Collaborating with: RaeburnFarquharBowen
January 28, 2022 \ 40th Anniversary
We're undertaking a series of conversations with past and present collaborators, to learn more about their histories, projects and processes.
Page\Park have been fortunate to work with a wide range of talented collaborators over the past 40 years: One of our longest standing partnerships has been with landscape architects RaeburnFarquharBowen, which began with Glasgow Cathedral Precinct in 1985 and has stretched over more than thirty projects which form the vibrant legacy of this friendship.
We have found the value RFB attributes to activities such as early engagement with the local community and building local relationships to fully understand the context of a project has always been on par with our own and so we have found a common method to those 30 projects over the past (almost) 40 years.
Describe what you make/do?
We are an independent landscape architecture studio, located in Stirling and working across the breadth of Scotland and the wider UK, promoting a strong agenda of sustainable design. We take a thoughtful and collaborative approach to what we do, working closely with clients and design colleagues to grow an enduring legacy of habitats that nourish people and nature. Our areas of expertise include open space, place-making, climate change resilience, health and well-being, and biodiversity; we believe that our work should contribute to meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals and in so doing deliver long-term value to our clients. We are a signatory to Landscape Architects Declare Climate & Biodiversity Emergency, whose members have pledged to raise awareness and the urgent need for practical action among clients and supply chains, to promote low-carbon design solutions and maximise carbon sequestration, and to safeguard the protection of irreplaceable landscapes and habitats.
Tell us how you came to this point in your creative work/ career?
Sheena Raeburn, John Farquhar and Nick Bowen became Directors and owners of Ian White Associates Landscape Architects in 2011. We became RaeburnFarquharBowen in 2020, reflecting our continued evolution as a practice, promoting sustainable design with expertise in green infrastructure, community co-design, outdoor recreation and tourism in a manner that embraces the prioritisation of sustainability, biodiversity and climate resilience. We see great benefit in engagement with government agencies, design panels and specialist forums such as SEDA and SGiF; working closely with a CAD software provider to inform and test new CAD and GIS tools specific to landscape design. Building with Nature assessment is a valuable tool to help achieve high quality green infrastructure fitted to place, and we offer BwN assessment as well as using BwN principles in all of our projects. With maturity comes confidence; to help shape our profession, through sharing knowledge, contributing to the conversation, and helping equip students and those starting out on their career in environmental design.
How important is collaboration to you and your work?
A key component in our approach to landscape design is one of collaboration. The Directors are involved in the design of every project; we take close personal interest in maintaining good relations between designers, client, partners and the community.
We strongly believe early engagement with the local community, where we build relationships to understand what people feel about their environment, how they use their habitat and what difficulties they experience so that we can support their aspirations and ideas for improvement. This partnership approach extends to how we like to work with our clients, stakeholders and professional peers to develop a lively synergy. Thorough exploration of the brief with our client defines the bounds of opportunity a project might offer and the measures of success. Our reputation is precious to us. We rely upon the quality of our relationships, we keep our word, we do whatever it takes and we value a relationship of trust.
Can you share a recent project or what you are working on now?
We have a long-standing relationship with the University of Stirling and are working on several developments currently. Campus Central will be the dynamic heart and social core of the University. The new building, designed by Page\Park will incorporate space for study, collaboration and socialising and has been conceived to maximise connectivity, create a new civic entrance to the campus and better integrate with the surrounding landscape.
Our design for the public realm develops the idea of cloister courtyards adjacent to the new building, that reach out into intimate gardens, that connect and reach out to the wider campus landscape. This parkland character so fundamental to the setting of the University embraces Queens Court, flowing through the space and providing a backdrop and setting for a busy piazza that will engage directly with the new building. Rich garden rooms will mediate between these two contrasting characters, providing a zone of edges and varied sub-spaces for gathering, comfort and delight. The character and function of Queens Court will change from a space dominated by bus movements into a place that encourages social life and provides beauty and delight to support student and staff health and well-being.
Which project have you worked on that you have learned the most from?
Since 2018 we have been landscape architect consultants for City of Edinburgh Council on the Meadowbank Masterplan, a major housing-led mixed-use development surrounding the new Meadowbank Sport Centre.
Meadowbank Masterplan was an example where we appreciated the value of working collaboratively with stakeholders and the local community, following initial significant opposition to the idea of development within the area. 18 months of extensive and intensive, community consultation including hosting public events and critically, the formation of a steering group. This comprised elected members, community representatives and local authority officers that met regularly and could comment at each stage of the development of the design, as well as hosting workshops and a walking tour of the area enabled in depth conversations and evolution of the proposals to take into account local resident’s priorities.
There was also a collaborative approach with the local authority departments including roads, landscape, biodiversity, active travel and Sustrans through a series of workshops to discuss the issues together and to refine the designs. The masterplan promotes people movement as a priority to empower residents to choose active travel as their primary method of transport. The focus then turns to making spaces comfortable and legible for people walking and wheeling, combining these principles with a rich palette of new planting will help to emphasise the character of the spaces and retention of the rare mature Wheatley Elm trees. This resulted in a successful planning application supported by the local residents.
Nature Scot and the Scottish Government funded the design team to develop a Green Roof feasibility study using Meadowbank as a potential example of how green roofs could be applied to social housing developments, to encourage take up of this more widely in the sector. The masterplan was awarded Building with Nature accreditation for excellence in green infrastructure, and it is moving forward into the next stage of design.
We are a re-use practice
December 2, 2021 \ Studio
by multiple authors
Page\Park is committed to the challenge of designing for a net zero carbon future