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Peter Veenstra is a landscape architect and co-founder of LOLA Architects, a design firm based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. They specialise in questioning the relationship between nature, man and urban spaces, producing designs that weave sprawling gardens and open squares for pedestrians seamlessly among city districts.
According to the Design Indaba 2018 speaker who launched a new collaboration with Design Indaba called the Dome of Plants as part of his talk, there is a curious divergence that occurs in the industry of landscape architecture that must be manouvered with care.
On one hand, designers are eager to flex their creative muscles with impressive and complex “out of the box” compositions with too little regard for the real-world impact. At the other end of the spectrum exist the designers who take the issues of the natural surroundings incredibly seriously, yielding to obstacles to such a degree that it bogs down their creativity from the start.
“We’re trying to combine the two,” says Veenstra, “We like to do experiments in the office, but of course in the end we are happiest when the structural improvement and design [thinking] come together.”
Despite the challenge, Veenstra maintains that this is an exciting time to be a part of the landscape architecture industry, as the global zeitgeist is moving more towards offsetting the dreary side of urban life with elements of nature and the great outdoors. There is a collective desire to introduce the countryside into our citified lives, a mindfulness of Earth that enriches our wellbeing. This desire is one that creative groups such as LOLA Architects are acting on.
The Adidas Campus in Germany is one project that illustrates this considerate approach. Though still under construction, it will feature landscape gardens that reflect the active and sporty ethos that the brand of Adidas is known for. The architects intend for this to be a dynamic space where the employees of the company will feel inspired by their working environment, inside and out.