Ethnic diversity in professional landscape practice

Adam Bowley, MA Landscape Architecture

A design charette participant

Adam says: "accessibility to urban nature is becoming associated with many physical and mental health benefits. In the UK, research indicates that British Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities have less accessibility to these benefits due to historical and socio-economic factors. Creating and managing public spaces, landscape architecture is uniquely placed as a discipline to challenge the status quo. However, there is low ethnic diversity within the profession."

"In this dissertation, I propose these circumstances are indicative of structural racism and the continuation of a Eurocentric narrative of land-use. To function as an effective force for change, landscape architecture must mirror the multicultural society which it seeks to serve."

"A literature review explores the connection between structural racism and land use, British BAME communities’ access to urban nature, and professional ethnic diversity. Asking “What does equity look like?” the relevance of theories of spatial justice, cultural competence and landscape preference are explored. Case studies in the American and British contexts assess how this is currently being achieved followed by examples of landscape practice and research."

"A variety of sources suggest that there is a relationship between ethnicity and frequency of greenspace use in the UK. Research indicates that there is a link between white, university educated professionals and a preference for ecological aesthetics that is not shared by many BAME groups. White dominance within landscape architecture, potentially hinders designers’ ability to collaborate across cultural boundaries. A combination of professional reform and decentralised initiatives are suggested as methods of working toward cultural competency within the industry, and empowering ethnic minority groups to shape the environments in which they live."

Representation and Collaboration. Ethnic diversity in professional landscape practice and the accessibility of urban nature for British BAME communities