Vectorworks and the Landscape Institute

Editorial Type: Technology Focus Date: 05-2020 Views: 1,059 Tags: CAD, GIS, Car Park, Vectorworks, Landscape institute, Vectorworks Landmark PDF Version:
Vectorworks has sponsored the launch of LI Campus, a digital learning platform for landscape professionals, and a focus for Landscape Institute events and CPD days

There's always something positive you can find in the direst of circumstances. The coronavirus pandemic is completely changing the way we live and work, but amid the tribulations and restrictions of the lockdown many people have discovered their dependency on the availability of local and readily accessible open spaces.

The parks and woodlands have come into their own, the garden is once more treasured as a refreshing haven, and individuals and families, locked up in their high-rise apartments for up to 23 hours a day, are seeking solace and refreshment from public spaces - the greenery, the fresh air, the sun and wind on your face - and the oblique association with other people even if you do have to respect social distances.

It is entirely fortuitous then that Vectorworks has recently announced that they have sponsored the launch of LI Campus, a digital learning platform developed by the Landscape Institute (LI), who offer a collection of educational content for landscape professionals. Visitors to the site will have access to a wide range of valuable information, including the last three years of LI events, conferences and continuing professional development (CPD) days.

The Landscape Institute, an educational charity founded at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1929, is the UK chartered body for landscape professionals - promoting the art and science of landscape practice. It provides a professional home for all landscape practitioners including landscape scientists, planners, architects, parks and public amenity managers and urban designers.

Its Chief Executive, Daniel Cook, said that the new online service would "offer a more accessible, inclusive and affordable way of delivering CPD and other professional learning courses, providing landscape practitioners, based in remote or international locations, access to all our latest content." He added that the industry has evolved, embracing increased collaboration and the use of the latest digital technology and community engagement, above and beyond the traditional roles of landscape architecture, horticulture and parks management. The aim is for the LI Campus to be the hub for future professional development within the industry.

Vectorworks is a natural partner for the Landscape Institute and has been working with designers for over 35 years. No doubt much of this is down to the availability of the Vectorworks Landmark module in Vectorwork's suite of architectural and design tools, which is aimed at landscape design professionals and utilises of all the work processes and capabilities of BIM.

I recently had a discussion (on Zoom, naturally) with Vectorworks' Director of Digital Practice Strategy, Martyn Horne and Landscape Industry Specialist, Katarina Ollikainen about the sponsorship announcement. I was curious to learn more about the extent of usage of Landmark's tools by landscape architects, compared to the needs of architects and urban planners. The answer was pretty robust, and I was informed that landscape designers get involved in all areas - from terrain development using detailed site mapping, grading and cut and fill to water analysis and flood relief calculations. Thanks to the BIM workflows now in place they are also capable of sharing data with other disciplines, for example with architects, to position building complexes within landscapes, analyse and handle environmental concerns or relate schemes to population densities. That's in addition to the more prosaic tools for designing and laying out car parks and other hardscapes and the extensive library of seasonally adjustable plants and shrubs.

The integration of GIS within Vectorworks 2020 is a great example of this. Landmark already includes tools to provide seasonality and time of day to planting schemes, so that visualisations can provide accurate simulations of a planting scheme at any time of the year, but with greater access to GIS data Landscape Institute members using Vectorworks can plan for an evolving biodiversity in future years.

That covers one major area of concern - the gradual increase in global temperatures caused by excessive carbon dioxide emissions, and the changes that will bring to plant and insect populations. Closely associated with this is increasingly variable water events, ranging from more frequent flood events to long-lasting droughts.

Landmark's BIM tools come into play here, extending localised water table planning, which involves drainage systems, open overspill ponds, etc. and linking them to a regional flood relief plan to provide a balanced throughput of water through a proposed development.

Vectorworks Landmark provides all of the supporting tools needed for a landscape design project: 2D and 3D modelling tools and documents in a number of formats to provide planners with on-site reference tools on laptop or paper, visualisation software to present planting and layout schemes to clients and the public, and planting schedules and accounting software to keep track of progress and costs, integrated with office applications using the software's BIM capabilities.

Vectorworks software also figured in a recent case study that I saw which used Marionette’s Algorithms-Aided Design (AAD) tool to plot a whole range of environmental variables for a number of specified regions, producing colour coded maps of environmental factors within each projected area of the project.

Going further, Vectorworks provides access to point cloud and photogrammetry and other visual reality technologies for developing projects based around existing structures or installations.

"The importance of the Vectorworks connection between LI Campus, the Landscape Institute and its members is vital," said Adrian Slatter, Vectorworks UK director of sales. "The launch of the LI Campus provides a fantastic medium for sharing knowledge and best practice and Vectorworks UK is delighted to be a sponsor of this initiative. Having been involved with the BIM Working group and more latterly with the Digital Working Practice group, we are eager to engage with LI members and community. We hope that this new initiative will help advance awareness of landscape design, including sustainable site design and collaboration to help drive better landscape performance."

The Landscape Institute, of course, has developed its own libraries of information, and part of the process of setting up the LI Campus involved creating structures and standards to allow members to share information more effectively. The Institute also runs CPD and other courses and conferences covering issues from the effective design of environments to the integration of digital technology within the design process. If you already have a Landscape Institute subscription you can access free on-demand webinars that feature Vectorworks training content.

The emphasis here, however, is on the beneficial relationship between Vectorworks and the Landscape Institute in promoting the art and science of landscape practice, and its reliance on comprehensive design software. The LI's aim, through the work of its members is to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the public benefit. Vectorworks is a worthy partner.