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Tree[there] we are! Two worlds

20 of April '23

The column is from issue A&B 03|2023

Good morning. We are architects and landscape architects! One would like to say. Some of you think that we are not needed, and even that we should not have the word "architect" in the name of the profession. At one meeting a well-known architect said: "As for me, you can even call yourselves landscape hairdressers, but not architects." Interesting. Although this is an extreme opinion, for many of you we are just landscapers, and for some just artists or gardeners. "Mr. Wojciech! - I have heard repeatedly on the phone. - Can you tell me what are the spots on the thuyas in my garden?". It was then pressed to the lips: I am not a phytopathologist or gardener. And although the callers were not architects, the perception of our profession in the building trades is similar.

I won't say that we are not blameless. I often meet people calling themselves landscape architects who have never designed any public or commercial space. Their work possibly ends with a landscaping concept for a private area, and then... then shovel in hand and plant! Not good. But well, the field of study is called landscape architecture, there are no further stages of professional development, authorizations, that and anyone who finishes it can title themselves just like that. And that's not how it should be! A landscape architect is a landscape designer. The higher driving school when it comes to knowing the design professions in our industry is their division into two groups: landscape architects, those for public and commercial spaces, and garden designers. The latter are from designing the landscaping of private properties. There are also various hybrids depending on the competence of the individual or team.

That's right! Teams, and they are design teams, multidisciplinary teams, rarely have landscape architects on their staff. Supposedly, we are not needed. There is no need to spend money on us. Landscaping is done by the architect on his own. Here I am reminded of an anecdote about how architects place trees and shrubs on a landscaping project. According to one of them, a warm friend of mine, the architect lifts colored confetti over the design sheet and tosses it up. Where it falls on projected roads or buildings, they knock it down onto biologically active areas. Those that fell there by themselves will be trees, and those that were knocked down by hand will be shrubs. And that's it! I'll admit that sometimes, when I look at the development of some areas next to construction sites, I have my suspicions that this is not anecdotal after all, especially in newly built development estates. Not to mention many public squares.

Tujesteśmy! Dwa światy

Tujesta! Two worlds

© Filipowski

Another indicator of the lack of cooperation between us is the quality of these areas - from a technological and material point of view. Interestingly, architects follow the changes, introducing new, better, technologies, solutions and materials in buildings on an ongoing basis, but no longer in the field. In landscape architecture, as if time has stopped. The solutions that are changing in landscape architecture, and not only those mentioned, but also the trends, aesthetics or ergonomics of the space, are overwhelmingly foreign. The quality of these areas from the point of view of the art of implementation also leaves much to be desired. This calls into question the STWiORBs [Technical Specifications for the Execution and Acceptance of Construction Works - editor's note] that are being developed. To prove this, I will give an example from my own backyard. I once went on an excursion with students of landscape architecture of the Catholic University of Lublin to one of the recently hailed phenomenal, important for Polish architecture, discussed in many magazines, architectural object. I went there to show the adepts of the art a modern approach to landscape architecture, the interpenetration of the exterior and interior worlds of the building and the site - for that is how it was described - a naturalizing space imbued with the latest solutions just like the interior. When we arrived at the site, the buildings were indeed very interesting and well-executed, but as for the surrounding grounds, I had a different opinion. Very quickly I had to change the narrative from: "how it should be done" to "how it should not be done"! I don't want to be malicious, but I haven't seen such an implementation foul-up for a long time. Water reservoirs made with pond technologies from an inferior home garden. Design and implementation errors raced all over the place. Dry lawns, plant selections were nowhere near the ever-repeated word EKO. The plant compositions matched the historic sanatorium rather than the modern block. And on top of all this was gravel, a symbol of cleanliness and elegance. It's like two different worlds, of architects and landscape architects, which too rarely intermingle and cooperate for the space. And the clock is ticking, only 90 seconds left! We'll talk about this in future columns.

Wojciech Januszczyk

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