Vic­to­ria Tay­lor

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Land­scape ar­chi­tect

I took some land­scape de­sign cour­ses at Ry­er­son and Hum­ber while I was work­ing as a gar­dener, and then got my mas­ter’s in land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture in 2008 at the Univer­sity of Toronto.

I have al­ways loved plants. I worked at the Evergreen cen­tre in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions and me­dia and mar­ket­ing de­part­ment be­fore en­rolling at U of T. I helped raise money to bring na­ture into the city, and I re­al­ized that although I liked my job, I wanted to be the de­signer of those spa­ces.

In my de­sign prac­tice, I explore form, shapes, space and dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als, so I re­ally like to take stu­dio art classes to get away from the com­puter and explore the hand­eye con­nec­tion through draw­ing and work­ing with my hands. As a pro­fes­sional, I get less and less of that, be­cause I spend so

In an OCAD U sculp­ture class, you can be messy. There’s no client, and you can be freer in your think­ing about form and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

much time draw­ing on the com­puter.

In 2013, I took a lot of draw­ing and paint­ing stu­dio cour­ses through the Art Gallery of On­tario and started to explore OCAD Univer­sity’s in­dus­trial de­sign pro­gram. The stu­dio cour­ses let me explore things I do in my pro­fes­sional prac­tice, but on a smaller scale, us­ing my hands.

When you’re work­ing on the com­puter, ev­ery­thing has to be so per­fect. Ev­ery mil­lime­tre has to be ac­counted for. In an OCAD U sculp­ture class, you can be messy. There’s no client, and you can be freer in your think­ing about form and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Some­times turn­ing off your brain helps – it cre­ates an en­ergy that then comes into my de­sign prac­tice.

Now I spend a lot of time on dif­fer­ent types of sites in the city and out­side it: rooftops, pri­vate gar­dens, condo prop­er­ties, pub­lic spa­ces and parks. I meet with clients, work through the de­sign process, get a de­sign fi­nal­ized and start to work with con­trac­tors, ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion.

My best ex­pe­ri­ences on the job are see­ing trades­peo­ple work. You’ve en­vi­sioned some­thing on pa­per, and when you get the peo­ple in­volved who do the ac­tual work in the gar­den, it is so amaz­ing. From the pa­per to the re­al­ity of the con­structed de­sign – I re­ally like that process.

The worst ex­pe­ri­ence is when you go through that process and come back three years later and no one’s taken care of the gar­den. The hard­est thing is to ed­u­cate clients that the site needs at­ten­tion con­stantly, like a child. You can’t leave a gar­den alone. That’s the beau­ti­ful thing about na­ture: it’s con­stantly chang­ing.

Apart from creative vi­sion and at­ten­tion to con­struc­tion, a good land­scape ar­chi­tect has a deep love for and curiosity about plants and the di­verse beauty and dy­namic pro­cesses of the nat­u­ral world. That’s the bot­tom line, the crit­i­cal foun­da­tion for the de­sign of our spa­ces.

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