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What is Landscape Architecture & the Role of a Landscape Architect?

written by: Raunekk•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/25/2012

Landscape architecture deals with the planning and design of public spaces and infrastructure. Want to learn more about how places are designed and what a landscape architect does? Read this to find out more about the oldest architecture of all time.

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    Landscape architecture deals with the methods of shaping and using urban public spaces and infrastructures. This discipline is a unique combination of arts, science, and technical philosophies and practices that aim to care for the earth’s landscape. Moreover, it is the most modern of all the environmental occupations and is achieved in a perfect holistic, creative, and sustainable manner. The professional who deals with landscape architecture is known as landscape architect.

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    Landscape Architecture's Role in Society

    Landscape architecture is vital for urban planning. The planning of a new town, the expansion of a city, or the establishment of a new suburban environment outside a city, would require various facilities related to land and transport planning, and an in-depth understanding of a varied range of aspects pertaining to structural and social environments. Thus landscape architecture can focus on the parameters of arrangement, appearance, and functionality of large spaces, such as towns and cities, in addition to smaller spaces within the same. Even a green space, such as a park, needs to be recreationally planned in order to get the best use out of it.

    The landscape style of architecture came into existence during the Roman days, when gardens were designed that considered factors such as planting, landform, water, and paving. However, this doesn’t mean that landscape architecture is limited to the designing of an enclosed area such as a yard or garden. Even in history, this discipline extended to grand open spaces like the pleasure grounds located at the Villa d’ Este, Italy. During the eighteenth century, various English architects such as William Kent, Humphry Repton, and Lancelot Brown redesigned the estate parks of England to make them resemble forms of nature. Gilbert Laing Meason, a Scottish architect, first used the word landscape architect in the title of one of his books in 1828. It was then that many architects started giving importance to the various traits involved with landscape architecture.

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    The Role of a Landscape Architect

    A landscape architect plans and designs an exterior landscape or space. It is his her responsiblity to investigate and provide a master plan for an area that is in keeping with the stipulated purpose and considers various aspects such as geography, environmental conditions, etc. Site planning, one more aspect of landscape architecture, combines the organizational stage of the landscape design process with considerations that include land use zoning, access, circulation, privacy, security, shelter, and land drainage.

    A professional architect might be involved in different projects such as planning, scaling, and forming public infrastructure. He would also deal with various other methods of landscape development such as storm water management, rain gardens with green roofs, designing parks and botanical gardens. Presently some other forms of landscape architecture that are well-known include golf courses, sports facilities, industrial parks, and commercial developments and highways.

    From the educational point of view, geography, mathematics, science, engineering, art, horticulture, technology, and the social sciences all form a part of the varied landscape course curriculum. Landscape assessment is an important aspect of the strategic planning process in order to build a structure while keeping in mind the specific needs of the landscape.

    Moreover, there are several people who deal with various aspects of landscape architecture. Some of them include landscape designers, landscape engineers, landscape scientists, and landscape planners. All these people have their own specialized task to perform in setting up an ideal landscape architecture. For example, landscape managers are those qualified experts who work on designed landscapes to devise methods for the long term care and development of these spaces, including aspects such as horticulture, agriculture, and conservation. A landscape architect might concentrate on soil science, hydrology, geomorphology, and botany. Other groups of planners are also involved in creating and maintaining a plan for activities required for achieving the desired objectives.

    Thus, whether it is a small or large project, and whether it involves urban or rural spaces, there will always be the need for the expertise of a landscape architect. It is only on the quality of landscape architecture, and the professionals behind it, that the utility and beaty of a particular place can be assessed and judged.