Is This Good Design?……..or Meaningless Scribbles!

It’s great that so many universities are jumping onto the garden design band-wagon because it not only spreads the word, but helps create interest in the subject.
The problem arises when what is being taught, amounts to little more than ‘meaningless scribbles’. I appreciate what I am saying is controversial but this Video to me, represents everything bad about garden design teaching.

This is not supposed to be a personal attack on Dr. Ann Marie VanDerZanden, but why did she choose such a dreadful design example?  What she is passing off as a ‘typical residential design’, shows a fundamental lack of design appreciation.

The pattern is anything but simple, looking more like an angry jelly fish attacking a building.  Rhythm and line remain unexplained and she then goes on to say that proportion can’t be seen in a plan view….may be not in this design, but it should be there!
Balance was tackled next and asymmetry and symmetry introduced, but to suggest that this ‘amoeba’ is a symmetrical design makes me wonder if we are looking at the same drawing, as there is nothing formal about this plan.

The building looks like it has just landed from space and been 'plonked' onto the landscape.

The organic shapes used, show a total disregard for the geometry contained within the building and to my mind the house and garden quite simply clash.  

I think this design is Awful!!!!! ……….Yet this is the design style being taught to thousands of would-be garden designers around the world every year, by teachers who should stick to horticulture but  never venture near a drawing board!
I appreciate that design is subjective and I would love to talk to these people to understand where they are coming from, however, 70 years after Thomas Church and 40 years after John Brookes why is this mediocrity still being taught?

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Student Exhibition 2010: See Why our students are considered some of the best in the World!

Student Exhibition 2010 from Duncan Heather on Vimeo.

The student end of years’ exhibition was held on the 17th June with over 200 people visiting the show between 4-7pm

The students go on to use their exhibits as part of their sales portfolio so the work has a duel role both as a way of showing the external examiners the quality of the work and also as a sales aide for when they start their business.

The work displayed is a selection of all of the work completed through the year so from the first design exercises completed in the into module to the 3 real gardens completed during the course.

Not to mention the 20 or so speed design exercises design to stretch every facet of the design repertoire from commercial housing projects to car par design, through to the sighting of tennis courts and swimming pools and garage and driveway design. The course is called residential landscape design for a reason, as we cover both domestic and corporate projects to maximise the employability of our students as well as give them the broadest range of experience of any the design schools.
“The course lies somewhere between a university based education and an apprenticeship, as student and tutors work closely together on real live projects and clients from the start.”
Project 1 was a tiny courtyard garden in central Oxford the garden was part of a development of modern town houses built in the late 80’s over 3 floors with the lounge dining and kitchen bases on the first floor.
There is a first floor balcony, but no existing link to the garden, so is was decided very quickly to build a flight of stairs allowing direct access to the garden.

Project 2 was a small country garden in a village location in Rotherfield Oxfordshire. The site had significant privacy issues as well a requiring a new garage and workshop, a new conservatory and a kitchen garden. All to be squeezed into a relatively small 500 square meters

Project 3 was a 2.5 acre country garden on a sloping site in Bluebury Oxfordshire. The front entrance area require a major revamp and the client also requested a conservatory design as well as a new pond/lake at the bottom of the site.

This has been another excellent year.

You can see from the slide show that are student produce better designs in their first 8 weeks of training and most schools produce in a year.
“It’s not just their design ability! The level of technical competence and professional practice is second to none and continues to demonstrate why are student are considered to be some of the best in the world.”