Landscape architecture is what gives a park its charm and a city its beauty. New York City would be nothing without Central Park’s expansive green landscape. Without the iconic Peter Pan statue in London, Hyde Park would be just a little less magical.
These parks of course, do not spring from nothing. Landscape architectures put a lot of work into the design of their projects. They’re in charge of the design, specification and management of the environment, and they must keep track of the preservation, analysis and enhancing features of the natural environment already present. It may not appear so, but this job is anything but a walk in the park.
Think you know everything there is to know about landscaping architecture? Think again! Here are five awesome facts we bet you didn’t know about landscaping architecture.
1. Humble origins of landscape architecture
So how did such a creative and lucrative profession come to be? Most people will say that Capability Brown and Frederick Law Olmsted started the profession as far back as the 18th century. They’re often referred to as the godfathers of landscape architecture because of their contributions to the profession.
Capability Brown (CC-PD-Mark) and Frederick Law Olmsted
Lancelot “Capability” Brown lived during the 18th century and is credited with designing more than 170 gardens in England. He was the toast of the aristocracy, and he designed the landscapes for some of England’s most influential people and homes.
If you’ve been to New York City, then you’ve definitely seen Frederick Law Olmsted’s work. He created the modern design of Central Park where hundreds of New Yorkers and tourists go everyday to enjoy a bit of greenery in the middle of the bustling city.
The term “landscape architecture” was not used until 1828. It actually came from a little-known book called Landscape Architecture of the Great Painters of Italy, which was published by a Scotsman named Gilbert Laing Meason who first came up with the term.
2. “Landscape” was first a painting term
Rivierlandschap met ruiters, Aelbert Cuyp. Source: Wikipedia.
As we just mentioned, the term “landscape architecture” came from a book about Italian painters, but the word landscape is actually Dutch. It came from the word “lanschap.”
The word can be broken up even further. “Land” means region and “schap” means ship or condition. Landscape paintings traditionally highlighted the beauty of nature and paid little attention to humans or animals. Landscape artists wanted to insert light into their paintings and reflect the greens and blues back at the viewers.
Other people are more familiar with the German word “landschaft.” This term meant “tract of land with its distinguishing characteristics.” Modern landscape architects have embellished this and have created beautiful works of art.
3. Australia is the landscape architecture capital
Landscape architects are highly appreciated here in Australia. They’ve transformed its beautiful cities and coastlines into works of art that locals and tourists can appreciate.
Hyde Park, Sydney Photo by Adam.J.W.C. 2008 | CC BY SA 3.0
Recent stats report that there are about 30,000 employed architects in Australia alone. That equates to about 13.2 landscape architects per 100,000 people. If we compare this to other countries, that’s 900 more architects than the United States, whose landscape architect ratio equals about 6.4 landscape architects per 100,000 people. In the United Kingdom, there are about 5,000 registered members of an organization called the Landscape Institute. This ratio comes out to about 7.7 landscape architects per 100,000 people.
Because Australia has so many landscaping architects, it probably won’t surprise you to know that the country also holds the record for having the most designated national parks. The number of parks sits at about 650, which covers about 335,000 square kilometers of the country. Though Canada technically has more land in its parks, the country only has 43 designated national parks.
Still, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture claims there is actually a shortage of landscaping designers in the county, which means there is still plenty more work to be done.
4. United Kingdom and United States also love their landscape architects
Despite the fact that Australia beats the U.K. and the U.S. in terms of the number of architects per 100,000 people, the U.K. and the U.S. pay their landscaping architects the most.
The Landscape Institute reports that the average salary for a member of the charter is about £30,000-£39,000, which equates to about $50,271-$65,352. That’s more than enough to support oneself, even in London.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that landscape architects earn about $64,180 per year. Again, this value is more than enough to live on in the U.S.
Kew Gardens Palm House, London Photo: by David Iliff 2009 | CC BY SA 3.0
Though the U.K. and the U.S. value their landscaping artists, it’s actually China that needs them the most. Because there is such a shortage of qualified landscapers, this position is one of the highest-paying jobs in the country. Their salaries are even higher than building architects.
In 1996, a landscaping degree was considered a third-class degree and was not well-respected so the Chinese government cancelled the programs at all major universities. In 2011 when urban design was in decay, the decision was reversed and both building and landscaping architecture degrees become first-class once more.
5. The most viewed landscape image is a desktop screen
Take a guess. What do you think is the most viewed landscape image, be it photograph or painting? It’s not the Grand Canyon. It’s not the top of Mount Everest. You won’t believe what it is.
The most viewed image is a photograph of a small field located in northern California. It was taken by Charles O’Rear in 1996 and titled “Bliss.” Still racking your brain? Maybe this will jog your memory.
Window XP default wallpaper, “Bliss”.
That’s right, the most viewed image is the iconic default desktop background that came standard with Windows XP. Though it’s difficult to estimate the exact number of people who have seen this image, sources estimate the number is more than one billion. That includes people all over the world.
The next time you’re walking through a park or standing outside a museum, take a moment to appreciate the landscape architecture around you. Someone poured their heart and soul into the design. Enjoy the beauty and maybe consider a career in landscaping architecture yourself.
If you want to get involved in such a booming industry in Australia, check out Kangan’s Certificate III in Parks and Gardens to make sure you’re qualified.
Featured photo by Diego Delso 2007 | CC BY SA 3.0
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