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The Beauty of Permeability

When asked about our professional challenges at a landscape congress, landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson commented that “we need to be more permeable – how we work with others, creating teams and collaborating. Like diversity is good for the planet, diversity in our profession is good." In relation to the topic of ‘what landscape architecture is’ the idea of permeability being an ambition seems appropriate and timely.

At 4Sight our aim is to blur the boundaries between disciplines and inspire innovative design responses for land, people and water. Our design outcomes aim to make environments more permeable for people and wildlife. Landscape architecture touches all of us and permeates through all aspects of our lives. What is missing from this all-pervading influence is a voice to de-mystify that relationship – the communication of landscape, to build visibility and ownership of the outcomes and the influence that good design has on the world.

As highlighted by Sim van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan in Ecological Design “we live in two interpenetrating worlds. The first is the living world, which has been forged in an evolutionary crucible over a period of four billion years. The second is the world of roads, cities, farms and artefacts, that people have been designing for themselves over the last few millennia. The condition that threatens both worlds – unsustainability – results from a lack of integration between them.”

The Landscape team at 4Sight aims to showcase how landscape is a critical tool for sustainable development that supports and empowers local communities and deals with the idea of landscape as a whole space (rural, urban, wilderness, man-made, treasured and degraded) in order to give it strength. Most importantly, our goal is to honour the relationship that people have with landscape in a holistic and integrated way that goes beyond the compartmentalised nature of landscape so often presented.

The work we’ve been doing to support the achievement of the living roof design for the last Hundertwasser building that is to be constructed in the world - the Hundertwasser and Wairau Maori Art Centre in Whangarei - is an example of what permeability can bring. It represents nature and the built form coming together, art and culture integrating within the urban city form, and ultimately a thriving Whangarei. The project epitomises the blurring of disciplinary boundaries and has been an exciting opportunity for the 4Sight Landscape team to showcase their unique blend of expertise.

It is this notion of landscape permeating all things that holds the most power for our future, both as communities living within and professionals working with the environments that surround us.

We look forward to working on projects that raise the profile of and de-mystify landscape and to facilitate local shared visions on permeability more in future.

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