Landscape architecture and the space between buildings
When Jeremy Chivas found himself in a landscape architecture degree, he wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
“For most people, when they think of landscape architecture, they associate it with basic garden design in a residential context. But the majority of it is actually more about public spaces, and that’s something I didn’t really understand at first,” he says.
“As soon as I started studying, the breadth of the profession and the variation in scale that you can be working at really became apparent. You can work on something as small as a seat in a park to a public space to city planning or large-scale strategies, depending on your interests."
Landscape architecture is a rapidly growing profession, and demand for landscape architects is at an all-time high: senior landscape architects were ranked number 3 in on the list of Indeed.com’s most in-demand jobs of 2018.
And the employment opportunities often start early. Now in his third year, Chivas recently snapped up a student job at multidisciplinary design firm McGregor Coxall, known for such high-profile landscape projects as Sydney’s Ballast Point Park.
The role came about through a UTS connection; as a Student Landscape Technician, Chivas assists with the development of concept designs for a range of different projects, which calls on the diagramming and visualisation skills he’s developed at UTS. Studying the project workflow in its entirety as part of his course has also been useful, enabling him to work effectively at a range of different stages of professional landscape projects.
“In our degree, we study a range of subjects that focus on the more theoretical aspects of landscape architecture, delving into the history of the profession, how it’s developed to what it is today and the technologies and design trends that inform its contemporary context.
“Then there’s our design studio subjects, where we develop and deliver entire projects from the research stage all the way through to the concept or development proposal.
“It’s actually very surprising how much we do at uni that’s similar to the real world.”
When it comes to careers, there are more than a few paths Chivas can choose from after graduation. Landscape architects can work on residential or commercial projects, in urban planning roles, or can apply their skills to a wide range of environmental challenges that span entire cities or countries, such as developing green networks for revegetation or animal migration.
For Chivas, it’s the environmental challenges that really spark his imagination – a great fit, given the environmental focus of many of McGregor Coxall’s projects.
“To me, a lot of the environmental challenges are very appealing – things like revegetating communities that have been logged in the past or otherwise affected by human activity,” he says.
“Energy production is also an interest for me, so green energy production and mapping the qualities of the environment and considering renewable technologies that would better suit those spaces.”
But the biggest lure is the human-centred nature of the profession. Despite the many hours landscape architects spend face-to-face with the natural world, at its core, the profession is really about designing liveable spaces that positively impact the people who use them.
“Landscape architecture is about designing spaces for people to use and enjoy,” Chivas says.
“There’s the benefit you’re bringing to the community in terms of liveability and positive impact on the environment, so you can really see the impacts of your projects once they’re built.”
Learn more about the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours).