Design Indaba 2018: Building outspoken landscapes

Urban park concept art showing a green walkway over a lake

It's an incredibly exciting time to be part of the landscape architecture industry. That’s according to LOLA Architects founder Peter Veenstra – and he should know. The senior landscape architect has been turning innovative ideas into achievable designs for over 15 years (including unique urban park concept, Singelpark Leiden, pictured above.)

Veenstra is a speaker at Design Indaba 2018,  where he’ll be launching a special project as part of his talk. He says the global zeitgeist is moving towards offsetting the dreary side of urban life with elements of nature and the great outdoors.

It’s an area in which Rotterdam-based LOLA – aka Lost Landscapes – specialises. The firm studies and designs landscapes that are forgotten, have degraded, are derelict or on the verge of change. Fascinated by new spatial phenomena, the team take a conceptual approach to these landscapes, designing sublime places that are beautiful, surprising and thriving. 

However, Veenstra highlights one key hurdle. On one hand, he says, a lot of designers are eager to flex their creative muscles with impressive and complex “out of the box” compositions – but with little regard for real-world impact. On the other, he continues, many other designers take the real-world impact so seriously that it hinders their creativity.

“We’re trying to combine the two,” he explains. “We like to do experiments in the office, but of course in the end we are happiest when the structural improvement and design [thinking] come together.” 

Aerial plan of the big Adidas Campus South complex with red and yellow star-shaped connecting structures

Overview of the Adidas Campus South, showing the stars connecting the buildings

Take the Adidas Campus in Germany – a project LOLA is currently working on. The firm is transforming the sports brand’s headquarters with colourful star-shaped public spaces and a newly designed lake in a luscious green setting.

The stars serve to connect the buildings and will act as central points for all outdoor activities, reflecting the active ethos Adidas is known for – and creating a dynamic space where employees feel inspired by their working environment, both inside and out.

We’ll be bringing you more from Veenstra at Design Indaba 2018. The creative extravaganza kicks off on 21 February, and we’ll be reporting live throughout.

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Julia Sagar
Editor-in-chief retail

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.