it for the complete absence of site furniture and things pulled from catalogs. Instead they design custom furniture…even light fixtures!  They seem to do a lot with low budgets.  Perhaps you’ve heard of Enric Battle & Joan Roig?  A couple of their projects are featured in a book I have.  So many of our parks are just crammed with stuff and appear chaotic and cluttered.  At least you have some talented people who are given the opportunity to do good work on occasion there in Spain.


    It will be interesting to see if the EU gives official recognition to the profession.  I’d like to get licensed in Europe!  But yeah, I probably wouldn’t last very long either.

    Gabino Carballo

    I am going to reply here what I replied in the thread about Brazil, because it may be relevant:

    – – – – –

    There is no equivalent to LARE in Europe.

    Each country has its own system. The main difference between countries is whether a profession is regulated, simply recognised or does not exist as such and it is therefore illegal to work under that professional title.

    “Regulated Profession” means that it enjoys official status and the professional title is protected by law. Professional Organisations carry some weight or are entirely official, or even part of the country constitutional structure.

    Landscape Architecture is regulated in 5 countries in the EU: UK, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Czech Republic.

    “Recognised profession” means that the professional title is official at academic level but professional practice is not regulated by law and lacks a defined professional remit. Professional association are not strictly speaking “official”, ie: their views carry no weight. This includes France and Portugal, for instance.

    In some countries, Landscape Architecture does not exist as a profession, only as an economic activity. This means that the academic titles hold no value (ie: you study for 5 years but it counts as if you have never gone to university), you cannot legally practice under that title and you cannot enter official contracts, tender for work and or lead competition entries. You work in a kind of parallel market (virtually a black Market).

    Spain is a good example: any projects you see coming from Spain are produced by qualified architects. They present themselves as Landscape Architects, but they are not. They cannot convert their qualifications easily into to Landscape Architecture ones, and neither can you convert any qualifications in landscape Architecture to theirs.

    They employ Landscape Architects when it suits them, of course.

    EFLA is largely a fiction. It carries no weight, it is not anything official or recognised in Europe and recognition by EFLA amounts to nothing. Very much like IFLA, it is a travelling agency for academics and various event organisers, that collect money from national professional associations in exchange for “recognition”.

    The “recognition” systems is very much a way of collecting money for a few smart guys that present themselves as interested in Landscape Architecture, but that couldn’t care less. It does not guarantee anything, or recognise anything. The fact that EFLA recognises you carries no weight with states and governments.

    It is just marketing and a way to make money for a few people who like having it large and travelling through Europe. They do ensure that their friends win all the competitions. EFLA is very good at keeping large amounts of people out of work, and a few very busy.

    If you want to know about the situation of Landscape Architecture in Europe, the reality is closer to this two questions posed recently at the EU Parliament by:


    They have asked these questions prompted by this initiative (you will find several languages here):

    This is the Landscape Architect’s Manifesto. We started it because we are tired of the absurd discrimination we are subjected to by governments, and other professions, specially Architecture and also (to a lesser extend) by engineers. ANd by EFLA too.

    EFLA is desperate to keep this initiative quiet and is censoring and erasing out all the news about it in the Landscape World. We have been told that the manifesto “interferes” with their interests, (ie: a few nations keeping a little monopoly on the profession, not liking people from the south of Europe enjoying their privileges, etc. Pretty disgusting)

    If you want to know what is happening in Brazil, this is the government web page for the Law being passed about Landscape Architecture recognition. Portuguese only.

    Architects are opposing this law with all their might. Nice one, uh?

    There is a lot of BS out there regarding info on European Landscape Architecture, particularly from IFLA and EFLA. Beware of these guys, they are only after your money. They want you to travel here, study a expensive Master or Degree and then see you off with a nice smile. They do not like when you ask questions.

    Gabino Carballo

    I do know of Batlle and Roig. They are architects. They do have a form of Landscape Architecture qualifications that is very nice and expensive, but it carries no official weight.

    Lots of people are coming to Spain attracted by this kind of work, paying good money for Masters and the like, not knowing that they are not official and cannot be converted to any European official qualifications easily.

    Their budgets are massive, you are right. Barcelona is a high density city with small territory and high business activity. It generates a lot of money per square metre, so projects here are much better funded that elsewhere.

    We have been riding the property development wave big time, so lots of money available for compensation schemes (money allocated to public space by the private developer).

    Batlle&Roig are the elite of the elite, so no representative in any way. They are talented, but we do have 50.000 architects here and some 30.000 in training. Not difficult to find talent if 1 in 600 inhabitants is an architect.

    As for the EU, who know, neither IFLA nor EFLA are supporting the move because of their own little money making schemes.

    I would love to be licensed in my own country, but, hey, shouldn’t ask for too much…

    As for lasting, all the ones that last are exceptions to a rule, so don’t feel bad.

    I have lasted because of luck, pure and simple. No merit of mine.

    Gabino Carballo

    I think that if you take some time to find out about the law in Portugal, you will find that Landscape Architecture is not protected in any way.

    It is recognised to a higher degree than in Spain and it enjoys considerable respect, but there is no law that I know of that reserves professional activity to Landscape Architects.

    If you do, I would like to have a reference, because this is important. In any event, it is not regulated at European level, which means that the Portuguese Goverment has not considered important to protect title and activity.

    Just this year, the Portuguese government cut the ability of Landscape Architects to lead construction works.

    One of the Manifesto petitioners is Portuguese and he has been working on the issue of recognition for years, and that includes actively writing letters, reports and working with other Portuguese Landscape Architects to consolidate recognition in the EU for Landscape Architecture.

    You will understand if I am very sceptical about your comments.

    I think that it is very important that you get accurate information about the professional situation in Portugal.

    If you do have references for any laws protecting your professional activity, I will include them in the report we are preparing for the Internal Markets Commission.

    Gabino Carballo

    About the rest of the comments you have made, they look like opinions that are not underpinned by any actual facts.

    The APAP is not a professional “order” because the law allowing it to become one has never been passed. Period. It is not for the APAP to decide it.

    It is for the Government to do so.

    The EU Parliament decisions are rather influential. Certainly, the decisions approved by the Internal Markets Commission and approved by EU Parliament as Directives are binding and must be included in national law.

    You clearly have not read the latest proposal for the Qualifications Directive and therefore have no idea what you are talking about.

    As a Landscape Architect, you should be concerned. Inform yourself.

    Gabino Carballo

    I will not accept any information of the grounds of nationality alone.

    I already work with a Portuguese Landscape Architect, with over 20 years experience or so.

    Why is your opinion better than his?

    I will accept a reference for the law you are referring too.

    I have no opinion on the matter.

    Simply put the link to the law online and have this debate done and over with.

    It will help to state the case for European regulation of the profession.

    If you are simply speaking form hearsay, you are undermining your own case and your profession.

    Gabino Carballo

    You can read some more information about the estate of your profession here:

    If you find the law that regulates Landscape Architecture in Portugal, do let me know.

    Gabino Carballo

    Could you please pass me the reference in Portuguese so I can please check the legal reference?

    I gave you the links to Laws that do not regulate professions, as far as I can tell.

    Can I please know what are you talking about? This article does not imply that Landscape Architecture is regulated.

    “Regulation” is a clearly defined legal figure in Europe.

    It is important to work upon facts and just not opinions. You clearly want Landscape Architecture to be regulated, but it does appear in the European register of regulated professions.

    And therefore it is not regulated because the European Directives explicitly says that any professions that are not regulated at EU level, will not benefit from any form of automatic recognition in Europe and will not be considered regulated.

    So please, do let me know what law you re referring to.

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