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"Understanding the context is key for a Landscape Designer"
Rizza Pangilinan
12th September 2017

Rizza Pangilinan is a Senior Landscape Architect in the urbanism team in our Abu Dhabi studio and she has been working at Broadway Malyan for three years.

8:50am: I arrive at the office after an easy 15-minute car drive from my house. It can get quite warm in Abu Dhabi, so most colleagues travel to work by car. Our office is located on the 21st floor of the International Tower, a contemporary skyscraper overlooking the waterfront in the Capital Centre district of the city. I stop to pick up a morning cup and a bun from Starbucks on my way.

9:00am: The first thing I do when I reach my desk is turn on my computer and check my emails while I eat breakfast. It’s Sunday, the first day of the week in Abu Dhabi, so I take a few minutes to prioritise my work and prepare a list of tasks for the week. I split my work between different teams so this helps me to organise my calendar.

9:30am: This morning I have an internal meeting with the team leaders for masterplanning, with whom we work very closely. We are running a number of projects simultaneously, so we sit together at least once a week to coordinate the work, distribute resources and set out deadlines.

We discuss the Motorworld project, a multi-phased mixed-use masterplan including retail and residential facilities located between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. My team is responsible for the public realm and landscape design and although the project is still in the very early stages of planning it is fundamental that we work jointly with the masterplanning team from day one.

Landscape design is very much about immersing yourself in the context you are operating in and for every project our approach is tightly linked with the environment we are dealing with. We need to have a solid understanding of the site, its constraints and the opportunities we have to establish solutions that respond to the underlying character of the local context. Equally, engaging with the local community and the local authorities is key.

I share the insight and feedback I got from my last meeting with the Abu Dhabi Municipality last week, where we consulted with them about the overall strategy we are adopting for parks and open spaces. Our approach focusses on creating a highly accessible network of parks, streetscapes and public places connected by key transport nodes. The ongoing dialogue with the local authorities provides us with precious insight and guidance which then informs our internal discussions towards the following steps of design.

“The UAE is a growing market full of opportunities and we are currently working on a number of potential jobs across the region. ”

11.30 am: I grab a quick coffee before my Video Conference with our Lisbon office, during which we need to discuss their involvement in the Motorworld project. We always take a strategic approach to resource allocation and often more than one studio contributes to the same project to achieve the best result.

The outcomes of this morning’s meeting now need to be actioned and translated into drawings hence I update the Lisbon masterplanning team about what has been discussed. We need to develop a schedule of work and plan out the drawings we need to produce in the coming week.

1.30 pm: I grab a sandwich and join my colleagues for a brief working lunch. We take the opportunity to go through a very exciting bid opportunity for a new 4-star development in Dubai. Our Dubai office has prepared bids for this particular client in the past which provides us with some good insight to start from. The UAE is a growing market full of opportunities and we are currently working on a number of potential jobs across the region.

We quickly run through the requirements to assess how much time and resources we need and whether some graphics support from the marketing team based in London will be required. I suggest booking in a meeting for the next day to look at the bid into more detail and a VC with our team in Dubai to get their input too.

“The key driver behind the scheme was to ensure that the space was designed around people, placing the end user at the heart of our approach”

2.00 pm: We have an important client presentation so I review some drawings for the Reem Central Park project, a unique retail destination on the beachfront of Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, which has just entered the schematic design phase. The masterplan includes several retail units and restaurants as well as open and sheltered plazas, small amphitheatres for shows and events and outdoor interactive hubs.

The key driver behind the scheme was to ensure that the space was designed around people, placing the end user at the heart of our approach. We played with textures, materials and a varied colour palette to create a range of different spaces for the visitors to explore and enjoy. The location offers an extraordinary backdrop; it is very inspiring and provides a unique opportunity for a landscape designer.

4.00 pm: I sit down with my team to apply the final touches to the presentation boards we will be showing to the Reem Central Park client tomorrow. We do a quick run through and discuss how we are going to present each aspect of the project to ensure the core message will come across strongly and clearly. I suggest taking some sketches with us too – I always find these to be a powerful tool to take your audience through the design process, from the very beginning and demonstrate our creativity and critical thinking.

6.00 pm: Before leaving, I check the last emails from the day. There is one about an office lunch taking place on Wednesday for a new colleague who has just joined us and another one reminding me about some upcoming CPD. I quickly add both to my calendar and switch off my computer.

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