The Landscape architecture profession is going through a transformation towards more use of digital tools. Schools of this profession should take this into consideration. There is a need to update education programmes for landscape architecture design by integrating digital work-flows and instruments that are being demanded. This will lay the foundation for making students fit for practice.
Ramzi Hassan: Associate Professor, Dr. Scient. Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
The rapid technological development of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and the increased applications of ICT solutions in the industry, significantly influence the landscape architecture design profession. While many of the ICT tools were mainly developed and directed towards the architecture practice, the landscape architecture community made use of it and slowly were able to utilize it for landscape architecture design.
Recently, the landscape architecture design profession is witnessing a new kind of focus on more use of ICT tools in the design process. The reasons for this increase demand are the following: First, the demand by government planning institutions for specific project deliverables e.g. BIM, IFC, 3D models. Statsbygg, Forsvarsbygg and Helsebygg already demands ICT based deliverables of projects. Second, there is a demand for higher efficiency among a multidisciplinary design team. Third, during the project development, there is a continuous need for updating and modifying project proposals. Fourth, clients are asking for more interaction in the process of formulating project proposals in order to provide a constructive feedback to the design team.
These challenges and transformations towards more use of ICT are creating a high demand for new graduates with excellent ICT skills. It starts to become a common practice for new fresh graduates to be evaluated based on their ICT experience rather on their design skills or academic excellence when applying for jobs. For design schools and academic institutions this should be an alarming signal. ICT has implications for the education and the preparation of students for their future professional careers. Educational institutes clearly have a major role to play in this transition. While we should continue providing good landscape architecture design education based on critical and creative thinking, we also need to make sure that our graduates are equipped with the right tools and ICT competence that the market is demanding. Therefore, learning ICT based work-flows should be incorporated in the study curricula for landscape architecture design education.
At the Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning (ILP), at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås, ICT tools are been incorporated through a digital curriculum in the study plan for landscape architecture design at all levels. The digital curriculum addresses the application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Building Information Modelling (BIM), Virtual Reality technology (VR), and Computer Aided Design (CAD). The curriculum includes also multi-disciplinary research activities that bridge the fundamentally technical aspects with the applied aspects of landscape architecture design and planning. The Virtual Reality Laboratory (VR-Lab) at ILP provides an arena for both students and researchers to interact with latest technologies and test its potentials and uses for the landscape architecture design. Latest advances in: 3D modelling, 3D visualizations, 3D historical reconstruction, Augmented Reality, Mobile-based applications, 3D printing, 3D scanning and Drones for reality capture, are subjects that being investigated at the VR-Lab during 2014. In addition, continuing education courses are being organized for local landscape architects and planners in order to share the outcome of experimentations and knowledge on the use of latest technologies.