Planting the agenda

  • 20 avril 2021
  • Architecture de paysage institutionnelle
  • Mise en valeur et conservation de la biodiversité et des paysages


20 avril 2021 – Par Alistair Kirkpatrick. What principles might landscape architects embrace to reclaim agency when designing with plants? Alistair Kirkpatrick explores three possibilities: collaboration, advocacy and opportunity.

Contemporary landscape architectural practice encompasses more than designing parks and specifying plants. The profession has dramatically diversified from its inception. The skills required for contemporary practice would be unimaginable to our nineteenth century counterparts, but are we losing agency over planting design and specification? Has a de-emphasis on planting knowledge in Australian landscape architecture education resulted in many practitioners lacking the skills and knowledge base to effectively design with plants? Or is our dwindling agency the result of ideologically driven plant specification methods, such as the application of EVCs to urban environs?

It is a common occurrence when designing for the public realm for plant selection to be specified to practitioners as a strictly non-negotiable list. An associate’s recent experience highlights this issue remarkably well. They were engaged to design a public space in a riparian park and were provided a highly restrictive list of plants they were allowed to use. Many of the indigenous plants on this list, however, had evolved to grow in completely different environmental conditions that were not currently found on the design site.

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