Interview: Jotaro Tokunaga
Last year, Sheffield University student Jotaro Tokunaga won the LI’s Future Open Spaces Award for his Corridor Park project. His winning design looked at sustainability through an integrated approach, prioritising long-term social and economic stability. He is going back to Sheffield to start his MLA in the autumn.
Part of Jotaro’s prize was a placement with LDA. We spoke to him about his experiences there and his hopes for the future.
What was your time at LDA like?
I worked on a variety of projects at their London office. I wanted to approach work from several angles, so they set me up with people from different areas of the practice. I especially enjoyed working on LDA’s projects in the Olympic Park and some high-end residential schemes in Mumbai and Devon.
How was it different to other placements or your student work?
I’d spent some time working in a much smaller office, so it was interesting to see the differences at a big practice. There are certainly crossovers between student and professional work and it was interesting to see how the things you learn as a student are implemented in the real world. Having that appreciation of how projects are implemented professionally will make my work more pragmatic.
Do these learning experiences make you reconsider your previous projects?
I review what I’ve done every year and I always notice how I would do things differently or apply my knowledge in a new way. It’s a constant learning experience and I’m looking forward to bringing everything I’ve learned together next year. I think it will help me produce work that’s a little more realistic, but still highly creative. As a student, you’re often not sure what’s what, so I’ll be able to approach my student work in a much more professional way.
What do you and your peers feel about the future of the industry?
We definitely feel the prospects for jobs aren’t as bad as they have been. We’re really excited to start searching for jobs in a couple of years’ time. There’s so much good work out there and we’re looking forward to being at the cutting edge of landscape architecture.