by Nicolas Shammas
A walk in a beautiful garden, breakfast on a sunny terrace with just the right view, relaxing and recharging are just a few assets your outdoors can offer. And as landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic writes, designing your landscape with close attention to the environment and in harmony with your home can wholly enrich your life.
There is no place better for the soul than the outdoors, especially in today’s high-speed desk-or plane-bound world. To be surrounded by nature can do wonders in soothing your spirit and giving you time away from the helter-skelter that is modern living. Nothing can make you pause, reflect, reassess, relax and rejuvenate as thoroughly as nature. A sense of place is the most important attribute in creating a meaningful outdoor environment, and once captured it will grow richer with every generation.
During my 15 years as a landscape architect designing outdoor spaces, I have come to realise that there are many misconceptions. The first is associated with nature itself. The full realisation of the benefits of being at one with nature and its motivational power to revitalise health and spirit is still far from where it should be.
Though awareness has improved slightly, landscape architecture is still not being acknowledged as a domain with the same importance as other art fields. People are not giving enough value to its significance, and societies are not valuing its vital role in shaping and ameliorating our future. Inasmuch, projects should no longer be deemed successful without an appropriate setting and environment. Living in a world with alarming rates of growth, construction, environmental devastation, financial expectations and elevated stress levels allows for landscape architecture to play a greater and vital role.
The main parameters of landscape architecture begin with a keen sensitivity to the site and its context as well as mastering the built and planted environment and understanding their impact and relationship with all other design fields. Just as important is creating a strong connection with a client, with a thorough understanding of the design objectives and programme – striving to create meaningful and memorable environments that can truly touch their lives.
Landscape concepts are most successful when they originate from where they belong. You can’t recreate an English garden or a French garden in the GCC, for instance. The context and culture vary tremendously and a whole new typology of gardens has to be created for this region. Copying European or American influenced gardens will not provide any significant value – an outdoor space with its own indigenous landscape language is necessary. In spite of extreme weather conditions in the Gulf, we’re currently working on avant-garde solutions to extend your outdoor lifespan by several months annually. Gardens are to be lived in and experienced and not just admired aesthetically.
In essence, being a devout believer that some of the most significant moments of your life take place outdoors, I highly encourage you to devote more attention and time to thinking about and planning your own outdoor private escape. The more successful the environment, the better your quality of life.