Landscape architecture

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Central Park, like all parks, is an example of landscape architecture.

Landscape architecture is the art, planning, design, management, preservation and rehabilitation of the land and the design of human-made constructs. The scope of the profession includes architectural design, site planning, housing estate development, environmental restoration, town or urban planning, urban design, parks and recreation planning, regional planning, and historic preservation. A practitioner in the field of landscape architecture is called a landscape architect.



Landscape architecture is a multi-disciplinary field, including within its fold geography, mathematics, science, engineering, art, horticulture, technology, social sciences, politics, history, philosophy. The activities of a landscape architect can range from the creation of public parks and parkways to site planning for corporate office buildings, from the design of residential estates to the design of civil infrastructure and the management of large wilderness areas or reclamation of degraded landscapes such as mines or landfills. Landscape architects work on all types of structures and external space - large or small, urban or rural, and with "hard"/"soft" materials, hydrology and ecological issues.

Ian McHarg is considered a strong influence in the modern Landscape Architecture profession, with regards to his book "Design with Nature". He developed a system of analyzing the layers of a site in order to compile a complete understanding of the space. McHarg would give every aspect of the site a layer, such as the history, hydrology, topography, vegetation, etc. This layering aspect eventually led to the development of modern GIS analysis of earth's surface, which is a tool now used by Landscape Architects as well as Geographers, Forestry and Natural Resources professionals, etc.

Landscape architects work on:

The most valuable contribution is often made at the earliest stage of a project in generating ideas and bringing flair and creativity to the use of space. The landscape architect can contribute to the overall concept and prepare an initial master plan, from which detailed designs can subsequently be prepared. He or she can also let and supervise contracts for construction work, prepare design impact assessments, conduct environmental assessments or audits and act as an expert witness at enquiries on land use. He or she can also support or prepare applications for capital or revenue funding grants.

For the period before 1800 (see section on History, below) the history of landscape architecture is largely that of master planning. The first person to write of "making" a landscape was Joseph Addison in 1712. The term "landscape gardener" was invented by William Shenstone in 1754 but the first professional designer to use this term was Humphry Repton in 1794. The term "landscape architecture" was invented by Gilbert Laing Meason in 1828 and was first used as a professiona l title by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1863. Lancelot Brown, who remains one of the best known "landscape gardeners" actually called himself a "place maker". During the nineteenth century the term "landscape gardener" became applied to people who build (and sometimes design) landscapes and the term "landscape architect" became reserved for people who design (and sometimes build) landscapes. This use of "landscape architect" became established after the American Society of Landscape Architects was founded in 1899 and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) in 1948.


Landscape designers and Landscape technicans or engineers are employed with landscape construction and service companies. Landscape designers, like garden designers, design all types of planting and green spaces. Many landscape engineers work in public offices in central and local government while others work for landscape architecture firms.

Landscape managers use their knowledge of plants and the natural environment to advise on the long-term care and development of the landscape. Landscape managers work in horticulture, estate management, forestry, nature conservation and agriculture.

Landscape scientists have specialist skills such as soil science, hydrology, geomorphology or botany that they relate to the practical problems of landscape work. Their projects can range from site surveys to the ecological assessment of broad areas for planning or management purposes. They may also report on the impact of development or the importance of particular species in a given area.

Landscape planners are concerned with landscape planning for the location, scenic, ecological and recreational aspects of urban, rural and coastal land use. Their work is embodied in written statements of policy and strategy, and their remit includes masterplanning for new developments, landscape evaluations and assessments, and preparing countryside management or policy plans. Some may also apply an additional specialism such as landscape archaeology or law to the process of landscape planning.

Garden designers are concerned with the design of new private gardens and also with historic garden conservation


The Muskauer Park on the German-Polish border is inscribed on the World Heritage List on the basis of its importance for "the development of landscape architecture as a discipline".
Main article: History of landscape architecture

The history of landscape architecture is related to the history of gardening but is not coextensive. Both arts are concerned with the composition of planting, landform, water, paving and other structures but:

The Romans undertook landscape architecture on an extensive scale, and Vitruvius wrote on many topics (eg the layout of towns) which still concern landscape architects. As with the other arts, it was not until the Renaissance that garden design was revived, with outstanding examples including the pleasure grounds at the Villa d'Este, Tivoli. The renaissance garden developed through the 16th and 17th centuries, reaching an ultimate grandeur in the work of André le Nôtre at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles.

In the 18th century, England became the focus of a new style of landscape design. Figures such as William Kent, Humphry Repton, and most famously Lancelot 'Capability' Brown remodelled the great estate parks of the English gentry to resemble a neat and tidy version of nature. Many of these parks remain today. The term 'landscape arch itecture' was first used by the Scotsman Gilbert Laing Meason in the title of his book on The Landscape Architecture of the Great Painters of Italy (London, 1828). It was about the type of architecture found in landscape paintings. The term "landscape architecture" was then taken up by JC Loudon and AJ Downing.

Through the 19th century, urban planning became more important, and it was the combination of modern planning with the tradition of landscape gardening that gave Landscape Architecture its unique focus. In the second half of the century, Frederick Law Olmsted completed a series of parks which continue to have a huge influence on the practices of Landscape Architecture today. Among these were Central Park in New York, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Boston's so called Emerald Necklace park system.

Landscape architecture continues to develop as a design discipline, and has responded to many of the movements of design and architecture through the 20th century. Today, a healthy level of innovation continues to provide challenging design solutions for streetscapes, parks and gardens. The work of Martha Schwartz in the US, and in Europe designs such as the Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam are just two examples.


In many countries, a professional institute, comprised of members of the professional community, exists in order to protect the standing of the profession and promote its interests, and sometimes also regulate the practice of landscape architecture. The standard and strength of legal regulations governing landscape architecture practice varies from nation to nation, with some requiring licensure in order to practice; and some having little or no regulation.

United States

In the United States, Landscape Architecture is regulated by individual state governments, with only 2 requiring no regulation at all (Colorado and Vermont). For a landscape architect, obtaining licensure or membership of a professional institute requires advanced education and/or continuing training and work experience. Full membership or licensure often depends on the outcome of examinations in professional practice matters, and/or an interview with senior members of the profession. In the U.S. licensing is overseen both at the state level, and nationally by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registation Boards (CLARB). Landscape architecture has been identified as an above average growth profession by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and was listed in US News and World Report's list of Best Jobs to Have in 2006. Landscape architects are considered professionals on par with doctors and lawyers because they are often required to obtain specialized education and professional licensure.


In Canada, Landscape architecture is regulated by provincial or territorial components. These components are then governed by a national organization, the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects / L'Association des architectes paysagistes du Canada. Membership in the CSLA/AAPC is obtained through joining one of the provincial or territorial components.

See also

External links

International organizations

// CELA] Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture

  • EFLA European Federation of Landscape Architects
  • ELAN European Landscape Architecture Network
  • ELASA European Landscape Architecture Students Association
  • ECLAS European Conference of Landscape Architecture Schools
  • IDAD Institute of Destination Architects and Designers

Professional bodies


  • CAAP Argentine Centre for Landscape Architects
  • ABAP Brazilian Association of Landscape Architects
  • CSLA Canadian Society of Landscape Architects
  • APAP Peruvian Association of Landscape Architects
  • ASLA American Society of Landscape Architects
  • CLARB Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards (US/Canada)


  • ÖGLA Österreichische Gesellschaft für Landschafts-Architekten (Austria)
  • BVTL-ABAJP Belgian Association of Landscape Architects
  • MARK Finnish Association of Landscape Architects
  • FFP Fédération Française du Paysage (France)
  • BDLA Bund Deutscher Landschafts-Architekten (Germany)
  • FILA Association of Icelandic Landscape Architects
  • ILI The Irish Landscape Institute
  • AIAPP Associazione Italiana di Architettura del Paesaggio (Italy)
  • NVTL Netherlands Association for Landscape Architecture
  • NLA Norske Landskapsarkitekters forening (Norway)
  • APAP Portuguese Association of Landscape Architects
  • ALA Association of Landscape Architects, Serbia and Montenegro
  • BSLA Bund Schweizer Landschafts-Architekten (Switzerland)
  • LI Landscape Institute the UK Chartered Institute for Landscape Architects
  • PMO Peyzaj Mimarları Odası Turkish Chamber of Landscape Architects

Asia Pacific

  • AILA Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
  • ISALA Israeli Association of Landscape Architects
  • ISOLA Indian Society of Landscape Architects
  • KILA Korea Institute of Landscape Architecture
  • NZILA New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects
  • SILA Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects
  • TALA Thai Association of Landscape Architects
  • PALA Philippine Association of Landscape Architects
  • HKILA Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects


  • ILASA Institute of Landscape Architects in South Africa
  • AAK Architectural Association of Kenya
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