Award jury agreed that Dutch landscape architect Dirk Sijmons has made ‘remarkable contributions’ that ‘redefine the profession, its borders, its strategy and its position’

Dutch landscape architect Dirk Sijmons, winner of the 2017 IFLA Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe award. Photo: Vincent Boon Fotografie. © Vincent Boon 2008. Via

The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), which represents the worldwide landscape profession, announced at the opening ceremony of their World Congress in Montreal, Canada on 16 October the winner of the 2017 Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award.

An award jury comprising a landscape professional from each of the five IFLA regions, as well as the secretary general of ISOCARP (International Society of City and Regional Planners) awarded the prestigious accolade to Dutch landscape architect Dirk Sijmons. The jury agreed with the nomination statement that ‘Dirk has made, and makes, remarkable contributions to the profession, and the main quality of these contributions is that they redefine the profession, its borders, its strategy and its position’.

Dirk’s nominating letters mention the following highlights:

  • his role in the Ooievaar (‘Stork Plan’), a revolutionary 1985 plan concerning the making of new nature as part of a large-scale landscape restructuring
  • the work of H+N+S, the landscape firm he founded in 1990 with Lodewijk van Nieuwenhuijze and Dick Hamhuis; the recent expansion of the firm’s overseas work, and the accompanying publications on topics such as Landscape and Energy
  • his curation of the sixth edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), Urban by Nature
  • his appointment in 2004 as the first Dutch Government Advisor on Landscape, as well as his involvement in the creation of this role


Dirk Sijmons came to realise that, now that the boundary between nature and society is crumbling, landscape can play a vital mediating role between the two

Coming from an architectural background, and then working as a spatial planner, Dirk Sijmons is well placed to see landscape as a mirror of society and as a living coproduction between nature and man; this relationship has been his lifelong fascination. His early years working as a spatial planner in the Dutch Ministry of Culture led him to question what societal processes, ranging from food production to urbanisation, can be enticed to act as positive formative forces in the landscape. On the other hand, he questioned what natural processes, ranging from erosion and sedimentation to succession, can be turned into nature-based solutions for human needs. His work revolves around how these processes might be guided by landscape architecture to give them a meaningful spatial expression.

Dirk Sijmons came to realise that in the age of the Anthropocene, now that the once thought-sealed boundary between nature and society is crumbling, landscape architecture can play, even more so, a vital mediating role between the two.



  1. Human activity over millennia has meant mass-movement of peoples, habitat and landscape destruction , incessant war, slavery, and a host of bad things. Ande a lot of change to the landscape. But, without some change, and modern addictions such as TV, radio, travel, e comms, and consumer goodies (for the better off half of he world) we in that half would all get terribly bored

    How great, if we could ALL just have the excitement of some change, and travel, and modern communication, plus fresh water, sanitation and good nutrition, without pollution, poverty, factory farming and farm animal enslavement, and habitat/wildlife loss, and unemployment, but with daily exposure to nature and meaningful social interraction, and good fulfilling work . It would be nice to think that landscape architects could help us get closer towards that modern Eden, along with eco-designers, urban designers, farmers, engineers, community activists, planners, gardeners, architects, recycling experts, and of course, .politicians.

    Not forgetting world religious communities and public.

    Interesting to think that millions each year go on holiday to the seaside, mainly relax on the beach in the sun, and go in the water. Interracting with a marine/terrestrial interface undergoing a dynamic erosion process exposed to uninterrupted solar energy waves. Others like flying through space on thin cables off the sides of the Grand Canyon or North wales slate quarries–both examples of natural and man made erosion. Yes, our species loves that edgy vibe!

    But how long will it take for the mercury-laden tailings dams from mine workings to become fresh water sources or trout fishing ponds?.Or the Canadian shale oil open cast to become moose grazing lands? Landscape architects plus pollution scientists and engineers can do a lot, but we can’t afford to go on creating this amount of despoilation.

    Lewis White


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