Colombian landscape architect Martha C Fajardo received an honorary degree from Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University
An alumna of the University of Sheffield, Fajardo achieved Diploma in Landscape Architecture in 1981. She was attracted to the university, she says, by its independent Department of Landscape Architecture (the world’s first), and the reputation of Professor Arnold Weddle.
Appointed in 1967, Professor Weddle quickly built an international reputation for the new department as a centre of excellence, as well as establishing the academic journal ‘Landscape and Urban Planning’ .
On returning to Columbia and entering practice, Fajardo founded the Colombian Society of Landscape Architects, through which she became active in the councils of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA).
In 2002, she was elected President of the IFLA and served with great distinction until 2006. During her term in office she greatly strengthened the effectiveness and international scope of the organisation, which now has memberships from almost 70 countries.
Fajardo also pioneered an initiative for the development of landscape architecture in Africa and successfully brought to a conclusion the long-running negotiations that enabled the fast-growing Chinese profession to join IFLA.
‘During her time as IFLA President Martha radically changed the face of the global Landscape Architecture community,’ says Professor Kongjian Yu from Peking and Harvard Universities. ‘If I were to ask young Chinese students who has been the most influential amongst all the international landscape architects of our time. Martha Fajardo would no doubt be listed as one of them.’
Since completing her term of office Fajardo has continued to work tirelessly on both the Colombian and the international stage – driving forward an initiative to establish, under UN auspices, an International Convention on Landscape, helping to establish the first Masters Degree in Landscape Design in Colombia and with her project on the first Green Plan in Colombia leading to the establishment of the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 2012.