Bankside Open Spaces Trust – BOST

The Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) is regenerating public open spaces in north-west Southwark and also making new public open spaces. It is a community initiative – and it is going very well. Some of the spaces were neglected public parks. Others are best described as ‘community gardens’ because they have controlled access.  BOST is a charity with core funding from Southwark Council and additional money from local businesses and other bodies. In 2013 and 2014 BOST won London in Bloom Champion of Champions Awards  for its community gardening work.

My impression is that BOST is making a much better job of the design and management of greenspace than Southwark Council does on its own. The spaces seem better related to local people, more sustainable and more beautiful.

BOST also runs the Edible Bankside programme. Funding came from the National Lottery. It is now being supported by United St Saviour’s Charity. The programme helps local residents and local parks grow more food. There are edible hedges, fruit trees and raised beds for vegetables.

Posted in community gardens Tagged with:

What are London’s best and worst cycle routes?

London's best and worst cycling conditions: The Mall on a Sunday and The Strand anytime

London’s best and worst cycling conditions: The Mall on a Sunday and The Strand anytime

WORST: The Strand
BEST: cycleways in the Royal Parks, beside the Thames and on the Mall etc when closed to motor vehicles. Some canal towpaths (eg in the Lea Valley) also have good cycling conditions and so does the Queen Elizabeth 2012 Olympic Park.
CONCLUSION: cycle paths and tracks should be designed by landscape architects for A-to-B convenience AND for the pleasure of being on a beautiful, quiet, safe, enjoyable greenway
COMMENTS on other very bad and very good cycle routes in London most welcome

I have been cycling in London since 1973 but find the questions difficult. Echoing C. E. M. Joad I feel it necessary to start with the declaration that: “It all depends what you mean by… “best”‘. For some, the safest route is the best route. For some, the most direct route from an origin to a destination is the best. For others, the most scenically enjoyable route is best. To satisfy each of the criteria my answer is that the London’s best cycle route, if only on a Sunday when motor vehicles are excluded, is The Mall. What’s more, it is the result of several landscape planning and design decisions:

  • Henry VIII acquired the land for use as a deer park. The line of the future Mall was probably used by horse riders
  • Charles II commissioned a Baroque design for St James’s Park which included the avenue which became The Mall. Originally, it was used for the game of Pall-mall (croquet).
  • Sir Aston Webb converted the Mall, which had become a vehicular route, into a grand ceremonial route leading to the Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace (1913)

So what is London’s worst cycle route? I’ll vote for the Strand.

Tom's vote for the worst cycle conditions in London goes to The Strand. To call them appalling would be to understate the horror.

Tom’s vote for the worst cycle conditions in London goes to The Strand. To call them appalling would be to understate the horror.

The Strand is usually clogged with buses and taxis pumping diesel fumes into the lungs of stationary cyclists. They are stationary because the 4-lane road has no space allocated to cyclists.

Many cyclists preferring push their bikes along the pavement to dancing with death on the public highway.

Many cyclists preferring push their bikes along the pavement to dancing with death on the public highway.

Posted in cycleways

Don’t breathe in Oxford Street

Oxford Street pedestrianised













Caption: An image of a traffic free Oxford Street from one of Labour’s 2016 Mayoral candidates, Christian Wolmar.

David Carslaw’s paper at the June 2014 London Air Quality Network conference on “Frontiers in Air Quality Science” ( reported high levels of NO2 levels in Oxford Street (in 2013) with an annual mean of 134 μg/m3, 1568 hours > 200 μg/m3 and a maximum of 489 μg/m3. Dr David Carslaw is a researcher in urban air pollution at King’s College, London, Environmental Research Group.  The EU standard, based on WHO guidelines, is an annual mean of no more than 40 μg/m3 and maximum of 200μg/m3 for no more than 18 hours per year. For WHO guidelines see:

So what’s the problem? To quote Carslaw these were the “highest annual mean concentration and most hourly NO2 exceedances in the World?”. Reasons given on King’s College London Air  Quality Network website are:

“1.The street is embedded in the centre of a very large source of NOx i.e. London.

2. It is completely dominated by diesel vehicles (buses/taxis) and has among the highest flow of buses of anywhere in the UK.

3. A large fraction of the bus fleet uses technology based on CRTs (Continuously Regenerating Trap) and similar technologies that deliberately produce increased emissions of NO2, as described above.

4. It is a street canyon whose orientation also serves to maximise concentrations. Street canyon locations are not as well-ventilated as open locations and this tends to result in increased concentrations.


NB NOx is a generic term for the nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide). NOx reacts with ammonia, moisture, and other compounds to form nitric acid vapour. Small particles can penetrate lung tissue and damage it. Inhalation of such particles may cause or worsen respiratory diseases, such as emphysema or bronchitis and may aggravate existing heart disease.

µg/m3 is a measure of an air pollutant and is in micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic metre air.

So what’s the answer: currently don’t visit Oxford Street unless there is a bus strike on. When buses (and taxis) dominate then don’t breath in. It is ironic that traffic in Oxford Street is regulated by Transport for London who have promotes diesel engined buses and taxis.

The mid-term answer is to pedestrianize the whole street and provide a people mover for the old, slow and tired or those burdened with shopping, or those who just want a ride. A people mover is modern jargon (always use many words instead of one) for a tram, Ken Livingstone floated this idea a number of times when he was mayor (2000-2008) and in his failed campaign for mayor in 2012. But Westminster Council opposed his proposals.


Posted in green streets, landscape architecture Tagged with: , , , ,

Waterlink Way – a greenway connecting Greenwich and Lewisham

The Waterlink Way, from Greenwich to Lewisham, was ‘completed’ c 2009 and is categorised as a greenwway on the TfL Website. The section south of Lewisham Town Centre has been much improved since the 1980s and is now a valuable addition to the urban landscape. The section north of Lewisham Town Centre is terrible and does not merit a greenway classification. They should have employed landscape architects for both the landscape planning and the landscape design of this section. Much new residential development is taking place and there was an opportunity to create a high quality greenway. Alternatively, the northern section of Waterlink Way could have been routed across Blackheath and through Greenwich Park to meet the Thames beside the Cutty Sark.

Posted in greenways

Can cyclists and pedestrians share a path?

Hyde Park. The Royal Parks Agency does a brilliant job of managing a cycle path that is shared with pedestrians, roller bladers and others

Hyde Park. The Royal Parks Agency does a brilliant job of managing a cycle path that is shared with pedestrians, roller bladers and others

The answer depends entirely on traffic volumes. There are no problems if they are low but sharing is impossible if the volume of either pedestrians or cyclists is high. In London, the regulations take no account of this obvious truth.

The Thames Path from Westminster to Tower Bridge works well as a shared cycling-pedestrian route except for (1) the busy section near the London Eye, where cyclists are asked to dismount (2) busy periods – when most cyclists dismount because cycling through a crowd is impractical.

In London’s Royal Parks cycling is allowed only on designated routes and cyclists are fined if they cycle elsewhere. This is a foolish and unfair policy. It is foolish because some of the shared routes are very busy. It is unfair because pedestrians are not fined for walking on designated cycle routes.

The worst aspect of pedestrian-cycle sharing in London is that so few cycle routes are marked on the footpaths which adjoin roads, and when they are marked it is very badly done. On busy footpaths, like those which adjoin Regent Street and Oxford Street, there can be no question of sharing the pavements. But London has many wide and very lightly trafficed  footpaths beside main roads which could and should be redesigned as shared cycle-pedestrian paths – as they are in Germany, Japan and many enlightened countries.

Posted in cycleways

London can have a Roof Garden City above its two other landscape architectures

London is the European capital with the best claim to being a ‘garden city’. This is because of its extensive parks and the historic norm of every house having a private garden. But London is becoming a city of office and residential blocks and towers. I regret this and urge the adoption of a compensating policy: London should aim to be a Roof Garden City. This is one of the two grand objectives for London’s landscape architects – the other is the reclamation of London’s lost rivers as part of a low impact surface water management policy.

London needs a new High Landscape and a new Low Landscape to complement its old Ground Landscape of streets, parks and gardens.  The High Landscape can be a serene and green new world. It can be sunnier and quieter than the Ground Landscape. There will be space for flowers, fruit, trees, lawns, meadows and wildife. Humans will enjoy High Landscape restaurants, cafes, games and relaxation. The views will be fantastic. In favoured places you will see green acres stretching into the distance, never suspecting the survival of an Old World beneath those green roofs and roof gardens.

Below the ground, London has long been developing a Low Landscape of railway tunnels and sewers. Many home owners are adding private underground space –  ‘underground home extensions’ sometimes called ‘billionaires basements’ . But the most important underground world is the water environment. The soil and rocks on which London stands is its water storage reservoir. London’s Low Landscape is almost as much in need of good landscape planning as its Ground Landscape and its High Landscape.

Posted in green roofs

Leicester Square landscape architecture London

Burns + Nice were the landscape architects for Leicester Square

Burns + Nice were the landscape architects for Leicester Square

The 2012 re-design of Leicester Square by landscape architects Burns+Nice is working well. It was changed it from ‘just another London Square’ into the heart of a cinema district. But they could do with a big outdoor screen for showing the latest trailers and occasional full movies.

The  Square takes its name from the 2nd Earl of Leicester, who bought the land in 1630. He built a large house and enclosed the land which is now a public square. In 1874 Albert Grant bought the garden and gave it to the Metropolitan Board of Works for public use. The surrounding buildings came to be used for entertainment. In the 1980s Leicester Square was pedestrianised. Westminster Council went through years of consultation. Numerous designs were prepared by consultant landscape architects. Eventually, the Council decided the best option was to design a Shakespeare garden.

A competition for re-designing the Square was held in 2007 and won by the London landscape architects Burns + Nice. After more public consultation, construction began in 2010 and was completed in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. As’the home of British cinema’ and can attract half a million visitors in the course of a busy weekend. The white ribbon bench round the garden is almost always in use and the glitzy reflective railing pick up the flashing lights of the Square after dark. Children enjoy the dancing water-jets around the Shakespeare Fountain. I have also seen it used for wedding photography (presumably because so many London wedding venues do not have gardens].

Posted in urban squares

Information resources for landscape architecture

Landscape architecture books, magazines and websites 

Introductions for students and applicants to landscape courses

The Fundamentals of Landscape Architecture,  Tim Waterman Bloombury;  2015
Landscape Architecture: An Introduction  Robert Holden and Jamie Liversedge Laurence King; 2014
Landscape Architecture: A Very Short Introduction,  Ian Thompson OUP Oxford 2014

The best-known introduction to landscape architecture is John Ormsbee Simonds and Barry Starke, Landscape Architecture, A Manual of Land Planning and Design, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2013. This is a comprehensive, classic, serious technical work, based on US practice and first published in 1961 (as Landscape Architecture, the shaping of man’s natural environment), but extensively revised and updated with each new edition. 

Biographies of landscape architects

It is useful to read autobiographies and biographies of landscape architects. They give an idea of what a landscape architecture career can be. Two examples are Ian McHarg’s (1920-2001) Quest for Life: An Autobiography, John Wiley & Sons: 1996. McHarg was a Scot who after the war went from being a major in the Parachute regiment to study at Harvard and a short return to Scotland ended when with disagreement over the site for the proposed Cumbernauld New Town, as McHarg wrote it was “miserable place, wetter than most, with intractable mud, poor sour soil, a high water table, few trees and those wind pruned.”

Ian Thompson’s Ecology, Ecology, Community and Delight: An Inquiry into Values in Landscape Architecture: Sources of Value in Landscape Architecture Routledge: 1999 is a very thoughtful book and includes short interviews with about thirty British Landscape Architects.

Kathy Stinson’s biography of Cornelia Oberlander, (born 1924), a Love Every Leaf: The Life of Landscape Architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Tundra Books: 2008 which tells of the choice of landscape architecture as a career at the age of eleven, flight from Hitler Germany, landscape architecture education at Harvard and a career in Canada ranging from childrens’ playgrounds to embassy grounds.

Landscape architecture magazines

Landscape magazines are of three sorts: those representing professional associations; non professionally based general landscape design magazines and also landscape industry trade magazines. Professional magazines are published by or for national professional associations such as Landscape Architecture Magazine by the American Society, ASLA  or Garten + Landschaft for the German Bund der Deutscher Landschaftsarchitekten (BDLA)  or the Landscape Institute’s Landscape

Design magazines include Topos ( ) which is generally themed around a subject for each issue, such as “Water”, “Crisis Landscape” (such as post Katrina hurricane New Orleans, or the Green Line buffer zone in Cyprus) or “City Regeneration”. Another more newsy magazine is the biannual Scape published in English in Holland with an international editorial board . An industry based electronic mailed weekly is LandscapeOnline Weekly published by the Landscape Architecture Foundation in Washington, ref. (accessed 5/12/2012).

Landscape architecture monographs and practice websites

There are now a whole series of well illustrated monographs of individual landscape architects or of landscape architecture practices and recommendations include: William Saunder’s Designed Ecologies: the landscape architecture of Kongjian Yu Birkhaüser: 2012 or Erik de Jong and Christian Bertram Michael Van Gessel: Landscape Architect NAI Publishers:2008.

It is also well worth exploring the websites of individual practices by search engine, such as Atelier Dreiseitl in Germany who specializes in dealing with water, George Hargreaves on the west coast of the US is in known as a masterplanner, James Corner’s Field Operations in New York known for the Highline, the Englishman Kim Wilkie with his interest in cultural landscapes, Adriaan Geuze’s West 8 in Rotterdam with a world-wide practice, Michael van Gessel in Amsterdam who deals with landscape design with a light touch; or Kongjian Yu’s Turenscape in Beijing who advocates a “revolutionary” (his word) approach and Agence Ter which describes itself as “as network of agencies in France, Germany, French Guyana and the Middle East”.

Large multi-disciplinary landscape architecture based practices include Land Use Consultants in London, and in the USA, SWA, and Belt Collins (originally engineers and planners) originating in Honolulu. Large multi-disciplinary practices with strong landscape architecture sections include the

US by origin and now international AECOM (so search for “AECOM landscape architecture”) or the UK’s Building Design Partnership (check Sectors to find landscape architecture).

The listing of websites for practices mentioned above is :

Atelier Dreiseitl

George Hargreaves

Field Operations

Kim Wilkie

West 8

Michael van Gessel


Agence Ter

Land Use Consultants


Belt Collins


Building Design Partnership

(all accessed 23/1/2012). Of the above SWA is especially notable for having a website (in whole or in part) in English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Korean.

General landscape architecture website and chatrooms

Finally we mention three websites aimed at those interested in landscape architecture generally whether professionally or otherwise, (accessed 1.12.2012) is Tom Turner’s website which covers both history and contemporary developments in garden design and landscape design, and the landscape architecture profession. US based landscape architecture chat rooms, The Field (accessed 1.12.2012) and (accessed 1.12.2012) and the ASLA based The Dirt (accessed 1.12.2012) are well worth visiting.

The history of landscape architecture

Two well illustrated and very readable introductory books which cover the history of landscape, garden design and landscape architecture are Sir Geoffrey and Susan Jellicoe, Landscape of Man: shaping the environment from prehistory to the present day Thames and Hudson, 1995 and Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History Harry N. Abrams: 2001. The Jellicoe’s first published their book in 1975 and it is a classic, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe (1900-1996) was an architect and landscape architect instrumental in setting up IFLA, and he designed projects and continued active until into his nineties. He was Britain’s most notable landscape architect of the twentieth century.

Another general work is Patrick Goode, Michael Lancaster, Susan Jellicoe and Geoffrey Jellicoe The Oxford Companion to Gardens. Oxford University Press: 2001 which covers both garden design and landscape architecture very well. Tom Turner has written from a global and cultural history standpoint about both the Western and Eastern traditions of garden design in his European Gardens: History, Philosophy and Design Routledge: 2011 and his Asian Gardens: History, Beliefs and Design Routledge:2010.

The development of the landscape architecture profession

The classic history of the development of the development of the profession in North America is Norman T. Newton Design on the land: the development of landscape architecture Belknap Press, 1971 which gives a comprehensive picture, but beware Newton had misogynist tendencies and a look at an index dominated by male names does not reflect a profession where world-wide well over 50% of the members are female. This book, however, has used Newton in dealing with the early days of the profession in the USA.

An inspirational writer on European and North American landscape history is Marc Treib, he edited Modern landscape architecture : a critical review MIT Press: 1993 which serves as a general introduction to modernism in North American landscape architecture.

Our section on the growth of the profession in Germany owes a debt to Frank Uekoetter‘s The Green and the Brown, a History of Conservation in Nazi Germany Cambridge University Press: 2006. This plots the origins of ideas back to the nineteenth century and in both Weimar Germany and in the 1930s and 40s. Thomas Zeller Driving Germany: The Landscape of the German Autobahn, 1930-1970 Berghahn Books: 2007 is also interesting in that is written by a historian and is a useful balance to the work on the early twentieth century in Germany (Europe’s leading national landscape profession with over 6000 state registered landscape architects) written by landscape architects. Jane Brown’s The Modern Garden Thames and Hudson: 2000 in fact is a history of design by landscape architects internationally, both in Europe and North America. W.reh C.steenbergen Metropolitan Landscape Architecture – Urban Parks And Landscapes Thoth: 2012 is largely European in scope.

The standard history of the British landscape architecture profession is by Tony Aldous, Brian Clouston & Rosemary Alexander Landscape by Design Heinemann: 1979 written to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Landscape Institute. There are also useful country histories such as Annemarie Lund Guide to Danish Landscape Architecture 1000-2003 Arkitektens Forlag: 1997. Two books by the Danish landscape architect Malene Hauxner are of wider interest: Fantasiens Have Arkitektens Forlag:2000 covers the growth of modernism in Denmark in relation to much wider European developments until 1945 and then dealing with the post 1945 period is Open to the Sky Arkitektens Forlag 2003.

The growth of garden design and of landscape architecture in France is well covered in the lavishly illustrated, but serious and well informed Michel Racine (ed.) Createurs de Jardins et de Paysages en France du XIXe siècle au XXIe siècle. Actes Sud: 2002.

Finally a series with a European scope is produced by Foundation Landscape Architecture Europe, which aims to survey the contemporary state of landscape architecture. This started in 2006 with Fieldwork published by Birkhaüser and is published triennially in 2009 as On Site and in 2012 as In Touch. This includes thirty of so European-wide projects chosen by a jury along with thematic essays and essays which survey the best of European landscape architecture.

Ecology and sustainability

Landscape architects tend to focus on plant ecology and there are a number of textbooks on this subject and one of the most comprehensive is Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Erwin Beck and Klaus Müller-Hohenstein Plant Ecology: Springer: 2005 which reflects German and continental approaches to the subject while a more popular introduction to ecological theory is M Gillett Ecosystems Hodder Education: 2005 reflecting British theory. Landscape ecology studies spatial patterns and ecological process and a good North American primer on the subject is Monica G. Turner, Robert H. Gardner and Robert V. O’Neil Landscape Ecology in Theory and Practice : Pattern and Process Springer: 2001.

Nancy Rottle and Ken Yocom’s Basic Landscape Architecture 02: Ecological Design illustrates something of what this means for design and practice. Claudia Dinep and Kristin Schwab ‘s Sustainable Site Design: Criteria, Process, and Case Studies for Integrating Site and Region in Landscape Design John Wiley & Sons: 2010 consists of an introductory tour d’horizon and then a series of well illustrated case studies from the USA.

We also recommend the ASLA (the American Society of Landscape Architects) Sustainable Design Resource Guides and Toolkit, which range from Green Infrastructure to Maximising the Benefits of Plants or to Climate Change each with recommended reading and on-line resources, see .

The brief, types of client and fees

We recommend Paul Knox and Peter Ozolins (editors) The Design Professionals and the Built Environment, an introduction Wiley: 2000 as covering the political and economic environment in which built design professionals work, as well as issues such as the impact of globalization, deregulation, and ideas of service to the community; all this covered from a North American standpoint by a range of chapter authors. The digital library of the Commons hosted by Indiana University is a useful introduction to common goods,

At a narrower and more technical level, there are two good British books on landscape architecture practice: Rachel Tennant, Garmony, N. and Winsch, C. Professional Practice for Landscape Architects Architectural Press 2002 and Hugh Clamp’s Landscape Professional Practice Gower Publishing: 1999. Clamp now is rather dated but contains much wisdom, Tennant et al is closely focussed on the topics in the Landscape Institute’s Pathway to Chartership professional practice procedure.

The Landscape Institute has some guidelines which are available free on download from . Among them is Landscape architecture: elements and areas of practice – an educational framework: 2012 which covers landscape practice as a series of lists. While Appointing a Chartered Landscape Architect: Guidelines for Best Value: 2003 is a guideline for clients. Finally Engaging a Landscape Consultant: Guidance for Clients on Fees: 2002 describes the various fee arrangements possible in some detail.

Both the Landscape Institute and ASLA have websites developed to support professional practice. That of the Landscape Institute is focussed on their Pathway to Chartership which is their professional membership qualification process, see They also publish their Guidebook to the Pathway to Chartership: 2010 . ASLA’s Professional Practice website area, is equally aimed at supporting those in practice.

Site Survey for landscape architeture

Landscape architecture unlike say architecture is nothing without site, “Consult the genius of the place” is how Alexander Pope described his approach to laying out a garden. That still applies. So site survey is a way of recording that knowledge and understanding. John Ormsbee Simonds, and Barry Starke Landscape Architecture: A Manual for Land Planning and Design McGraw-Hill: 2006 is worthy of close study and has chapters on climate, land, water, vegetation, landscape character, topography as well as site planning. Harvey M. Rubenstein. A guide to site planning and landscape construction John Wiley & Son, 1996 is a similar authoritative introduction, dealing with site planning and resource analysis based on US practice. For a British perspective see Anne R Beer and Catherine Higgins Environmental Planning for Site Development, a manual for sustainable local planning and design E. and F.N.Spon: 2000 which discusses site inventory, the physical environment, the natural and social environment, and the quality of life, referring to human environmental needs, but it is sparsely illustrated and therefore does not compare so usefully with the basic US guides above.

Principles of landscape design

Eighteenth century books on garden design usually began with a chapter on geometry followed by a chapter on classical gods and goddesses and how to refer to them. Our gods and goddesses are now ecology, and ideas of nature and how to live in sustainable communities, but an understanding of geometry is still fundamental. Mark Ryan Geometry for Dummies John Wiley & Sons: 2008 fits the bill of a primer for high school students. But there are also lots of non US books on this subject, from a British point of view Keith Critchlow and Jon Allen Drawing Geometry: A Primer of Basic Forms for Artists, Designers and Architects Floris Books: 2007 is a practically based primer.

Gaston Bachelard, 1994 Poetics of Space Beacon Press is a key work by a philosopher and phenomenologist (who studies of subjective experience and consciousness) is a psychological investigation. For instance, he discusses perception of the four elements in classical thought: earth, air, fire, and water. How we see is key to making what we see. John Berger Ways of Seeing Penguin: 1990 is aimed at the layman and is by the artist, art critic, film maker and his book is a key text for the English speaking world on the nature and meaning of art.

Maurice de Sausmarez, & Kepes, G. Basic Design: The Dynamics of Visual Form McGraw-Hill: 1990 is an general introduction well illustrated in black and white and some colour. While Tom Porter, & Sue Goodman, Design Primer for architects, graphic designers and artists Butterworth- Heinemann: 1989 reinforces and amplifies an understanding of design. David Pye The Nature & Aesthetics of Design A & C: 2000 Black sees design as both an art and as problem solving, discusses clearly and articulately taste and style, and approaches such as utilitarianism and is a helpful and insightful read.

We recommend two books on colour, a recent introductory guide is Linda Holtzschue Understanding Colour John Wiley: 2002 which is a good and well illustrated primer while from a historical read the text by the Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten The Elements of Color Van Nosrtrand: 1970 is a translation of his Kunst der Farbe: 1961. Finally we mention as a curious read Scott Olsen The Golden Section Wooden Books: 2009 which is a little book on the “mysteries” of numbers, harmony, geometry and cosmology, in case that takes you fancy. Sometimes with design it not how your arrive but the arrival which is important.

Environmental Design

The above books on design are aimed at designers and artists generally. More directly related to environmental design is Francis Ching Architecture, Form, Space and Order Wiley: 2007 which is a basic text for applied environmental design generously illustrated by his line drawings, Professor Ching is an architect and professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. It covers symmetry, hierarchy, lines, grids, and much else. For instance, grid organization is illustrated by two pages of generic types the five pages of specific projects which use grids. This is then supplemented later by coverage of the “Modulor” ideas of the French modernist architect, Le Corbusier, and also an exploration of the “ken” system used in Japanese domestic architecture.

Interesting books on ecology and natural process related to design include the architect Ken Yeang Designing with Nature: Ecological Basis for Architectural Design which is based on his Cambridge doctorate during which he spent time studying with landscape architect Ian McHarg. More recently Yeang Ecodesign: A Manual for Ecological Design is a project based illustrated manual and reveals recent influential architectural thinking. We equally look forward to his Ecomimicry: Ecological Design by imitating ecosystems Routledge: 2013.

Ian L. McHarg Design with Nature John Wiley: 1995 is a key work for landscape architects first published in 1969. It reveals his overlay process of mapping regional environmental factors, for instance, steep slopes, or floodable areas to be used in environmental planning. This process became the foundation of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Anne W. Spirn The Granite Garden: urban nature and human design Basic Book: 1985 is another very influential text covering urban ecosystems. An equally imprtant Canadian book is Michael Hough City Form and Natural Process: 1989. More recent is Travis Beck Principles of Ecological Landscape Design Island Press: 2012 which deals with planting design based on plant geography and plant selection, assembling plant communities, competition and coexistence and discusses issues such as native and non native plants. Landscape architect and horticulturist Beck is project manager at New York Botanical Garden.

Representing the landscape design

Chip Sullivan is a paragon of graphic representation in landscape design, so refer to his Drawing the Landscape John Wiley: 2004 while on-line is his Gonzo Gardens website (accessed 23/1/2013) where you can see an insight to his teaching at the University of Berkeley. A basic introduction to standard US style landscape presentation techniques is Thomas C. Wang Plan and Section Drawing John Wiley: 1996. Grant Reid’s Landscape Graphics Watson-Guptill: 2002 teaches techniques rather than relating drawing to design exploration. Francis F.D. King Drawing: A Creative Process John Wiley & Sons: 1989 is about design exploration. A rather different and particular recent English approach is Edward Hutchison Drawing for Landscape Architecture, Sketch to Screen to Site. Thames & Hudson : 2011. Here a practicing landscape architect reveals how drawing has driven his design work.

Gabriel Campanario The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing on Location Around the World Quarry Books: 2012 has 700 sketches by more than one hundred artists, which shows something of the range of effective sketching styles and possibilities. See also the associated Urban Sketchers blog /  which promotes sketching made on location by one hundred invited artists (including one or two landscape architects, as well as urban designers, architects, and artists. Urban Sketchers is a no profit organization which began as a flickr group, but now organizes symposia and sketching workshops world-wide. Open access is the related flickr group,  and their facebook page is . Finally a manual of sketching is Thomas C. Wang Pencil Sketching Wiley: 2001.

Manual drawing is important because it requires in situ observation, the process of drawing is a way of experiencing a place over time, and this is important for the student, and we are all lifelong students. Furthermore, digital representation can be so “real” that the built landscape design can be a disappointment for the client if the space is not filled with young smiling faces on a sunny days with glossy pristine finishes.

 3-D modelling and video

Landscape architecture is a spatial art form, so the three dimensions are vital. Theatre set designers and car designers make physical or “analogue” models as a matter of course to initiate design and test their concepts. Architects more and more rely on professional model making or digital model making, but this lacks the immediacy of “real” models. Nick Dunn Architecture Modelmaking Laurence King: 2010 is a good workmanlike guide. And a brief basic introduction to architecture model making tools from Chicago Architecture Today is (accessed 24/1/2013).

Video can be useful, particularly as a way of exploring and recording site. But then everyone can also do this on their mobile phone nowadays. Olivia Speranza The Moviemaking with Your Camera Field Guide: The Essential Guide to Shooting Video with HDSLRs and Digital Cameras Ilex: 2012 is a good and cheap guide for those who want the higher quality of presentation quality movie making on a decent digital camera or video camera.

Photography for landscape architecture

Photography (and more recently film and television) has changed the way we see the world since the early nineteenth century. Ian Farrell A Complete Guide to Digital Photography Quercus: 2011 is useful. However, we also like Richard l’Arnson Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography Lonely Planet Publications: 2012. Both are cheap and worth buying. However, there are also free on-line resources: for instance, is an on-line community established in 1993 which is still going strong,  and includes various forums, reviews, and Digital Cameras – a simple beginner’s guide : 2003 by Bob Atkins which serves as a basic introduction.

Digital design for landscape architects

Software changes so frequently that by definition any book will be out of date on the date it is published. However, a good general introduction remains Bradley Cantrell and Wes Michaels Digital Drawing for Landscape Architecture: Contemporary Techniques and Tools for Digital Representation in Site Design Wiley: 2010 which won the 2012 ASLA “Award of Excellence” and clearly written and easy to follow with over 500 good colour illustrations. It covers raster and vector images and Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat.

The industry standard for building and development is p.c. based Autocad (while graphic designers, publishing and advertising use Apple Macs) and a good free on-line introduction is pc digital design is David Watson’s which covers AutoCAD, 3ds Max and other applications such as Photoshop and Bryce. Over 400, 000 users per month in 2012 can’t be wrong. David Watson is a British landscape architect specializing in planning impact studies.

SketchUp is a popular piece of rendering and 3D programming and we recommend two guides, by Daniel Tal, his Google SketchUp for Site Design: A Guide to Modeling Site Plans, Terrain and Architecture Wiley: 2009 and his Rendering in SketchUp: From Modeling to Presentation for Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Interior Design Wiley: 2013.

A standard introduction is the rather dry Ian Bishop and Eckhart Lange Visualisation in Landscape and Environmental Planning: Technology & Environment Taylor & Francis: 2005. Martin Evening Adobe Photoshop Cs5 for Photographers, a professional image editor’s guide to the creative use of Photoshop for the Macintish and PC Focal Press: 2010, and the now dated Susan A. Kitchens & Victor Gavenda Real World Bryce.

BIM Building Information Modelling for landscape architects

Ray Crotty The Impact of Building Information Modelling: Transforming Construction: Routledge 2011 is a general introduction to the integrated three dimensional information handling software, which brings together 3D digital modeling, specification and quantities in one. BIM is the latest thing in construction information handling, Crotty spent ten years working on North Sea oil extraction management control. He also founded the UK chapter of Building Smart, the international, not for profit organisation supporting open access BIM, ref. (accessed 25/1/2013).

Denis Cosgrove Mappings Reaktion Books: 1999 is an informative and provocative series of essays by a international range of experts, including the New York based landscape architect, James Corner who has also produced Taking Measures across the American Landscape: Yale University Press 2000 with photographer Alex S MacLean. This is a set of drawn interpretations aligned with air photographs of different North American landscapes and accompanied by essays explaining how the landscape patterns originate. Another well illustrated general guide is Roger Fawcett-Tang Mapping: An Illustrated Guide to Graphic Navigational Systems Rotovision: 2005 by a graphic designer.

Air photography dates back well over a hundred years (originally being balloon and airship based) and like mapping gives an overview of the world and is increasingly a valuable historical resource. The Professional Aerial Photographers Association ( PAPA) has a brief useful history and introduction on Google map searches of course has the air photography option. But an comparable resource is to be found on the NASA websites, a general introduction is on . NASA photography includes astronaut crew observations such as the night-time shot of Spain, and for a complete collection see . Specialist NASA collections include the Cities Collection, Volcanoes and Glaciers and one of our favorites is the Terra satellite which monitors the Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, land, snow and ice, and energy budget, ref. . NASA is American and other countries provide satellite photography, for instance the European Space Agency site is (accessed 25/1/2013).

Report writing for landscape architects

Robin Willams The Non Designer’s Design Book Peachpit Press: 2008 is what it says, and does introduce the reader to very basic concepts in graphic design. While Adrian Shaughnessy Graphic Design: A User’s Manual Lawrence King: 2009 offers a more professional view. The UK Design Council list basic introductions to graphic design on . It is worth also looking a good examples of graphic design, a classic site is Pentagram’s (it calls itself the world’s largest independent design consultancy) and this reflects European and North American practice: .

Live presentations

Too often students are just left to get on with it, and learn by error. Though students from countries where rhetoric is taught in secondary education tend to do better. Rhetoric is of course “”the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” (Aristotle). Certainly presentation is a lot more than command of Powerpoint software. Susan Weinschenk 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People: What Makes Them Tick? New Riders: 2012 is such an introduction. Another US primer is Cheryl Reimold and Peter Reimold The short road to great presentations: how to reach any audience through focussed preparation, inspired delivery, and smart use of technology. Wiley-Blackwell: 2003. An architecture guide on this subject is Ernet Burden Design presentation: techniques for marketing and project proposals McGraw-Hill Inc.: 1992.

Landscape Management

Ann Marie Van Der Zanden Sustainable Landscape Management: Design, Construction, and Maintenance John Wiley: 2011 addresses the changes in landscape management which address sustainability concerns, for examples non pesticide weed control. A simple introduction to urban greenspace management plans is CABE Space A Guide to Producing Park and Green Space Management Plans: 2004

 Alan Barber, A Guide to Management Plans for Parks and Open Spaces (Plus Supplement), Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management, 1991 is a classic work by the former Bristol Parks Director.

A more specialist area is the conservation and management of historic parks and for this the classic work is John Watkins and Thomas Wright The Management and Maintenance of Historic Parks, Gardens and Landscapes: The English Heritage Handbook Frances Lincoln: 2007.

Cultural landscapes is a term which covers the management approaches that English Heritage practices, a general introduction is on their website, (accessed 5/2/2013). The US equivalent of English Heritage is the National Parks Service and a review of their websife will inform those interested in cultural landscapes ( (accessed 5/2/2012).

Landscape Architecture Education websites

There are also a number of websites aimed at those considering landscape architecture as a career. The American Society of Landscape Architects’ site is a first port of call.. It has an introduction to landscape architecture as a career,  and elsewhere there are thirty current project case studies on  links to a whole series of chatrooms and blogs with public access. (accessed 1.12.2012) aims to promote landscape architecture generally

US schools of landscape architecture are listed on .There is also a list of landscape architecture schools on the website of the American based Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) website, (accessed 1.12.2012) which also covers Canadian, Australian and New Zealand schools.

The (British) Landscape Institute’s web site  has an education section,  is also worth a visit, However, it also links to a specialised website, This includes interviews and talks by British Landscape Architects and hyperlinks to the Landscape Institute accredited landscape architecture schools.

In Holland the four Dutch landscape architecture schools and the professional body, the NVTL (Nederlandse Vereeniging voor Landschapsarchitectuur), has a good and lively site,  in both Dutch and English language versions. Given the comparatively low fees in The Netherlands, English landguage students could well consider Dutch programmes, where the Masters programmes are taught in English.

International directories of schools of landscape architecture

IFLA Europe has links to other national associations and lists their approved

landscape architecture programmes on , but a much fuller listing of European schools is on the website of the European Council of Landscape Schools (ECLAS) . Elsewhere one has to identify landscape architecture schools by contacting the national professional association. A list of national associations world-wide is on the website of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) (accessed 1.12.2012) under Member Associations. There is also a list of landscape architecture schools on the IFLA website under the Education Drop Down Menu, but it is very incomplete.

Internships in landscape architecture

In order to help find an internship or period of work experience consult the international guide edited by one of the author’s is available on

Setting up your own Business and Marketing

A simple guide is (accessed 6/2/2012). While Walter Rogers, The Professional Practice of Landscape Architecture: A Complete Guide to Starting and Running Your Own Firm John Wiley & Sons :2010 is a more formal guide which covers establishment and Marketing.

Case Studies in landscape architecture

Thames Landscape Strategy, UK Kim Wilkie Led by the Land: Landscapes by Kim Wilkie Frances Lincoln 2012 

Druk White Lotus School, Ladakh, India The School website 

Arup website 

Podcast about the Druk school 

GardenVisit website page on the school with further hyperlinks to blogs and videos

Posted in landscape architecture

Deptford Creekside housing

Deptford Creekside East is a housing development designed by Squire and Partners. The best thing about it is the roof gardens which, because they are for residents only (sensibly) I have not visited. The interiors, judging from the adverts, are comfortable and have good views. The exteriors are cold, unfriendly and unrelated to their historic context – except that Deptford was famous as a shipyard and the exteriors resemble a modern warship. The worst thing about the development is the planning and design of the ground level space around the buildings. It has nothing of the ‘garden’quality appropriate to a residential development. Even as surroundings for an office development it could not be expected to get much use. Most of the space is hard paved, bleak and windswept. The charmless water feature adds to the chill factor.

Posted in housing

Regent’s Park Terraces – housing as architecture and landscape in London

The architecture improves the Regent's Park landscape - and vice versa

The architecture improves the Regent’s Park landscape – and vice versa

The Regent’s Park Terraces are London’s finest example of scenic architecture. The define the space. John Nash designed a full elevation for the buildings enclosing Regent’s Park and was then involved with the detailed design of: Cumberland Terrace, Chester Terrace, Cambridge Terrace, York Terrace, Sussex Place, Hanover Terrace and Kent Terrace. The original drawing of the entire composition was drawn by the son of a famous landscape architect (Humphry Repton) and his involvement might have contributed to the brilliant integration of landscape with architecture.

Posted in housing