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Professor James Hitchmough of the University of Sheffield Lecture

The Vancouver Landscape Collective
Date of Event: 
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm


Designing delight and function into sustainable ecological planting; the London Olympic Park and other stories “One of the key challenges in contemporary urban planting is to arrive at a detente between human aesthetic needs, for planting to "ring the seasons", to be rich and meaningful to ordinary people rather than design elites, whilst at the same time contributing to the resolution of urban environmental challenges and providing valuable habitat and food resources for native animals. To do this requires designers to move away from the cloying polarities of nature versus culture and to embrace a much freer more integrated and pragmatic approach. These ideas can be very challenging to those on both sides of this polarity.” James Hitchmough’s research has explored how to design, construct and manage nature-like vegetation and, secondly, to identify what are the key elements that allow this vegetation to be seen as a positive by urban people. This research and that of other urban ecological researchers in the world is increasingly showing that the needs of people and the needs of the invertebrates and vertebrates that live in designed vegetation have much more in common than has traditionally been believed; win:win situations are really possible.

 James continues to road test his research through application to practice. In the UK he has recently implemented the first phase of a 15ha project with the Royal Horticultural Society known as the "Big Sky Meadows", and is in the process of applying his ideas in many other countries. His designs for a series of succulent-dominated meadows in Northern Spain for the 2016 European Capital of Culture festival will be implemented in 2015, and with Piet Oudolf he has been commissioned to plant the extraordinary ski run roof of the new Municipal Incinerator in Copenhagen. He has been commissioned to develop his work for Western China via extensive experimental research in Chongqing, and has just been commissioned by the City of Melbourne as part of its climate change adaptation program to undertake the research to develop highly drought-tolerant "woody meadow" vegetation for its public spaces.”

Dave Demers
BCSLA Event: 
Project: Telus Atrium Garden
Landscape Architect / Firm: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc in collaboration with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Photo Credit: Brett Hitchins