The Comfort Pursuit

Landscape architecture in Brazil and New Zealand

Banks Peninsula, Christchurch, New Zealand
Banks Peninsula, Christchurch, New Zealand

I have recently co-authored a conference paper with Glauco Cocozza. The paper compares the teaching of landscape architecture in Brazil and New Zealand, and made me revive some thoughts and impressions that I had and have about the profession. Moreover Marina Martins, who writes on PAISAGEIRO, has asked me to write about the differences between architecture and landscape architecture in Brazil and New Zealand. So here are some of my thoughts.

Starting with my home country, in Brazil landscape architecture is part of the architecture degree. Among many other subjects (such as building science, theory and history of architecture, urban design and planning, structural concepts and calculations) landscape architecture is part of a five-year degree. In fact landscape architecture is usually subject of two or three courses, covered in two or three semesters. This means we do not have a chance of covering many aspects of landscape, such as planting, ecology, biodiversity and so forth. Despite this structure, and based on what I understood by landscape architecture before moving to New Zealand, I have been predominantly against the idea of separating landscape architecture from architecture. I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about.

In New Zealand landscape architects have largely different skills. Here, architecture, architecture theory and history, building science, interior design, landscape architecture, planning and urban design are all independent degrees. Most of these degrees take around three years. My closest experience in New Zealand is at Lincoln University, and despite the early scepticism it later changed my mind about why landscape should indeed be a separated degree.

Here is how it is framed in the LU Landscape Architecture Booklet:

… Graduates can also look forward to working on a wide range of projects – from civic developments, urban design and tourism developments, to residential and lifestyle subdivisions and commercial, institutional and industrial projects. They can also work on parks, highways, heritage conservation, ecological restoration and revegetation, city or rural planning and resource planning.

This is an undergraduate degree we don’t have in Brazil. Our options are to study five years of architecture and urban design (including even calculations of concrete structures) and then add a couple more years to specialize in landscape; or we work with professionals from other areas such as ecology, agronomy, forestry and so forth. This is also unreal in many cases, especially when the budget for professional contracts is limited, resulting in aspects of the landscape being compromised. On the other hand, many different professionals are allowed to be ‘responsible’ or ‘sign off’ the designs, meaning that architects alone can design a park, for example. But how? Do we actually have the right qualifications to evaluate and plan the environmental impacts our designs can generate?

Landscape in Brazil has been evolving and shifting from a purely architectural profession to a broader, more environment based one. It is now recognized that the role of these professionals is much larger than the arty sketches and gardens they can produce. However, the view is still closely connected to architectural and urban design, implying that landscape is something that is constructed, and therefore natural and rural landscapes are outside the scope of the profession.

Studying in New Zealand has clarified the importance of having landscape architecture as an independent degree. The way landscape is structured in Brazil means we don’t have a professional who can bridge design, environment assessment and planning. I came to see this as a danger to the environment. Studying here in New Zealand has also highlighted why designing landscapes has for a long time felt or too simple, or overly complex. It is a garden, a park or nothing. Despite being fascinated by urban climate and human comfort, I felt providing shade and spaces for people wasn’t enough.

Where are you from? How are all these planning and design related professions structured in your country? Or are you from Brazil or New Zealand? If so, what is your opinion about the profession in your country? 

5 thoughts on “Landscape architecture in Brazil and New Zealand”

  1. OLA SILVIA. BOA TARDE

    Sempre fui a favor de separar Arquitetura da Paisagem do nosso curso de Arquitetura e Urbanismo. Na França estudei no Institut d´Urbanisme de Paris porque também, lá arquitetura e urbanismo são dois cursos diferentes.
    Não vejo como ministrar Arquitetura da Paisagem em apenas dois semestres com 45hs cada.
    Agora em um doutorado também interdisciplinar, reforço minha idéia de separação. a complexidade de se estudar Cidades mais sustentaveis sob a ótima do sistema verde e o tratamentos dos espaços públicos, é um desafio que requer um profissional com uma base intelectual interdisciplinar, alem do conhecimento técnico de arquitetura. As áreas de Ecologia da Paisagem, Silvicultura, Engenharia florestal, sem falar em sociologia, antropologia e ciencias do ambiente…abraços. bom trabalho. sucesso sempre.

  2. Oi Márcia,
    Concordo contigo, acho que é uma profissão muito importante e que o nosso currículo no Brasil deixa a desejar. São muitas definições diferentes, e a gente acaba separando muito o urbanismo da paisagem e do paisagismo. Aqui na NZ paisagismo, paisagem e urbanismo andam muito próximos e como consequência se têm cidades mais bem estruturadas e com ambientes ecologicamente mais preservados e mais sustentáveis. Não a sustentabilidade de tetos verdes, mas a sustentabilidade real, de parques que preservam e regeneram ecossistemas, de sistemas hidícos bem estruturados e preservados e por aí vai. O problema maior que eu vejo é que da maneira como cursos de graduação são estruturados no Brasil, ou a gente lida com urbanismo (que inclui paisagem) ou a gente lida com um paisagismo que beira a jardinagem (mas que também pode ser visto como paisagem). Na minha opinião a arquitetura da paisagem têm que ser a ponte entre essas duas disciplinas e incluir impactos ambientais mais abrangentes, como o efeito da cidade na paisagem regional e nos ecossistemas que a cercam. Quando eu percebi essa falta, muita coisa fez sentido pra mim… Por exemplo porque temos rios tão poluidos e paisagem naturais tão descuidadas…. É uma pena, em um país lindo como o nosso! Abraço

  3. Olá! Tudo bem? Já morei na NZ por um tempo e pretendo voltar. Estou estudando Arquitetura e Urbanismo e gostaria de saber de você se existe espaço para arquitetos brasileiros aí. Um grande abraço e parabéns pelo texto. Concordo com absolutamente tudo.

    1. Oi Filipe!
      Que legal que já moraste aqui e que pretendes voltar. A NZ é um lugar muito especial! Existe espaço sim, eu trabalho na Lincoln University aqui, mas tenho amigos brasileiros que trabalham em escritório. Não diria que é fácil, mas é possível. Falta quanto tempo pra te formares? Se quiseres me manda mensagem privada aqui: https://silviatavares.com/contact/
      Obrigada pelo teu comentário. Sempre é muito bom entrar em contato com o Brasil! 🙂

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