Solving the crowding and the associated impacts on National Parks

Over recent periods there has been an increase in visitor numbers to National Parks in several countries including China, USA(+7.7% 2016), Canada(+7% 2011-2016), South Africa (6%). Seeing people enjoy the natural beauty and conservation areas is encouraging when we often hear about the disconnection of people from nature. The downside is increased numbers is the impact on the nature and the associated problems of traffic jams, parking, pollution and more. Of course, there are many other issues that hamper conservation including poaching, unauthorised clearing, illegal uses, however this post was to provide solutions for crowding issues raised recently.

How can we all everyone to enjoy nature but minimise the impact?

Limiting Access
Limiting the impact on the parks through limiting access by ticket numbers is one method of reducing the impact. There are some parks that have a limit to the number of visitors per day to the whole or part of the park to minimise the impact.

Allow people to reserve a day they wish to visit or camp in the Park when used in conjunction with limiting access can encourage people to pre-book and

Read the full article at World Landscape Architecture

What are the stages of a Landscape Architecture project?

Landscape architecture design projects differ in scale and complexity, however they are separated into various stages to allow for ease of management. Due to the variation in project types the staging of landscape architecture projects requires a flexible approach to project management. The project stages often follow a similar pattern however, they may be shortened or not undertaken due to various factors including scale, complexity, client requirements, budget and so on.

I hope to assist those interested in landscape architecture by providing general information about the stages of design projects. The stage names and terminology may differ from country to country and region to region but there is a common process of managing a project through stages.

Before, the landscape architect gets to the exciting part of designing the project there are few stages that often occur prior to putting pen to paper. The client has contacted you and agree to provide a fee or proposal for landscape architecture services.

Read the more of my post at World Landscape Architecture

Free yourself by hiring a manager

For landscape architecture business owners there is often a point when the that they realise that they are stretched too thin and not serving your clients as well as you could or you’re just not enjoying running the business and miss spending time on design or with the team or client. This is due to the fact that running a business requires a lot of overtime in administration of the business whether it is finances, insurances, hiring, labour laws, marketing.

Hiring a manager is the best thing you can do for your business whether it is full time or part time and a general manager or someone to do accounts and HR. It allows you as the owner to concentrate on working with clients and being creative which is why you most likely setup your business.

There are a few different types of manager or assistance you can hire.

  • General Manager (Office/Studio/Business Manager) helps run the business and takes care of the operation side of the business.
  • Bookkeeper/Accounts helps run the accounts, payroll and some HR functions.
  • Business Development/Marketing Manager – depending on the job description they assist in driving new business for you. It maybe getting a new type of customer or a new area but they will bring in the work. You will still have to do the operations side.

Who you hire as your manager is up to you, some will hire someone from inside the industry and others will hire a manager with no ties to the industry.
However, I have one piece of advice if you hire from a manager from the landscape industry, let them manage and don’t make them design or run projects.

Running a business is hard work requiring management skills to keep track of invoicing, payables, insurances, etc and hiring someone to do that and run projects creates a business that slowly grows or when a downturn comes is not ready because the manager was too busy on projects. I have seen some job ads for Landscape Architecture Business Managers that have a job description that is a wish list of business skills and design skills, the person who gets hired for this position end up being pulled in too many directions.

The best thing you can do for your business is to hire a manager to take over the tasks that you don’t enjoy or those that you have the weakest skills leaving you to enjoy creating and designing.

Too many landscape architects can’t see the value of non-billable staff, but often managers are the ones who free you to create and enjoy designing, which is worth far more than the salary you pay your manager.


Publishing a Magazine

I have been publishing a magazine (WLA) for the last 6 years it has been a labour of love. There is no money in self-publishing especially in the field of landscape architecture which is a niche of a niche.

Publishing is very much a rollercoaster of emotions, first you send out the call and the emails for submissions and sometimes it is wave after wave of great projects and others times there are extremes in quality of landscape projects.

After the initial review, the first cut of projects and then the final selection it is time to start the creative process of laying out the projects and often some projects flow easily onto the page and others it is hard to make them work and you end up with several drafts before you get to the best possible layout.

You think that you’re almost there but then comes the proofing, the checking, the errors and omissions and it’s off to the press(or pdf maker) and you get all excited and you send it out into the word and within minutes of the submitters receiving it you will get the next round of errors and omissions and rush to redo and republish.

It is definitely a rollercoaster of emotions and sometimes it is worth it and other you feel a little downcast as it doesn’t sell. But you have little time to rest as the next round of submissions have already started hitting your inbox weeks ago and its time to start all over again.

Creating plans for your landscape business in 2017

Another article on WLA to assist landscape architect businesses prepare for the coming year.

Although 2017 has started and we’re all back to work it is still a great time (during the slow period) to plan for the year ahead for your landscape business (existing or planning to start).

Business Plan
Business Plans are key for a business as it sets out goals for you and the team to know what the year ahead brings. As a starting point answer these two questions, Do you have a business plan? When was the last time you reviewed your business plan? Business Plans do not have to long documents and can be formulated using online templates. Often a simple 4-5 plan that sets out the key information (who you are, what you do, where, market, finances, etc) about the business is enough to get started. When reviewing or creating a business plan you need to be true to yourself and not to over enthusiastic and set expectations (sales or business initiatives) too high for you or your team. If you don’t feel comfortable or confident writing your business plan then speak to your government business department as many of them have guides on how to write a business plan and also offer free seminars on business planning, marketing, people management, finances and other areas of running a business.

Read the full article at WLA

Landscape Architecture trends in 2017 and beyond

I originally posted this article on World Landscape Architecture and was seeking to cover a range of topics including Climate Adaptation, Local solutions at grand scale, Alternative Transport Modes, Rural and Remedies, and more. The first part of the article is here but you can read the full article on WLA.

We are now in the second week of 2017 and looking forward to the coming year ahead to what will be trends in Landscape Architecture. These trends deal with a larger areas of landscape architecture predicting what we may possibly see in the future months and years.

Climate Adaptation
The discussion around climate change in the media and blogs is still revolving around the issue and less around solutions. However, in recent time in research and landscape practice we are seeing more intense discussion around climate change solutions including climate adaptation. In the future we will see more research, competitions and projects using elements of climate adaptation to create wholistic design solutions as the world faces with the increasing environmental pressures of climate change. Urban spaces will be designed utilising the opportunities they present to adapt to climate change.

Local solutions at grand scale
As densities increase in cities (developed and developing countries) we will see larger scale projects that will attempt to service the needs of increasing populations (housing, transport, social, green space, job creation) at a local level. However, these projects will increasingly need to build support at the local level with a mix of private and public funding, this may be not new to the mega international cities but it will become more prevalent in the smaller to medium size cities, no longer can these cities chip away at infrastructure and environmental problems at a piece by piece basis as they feel the pressures of increasing populations. On the reverse, ageing cities in some developed countries (Japan, Czechia, Latvia, Italy, Ukraine, etc) will need to look to their unique local character to reinvent themselves as populations decline and jobs move to larger financial and technological centres. It will also be local people who will with the help from government, and design professionals to create solutions for better cities and communities.

Alternative Transport Modes
As people increasingly embrace ride-sharing and the race for autonomous vehicles (cars, trucks, buses) increases between established car companies and start-up tech companies we will see governments developing initiatives and regulations to address these new technologies and how spaces and services are designed. Autonomous vehicles and ride sharing will reduce the need for wide road lanes, car parking, but require an increase in the number and size of areas required for drop-off and pickup of riders at airports, train/subway stations, offices, retail districts, tourist precincts and more. Cities will also look to use the reduced car lanes widths to provide space for bike lanes and other alternative transport (yet to be designed).

Read the entire article at WLA

Why I am not a fan of the revised LinkedIN website design

Recently saw Linkedin website update with various changes to simplify and clean up the interface. I think the front page is a great new look and for most users who use linkedin for reading about connections and companies, connecting and the odd search for an ex-colleague or future employee it is fine.

For those who use linkedin for the group and company page things just got a little harder. Gone are the days of having your group and company on the main page now you have to hunt through the menu to find it, add a post and then promote it. This also means that users will be less inclined to seek out groups and companies as they no longer appear in side menus or sidebars but in the More menu make interaction less likely. Gone are your interests and other easy to use menus, you now thrust into MS style ribbon with icons and a Notifications bell that seems to go off everytime I login into Linkedin.

The main irritation of the updated design is that they only revised some pages and the rest of the site is the old design (groups, etc) which is common a practice for Linkedin as they rarely update more than one page design at a time, whereas when other social media sites announce a revised design it goes through the entire site.  How is it an irritation? If you go to groups page in the More menu your sent off into a new browser tab and then if you select settings or other menu cog menu item you are shown the old LinkedIn menu (text no icons).

I like Linkedin and also will but I find it strange that for a social company of its size and now with the backing of Microsoft that they can’t get it together to revise the brand and design throughout the whole site. They need to loose the startup mentality and mature into a company that serves its customers not vice-versa.

Started 2017 travelling through Northeast Tasmania

I travelled through the northeast of Tasmania during the first week of 2017. We used Launceston as a base and travelled to numerous areas and enjoyed the landscapes, hiking, food and driving through an ever changing landscape. It was a great way to start 2017 with the family and enjoy beautiful weather and I am looking forward to returning to Tasmania. See below for a few Instagram images of the trip.

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on

Great Lakes

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on

Cradle Mountain – Hike from Ronny River to Crater Lake to Marions Lookout to Lake Livia and Dove Lake – must do hike.

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on

Bridgestowe Lavendar Farm, Binalong Bay

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on

Ben Lomond drive up Jacobs Ladder and then across to Coles Bay

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on

Beauty Point

A video posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on

Caract Gorge – Launceston