The Landscape Institute has sad news of the death of Gordon Hyden, former head of the School of Landscape Architecture at Gloucestershire University

Gordon Hyden
Gordon Hyden, DipLA (Birmingham), MA (Sussex), Doctor Emeritus (Budapest), FLI.

Gordon Hyden arrived at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Design at Pittville in Cheltenham in 1971, from the City of Birmingham Architect’s Department where, as chief landscape architect, he ran, for a time, the largest landscape section in the country.

‘His appointment in Cheltenham was to manage the college practice office, a branch of the Bodfan Gruffydd London practice,’ writes senior lecturer in landscape architecture Bob Moore. ‘Within a short time the college persuaded Gordon to take on additionally the post of head of the Landscape Architecture course.

‘This notion of a full-time course had been advanced in 1961 by Bodfan Gruffydd, but it was Gordon, with his clear ideas on the need for a soundly-based vocational education for landscape architecture professionals, who launched the course on what was to be its successful path.

‘A new era had begun. Gordon set about assembling a substantial team of landscape designers and subject specialists who would together tutor the essential aspects of the course. In addition, Gordon, in his role as a founder member of the Midlands chapter of what was then the Institute of Landscape Architects, had built a close working relationship with the institute and was well placed to negotiate the exemption of the course from the external examination system.

‘This achievement was followed by CNAA recognition at BA ordinary degree level then eventually, in 1984, at honours degree level. The rating of excellence on the course by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate in 1990 was the result of a carefully evolved teaching package and this can be seen as the crowning achievement of Gordon’s academic leadership.

‘While he deserves much credit for all this, not least for his undaunted tenacity in maintaining the integrity of the course through what was a very insecure period in higher education, we should also acknowledge his total commitment to the students and his resolute trust and support of the staff around him. Not for him the didactic teacher or autocratic boss; Gordon was a teacher who listened, encouraged and showed by example. A worthy role model.

‘He also took a keen interest in European landscape work and under his guidance, the annual foreign study tour became an integral component of the students’ wider education, with relationships being established with practices, public offices and educational institutions all over Europe and the United States. This interest also extended to his prominent role in the European Landscape Education Federation and to his successful efforts in cementing relationships with the landscape architecture course in the Horticultural University of Budapest. In recognition of this, the University bestowed on him the honour of Doctor Emeritus in 1991.

‘Gordon then retired from the college, but he continued to be involved in landscape architecture education, first as a visiting lecturer at the University of Central England and then assisting with continuing professional development courses organised through the Landscape Institute.

‘The landscape architecture course continues to this day in the University of Gloucestershire and while the current course properly addresses 21st century concerns, its national reputation as a design course producing flexible and innovative designers can be traced back to the foundations laid in the 1970s and 80s when Gordon was at the helm. It is thanks to his vision and his skillful management that a high standard was set for landscape architecture education both in Cheltenham and the wider profession. We are all grateful for his life and legacy.’

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