What's so great about being a Landscape Architect in a multi-discplinary office?
Having been a Landscape Architect in SLR’s Dublin office for nearly 10 years, there have been many occasions when I have been fortunate enough to work with colleagues from a wide-range of disciplines. Each occasion provides an opportunity for technical insight into the scope of work in areas such as Planning, Ecology, Water, Air Quality and Noise and is really interesting, helping me learn and understand many different factors that should be considered when assessing the potential environmental effects of a proposed development; rather than just looking at it from a Landscape Architect’s point of view.
A large portion of my work is spent preparing Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments (LVIA) and Restoration Plans for mineral extraction developments. In the course of a typical project I will talk to a number of my colleagues to fully understand, but also influence the design of the proposed development.
My first point of contact is the Project Manager, this allows me to identify all elements associated with the proposed development which will have to be considered in my assessment, such as the proposed extraction area, buildings, plant, lighting or works at the site entrance. My second point of contact will usually be the Mineral Surveyor, who prepares the project design to see if the extraction works can be phased in such a way as to minimise the visual effects or ensure that vital screening vegetation or topography is retained.
Some time is spent talking to the Ecologists, who will advise on existing beneficial habitats to be protected/retained, where possible, or potential habitats that could be created, as part of the restoration works. It is always helpful having a discussion with them on what tree species would be most suitable at each site or what type of planting may be required to provide suitable habitat for local wildlife (e.g. woodland areas or hedgerows). Also the location of any proposed planting may be adjusted following advice from the Ecologists to provide a green corridor for bats or shelter wildlife from the activities within a site. All agreed elements will then be incorporated into the Landscape/Restoration Plan.
In addition to the above, someone from the Water or Acoustic team may accompany me to the site and carry out their site work, while I do my field survey for the Visual Assessment. In the course of the travels I am bound to learn more about the surface water treatment at the site or sensitive noise receptors. The latter may influence where a screening berm or screen planting is placed.
This is just one example of how useful and important collaborating with other technical disciplines can be, not just as a Landscape Architect, but for the benefit of the whole project. With such a diverse range of disciplines, SLR’s Dublin office is a great place to experience this first-hand!