March 17, 2018

Grant Associates elected to SILA executive committee

Grant Associates

Mike Wood, Senior Associate at Grant Associates, has been elected to the Executive Committee for the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects (SILA).

Mike will serve a two-year term on the Executive Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of the non-profit organisation that represents landscape architecture professionals in Singapore.

Grant Associates has been an active member of SILA since the UK headquartered practice formed a Singapore office in 2006 after Grant Associates was appointed lead designer of the city state’s landmark scheme Gardens by the Bay. Grant Associates has gone on to consolidate its reputation in the region and win a range of high profile contracts in Singapore, South East Asia and Australia.

Grant Associates recently relocated to larger offices at Tras Street in Tanjong Pagar – a historic district within Singapore’s Central Business District – to house its growing team.

Mike Wood, Senior Associate at Grant Associates, comments: “Landscape architecture is still very much a developing discipline in Singapore. SILA has done some great work to promote excellence in landscape design and practice, and champion the landscape architect’s role within the wider built environment sector.

“With green infrastructure and large scale public realm projects high on the agenda in Singapore, now is an exciting time for members of the landscape design profession and I’m looking forward to help shape SILA’s positive influence where I can.”

Grant Associates Singapore will host a SILA Studio networking and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) event on 28th April 2017 at its new offices. Open to all SILA members, please click here for more details.


Fields in Trust supports API call to increase investment to positively impact health and wellbeing


Fields in Trust welcomes a new report from the Association of Play Industries (API) into the state of England’s playgrounds and supports calls for increased investment that will positively impact the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said: “Play is the first step children take towards physical literacy and an active lifestyle and therefore investing in play spaces and securing their future should be a priority in combating the negative health impacts of a sedentary population. Parks and playgrounds are vulnerable to closure in these challenging times and it’s important that we revalue the enormous contribution they make to our communities.”

The report, published today, cites findings from the State of UK Public Parks 2016 report which found that 92% of local authority park departments have experienced budget cuts in the past three years and 95% of parks managers expect there to be further reductions in the next three years.

New research by the API found that 65 local authorities closed a total of 214 playgrounds between 2014 to 2016 whilst a similar number of closures were reported to be planned for the period to 2019. Reasons cited for closures included budgetary concerns, outdated equipment and anti-social issues.

In its conclusions the report calls for “a clear and unequivocal show of support for play and the benefit it brings to young people” and an additional investment of £100 million to deliver an increase in the number of play facilities across the country by around 1,600.

Fields in Trust provides benchmark guidelines for designated play areas as part of its Guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play. The guidelines recommend a minimum of 0.25 hectares of provision per 1,000 population with a maximum walking distance from dwellings of 100m to a Local Area for Play and 400m to a Locally Equipped Area for Play. The Guidance also sets out quantity benchmark guidelines of provision of a Local Area for Play for every five to ten dwellings with an addition of a Locally Equipped Area for Play for every ten to 200 dwellings.

Sufficient provision of space for play is vital to ensure the goal of a More Active Nation can be achieved and also to tackle the rising issue of childhood obesity, which was recognised by the Government as part of their 2016 Childhood Obesity Strategy. New research by the British Heart Foundation recently found that more than 20 million people in the UK are physically inactive, stating that inactivity costs the NHS around £1.2 billion every year.


Laurence Associates expand with successful acquisition of planning consultancy


A planning-led architectural practice on the outskirts of Truro is looking to expand its business following the successful acquisition of a Liskeard-based planning consultancy.

Laurence Associates is an award-winning practice, based at Threemilestone, which offers town planning, architecture and landscape architecture expertise.

It’s bought Urban & Rural Planning Associates to extend its reach in South East Cornwall and across the border into Devon.

Managing director Richard Marsden said: “Generally speaking, people look for consultants in their own patch because they know the local planning issues and how the local authorities work.

“South East Cornwall and Plymouth is a huge opportunity for Laurence Associates and we’re very excited about attracting commissions from further afield.

“Because we’re based in Truro, most of our work is currently in Cornwall. But we see the potential in Devon and want to be a part of it. The aspiration is for our second office to be the same size, if not bigger, than our set up in Truro.”

Laurence Associates, which celebrates its 25th birthday next year, believes it enjoys significant success with planners because of its collaborative approach from conception to completion.

Richard Marsden added: “Our unique selling point has always been that we design buildings from a planning perspective, giving the schemes much more chance of success.”


Shortlist announced for Ross Pavilion international design competition


The Ross Development Trust in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council and Malcolm Reading Consultants have announced the seven finalist teams who will proceed to the second stage of the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition.

The competition is searching for an outstanding team of architects, landscape designers, engineers and other specialists for the new circa £25m Ross Pavilion and Gardens project in the heart of Edinburgh.

Each of the finalist teams is led by an architect, listed below:

  • Adjaye Associates (UK)
  • BIG Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark)
  • Flanagan Lawrence (UK)
  • Page \ Park Architects (UK)
  • Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter (Norway)
  • wHY (USA)
  • William Matthews Associates (UK) and Sou Fujimoto Architects (Japan)


The decision of the selection panel – which included representatives of the jury, the Ross Development Trust and competition organisers, Malcolm Reading Consultants – was unanimous.

The Chairman of the Ross Development Trust and Competition Jury Chair, Norman Springford, said: “We were absolutely delighted by the response of designers from around the world to the competition’s first stage. The quality of the 125 teams on the longlist sent a strong signal that the international design community regards this as an inspirational project for Edinburgh that has huge potential to reinvigorate this prestigious site.

“Selecting the shortlist with our partners from City of Edinburgh Council was an intense and demanding process. We’re thrilled that our final shortlist achieved a balance of both international and UK talent, emerging and established studios. Now the teams will have 11 weeks to do their concept designs – and we’re looking forward to seeing these and sharing them with the public.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture Convener and Festivals Champion for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The response to the competition’s first stage affirms the worldwide interest in Edinburgh and its association with the arts. Scotland’s capital is renowned as the World’s Festival City and the home of culture – and designers clearly want to be part of its future.

“The brief at stage two asks for a serious piece of architecture but one that’s also celebratory – it will be fascinating to see what concepts the teams produce.”

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, said: “This is an exceptional project – the interest from the website audience and the number of enquiries we received was far out of the ordinary. We appreciated the care and hard work that had gone into the submissions – to those who are disappointed not to make the shortlist, take heart: overall, the standard was very strong.”

An open day for the finalists will be held in April and the teams will have until 9 June 2017 to produce their concept designs for a new landmark Pavilion, a visitor centre with café, and subtle updates and improvements to the listed Gardens, which are of outstanding cultural significance and operated and managed by the City of Edinburgh Council as Common Good Land. The Pavilion will host the kind of imaginative arts programming which Edinburgh excels in, from large to small scale events.

A public and digital exhibition will be held in mid-June and will allow for local, national and visitor feedback. The jury will subsequently meet to interview the teams and the winner announcement is expected in early August 2017.

At the competition’s first stage, 125 applications were received from 22 different countries, including Australia, Japan, India and the United States, with UK-based practices producing 42 per cent of responses.

Joining the competition jury will be Ada Yvars Bravo, Director, MYAA Architects; Sir Mark Jones FSA FRSE, former Director of the National Museums of Scotland and the Victoria and Albert Museum; Riccardo Marini, Director, Gehl Architects; Alexander McCall Smith, writer; Malcolm Reading, Architect and Competition Director; and Norman Springford (jury chair), Chairman, Ross Development Trust. Additional jury members, including an elected City of Edinburgh Council member (pending the upcoming local elections) will be announced later in the competition process.

The initiative will regenerate and renew a nationally-important space at the heart of West Princes Street Gardens and within the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the rallying point for some of Scotland’s most high-profile events and celebrations, notably Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Festival’s closing fireworks concert. The site is presently occupied by the Ross Bandstand.

Established in 2016, the Ross Development Trust is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation whose purpose is to advance the appreciation and promotion of the arts, culture and heritage within West Princes Street Gardens, and through this, encourage the rejuvenation of Edinburgh city centre.

The Trust, which has committed a substantial gift towards the project, is raising funds from both private and public sources, and is working closely with the land owners, the City of Edinburgh Council, on this initiative. Other key project stakeholders include Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, the Edinburgh Festival, the Cockburn Association, and the Old Town Community Council.

The competition is being run according to EU procurement guidelines and the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015. It is independently organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). MRC specialises in competitions for museums and arts, heritage, and non-profit organisations and is currently running the Clandon Park International Design Competition for the National Trust.

Construction is expected to begin in 2018.

Green infrastructure is key to the development of Grandhome


Major investment is underway in establishing the formal and informal green spaces at Grandhome, the new community for Aberdeen that will meet a significant proportion of the city’s new housing needs over the next 25 years.

More than £7 million of work is currently being carried out to deliver the first phase of supporting infrastructure for the community, which includes extensive landscaping and the creation of Grandhome’s first open spaces.

The delivery of the vision for Grandhome, set out in its masterplan, will set new standards in the region for place making in terms of its built environment, sense of identity, civic amenities and quality of life. This includes providing a higher than usual proportion of green and open space, which will ultimately comprise more than one quarter of the entire site.

As part of the first phase of development, entrance greens are being formed at the new access to Grandhome from Whitestripes Avenue, which include the planting of beech trees and hedging along with flowering cherry trees. These areas will provide a formal setting for the first neighbourhood, Laverock Braes.

Three hectares of parkland is being created to the west of where the first homes will be built, providing a green space for recreation and amenity that also incorporates the sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS) basins.

More than 1,200 trees – including a range of native species such as beech, birch, hazel and willow – will be planted on the site along with extensive sowing of grasses and wild flowers to provide changing vistas throughout the seasons. Sculptural landforms and the use of different mowing in the parkland will create additional interest across the site.

The masterplan for the settlement provides a higher than usual proportion of open space at more than 62 hectares or 27 per cent of the total site, which will accommodate formal recreational facilities and informal places for rest and relaxation, as well as natural, untamed areas that support biodiversity. Residents will have a wide range of different types of green space easily within reach that will provide a high level of amenity while supporting their physical and mental wellbeing.

Grandhome will also connect with neighbouring communities through footpaths and cycle ways. The design of its open spaces will promote interaction between residents and neighbourhoods and the surrounding areas and landscape.

More than a decade of work by an international team of architects has gone into the development of Grandhome. The qualities of the existing landscape in and around the development site were a key influence on the masterplan. Worthwhile landscape features have been protected and the community’s design builds on the typical characteristics found locally to create a development with a strong sense of place, rooted in the particular context of urban and rural Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Landscape architecture consultancy Benton Scott-Simmons has advised the master plan team since the beginning of the project. Director Janet Benton said the work under way is a statement of intent for the role that green space will play in the community.

“We are pleased to be delivering a significant amount of new green space in the first phase of the community, including the formal greens that frame the entrance to the community and a large area of parkland to the west,” she said.

“These areas are just the beginning of a much wider network of green space that will connect neighbourhoods within the new development and link them to the existing communities nearby, as well as to the wider landscape.

“The work underway involves major earth shaping, and over the growing season more than 1,200 trees will be planted and grasses and wildflower mixes sown to establish both formal and more naturalistic elements that will frame the first homes and provide amenity for new and existing residents. By introducing a richer range of habitats in the landscape there will also be a net gain in terms of ecological and environmental benefits.”

Work on the first homes within the community is expected to begin in spring 2017.