Landscape profession to tackle the big challenges

As part of the London Festival of Architecture, the Landscape Festival of Ideas: Transforming Landscape, Challenging Boundaries, is being staged by the Landscape Institute (LI) to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our society.

With rapid change to our natural environment, increased urbanisation, and the mounting pressures of living in the heart of a modern city, landscape professionals are being tasked more than ever to come up with ways of dealing with these growing issues.

As part of activities to mark its 90th birthday, the Landscape Institute is holding this special event on Saturday 8 June 2019 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Whilst celebrating the vitality, creativity and impact of landscape, some of the big questions on the table are:

  • How can we successfully bring back nature into our towns & cities?
  • How should the landscape & related professions evolve to meet the needs of our changing world?
  • What is the professional’s obligation in addressing climate change?
  • Must we prioritise ethics over aesthetics?
  • In a city of fractured communities, are we designing spaces that are indeed more divisive than inclusive, as recent media coverage has exposed? How can we ensure the spaces we create are used as intended?

With a line-up of great speakers, interactive workshops, themed walking tours and engaging panel discussions, the event aims to set the agenda for the LI, its members and the wider profession in the years to come.

Dan Cook, CEO of the Landscape Institute said: “Holding our Landscape Festival of Ideas in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park provides us with a living example of an emerging landscape that has gone through a number of relatively rapid changes and continues to be transformed. A range of speakers will be examining what needs to happen to make a new place work well, how landscape can bring communities together by overcoming boundaries, as well as showcasing creative approaches to stimulate our profession to think collectively about how we tackle some of the challenges we face in society, and what our role should be.”

Adam White, President of the Landscape Institute said: “These are just some of the fantastic speakers we have lined up as part of this event and as a practising landscape architect, I can’t wait to hear the debates and ideas from such a wide range of talented individuals. We also want to listen to what attendees think our profession, and Institute, need to do to progress major issues of concern to society and the environment.

“We are trying something different by holding this on a Saturday, this will be an inclusive family-friendly event and we have special workshops for young people as part of the day.

“As President of the Landscape Institute I am passionate about the work our profession does and the difference it can make to people’s lives and this event can only help as we come together at this important moment in our history as we mark the LI’s 90th anniversary. Whilst it is important to look back and learn from the last 90 years, this event is about looking to the future and setting the agenda for the next chapter in our history.”

Some key sessions include:

  • How can better landscape improve community cohesion?

Phil Askew was project sponsor for landscape at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. He is now Director of Landscape at Peabody leading on the work to recreate the landscape at Thamesmead. He will be moderating a session whose focus is on the theme of overcoming boundaries. Speakers will look both at physical barriers addressed by the design of the park and communal barriers, especially between differently-located communities and those from differing backgrounds.

Andrew Harland from LDA led the team that designed and delivered the Park for both the Games and Legacy. He is also designing the landscape for the newest part of the Park, East Bank, which will host V&A East, Sadler’s Wells East, the London College of Fashion and BBC Music. He will look at how, in re-imagining and reconnecting east London, all types of boundaries are being overcome.

  • What ethical issues face the landscape profession?

Anna Jorgensen from the University of Sheffield will be looking at the ethical obligations of the landscape profession, including new thinking on the provision of housing and public health services. She will also look at the impact of private driverless cars on the way in which our cities are designed. Her challenge to the profession is to advocate on behalf of a landscape-led approach to creating and making cities.

  • What role can new technologies play in the landscape profession?

Professor Pia Fricker holds the Professorship for Computational Methodology in Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at Aalto University in Finland. She will be talking about the Digital Landscape Lab and will consider how new technologies are fusing traditional boundaries, making it essential that computational methods are integrated into traditional practice. She is one of a number of speakers that will be looking at how new technologies are impacting on the profession and how they can help solve some of the issues.

Jo Morrison, Programme Director, digital innovation, Calvium will look at the research that she has led for the NavSta app – a collaborative project with Transport for London (TfL), Transport Systems Catapult and Open Inclusion. She will also look at digital aspects of community engagement and her approach to connecting people with nature.

  • Learning from overseas

Professor Rainer Stange, President of Norwegian Landscape Association will use the Oslo Parks Scheme as an excellent illustration of new ways of thinking about landscape.

Further information and the full programme is available at:

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