As 2017 draws to an end, Hardscape invites industry experts to reflect on this year’s highlights and look ahead at the future of landscaping  

Mathew Haslam – Managing Director at Hardscape

What emerging trends do you think will define the industry in 2018 and beyond?

In 2018, I think permeable paving (a method of paving that allows for infiltration of fluids) will be used across all finishes. Drainjoint, for example, will be an important product. It allows for any material to be laid as a permeable paving system, be it natural stone, clay or concrete, and it can accommodate any size (not just those designed for a 6mm aggregate joint). It’s designed to be sustainable, cost-effective and easy to install.

We are also starting to see more landscape architects exploring shapes of paving and experimenting with how geometry can be used to make the completed project stand out, so it will be interesting to see how this evolves next year.

What one issue should the industry look to address in 2018?

I think clients need to be more involved in the finer detail of projects, working alongside the contractors to be more engaged in the progress and the final results.

Since the 1990’s there has also been an increase in materials being laid rigidly with mortar. The industry has forgotten how to lay materials flexibly as it was done in the 1970’s. The likely reason for this method being overlooked for so long is the over engineering of projects which has led to a ‘belt and braces’ attitude to material installation. If designed correctly and using the right product, flexibly laid material can actually produce higher class loadings – we should move back to this way of working to create a cost effective and outstanding result

What was your stand out project of 2017?

For me, it would have to be the Hull City of Culture project because of the rich diversity of materials that were used. It was the biggest project of the year in the UK, with over 45,000m2 of stone laid over an 18 month period. The transformation covered fourteen streets and four public squares connecting the train station in the west to the old town and docks in the east. Since completion, the city centre has been thoroughly transformed – footfall has increased by 11% and over 30 new businesses have opened – so it has been hugely beneficial for the city and local community.


Daniel Cook – CEO of the Landscape Institute

What emerging trends do you think will define the industry in 2018 and beyond?

I expect to see greater digitisation and changes to work practices in the next few years. In our sector this extends beyond BIM to augmented and virtual reality, greater visualisation and use of artificial intelligence applications, with greater use of collaborative platforms.

What one issue should the industry look to address in 2018?

We need to become more inclusive and be more proactive in attracting the next generation of landscape professionals from more diverse communities.

What was your stand out public landscape project of 2017 and why?

The stand out project for me, on a personal level, was the Connswater Greenway project in East Belfast which opened this year. It was a great example of how community engagement can help to create active use of space. Importantly, as a big lottery funded research project, its outcomes and benefits will also be measured. I was advised that just a 2% uplift in activity levels would essentially pay for the cost of the Greenway over its lifetime. This shows the multi-functional benefits landscape can provide to people, places and nature.”


Danny Crump – Director of Urbanism: Manchester and the North, Broadway Malyan

What emerging trends do you think will define the industry in 2018 and beyond?

Urban design will increasingly be driven by social values. There is a strong focus on creating happy and healthy communities through high quality placemaking. Our current portfolio of work around transit hubs has been led by place and people. We aspire to create memorable public realms that create a seamless journey for the passenger. The aim is to promote stations as community hubs with enhanced local facilities, encouraging wider urban renewal and social enterprise.

What one issue should the industry look to address in 2018?

Machines, cars and technology have slowly taken over many of the tasks that used to require our physical effort and the result is that the UK is facing an inactivity crisis. Urban design can make a real and effective contribution to the health and wellbeing of our citizens. ‘Healthy Streets’ have the ability to transform our health and the fabric of our towns and cities. Investment in cycling, active travel and high quality public realms all need to be at the heart of decision making in every urban authority.

What was your stand out public landscape project of 2017 and why? 

Currently one of the largest urban realm projects in the UK, the ambitious £10m Snow Hill Streets project in Birmingham will transform the public realm of the Snow Hill District in Birmingham’s City core. A key aim of the project was to ‘detune’ the highway character of the Snow Hill area, putting pedestrians and cyclists first and providing them with a flexible and adaptable public realm able to host various activities. Working alongside transport planners, we have been able to remove 80% of traffic from Colmore Row, a jewel of a street in the heart of Birmingham’s city core.


James Millington – Landscape Architect Director at BDP

What emerging trends do you think will define the industry in 2018 and beyond?

Perhaps not an emerging trend, but climate change, and the role we as landscape architects can play in tackling issues such as heat stress and surface water flooding in urban areas.  Sustainable design should be embedded into everything we do, but with the ever increasing pressures on project budgets, the challenge is to come up with innovative and cost effective solutions that can be integrated into high quality and functional designs.

What one issue should the industry look to address in 2018?

Improving the profile of landscape architecture as a core profession alongside architects and engineers. Landscape architects can play a major role in shaping the environment in which we live, whether it be by creating more pedestrian friendly streets in cities and towns or by enhancing and protecting ecologically important rural landscapes, this needs to be acknowledged more by clients, contractors and fellow professionals.

If you could solve/design anything at all, what would it be?

Plastic packaging. Why do we need so much of it?! Surely all packaging should be either recycled, recyclable, or biodegradable?? A great example of this I read recently is that 4 BILLION non- recyclable plastic-lined Starbucks takeaway coffee cups go to landfill EVERY YEAR! Something needs to change.

2018 – the future of landscaping

What can we take from this? The responses from our panel of industry experts all show a running theme towards a more sustainable approach, with a focus on nurturing local identities and developing social values to create a happier, healthier world. Could 2018 be the year to bring us closer to this? We hope so!

Watch out for our next update in January 2018, as we invite more industry experts to share their vision for the future too.