I graduated from the University of Gloucestershire in 2006 after completing the conversion course in Landscape Architecture. I found the course diverse and stimulating. It provided me with the knowledge, understanding and vocabulary that I have been able to take in to practice and further develop through my professional work.
But more than this, the course also gave me the freedom and inspiration to look at ‘landscape’ from a range of different perspectives. I was encouraged to bring my art background into the picture. This has allowed me to move forward in my career, crossing the boundaries between landscape architecture and art.
Although for me, I mostly connected Landscape Architecture with art (as I came from an art background), the breadth of the subject and practice probably links with almost anything; because, at the end of the day, it is essentially about connecting people with their environment. Whatever your background or your interest/passion, it will most likely dovetail with Landscape Architecture; whether it is engineering, horticulture, gaming, philosophy, geography, sport or digital technology. This diversity of interests ultimately makes everything that is ‘put on the ground’ richer and more grounded in wider culture.
My first job after graduating was at Nicholas Pearson Associates in Bath. At NPA, I worked on a wide range of projects including large urban extensions, town centre public realm projects and LVIAs. I was involved in all work stages from concept and strategic design, through to detailed design and contract administration. NPA gave me excellent support in getting through the P2C and I became chartered in 2009.
Following this I was lucky enough to get funding from Arts Council, England to produce an art project exploring rising sea levels. This involved projecting flood marks on to the front of buildings, showing how high water levels could potentially rise based on current predictions (and also explores more extreme, worst-case scenarios). By displaying these levels in real space, the project aimed to help people imagine the depth and extent of this potential future flooding. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research supported the project by providing scientific input. This was a project I first conceived during the landscape course at Cheltenham. See www.watermarksproject.org
As a chartered Landscape Architect I worked on diverse projects including a major urban ‘forest park’ in Chongqing, China, at the heart of a vast new urban extension. And subsequently large-scale sustainable urban drainage systems incorporating new wetland habitats, historic parks and town centre urban regeneration projects.
More recently I worked for Sustrans as an Urban Designer on a series of pioneering projects that engaged local communities in the creation of temporary and longer-term interventions to help activate urban spaces. Based in Peckham (South London), Reading, Southend-onSea and Derby, these projects drew on a range of approaches that allowed communities to directly change their own environment, through, for example, temporary art interventions, urban growing, events and temporary ‘traffic calming’ measures leading to the reclamation of underused space and traffic dominated road corridors. All these projects were directly supported and part funded by local authorities, and have had real influence in directing funds and other resources toward realizing the broad vision of local people. See for example https://pocketplacespeckham.wordpress.com
I’m currently developing a new collaborative project that crosses between art, landscape architecture and public engagement, involving local people in developing a broad based vision for the Severn flood plain.