An artistic composition of nature
Landscape architecture is often considered a blend of horticultural, environmental sustainability, architecture and geography. Shubham Singh finds out the state of contemporary landscape designing in India and how designers are creating the synergy between the built and the un-built through their designs.
Landscape architecture in India has always been a niche profession. Till few years back the profession was little known among the general public, but with global exposure and growing interest in creating sustainable environment, the importance of landscape designing is getting recognized. Concurring to the statement, the veteran landscape designer Kishore Pradhan said, “After completing my course in landscape designing from EcoleNationaleSupérieured’Horticultureat Versailles, I started my practice in 1972 as a landscape architect. At that time, there was little awareness about the profession and what it entails. There were hardly any institutes that offered design courses in landscape. Today, the scenario is much different. We have mostly corporate clients who place much emphasis on the landscaping of the complex and the design of amenities for the workforce. ”
In urban cities, land is at premium and utilization of every inch of a space a prerequisite for a developer. Therefore, the planning of open spaces becomes critical not only in terms of decorative elements, but also the functional usage by cleverly incorporating services, utilities and drainage systems etc. Landscape architect also brings in focus the environment, in the form of water management, soil preservation, energy reduction and sustainable solutions.
According to landscape designer Arun Kumar Suvarna, landscape architecture is gradually coming to the fore but still has a long way to go. “Not restricted to hospitality & institutional projects, landscaping is becoming an integral part the residential developments as well. The reasons can be attributed to the rising awareness of home buyers and changing attitude of developers. However, the reasons for adopting landscaping in projects in India still remain superficial than functional and technical. This is where the expertise of a designer is required to integrate the functional and sustainable aspects of the landscape design while offering the client and user, the perfect outdoor setting,” he added.
The global & local perspective
Globally, the architecture of landscape had been in prominence for quite some time. In India, the practice is still evolving. Undoubtedly, the international landscape consultant bring with them the technical expertise and latest design trends. The downside many feel is their lack of deep rooted understanding of Indian context and pulse of the location.
Kumar said, “The international architects are more often than not, unaware of the Indian living style, needs and climatic conditions that varies from one place to another even within a state or a small. Many a times, a beautifully crafted landscape becomes difficult to maintain as the plants and material are out of context of the region thereby, bringing no real benefit to the developer.”
Pradhan concedes that internationally landscape designing is a mature discipline and countries like Germany have rules that mandate developers to build artwork in the project open spaces and public areas as part of the city beautification. He explained, “Internationally, the landscape designers are part of the project right from the site development and planning stage. In India, designers are engaged when most of the site demarcation has already been done and foundations for built structures in progress. This creates a challenge in developing the site according to the climatology of the place to benefit the building occupants.”
The art & science of landscaping
Urban planning and landscape architecture correlate with each other. A detailed analysis of the site helps the designer to have a better approach towards the landscaping of the project and its relevance in the bigger context of the city. To achieve the same, there should be a proper synergy between landscape designer and developer as well as the architect of the project. “The various consultants involved in a project are hired on the basis of their individual expertise and the value that they bring to the project, so there is no clash in working. However, if the developer, architect and the consultant vision for the project matches it results in much more interesting and innovative results,” stated Pradhan.
The process of landscape planning is often divided into hardscape design and softscape design. The design approach includes elements ranging from – following municipal codes, topography study and orientation, access and circulation to groundwater recharge, irrigation, lighting, plant habitat, construction detailing and safety & security. .
India has seen the heydays of Garden art during the Mughal era. Presently, the growing economy, entry of multi-national companies and rising awareness among the real estate players as well as the public is ensuring better prospects for the discipline of landscape architecture.
While, the private players are actively promoting landscape designing in their projects, the discipline is yet to find prominence in the public realm. The landscape designers as part of the city development team can offer spaces that can add to the quality of life of the citizen. As Kumar said, “If we talk about the future of landscape architecture profession in India, it is showing positive signs of growth and people are nowadays more educated to understand the veracity of landscaping. Young professionals coming in this profession with a blend of innovative and executable ideas are also helping this profession.”
“The Indian cities lack of planning and rapid urbanization has led to decreasing green spaces. The private & public partnership along with design professionals can go a long way in resolving many of urban ills, creating public spaces which are user friendly as well as eco-friendly. More institutes across India are now offering the specialized program in landscape architecture and most importantly the younger generation of designers is passionate about the discipline. So definitely, I am optimistic about the future prospects of this profession in India, “concluded Pradhan.