Integrated urban design and some joined-up thinking at Houghton Regis: by guest author David Edwards

Urban design is a strange discipline. A sweeping statement, I know – and certainly one that does not come close to justifying its complexity or significance. Definitions vary greatly, often focusing on a particular scale, activity or specialism. Paradoxically, the most accurate descriptions are perhaps those that are more general, such as; ‘the art of creating and shaping cities and towns’ (urbandesign.org) or, ‘the design of towns and cities, streets and spaces… it is the collaborative and multi-disciplinary process of shaping the physical setting for…




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Vilnius calling (by Martin)

I’ve just returned from a few days visiting our colleagues at terra firma LT. I don’t quite know what I was expecting Lithuania to be like, but what I found was something of a surprise. I always enjoy cities that are easily walkable. Everything in Vilnius is close, and getting around on foot is an obvious choice. (Although there are some trick pedestrian crossings that tell you it’s safe to cross, when in-fact the traffic can still come through!) It doesn’t take long to get…




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Tranquillity – by Isla Denton-Thompson

Yesterday the sun shone for a moment and I popped out at lunchtime to a town park near our office to enjoy some vitamin D, the absence of a computer screen, a bit of peace and quiet and enjoy the views to the surrounding National Park. This got me pondering about the concept of tranquillity. Last year the Landscape Institute (LI) produced a technical note on tranquillity: ‘Tranquillity – An overview’. The Note stresses that there are clear links between landscape and tranquillity and thus…




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All shades of green by Keith Baker

  A Facebook post about a former house-mate of mine who now teaches at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (http://www.stockholmresilience.org) got me thinking about their area of interest, namely the complex challenges facing humanity and their belief that;  In our globalized society, there are virtually no ecosystems that are not shaped by humans and no humans without the need for ecosystems and the services they provide. Protecting and enhancing ecosystems and their biodiversity is one of the key roles of our profession and at terra firma…




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How do you start to design elements of a Stone and Bronze Age landscape? – By Alice

As a practice we often get involved in a wide range of interesting projects that can sometimes be quite a challenge and take a turn in the most unexpected direction. Over the past year we have been closely involved with the directors and staff at Butser Ancient Farm helping them to develop new ideas to improve the visitors’ experience based on academic research, the testing of archaeological theories and encouraging school children and the public to engage and take away with them new practical skills,…




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Northward bound

A recent work visit has taken me to Scotland, where twice a year I visit the National Air Traffic Control Centre at Prestwick to see how the landscape management at one of the longest running projects in the terra firma portfolio is progressing nearly 13 years after completion. http://www.terrafirmaconsultancy.com/portfolio/nats-air-traffic-control/ Once a year I visit my older sister in Dundee on the back of this visit, which is always a long awaited and much enjoyed long weekend. The journey from NATS starts with a train ride across…




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End of year blog from Lionel, Dec 2017

Final week before Christmas and we are fully ensconced in our new offices across the other side of Petersfield on the Business Park. Bit of a culture change from being in rather more characterful offices in the town centre but in many ways more convenient for the necessities of parking and access along with the room for expansion and a serious investment in new furniture, technology and streamlined systems. So we are in, would welcome visits from clients and colleagues (pre-arranged please!) and have had…




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Hmm that looks nice I’ll think I’ll eat it! by Paul Strugnell

Looking through recent advice on plants suitable for schools you would think that children these days were intent on stuffing their faces with any available plant imaginable. Various lists are available offering advice and guidance on plants suitable for schools, including lists of potentially harmful plants running to several pages in length.  So what is the risk?  Not much when you look into it, the top 5 poisonous plants, the ones that will put you in hospital for a while, are not common garden plants but…




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A Humanitarian Role – Landscape Architecture’s New Direction

We were lucky enough to have a recent visit from Rhys Jones, a graduate of The University of Gloucester who has been investigating the role of landscape architects in humanitarian work. His dissertation was on the role landscape architecture can play in refugee camps and slums and terra firma were delighted to be able to provide some sponsorship for his recent study trip to Nicaragua. Below is a precis of his presentation which he has kindly agreed to let us share. During the course of…




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Mind the (June….) gap (written by Gill)

‘If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.’ (Erroneously attributed to Einstein) “100 years ago there were around 1million bee hives; this had reduced to 400,000 in the 1950s and further reduced to the 274,000 today. It is estimated for the UK that the pollination services from honey bees are worth £120-200 million annually and honey production is…




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