After watching a very interesting ‘Grand Designs’ last night, I found myself quite fascinated by the people involved. Not the clients who ended up with the wonderful home of their dreams, but rather the duo of industrial designers who had never built a house before and took a ‘product design’ approach to this new venture. I think it showed that, despite not having a background in construction, a thorough knowledge of materials and processes enabled them to design something that could be built to a predictable cost, timescale and quality whilst also having the ability to problem-solve and adapt ‘on the go’.
Not for the first time I found myself wondering if a loosely defined set of practical experiences should be a mandatory part of a Landscape Architect’s training. More time spent cultivating ground, planting shrubs and trees, laying kerbs and building walls – surely this should be an invaluable part of our learning curve so that we thoroughly understand the materials and processes of our trade? Industrial designers need to know materials inside out to make sure that their products work. I reckon this applies to us too. As a firm we regularly participate in CPD (Continuing Professional Development) to update our product knowledge and I find this extremely useful. The only way it could be improved upon would be to gain first-hand experience of using the products we learn about, so that we truly get to know the full capabilities and limitations of these materials – we could then apply this knowledge to make our designs even better. If that’s going to be my goal and I’m not spending much time on site, it looks like I’m going to end up with a product testing ground where my garden should be!
On site, learning about materials and processes
30 years on since our graduation from Leeds, a dozen of us went back to the city for a reunion meal last Friday evening. It may only represent a quarter of all those, who at one time or other, shared our year over the five we were there but it was excellent to see everyone and looking so well. The nature of the course was such that it was bound to make lifelong bonds I guess and its proved to be so. Good to note that over half are still in the profession and enjoying it, most running succesful practices, a couple in academia and others in very worthwhile allied environmental fields.
The Midnight Bell , Leeds, 23 March 2012
Along with an earlier visit by two of us to the current Design School (and just great to see it in the new building and doing well) to meet up with some of the staff we best knew and know, conversation was bound to reflect on the current and future well-being of Landscape Architecture education.
Lionel with Chris Royffe, Edwin Knighton, Fleure Gething and Colin Treen - all staff past and present of the Landscape Architecture School at Leeds.
It was good to hear course numbers have been holding and that graduates have managed to achieve an employment rate between 80-90% in spite of the recession. However there are very real fears on the horizon of what the imminent rise in student fees is going to do to numbers.
Broadcasting Place, Leeds; current location of the Landscape School atop of the School for Art, Architecture and Design.
Martin from our office just happened to be at a meeting of the LI education policy committee the same day and it was heartening to since hear him report that though there are fears on numbers, the signs from applications are indicating that it should not be drastic. I found it interesting to learn that there have been well over 500 entrants (from a far larger pool of applicants) each of the last 4 years and that 30% come with over 360 UCAS points (equivalent of 3 grade As) so both numbers and standards do not appear to have dropped off to date. However, all of us in the profession do need to be aware the threats to its future well-being, if courses do end up struggling.
I would hate if the opportunities that were afforded to me and my happy colleagues in studying for and entering this wonderful field 30 years ago, were not available to current and future generations of school leavers. Continue reading
For those who don’t know, the Pathway to Chartership (P2C) is the experience based process used to assess and develop the knowledge, understanding and professionalism of Licentiate members of the Landscape Institute (L.I.). This is the final hurdle of the long training required to become a fully qualified Landscape Architect. When a candidate has made sufficient progress on the Pathway under the guidance of their mentor and gained the approval of their supervisor they may be entered for the oral exam, which has replaced the written exam of previous years. I personally think of this as a very positive move, as it means that assessment is based not only on the regurgitation of facts but also on an individual’s attitude, demeanour and experience, which are all equally important to a Chartered Landscape Architect whether in private practice or the public sector. Continue reading