LI President Noel Farrer urges the landscape profession to communicate its strengths

Awards celebrate the profession - and call for it to spread its message

The hugely successful Landscape Institute Awards yesterday celebrated a range of fantastic work as LI President Noel Farrer called for the profession to spread its message more widely. ‘Communication is the thing we need to learn,’ he said. ‘Our message is a best-kept secret. We need it to go out.’

Praising the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project by LDA Design, to which he gave the President’s Award, Noel said, ‘This is a project on which the landscape architect is leading, evolving the vision and coordinating a team, showing that a landscape-led approach is the best and should be the only one.’

Neil Mattinson, senior partner at LDA Design, said of the Swansea project, ‘For us to be leading the engineers and architects is fantastic. It is because only a landscape architect understands all the niceties of all the professions well enough to combine all the skills to make a homogeneous solution. What we really need to be doing as a profession is to put ourselves in the face of those decision makers, whether they be politicians, developers, engineers or architects, and making them aware of the way that we can deliver public realm or a response to climate change. What is key is being there at the beginning, We need to be involved setting out the script, well before the delivery process.’

The audience’s spirits had been lifted at the start of the awards by the introduction from Majora Carter, the American urban revitalisation specialist. She described her work in the South Bronx which resulted in the creation of an urban greenway and talked about her admiration for the landscape profession. ‘This profession is bridging the gap between where we are and where we want to be,’ she said.

It was only when she started working with landscape architects, she said, that she even realised that the profession existed. If she had known when she was younger, it was the profession that she would have chosen to follow. ‘I believe that the work of landscape architects is the manifestation of equality,’ she said. ‘It changes people’s lives, and gives them something to look forward to. Well-designed open space is the great democratiser. Green infrastructure can help us make our cities much more resilient than they are.’

Honorary Fellowship
An honorary fellowship was awarded to Gilly Drummond OBE. The citation read: ‘In 1984 Gilly Drummond took on the challenge of addressing the impact of development on historic landscape.  Thirty years on from her creation of the Hampshire Gardens Trust this work has expanded to 32 counties led by the umbrella organisation, the Association of Gardens Trusts. 

She has, through the many volunteers with whom she works, made thousands of individuals aware of the historic designed landscape through research into local parks and gardens.  This approach has placed a knowledgeable group of volunteers all over the country in a position where their voice can be heard to protect the designed landscape.  This work has influenced and enriched the outcome of planning applications where the reading of the grain of the landscape might otherwise have been ignored. 

‘Gilly Drummond was an English Heritage Commissioner from 2002 to 2010 and a member of the Parks and Gardens Advisory Committee from 1998 to 2001. Since 1989 she has been on the Council of Management of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum.  She has been a Trustee of Learning through Landscapes, influencing both the improvement of school grounds and incorporating the benefits of these landscapes into the curriculum from country villages to inner cities.  Gilly is currently Chair of the Project Management Board for the Capability Brown Festival and has been a source of considerable inspiration and guidance in bringing the project to its current healthy position.’

Fellowships were given to Nicola Gamory, Mayda Henderson, Rachel Tennant, Lindsey Wilkinson and Penny Beckett.

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