Mecanoo is happy to announce the promotion of Anne-Marie van der Weide as Director of Landscape Architecture. With the leadership of Founding Partner/Creative Director Francine Houben and the partners, Anne-Marie will steer Landscape Architecture at Mecanoo. The appointment reflects Mecanoo’s ambitions and ensures the continuous development of our Landscape Architecture portfolio.
Anne-Marie, a Landscape Architect trained at the University of Wageningen joined Mecanoo in 2005. As a key player on Mecanoo’s integrated design teams, she is responsible for public realm visions and design including landscaping, garden design, aesthetic control, and complex urban plans. With her practical approach and a focus on designing for people, Anne-Marie played a crucial role in the redesign of the TU Delft Campus, Mekelpark, the public space design for Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Eindhoven, the master planning of NOMA district in Manchester, including designing Angel Square, the Vision Nieuw Land National Park and the Development Vision Drechtsteden.
We interviewed Anne-Marie about her experience at Mecanoo and ambitions for her new role as Director of Landscape Architecture.
M: Anne-Marie, having worked on many Mecanoo projects over the last 17 years what do you consider unique about Mecanoo?
A-M: Diversity would be the key word. First, Mecanoo operates in the fields of architecture, urban planning, interior architecture and landscape architecture across many different typologies and regions in the world, on both public and private projects. Second, there is great diversity across all Mecanoo’s, the same applies to the Landscape team. In terms of origin, culture, and language, but also in terms of background, expertise, and talent. We embrace this diversity.
In my role as Director of Landscape Architecture, together with Pieter Hoen (Director of Urbanism & Public Space Design), we try to see where our team member’s natural interests lie and allocate roles, themes, and projects accordingly. This way, everyone can build an expertise – varying from technology, mobility, ecology or small scale but detailed design – and learn from each other.
This benefits our projects and brings me to the third angle of diversity at Mecanoo, the diversity of the designs in terms of typology, scale, regions, (a) combination of disciplines but also in terms of style. It is hard to state, ‘this design is the typical Mecanoo style’. Sure, some design attitudes, or concerns are present across many designs, but the final expression is not determined by these. A deeper understanding of both the client and user, context and purpose inform the design. This reflection allows us to deliver unique designs that trigger your senses.
M: What do you think the future holds for Landscape Architecture?
A-M: The increasing insights and impact of climate change will make Landscape Architecture more important. It will raise awareness that Landscape Architecture is much more than just allocating flower beds, roads and pavements. We already feel some changes happening in some projects, tenders, and on the ambitions and demands of municipalities on climate adaptation; biodiversity, ecology, heat stress, water retention.
M: If you look at recent IPCC reports, we are running out of time to combat the worst of climate change. What can we do to change this and what is your ambition – in this regard - now that you have been promoted to Director of Landscape Architecture?
A-M: I see a key role for the (central and regional) governments. They must set the right requirements and standards and stay involved to promote and enforce these. We as (landscape) architects have a huge role as well. Therefore, it is my ambition to ensure that our landscape and urban department has up to date knowledge and is aware of the latest inventions. Also, that we assign a crucial role to the landscape in design assignments, in which the green layout is embedded in the design strategy. We analyse the ecosystems, fauna, flora, and map how to preserve and enhance it. Only then – through Mecanoo’s integrated approach of landscape and building design – we establish the location and volumes. We need a paradigm shift in the development of our cities and landscape, not only top-down from the government, but also bottom-up as designers.
M: To put this ambition into action, what is the first thing you are going to do?
A-M: Speed up the (inevitable) paradigm shifting by enabling my team – of which many share a natural interest in these topics - to (further) develop their knowledge and skills in this regard and apply it to our projects. Among others, by going on excursions to experts and innovative projects. Like our recent visits to a tree nursery to truly understand what it takes for different tree types to grow and a unique water storage system on a recently completed rooftop. Don’t stay behind your computer, go, and meet people who think alike, discuss, test, and explore new ideas. The time is now.
*IPCC - The Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.