2020 | In Review – What a year!

The year 2020 will be remembered as the year of many challenges that tested people, communities and governments. A year that saw the COVID pandemic spread across many nations, whether briefly or for extended periods or waves, it challenged communities and tested their resilience and resolve.

Although the focus was often (and still is for some) on the negatives including the panic buying, shortage of supplies, missed celebrations and sadly the deaths, we have also seen some positives with communities coming together, people helping where they can. We have also seen social inequality and injustice exposed due to access to testing, housing, and financial assistance. It has highlighted the gap between haves and have-nots that we need to acknowledge and seek to address the associated issued when we can.

We have seen some positives come out of this year by seeing various science communities create solutions to the treatment and vaccines.

Nature has had a reprieve as travel (air/vehicle), and tourism has declined and inturn reducing CO2 emissions along with fewer numbers of tourists visiting fragile environments.

Cities have started to critically assess their public spaces, streets and public transport with many installing temporary or permanent bike lanes and widening of footpaths(side walks) for greater foot traffic. We have also seen the public take greater pride in their parks with an increased appreciation of the value of green spaces.

WLA Awards 2020 had a diverse range of landscape architecture projects submitted with the winning entries showcasing the high quality of design in the landscape architecture profession. Sign up for notifications for the 2021 WLA Awards

The Reimagining the Spaces in Between ideas competition was inspiring with students proving new and innovative ideas facing cities when dealing with COVID-19. I look forward to holding more competitions in 2021.

HOPES for 2021
As we head towards January 1, 2021 we should be hopeful for the future and seek to make a difference the following are some of my hopes for 2021.

Importance of Landscape
The public has a greater appreciation of public spaces due to increased usage, and the need to get out into nature has placed greater importance on the value of the landscape. As landscape architects, we should take this opportunity to promote the value and seek greater funds from government and private funding to improve the quality of spaces and initiatives within cities.

Addressing the gap
2020 has exposed the gap in access to parks, public transport and facilities in communities. We hope that governments seek to listen to their people and address critical issues with more verve and understanding that change needs to occur.

Embracing the Unknown and be open
After a year of unknowns (out of lockdown, work from home, etc.), we need to embrace the unknown and be open to what we may need to do to get through these challenges and events that push us to the edge. We also need to support each other as we may not meet in large groups. However, we can still join together whether physically or digitally to support our colleagues, profession, communities and cities.

Relating to the public
As landscape architects, the hope is that we seek to relate to the public in more ways than ever. We need to lose the industry jargon, colloquialisms and repackaged terms to speak to the community to understand the importance of our profession. Most of all, we need to listen, collaborate and communicate on terms that place everyone on equal footing and understanding to come together.

Planning for the long term
We need to plan for the long term, although temporary designs and solutions are great for prototyping and testing we need to have large, long term goals that will protect, conserve and improve the landscape. In the 1920s, there was a great amount of innovation and change within society. I hope that the remainder of the 2020s sees a large amount of innovation and solutions in cities, transport, environment and landscape that set up the world for a better long term future.

There is no problem too big
From what we have seen in the past year, it is encouraging to see the speed at which humanity can move to collaborate and create solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. I hope that the world can come together and attack the challenges of social injustice, food security, and climate change with a commitment to creating solutions for the long term future for all.

I hope that you, your families, and colleagues have gained experiences and learned from 2020 and have a great 2021.

Written by Damian Holmes – Editor of World Landscape Architecture.
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About Damian Holmes 3223 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/