A fortnight to Christmas and as 2012 draws to a close we are all feeling rather weary after an exceptionally busy yea,r but grateful to be in good health (in every way) given recession is still so prevalent around us. Extraordinary though it may be, this has proved to be the busiest year Terra Firma has ever had in its 27+ year history and it’s looking likely to see the corresponding best figures on record. Alshamsi Terra Firma are following with a rapidly increasing workload too. We can’t be entirely sure why but we do hope it’s a shared (or soon to be shared) experience for everyone in coming out of the difficult last few years. However, we should never be complacent, things can change in all directions at short notice but we should appreciate it and be thankful when things are going well. So a big thank you to all clients and colleagues for things they put our way and long may it continue.
Lionel and Hada outside the Inner Mongolia Museum, near our Hohhot site in November
As ASTF simultaneously update their website news, we have counted up 133 live projects being handled by 16 staff between the 2 offices, currently spanning 10 countries (we total 23 over last 5 years). New ones to us include projects in Turkey and China, which Alistair and I respectively visited in the last couple of weeks. As ever, every scale and sector is represented, from large scale masterplans and environmental assessments down to small open spaces and individual gardens. We have assisted Local Authorities assess planning applications and major developers plan large mixed use communities. We continue to advise on one of Europe’s largest mineral extraction proposals and in a voluntary capacity have given considerable time in assisting the production of our local Parish Plan, sat on East Hants District Council’s architects advisory panel and the newly formed South Downs National Park Authority design review panel. Although we rarely enter ourselves for awards, we felt very much part of Churchill Retirement Living’s extraordinary performance in this years Over 50’s Housing Awards, winning the top awards both UK and worldwide, and as part of Radian Housing’s team for Sustainable Homes 2012’s top project with Stoneham Green, Southampton’s first zero carbon footprint social housing project, opened by Kevin McCloud this spring.
The Sustainable Homes Awards 2012
We said goodbye to Ramune Sanderson in March, when she returned to her native Lithuania after 8 excellent years with us. She is now lead Landscape Architect for Vilnius’ city parks and has also been asked to look into setting up a Landscape Architecture course at her old University there where she studied for her degree in architecture before joining us. We welcomed Isla Denton-Thompson in her place at more junior level and again, another Masters graduate of Greenwich. She has settled in very well during an immensely busy period when we have also been augmented by three freelancers since the summer, one of whom, Keith Baker, will come onto our books full time in January. Tom Jenner became a father for the first time this summer and Martin Hird is anticipating following him into fatherhood next spring.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all TF associates, staff and freelancers for the tremendous effort this year – we still all manage to have fun – and extend it to Alistair and his crew in Duba, Jamie, for all he does here and there; the regular sub consultants Bernie, Tim and Rob; all the admin headed up by Ally and marketing and IT support in the background from Mike Linnane, Visual Assets and Cyan. Our annual calendars come out this week. If you happen to receive this and have not received one but would like one, just let us know.
Been a good year for the UK; 2012 with all the jubilee celebrations and Olympics. Yet as always there are some sad notes. Just last week our friend, and fellow Hampshire landscape architect, Liz Ford passed away from cancer. She was a lovely person, highly respected colleague and will be very much missed. We have also learned that our founder and my ex partner John Wigham is engaging with his own fight with cancer. We all wish him well at a difficult time.
As we look to the New Year we wish you all the very best for 2013.
Lionel and Terra Firma