Over the past few years, I have published predictions about landscape architecture trends for the coming year. I have provided a detailed review of my 2021 predictions in my review. I have not covered all the landscape architecture ideas and trends for 2022 in the following piece as I have focused on the crucial issues and trends of the coming year.
In 2022, many landscape architecture trends will continue to develop and become commonplace in the profession, and other trends are yet to be explored and developed. The landscape architecture profession is in various stages of maturity worldwide; therefore, some of these trends will occur at varying speeds in each country.
Mitigating Climate Change
The mitigation of climate change will increasingly create a wide variety of trends worldwide. We have recently seen more project work is dedicated to mitigating climate change in the USA. In other parts of the world, climate change initiatives are at full speed, and in some parts of the world, public and private clients are yet to move (or aren’t going to). Therefore, climate change mitigation will occur at differing speeds across the world. The hope is that climate change is seen by all nations as a global issue that cannot be dealt with purely at a regional or national level but as a global issue requiring nations to work together.
The mitigation initiatives will cover a broad spectrum from changing land management practices to small initiatives such as regulations governing the colour and reflectivity of surfaces. Climate change will influence the profession and require us to become more knowledgeable about the concepts and approaches whilst also providing the information (data) that convinces clients that landscape is critical in meeting their 2030 and 2050 carbon offset(neutrality) goals.
A trend that has been growing over the past two decades will become increasingly popular as more online tools are developed such as the Climate Positive Design and Carbon Conscience App. Also, the increase in the number of landscape architects who know how to code and develop tools will allow designers to create more solution-based tools, including designing to regulations such as ADA, green area, biomass, carbon sequestration, permeability requirements, etc.
As landscape architects, we often envision how we would like to see the design implemented and evolve; however, this is often too static, showing only analysis of the current state and then a vision of the final design. However, by utilising artificial intelligence and machine learning it will be possible to envision various opportunities for improvement and change throughout the project’s life; this will be a handy tool for developing master plans based on several scenarios. The profession may fear that this technology will limit their creativity; however, others will see it as a powerful tool to create the best design based on environmental, social and economic considerations. Although this will not occur in 2022, we will see the beginnings of firms utilising technology to develop and assess design outcomes.
Greater emphasis on the value of outdoor space
People will place greater value on outdoor spaces as places to exercise, relax, meet, dine and recreate. Industries (especially arts & entertainment) will start to see smaller outdoor events are ways to get people to attend comfortably, this will place greater strain on parks and open spaces in cities. Will indoor stadiums and large entertainment venues continue to draw the crowds? Or will the expectation be that more events will need to be held outdoors with smaller crowds?
Landscape Architects will need to plan and design more open spaces that can facilitate multiple uses. No longer will a local sports park be solely for a sports team, but it may have to integrate more functions and facilities with the same budget.
Focus on Landscape Maintenance
Due to higher usage, the public and clients will focus on landscape maintenance, and local communities will seek places to gather outdoors. City governments will need to consider improving maintenance by through visually(walkthroughs) or technological assessment(sensors, video) to determine how often they need to maintain a public space.
Governments, Clients and Site Managers will continue in 2022 to advocate for the reduction of their carbon footprint. Maintenance departments and companies will need to assist in achieving these goals by utilising new equipment (battery-powered, hybrid, etc) and adopting new maintenance practices (crew route management, mow less, irrigation/water management, biological pest control, composting, etc).
Temporary spaces will transition
Temporary spaces will continue to be used by cities to (re)activate spaces, with some transitioning to be permanent spaces including outdoor dining, bike lanes, street plazas, art installations.
Residential Gardens makeovers
Over the past two years, people have been enjoying their home gardens and rediscovering gardening the industry will see an increase in makeovers. These makeovers will include Garden Offices as people continue to work from home but wish to create more separation between their work and home life.
Landscape Conservation & Restoration, Increasing Biodiversity and Reducing Weed Invasions
Many will think that this is not a trend but some of the tenets of landscape architecture, we will see a greater emphasis from governments and communities on conservation, biodiversity and weed management as tools to mitigate climate change.
Conserving and restoring natural systems is critical in sequestering carbon, especially in coastal environments that can store far greater amounts of carbon than forests. Conservation and restoration of grasslands, forests, peatland, wetlands will be a trend that will continue for generations but in some parts of the world it will take landscape architects, ecologists and planners to raise awareness in 2022 among governments and stakeholders to ensure that natural systems are not lost to over-development in the race to create cheap housing, logistics centres or increasing a country’s gross domestic product.
There is a need to increase biodiversity, not just plants but also soil biology, to conserve and provide ecosystems for humans and animals. Landscape architects should seek to increase their knowledge of plants and (soil) biology. Planting design and soil should be front of mind, especially when it is increasingly challenging to obtain specified plants as commercial nurseries seem to be reducing the range of plants available (in favour of colour or flowering cultivars) to the industry. Reliance on government and non-profits for seed banks and plant supply will become critical for landscape architects in some countries.
Much has been written about the benefits of weeds in urban environments in creating habitats, however, landscape architects need to gain a greater understanding of which weeds are invasive and noxious as these weeds can have a devasting environmental and economic impact. The trend in weed management will go beyond the control period during the construction phase and will require a holistic approach across the whole project period from start through to maintenance.
Regional Growth and development
With many developed nations seeing an increase in regional growth due to COVID and ageing populations the planning and management of regional cities and towns will increase in 2022 and beyond. Many regional governments will engage and employ landscape architects to assist in developing plans for this unexpected growth (housing & logistics centres), which emphasises my previous point of the need to conserve & restore landscapes. Unmanaged explosive growth can be detrimental to landscapes and people and there is a need for landscape architects to be involved.
Landscape architect shortage and greater demand for inclusion and career development
The shortage of landscape architects will vary across the world due to various factors including:
- Reduced numbers of local graduating students
- People returning to their home country to be close to family
- People leaving the profession to seek out challenges beyond traditional practice
- More alternative opportunities (to earn a living) for younger generations beyond the conventional professional career (not only in landscape but also architecture, engineering, etc.)
These factors will require private firms and public organisations to rethink how they attract people to stay or join the profession. The traditional pathway of studying at university, joining a practice, and progressing up a career ladder is no longer attractive to everyone. They are seeing and seeking out more options and flexibility beyond the traditional career.
Recently all workers have been assessing their jobs and careers over the past two years and many are demanding greater involvement in their firms and organisations. They are seeking out greater career development (mentoring, career courses), especially as this has often fallen by the wayside as firms have moved to work from home and hybrid work arrangements. Landscape architects are also seeking more flexible workplaces that allow them to work part-time in academia, a non-profit or side hustles to fulfil their aspirations beyond landscape architecture practice.
Some universities have seen reduced programs and numbers over recent times as international students stay closer to home, thus reducing fees. As universities may continue to teach online or hybrid (online/in person) classes, they will have to invest in training staff to keep online students engaged in coursework.
Labour, supply shortages and increased costs across the industry
COVID and an aging skilled workforce will continue to impact landscape projects as we see construction contractors trying to complete contracts with changing team members and increased costs. Landscape architects will need to be mindful of the ongoing impact of COVID when providing timelines and project cost estimates.
Dispersed but connected
Many firms facing the labour shortage are hiring talent (or allowing people to move) in different cities and places, creating a dispersed team network that can work together remotely. Many firms have already hired people without ever meeting their new team member over the past two years. This trend is not suited to all firms but will be increasingly common.
Over the past few decades, designers have tended to look to international ideas for inspiration as part of the design process. However, as we realise that many of the principles (sustainability, places for people, social justice, etc) are becoming accepted within the broader population, we need to local inspiration and move away from the international design aesthetic. More recently, we are seeing more built projects that could be anywhere in the world and lack local character. In 2022, as people focus on their families, communities, and cities, landscape architects need to look locally for inspiration (landscape, art, culture, vegetation, etc).
A year of uncertain optimism
As a profession, we will face many environmental, social and economic challenges and opportunities throughout 2022; however, we have the knowledge and understanding to gather the best approaches and ideas to ensure that the future is the best it can be. As landscape architects, we often see the broader issues and seek out robust solutions that unite many ideas and people to create better places for all. We should be optimistic about the future; although it may be uncertain, we can learn from the past and provide hope by creating inspiring places and cities.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this year’s landscape architecture trends; there are many ideas and trends. I wish you all the best for 2022; I encourage everyone to have an optimistic outlook, enjoy the simple pleasures of being part of the landscape architecture profession and seek to make a change, however small or significant you can.
Image Credits: Carbon Conscience App – Sasaki (top left)
DISCLAIMER: This article is for educational purposes only. The content is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest. It’s not intended to be comprehensive, nor to constitute advice. You should always obtain legal or other professional advice, appropriate to your own circumstances, before acting or relying on any of that content. This advice is general in nature.