We asked eleven landscape professionals, all at different stages in their careers, to tell us what inspired them to follow a career in landscape and what advice they would give to others. Their answers show the breadth of talent, experience and passion across the profession. They explain how they trained, what is important to them about the profession and how they would recommend it to others.

Rupinder Kaur Chawlia (Rupi)

Rupi is a landscape architect. She studied for her BA (Hons) and Postgraduate Diploma in Landscape Architecture at Leeds Metropolitan University.

What inspired you to study to become a landscape professional?

Though it sounds like a cliché, I wanted to make the world a better place! At 16, I travelled abroad and saw slum communities with no room for vegetation, wildlife or outdoor space to play or relax. I suddenly realised how important the outdoor space is, the connection between humans and nature and how it helps to improve the quality of life. Just being outside can help:

  • change or improve mood
  • create positive memories
  • stimulate imagination
  • become more mentally and physically active
  • feel connected to the world
  • be less isolated

I wanted to create pleasant, safe and balanced environments that inspire and changes the lives of individuals improving their health and well-being. I discovered a career in landscape architecture was the perfect way to do this.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

The transformation of a disused factory site into a high-quality urban park, creating an important link to a green corridor south of the town. It boasts a natural play area, wildflower and grass meadows and meandering paths alongside a restored brook. It is a good example of a new landscape driving a mixed development – it will provide the setting and dictate the layout for an adjoining housing development.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Interacting with other professionals, people, clients and contractors and working together as a team to problem solve and successfully deliver the schemes. Each day is different. Often there is such a variety of tasks that need to be delivered and handled each day, which makes my job more interesting.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

Pleasing everyone! There will be occasions where either the end-users or stakeholders disagree. This is where the additional skill as a mediator kicks in and although challenging, it can be satisfying to help them reach a compromise.

How do you make your mark on the world?

I bring energy, optimism, creativity, communication (bringing everyone together) and a unique perspective to the team, helping to ensure that the landscape we create reflect what people want and bring as much benefit as possible to people and nature.

What trends do you predict for your industry in the next few years?

Currently there is a lot more scrutiny and media coverage of human impact on the environment and climate lie erosion, flooding and pollution. I see the profession stepping-up to work with other environmental specialists to find innovative, creative solutions to combat some of the challenges. We can contribute by ensuring that the resulting landscape incorporates opportunity for human enjoyment.

Why is the landscape profession important to the future of society and the environment?

A landscape architect’s commitment to protecting, conserving and enhancing the landscape is imperative. We don’t just fill in the spaces other people have left!

Our ambitions for what outdoor space can achieve go beyond creating settings for buildings – we know that landscape can be challenging, emotive, reflective, rich in wildlife, become landmarks, meeting places, etc. Delivering new landscapes like this means future generations will have the same if not better opportunities to experience/enjoy the natural world than ours.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a landscape professional?

The profession offers so many opportunities including site visits, working with people, using exciting graphic packages and the thrill of seeing your design on paper taking shape before your eyes. It embodies science, art, maths, horticulture, geography, and much more which means as a professional you’ll never get bored! Working in an environment where you find you have to talk to all sorts of people and explain your ideas to them, is daunting at first but pushes you to become a more confident person.

I #chooselandscape because I love creating outdoor spaces that put a smile on people’s faces and harmonise with nature