Deborah started (uncommon) in May 2012 with a number of new landscape commissions. She has previously worked at EDAW and with Martha Schwartz Partners. This larger scale work has informed her consultancy and she now holds posts on the London Borough of Southwark Design Review Panel and is a Design Council CABE ‘Built Environment Expert’. In her private practice, and with naganjohnson architects (in which she is a partner), works have often been at a smaller scale but are strongly conceptual including the Westonbirt & Métis Festivals, Chelsea Fringe, and other installations.
(uncommon) take on some private gardens, but relish complicated or unusual schemes and those with a strong architectural or contemporary element. As well as built schemes we undertake feasibility studies and greening reports. Current projects include a resort in Fez, Public Realm Improvements in Waterloo, a major infrastructure project and the greening of container development, Pop Brixton.
As landscape architects we work as part of a collaborative team, with our clients and other specialised consultants and contractors to realise our projects. We have worked on large project teams and can also guide private individuals through the process of realising their gardens, but we enjoy the process of collaboration, from which exciting new ideas and solutions emerge.
We look at projects, and sites of all shapes and sizes, but seem to be drawn to complicated sites, often in urban settings. Here constraints of all sorts will need clever design or constuction solutions so there is no hint of compromise. Even on these sites, we are mindful of the role landscape plays in maintaining or bringing a sense of place. We are not afraid of beauty - but consider the aesthetic in relation to the proasaic - and we design landscapes that are robust, sustainable, imaginative, ecologically varied, useable and cost-effective.
To build landscapes in public places, or those open to many users, we consult and engage, talking with stakeholders, or anecdotally chatting to people around and on the site, believing these snippets of oral history, or personal concerns to be part of the wider story. Including people in the story then helps us develop, and tell that story through the design - and sometimes this helps people understand the problems we all face in getting the best from the available space. We have organised public consultations for a number of projects, and engaged with schools and community groups.
We examine context: whilst the red line may be the work boundary, the new landscape is part and parcel with our feelings about its setting: sometimes its possible to manipulate the boundary to include advantages provided by the setting - a better sightline, access to more light or water...sometimes we have to know what the new space should turn its back on...but context is vital.
We love planting. Hardscape is great, and we are adept with details, but plants provide the beauty and pleasure in a space to which humans instinctively respond. Their colours, perfume, texture, green-ness and sheer diversity should be used to enrich the built environment.
At the outset of a project we are seeking to find a fitting and strong guiding concept to which we can refer at every stage of the works. To do our job well, we know that the concept is embodied in all the materials chosen, in the way we have detailed them, the way we orient the spaces and how the landscape responds to the buildings and other surroundings. In this way, each element of the landscape is part of the narrative and the imaginative approach we take to this story-making creates special places, whose memory endures.