Distinguishing Landscape Architecture: An Environmental Frontier

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The need for distinction becomes ever more crucial in a world where climate change rings the alarm bells for humanity. The person to shed light on this differentiation between architecture and landscape architecture is none other than Amos Atumye Alao, President of the Society of Landscape Architects of Nigeria. With a passion for environmental engineering and nature-based solutions, Alao is championing a cause that holds the key to solving many environmental problems and positioning Nigeria for success in tackling climate change challenges.

Landscape architecture, often overshadowed by its more well-known counterpart, building architecture, is an independent profession with a distinct focus. It encompasses a wide array of disciplines, including ecology, urban planning, and environmental knowledge, making it a unique and indispensable field. Alao reveals, “Landscape architecture is not just about designing spaces; it’s about crafting sustainable ecosystems that thrive alongside human communities.”

Alao is resolute in his mission to educate Nigerians about this distinction. “We want the Nigerian people to know there is a distinction between building Architecture and Landscape Architecture,” he emphasizes. The relevance of this distinction becomes evident as the world grapples with climate change consequences such as flooding, rising sea levels, drought, and urban heat islands. “In a world grappling with climate change challenges, landscape architects are the guardians of our environment, offering nature-based solutions that hold the key to a more resilient and beautiful future,” Alao continues. Landscape architects play a pivotal role in addressing these issues, making them environmental engineers in their own right.

One of the remarkable concepts that landscape architects have introduced is the idea of “sponge cities.” Originated by landscape architect Kongjian Yu, this concept has now become a global model for urban planning. These cities effectively manage rainwater by absorbing and retaining excess stormwater, filtering it, and releasing it slowly, much like a sponge. The result? Cleaner air, improved mental and physical health, and enhanced urban food security – making our cities more beautiful and healthier places to live.

Furthermore, with the commitment to Net Zero emissions at the Paris Agreement signed by Nigeria in 2016, Nigeria can bolster its efforts in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Net Zero entails reducing greenhouse gas emissions as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, oceans, and vegetation. Landscape architects are at the forefront of implementing nature-based solutions that align with this global imperative.

Alao also wants to dispel the misconception that landscape architecture should be regulated by architects. Globally, landscape architecture stands as an independent profession, acknowledged for its unique contributions. Naval Architects are also not regulated by Architects. The Society of Landscape Architects of Nigeria is affiliated with the International Federation of Landscape Architecture, which has been instrumental in supporting the field over the past two decades. This affiliation was pivotal in hosting the IFLA Africa Symposium in 2013 , solidifying Nigeria’s position in the international landscape architecture community.

In contrast to engineering, where there is a shared foundation before diversification, landscape architecture is a realm of its own. Its emphasis on environmental knowledge, sustainability, and holistic urban planning makes it an essential part of the solution to the climate crisis.

In summary, the efforts of Alao and the Society of Landscape Architects of Nigeria are instrumental in creating awareness, sensitizing the public, and clarifying the unique role of landscape architecture. As the world faces the “code red” severity of climate change, it’s crucial to recognize that landscape architects are the environmental stewards who can lead us toward a more sustainable and resilient future.

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