People, Design Beauty and landscape architecture moving from “Broccoli around the steak” to a force for change

Alejandro Aravena

Over the four hours on Day 1 of the World Design Summit, we heard from Keynote speakers – Alejandro Aravena, Maureen Thurston, Ginette Caron, Sushir Kadidal,  Dirk Sijmons, and Jan Gehl. The keynote speakers all spoke of their various areas of design expertise and experience, but there was one element that reoccurred through in several presentations – PEOPLE.

Jan Gehl

Whether it was Jan Gehl speaking of the need to focus on people spaces and creating places for people or Alejandro Aravena who spoke of participatory design and giving people ownership of community housing by leaving it incomplete to allow families to take ownership and complete the house themselves. Maureen Thurston in her presentation about professional services design and the journey of change at Aurecon also spoke about planting seeds and reframing ideas for people to understand and take ownership.

Sushir Kadidal

Sushir Kadidal spoke of Design Beauty and how through the ages their has always been a playful search for beauty in design. The intrinsic and extrinsic designs sometimes fall by the wayside when beauty is commoditised when developers or clients often hire you just for your name, not your design.

Dirk Sijmons

The highlight for landscape architects was the presentation by Dirk Sijmons who was awarded the Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award before his presentation in which he humbly accepted the award and showed a slide with the names of colleagues and collaborators stating that it is we who won this award. He went on to provide a history of landscape architecture in the Netherlands and how it has transformed from being the “Broccoli around the steak” to “Landscape architecture is a force for change, a force of synthesis, and a force for battling problems.”  Dirk also provided some ideas of how landscape once was planting plans for the government to now creating spaces of climate adaptation for people to use and balance the ecological and social uses.



2023 WLA Professional Awards registrations close on Friday, March 17, 2023, at 11:59pm London, UK.
About Damian Holmes 5666 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