Ian Wale describes the setting up of Make’s new landscape team.
I started working at Make in January 2014 to establish an in-house landscape team, one that would sit alongside the architects and interior designers, broadening the professional services that the practice provides. Landscape had been on Make’s agenda for a number of years and it so happened that the studio’s tenth anniversary year coincided with the implementation of the new team.
Make appealed to me personally because of its studio environment and the company ethos, as well as its incredibly diverse portfolio of projects. Make’s huge variety of clients and projects presents a fantastic opportunity to produce some great work as part of a truly integrated approach. There is always something exciting going on and it’s amazing to be a part of the company, especially as it moves into its second decade.
Having been a member of the wider consultant team on the London Wall Place development for several years before joining Make, I knew that the practice truly valued landscape. I have come to see that this approach runs deeper than just being a project-driven requirement. I have found a genuine interest in landscape and public realm at all levels. This stems from a real understanding of the value that good-quality open space can bring to buildings and the wider built environment. Because of this it has been a relatively simple transition into the Make studio.
Joining the practice has been an incredible learning curve due to the close collaboration between myself and the architectural teams within the studio. I have found it very rewarding to pass on my knowledge in what has become a really effective exchange of information. Being integrated within the studio means this happens constantly, allowing us to assimilate ideas more quickly and efficiently.
One of the main attractions for me about Make is its lack of house style – each project is approached without preconceptions. This ensures that our design proposals are fully responsive to the context, intended uses and client wishes. A consequence of this creative freedom is a constant supply of energy and enthusiasm that drives the design process forward, as well as an eagerness to investigate new materials and methods for the good of the project and the environment.
Key to our design approach is a passion for nature and wildlife. It is vital that we enhance biodiversity within our developments, particularly on inner-city sites. The challenge of providing for social and cultural uses and requirements while achieving habitat creation, is one that we thoroughly embrace at Make.
Sketching is also key to our creativity. Considerable emphasis is placed on free-hand drawing and the benefits that it brings to the design process. We use sketching throughout the life of a project, not just at the initial concept stage, for idea development, detailing and presentation. We run drawing classes within the studio and also contribute to Sketchmob, a social sketching group that runs monthly events around London.
My first twelve months at Make have been incredibly exciting and I have been involved in a wide range of projects, taking us from Basildon to Hong Kong. As part of our ongoing work with the University of Oxford, the Big Data Institute (BDI) involves the creation of a wonderful landscaped setting that includes a new arrival plaza and a woodland garden. Forming part of a wider masterplan, these spaces will play a key role in the success of the Old Road Campus.
In the Isle of Dogs we are creating a series of new public garden spaces as part of the Meridian Gate development. Built over a new basement car park, the landscape involves the planting of a large number of semi-mature trees and the creation of dedicated play space and a boules area. Integrating sustainable urban drainage and substantial biodiversity benefits, the development will provide much-needed new open space in the heart of London’s Docklands.
Currently under construction, London Wall Place is about to see the creation of a striking new inner-city park. Focused around the remarkable heritage remains of the Roman City Wall and St Alphage Church tower, the new public realm creates a series of gardens that will become a new destination within the City of London.
We are hugely excited about the future of Make’s landscape architecture team. The first year has been great fun, seeing landscape become an integrated part of the studio and contributing to a fantastic portfolio of projects. We aim to continue this great work, and also look to follow the success of Make’s interiors team by engaging with other architectural practices. By combining bold design with a balanced approach to social and cultural needs, biodiversity and the environment to create places in which we can all take pride, we hope to establish landscape architecture as a valued design service in its own right.
Find out more about Meridian Gate or London Wall Place on the Make website.