The Landscape Guide

The importance of landscape architecture

Quicklinks: Debate - History articles - Theory articlesDesign Theory and Methods - Careers and jobsLandscape Planning & Urban Design - London Landscape Architecture

Landscape architecture is one of the world's most important professions.

Neglecting the architectures of the world's fast-changing landscapes will result in endless highways lined with endless blocks of endless tedium - dreary expanses of housing, industry, forestry and agriculture - our natural landscapes buried under repetitive building and planting. Instead, we should design the architecture of 'new landscapes for our new lives' (Fairbrother, N. 1970). The engineering of anti-landscapes should make way for an enlightened landscape architecture. With the death of engineer's modernism, it is time for a twenty-first century approach. See:-
20 Essays on Landscape Architecture & Urban Design + 750 illustrations.

What is landscape architecture?

Landscape architecture is the professional skill of composing man-made structures, including buildings and paving, with the natural landscape and with designs for landform, water and planting. See also: Definitions of landscape, landscape design, landscape architecture, landscape planning and EID.

Landscape architecture theory

Landscape architecture and garden design are separate arts with a shared and ancient heritage. The distinction is that gardens are usually enclosed and private. Landscape architecture is concerned with public goods and public spaces. Societies require landscape architectural policies for each land use category - to conserve what has value and and to create new public goods. See the policies for: urbanisation, greenways, cycling, forestry, mineral extraction, transport, water storage, river reclamation, new towns and green towns.

The origin of landscape architecture

The name "landscape architecture" was invented by a Scotsman in 1828. It uses the ancient skill of garden designers (to compose landform with water, vegetation, structures and paving) and applies this skill to the man-made landscape. As Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe wrote in The landscape of man (1975): 'It is only in the present century that the collective landscape has emerged as a social necessity. We are promoting a landscape art on a scale never conceived of in history'. Landscape architecture is set fair to become the mother of the arts.

Landscape Architecture and Garden Design

Landscape architects share with garden designers a concern for the planning and design of outdoor space. Like vets and doctors they have similar knowledge and similar skills. The key difference is that landscape architects normally work for public clients (business and governmental) while garden designers tend to work for homeowners. The range of work undertaken by landscape architects extends from detailed design to the broad scale landscape planning. It includes:

Landscape architecture careers

Though they require similar skills, the garden design and landscape architecture professions offer different career and jobs. Landscape architecture jobs often involve working with other professionals (engineers, planners, environmental consultants etc) and have typical career paths from assistant to associate to partner or director. Garden designers are more likely to be self-employed and to work with builders and craftsmen. The illustrations to the right are of landscape architecture.

Queen Hatshepsut's Temple is the world's oldest masterpiece of landscape architecture

Nature in the city: Olmsted pioneered the landscape architecture of greenspace in cities. The San Antonio Greenway is a brilliant example of this idea - which many cities could learn from.

The landscape architecture of New York as it should be

Future cities will be covered by roof parks and gardens (a roof-garden in Tokyo) - 'landscape on architecture'