Why do I write simply?

Over the 10 years of the WLA blog and this blog, I have written many op-eds and posts that people have commented and appreciated. One comment I often receive is that my writing could be at a higher level or more complex. However, I have consciously made the effort to write more simply.

I believe that most professions do themselves a disservice by writing long complex articles laden with jargon and even more so by academics. The general public and allied professionals often have little understanding of what it professions do and by using jargon you increase the gap for them to learn about your profession.

Many people who read WLA and this blog are not native English speakers or readers and often use translators to gain a full understanding of content. By writing in a complex or verbose manner you increase the chance that the translation is either a total misinterpreted or a mix of their language with a mix of English words. I know this from spending time living in China and also being married to a Chinese national who uses translators on a daily basis.

These are the main two reasons that I write more simply, I hope to make the general public have a greater understanding of landscape architecture and that those who aren’t native English readers can have a full understanding of my posts.

Welcome to 2018

2018 has arrived and its another year with which we all hope is better than the last and we plan for work, holidays, events, and more. Some people have resolutions around an action like losing weight or similar, but as I posted at the start of 2017, I am more of a person who sets goals and breaks them into mini-goals (typical project manager style).

For 2018, I have once again set some goals around work, WLA, life, family and health – not in the order of course ;-).

I wish you and your family a great 2018 and hope that the year brings whatever you hoped for.

Alternative locations for Apple’s Federation Square Global Flagship Store

Propose Building – Apple Global Store |  Image Credit – Courtesy of Federation Square
Propose Building – Apple Global Store | Image Credit – Courtesy of Apple

Recently the Victorian Government announced that the Yarra Building in Federation Square which currently accommodates the Koorie Heritage Trust is set to be demolished to make way for an Apple Global Flagship Store. The public backlash from the community was swift as there was no public consultation or Expression of Interest or due process. The main concern from the public is two-fold, the use of cultural public space that celebrates Australian Federation is set to house a global commercial enterprise and secondly that the proposed building has little reference to existing iconic architecture.

Read the full post at World Landscape Architecture

Yarra Building – Existing Building | Image – Google Maps

 

 

Alternative Locations for the Apple Global Flagship Store

Audi Dealership – Victoria Street (Image – Google Maps)
Carpark – Melbourne Central (Image – Google Maps)
Crown Casino facing Freshwater Place (Image – Google Maps)
QV – Multiple corners and the courtyard (Image – Google Maps)

 

Why are countries creating their own cryptocurrencies?

Over the last few months, we have seen countries creating or preparing to make cryptocurrencies including China, Ecuador, Senegal, Estonia, Russia. The reason that countries are looking at cryptocurrencies(Cryptocurrency) is they see it as a way to efficiently and cheaply move forward in many areas including

  • digital payments – if you have been in Asia especially China in the last two years you would have seen the vast number of people using digital payments to pay for nearly every transaction.
  • productivity – reducing the time and actions required for transactions
  • tracking illegal activity – there some people using Cryptocurrency for illegal activities, if countries start to limit the currency exchange to their countries Cryptocurrency then they can track transactions more easily
  • control – central banks like to control currency, they will most likely declare their Cryptocurrency to be legal tender (fiat) in their country.
  • reduce volatility – by being able to control the currency they will try to reduce volatility and rein in runaway markets and use levers to manipulate their market. This is most likely why some countries have shut down ICO and currency exchanges so they can start their own Cryptocurrency.
  • generate revenue from transaction fees
  • reduce fraud
  • ease of exchange – currently every time you go to another country you either have to used credit cards or exchange for cash. If you can exchange on your phone from one country’s Cryptocurrency to another you will be able to move more freely between countries.

There are still some issues with countries creating Cryptocurrency and that includes public acceptance, security, exchanges. The future will be interesting and how the world will change in the coming ten years around cryptocurrency. We will most likely see several countries with their own currency such as estcoin, DAD, and more.

 

Presenting at conferences – provide knowledge over promotion

Over the last few years, I have attended a few conferences and seminars and the people I remember the most are those who are passionate about the topic and those who provide some insights and knowledge. The people I forget or remember for the wrong reasons are those people who see this as a promotion opportunity and present their work in a general sales pitch.

When presenting at a conference we are often presenting to our peers, so its not really a great audience to be giving a sales pitch, they are more interested in you,  your process and the knowledge you can share rather than promotion.

Here are some tips for making an interesting presentation

  1. Make it about the audience
    If you were in the audience what would want to know about you? what would make you think – hey this person really knows their stuff?
  2. What is your key message?
    All too often we make the mistake of trying to cover too many points in a limited time span. Most people will only remember 3-4 key points, there it is better to centre those points around one key message
  3. Tailor the presentation to the time allowed
    You have to remember to tailor the presentation to the time and try not to overrun.
    – 10 minutes then make 1-2 good points and take it slow. I have made the mistake in the past of adding too many points as I feel the need to cover more information but it is better to make it memorable for people with one key point.
    – 30- 45 minutes then 3-4 points that are well thought out and structured. If  — – More then 45 minutes then make it 3-4 points and the rest Q&A.
  4. Tailor the message to the audience
    When you start thinking of ideas and complete your first draft it is best to try and think about how to tailor the message to the audience and remember that not everyone in the audience may know about your industry or work, it is best to go through and remove acronyms and jargon. I have sat through 10 minutes of presentation until I realised what the acronym stood for.
  5. Go broader than your own work
    As stated previously, we are not interested in a sales pitch, so sometime it may require you to include work from other companies. Of course, you will credit them and seek permission first. Some of the best presentations I have seen provide a broad range of projects that present the best examples of an idea or theory.

Remember, the presentation is about your audience and not you, it is best to provide knowledge that is most valuable to them and avoid seeing as a great to promote you or your company.

 

World Landscape Architecture – 10 years on and the end of WLA Magazine

In October 2007, I was browsing architecture sites like Archdaily and found myself wondering why do landscape architects not have an independent blog for information and news. That day I registered the domain worldlandscapearchitect.com and put up a “Coming Soon” page and then went on published my first posts in November 2007.

At first, I was posting news articles and this then moved on to competitions and announcements along with the odd project. I was working as an Associate Landscape Architect in Shenzhen, China.

The initial idea was to create sites for each country and I started uaelandscapearchitect.com and chinalandscapearchitect.com. However, due to my day job and the world economy on the verge of collapsing I shifted my focus back to one blog.

Over the coming years, it evolved from World Landscape Architect to World Landscape Architecture to WLA moving away from solely about publishing news and adding more projects, reviews, and competitions. It has always been about publishing work of landscape architects as a source of information and not a typical blog where one person states their opinion or idea on a project or subject.

The most interesting part of publishing is the readers, contributors and their feedback and excitement and joy from being published on WLA. I think that has been one of the greatest rewards of publishing WLA for the last 10 years. Also, it has been an honour to meet readers and contributors in real life at conferences and events and hear their stories about their projects.

Most people think that there is a team of people behind WLA, but many are amazed to hear that there is only one person publishing WLA (including the magazine). I have never sort the limelight and always wanted to make WLA about sharing and promoting landscape architecture.

Due to time commitments, and the changing way we absorb and research information, this will be the last edition of WLA Magazine. The website blog will continue to publish work and the WLA Awards will still seek to honour the work of landscape architects every year across the world.

I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me (and understanding the numerous excuses for working weekends on WLA). I would also like to thank all the sponsors, readers and the designers and firms who have contributed work over the years as they are what truly made this fun and exciting to curate and publish.

I have published the final edition of WLA Magazine but look forward to continuing to publish the WLA blog and run the WLA Awards. It is not the end but allowing time to work on the blog and promote landscape architecture.

Launching the WLA Awards

I recently just launched the WLA Awards, in its second year. The first year was a learning curve and I hope that the coming awards will be as successful as the 2017 Awards. I am lucky that I have again have jurors who willing to volunteer to spend hours pouring over pdf files to score, comment.

I had a conversation with a few people at ASLA in Los Angeles recently and it was interesting that many said that their needed to be more awards to acknowledge the work of landscape architects. It reinforced my resolve to continue the WLA Awards as long as I can and promote the profession of landscape architecture to a broader audience.

I created the awards to allow for landscape architects across the world be honoured by their peers. I always hope to get jurors from different nations, backgrounds and experience. It allows for different views to be expressed and also for not one country or type of landscape project to win.

I also changed the award categories this year to include two scales for Built Award category – Small and Large. This change allows for the smaller projects to get recognition, I have had interesting conversations that big projects always seem to win the awards, so this year I set out to try and balance that problem.

Also I removed the Research & Communication category as it  received about quarter the entries of other categories and seem to be not acknowledged by academia(this is a common problem which I may write about at another time) and organisations as most entries were from design firms or individuals.

The next few months will be slightly stressful, seeing if firms will enter and organising the submissions for jurors, the chasing up and then the final announcement and ordering the awards. I feel for those who are in ASLA, AILA, Landscape Institute, who organise numerous categories and entries and then the final ceremony. I have thought of having a ceremony but it is hard to find a venue that would encourage winners to attend as they are spread across the world, let alone the cost of hold a ceremony.

I am looking forward to judging the Editor’s Award. It is always fun to look at the submissions and shortlist my own and then select one at the end. It could be seen as arrogant but after 10 years of curating this blog, I thought that I could have one indulgence. Hope you enter. Find out more at WLA Awards.

Changing the climate change message from the fear to solutions

Over the past few years it has struck me how the climate change movement and the numerous presentations I have watched in person or online try to move people to action through fear and numbers.

First, lets address the numbers issue. All too often referring to large scale problems whether it is gun violence, road trauma or other major issue refer to numbers as a means to get people to take action or adjust behaviour. However, over the past twenty years I have noticed that people cannot grasp numbers too well especially those of large proportions (e.g. millions or billions) as it is not a number they deal with on a day to day basis. Also, time and numbers also creates a numbness and is why people often switch off when listening to people discuss the impacts of climate change because for some people they can’t see the impact of sea level change when discussed as a problem that will impact in 2025 or 2030 or 2050. Due to the nature of people’s attention spans being ever slowly reduced to seconds, it is hard to expect them to think in years and decades.

Second, fear is often the way we try to get people to listen and to change behaviour. The fear of consequences is what our parents used, teachers used and governments use to change our behaviour. However, like numbers this continual method of use fear and consequence to change behaviour is waning with people starting to realise that they can live with the consequences as it the impact is spend over so many that it has little impact on their day to day lives.

How do we get the message of the importance of climate change and the need as a species to take hold? There is two methods we need to use – group action and visual solutions.

Group Action – We often try to get people to change individually (through fear and guilt) to make an impact, however often it falls on deaf ears as they feel that changing their own lives doesn’t have a big impact on problems that are larger than life. Therefore, it is better to education people about groups (community, city, state, country, worldwide) they can join and how they can get the message out to broader audience using large numbers of people and how they can influence government, companies, and organisations through group action.

Visual Solutions – all too often the message we provide around climate change is are numbers, or the consequences such as the maps showing flooding of Manhattan or Shanghai or another large city. We need to show solutions and results in photos, diagrams, videos, animation and other visual formats. An image can move people, showing people images of reef that was once lost and now reborn, or a river delta that has been saved with oyster reefs or a wetland park that is mitigating flooding as part of “sponge cities” in China. These images have impact along with information provide people with a message of hope that there are solutions.

Climate change is one of largest problems the world has ever faced, but we will only create solutions and save the world by changing the message from one of fear to one of solutions.