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Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor and public spaces to achieve environmental, socio-behavioral, and/or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions that will produce the desired outcome. The scope of the profession includes urban design,site planning, town or urban planning, environmental restoration, parks and recreation planning; green infrastructure planning and provision, all at varying scales of design, planning and management. A practitioner in the profession of landscape architecture is called a landscape architect.

History of landscape architecture

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 Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam by the Dutch design group (West 8) are just two examples.

Ian McHarg is considered an important influence on the modern Landscape Architecture profession and land planning in particular. With his book "Design with Nature", he popularized a system of analyzing the layers of a site in order to compile a complete understanding of the qualitative attributes of a place. This system became the foundation of today's Geographic Information Systems (GIS). McHarg would give every qualitative aspect of the site a layer, such as the history, hydrology, topography, vegetation, etc. GIS software is ubiquitously used in the landscape architecture profession today to analyze materials in and on the Earth's surface and is similarly used by Urban Planners, Geographers, Forestry and Natural Resources professionals, etc.


Landscape architecture is a multi-disciplinary field, which includes:Geography,Mathematics,Science,Engineering,Art, Horticulture,Technology,Social Sciences etc. 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.

In some jurisdictions, such as the province of Ontario, Canada, all designs for public space must be approved by a licensed landscape architect.

The breadth of the professional task that landscape architects collaborate on is very broad, but some examples of project types include:
  • The planning, form, scale and siting of new developments
  • Civil design and public infrastructure
  • Stormwater management including rain gardens,green roofs and treatment wetlands
  • Campus and site design for institutions
  • Parks, botanical gardens, arboretums, greenways, and nature preserves
  • Recreation facilities like golf, theme parks and sports facilities
  • Housing areas, industrial parks and commercial developments
  • Highways, transportation structures, bridges, and transit corridors
  • Urban design, town and city squares, waterfronts, pedestrian schemes, and parking lots
  • Large or small urban regeneration schemes
  • Forest, tourist or historic landscapes, and historic garden appraisal and conservation studies
  • Reservoirs, dams, power stations, reclamation of extractive industry applications or major industrial projects
  • Environmental assessment and landscape assessment, planning advice and land management proposals.
  • Coastal and offshore developments
  • Ecological Design any form of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself with natural processes.

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 inquiries 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 professional title by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1863. Lancelot Brown, (also known as "Capability" 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 technicians or engineers are employed with landscape construction and service companies or may be independent professionals. Landscape designers, like garden designers, design all types of planting and green spaces - and are not registered. 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 master planning 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 small gardens and outdoor spaces and also with historic garden conservation.

Green roof designers design extensive and intensive roof gardens for storm water management, evapo-transpirative cooling,sustainable architecture, aesthetics, and habitat creation.


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 HI landscape architecture practice varies from nation to nation, with some requiring licensure in order to practice; and some having little or no regulation. In North America and Europe, landscape architecture is a regulated profession.

United States

In the United States, Landscape Architecture is regulated by individual state governments, with only one state requiring no regulation at all (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 Registration 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 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. Two provinces, British Columbia and Ontario, require successful completion of the L.A.R.E (Landscape Architecture Registration Examination), a series of exams that aims to determine whether potential landscape architects have sufficient knowledge to practice the profession without endangering the public, in order to acquire full membership in the CSLA/AAPC. Quebec has an innovative mentor system in which experienced landscape architects mentor new intern members toward gaining full membership after at least two years of practice, of which six months should be under the direct supervision of the mentor.


The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) provides professional recognition for landscape architects. Once recognised, landscape architects use the title ‘Registered Landscape Architect’.

Across the eight states and territories within Australia, there is a mix of requirements for landscape architects to be ‘Registered’. Generally there is no clear legislative registration requirement in place. Any regulations or requirements are state based, not national.

The AILA’s system of professional recognition is a national system overseen by AILA’s National Office in Canberra.

Most agencies require AILA professional recognition or registration as part of the pre-requisite for contracts. Landscape architects within Australia find that many contracts and competitions require the AILA recognition or ‘registration’ as the basis of demonstrating a professional status.

To apply for AILA Registration, an applicant usually needs to satisfy the following pre-requisites:

  1. A university qualification from an AILA accredited program.
  2. At least two years of practice.
  3. A record of Continuing Professional Practice (CPD).

The application is in two stages:

  1. First Stage: A minimum 12 months of mentoring and assessment.
  2. Second Stage: Oral assessment/interview.

Professional recognition includes a commitment to continue professional development. AILA Registered Landscape Architects are required to report annually on their Continuing Professional Development.

The AILA has in place processes to recognize equivalent qualifications and experience, which when combined with a number of years of recognized practice as a landscape architect, may provide the basis of recognition as a Registered Landscape Architect.


The Landscape Principles

The major advocacy direction for 2008 - 2009 has been to develop a set of Landscape Principles. The Australian Landscape Principles articulate an ethical decision making framework for landscape planning, design and management within the built environment. Their purpose is to strategically direct landscape interventions, both in our existing and future built environments, towards more sustainable, holistic outcomes.

AILA Climate Change project

Information updated by the National Office, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

Republic of Ireland

The profession is now firmly established in the Republic, though its penetration into the public sector is problematic and under-represented. The recent economic boom saw a flourishing and expansion of private practices.

The profession has gained a standing and status, outweighing its relatively small numbers in Ireland; and is closely involved in multi-disciplinary endeavours and initiatives with allied built environment and natural heritage professionals, including architects, civil engineers, spatial planners, ecologists and chartered surveyors.

United Kingdom

The UK’s professional body is the Landscape Institute. They are a chartered body who accredit landscape professionals and university courses. At present there are fifteen accredited schools in the UK. Membership of the LI is available to students, academics and professionals Landscape Architects and there are over 3000 professionally quaified members.

The Institute provides services to assist members including support and promotion of the work of landscape architects; information and guidance to the public and industry about the specific expertise offered by those in the profession; and training and educational advice to students and professionals looking to build upon their experience.

In 2008 the LI launched a major recruitment drive entitled I want to be a Landscape Architect to encourage the study of Landscape Architecture. The campaign aims to raise the profile of landscape architecture and highlight its valuable role in building sustainable communities and fighting climate change.


AIAPP (Italian Association of Landscape Architecture)is the Italian association of professional landscape architects formed in 1950 and is a member of EFLA and IFLA. AIAPP is in the process of contesting this new law which has given the Architects’ Association the new title of Architects, Landscape Architects, Planners and Conservationists whether or not they have had any training or experience in any of these fields other than Architecture. At the same time the Existence of AIAPP has been totally ignored in spite of its international recognitionIn Italy there are several different professions involved in landscape architecture :
  • Architetti (Architects)
  • Paesaggisti (Landscape designs)
  • Dottori Agronomi Paesaggisti e Dottori Forestali Paesaggisti (Doctor landscape agronomists and Doctor landscape foresters)
  • Periti Agrari e Periti Agrari Laureati (Agrarian Experts and Graduated Agrarian experts)

See also



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