ASPECT Studios 是一支由多位全球知名的设计师、景观设计师和城市规划设计专家组成的跨学科设计团队。他们的目标是创造具有挑战性、愉悦感和启发性的景观、体验和环境，同时以一种可持续的方式改善人类生活和自然系统。
mooool聚焦景观设计行业，每季度约访全球知名设计公司，传播全球优秀设计理念！本期mooool专辑为您带来的是ASPECT Studios工作室总监Stephen Buckle的专访。欢迎业界同行跟我们分享更多的经验和想法！
ASPECT Studios globally acclaimed Designers, Landscape Architects and Urbanists. Driven by their purpose to create landscapes, experiences, and environments that challenge, delight and inspire, whilst enhancing the lives of people and natural systems in an enduring way.
mooool focuses on landscape architecture industry. We interview the prestigious design company around the world every quarter with the passion for showing the excellent design ideas. In today’s interview, we speak to Stephen Buckle, Studio Director and creative lead at ASPECT Studios.
总策划：陈科君 / Producer: Kejun Chen
主编辑：王兰芳、陈楠 / Editor: Via Wang, Nan Chen
Interview: Mooool x Stephen Buckle
Can introduce yourself, your career background and journey to joining the team of ASPECT Studios?
I’m British trained landscape architect, passionate about creating responsive, unique, contemporary urban landscapes. A creature of my environment, in recent years my thinking has orientated towards the complex challenges faced in achieving balanced humanistic and natural systems in the densely urbanised cities across Asia. The combination of satisfying, commercial, and sustainable needs of urban projects, that create moments of delight and to inspire. I see this balanced approach to dense urban development as a critical foundation for sustaining our existence on this planet.
My career that has provided me the opportunity to be involved in the design of a diverse and varied range of landscapes across very different cultures, climates, and geographies around the world.
My journey into landscape architecture, was kind of by accident. I am dyslexic, and as a youth found myself very extremely hampered when it came to subjects that required reading and content learning, but excelled and enjoyed the creative subjects, art, drawing, pottery and design technology. For me, the creative fields were a perfect realm for me immerse myself in both self-expression and collaborative exercises.
I knew I wanted to follow a creative path, and as a youth saw myself as a rebellious arty type. But I didn’t have a clue which direction to head. My elder sister had completed studies in Landscape Architecture and it was only upon seeing her amazing design work and the projects she was involved in that I could see a path for me to follow; a profession that would fuel my creative passion. She was and still is as a real inspiration to me.
I studied Landscape Architecture at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. This time was as much to me about learning the fundamentals of the landscape architecture as the development of my own thinking, creative exploration. Those that knew me back then might say that one side outweighed the other, and as a result it took me an additional year to achieve my degree. While many might see this as a negative, I believe the additional time spent gave me an even stronger grounding, appreciation and foundation for the profession.
After graduation I worked with several recognised design firms in the south of the UK, working on range of intense urban regeneration project across London and the south coast. This was an informative time for me, working on projects a Macro level-designs of Cities and district influence, masterplans, systems and strategies, to a Micro level – 1/1 human scales, development of details and construction packages. This exposure gave me experience and an initial understanding how to creatively address problems at multiple scales simultaneously, but also was also my first introduction of how expansive and influential the work of landscape architect is, and the critical role it needs to play in the development of our cities and the environments we engage and inhabit daily.
▼英国伦敦Stonebridge改造项目 Stonebridge Regeneration, London UK
Inspired by the vision of rapid growth within cities, I had the opportunity to relocate to the Middle East; my first taste of the international design arena at a time when cities across the region where in a frantic growth stage. During this time got my first exposure and appreciation of the importance of connection to culture. I could see the significance of living within in a culture, before considering how to design for it. Only in this way, can a designer truly start to scratch the surface of understanding and then use and respond to it in their own way. I was also exposed to two other kinds of projects which proved critical influences; “Intense timelines” – helped the developed of my clarity of thought, defined my creative process, and “mega scale”, super large scale, highly complex and multi-faceted projects. The combination of these influences and exposures, set the foundation of my work ethic, design thinking and approach. (in addition to the awareness of “design adrenaline”, the combination forged my borderline obsessive passion for the work).
▼卡塔尔教育城公园 Interpretive Native Park – Education City Qatar
在中东待了几年，我建立了我的家庭以及我的设计方法和思维以后，我认为是时候让自己融入另一种新的文化中，去进一步挑战自己，体验新的事物了。所以，我们搬到了中国，和两个亲密的设计伙伴以及我的家人一起，我们在广州生活和工作了几年，后面又搬到了上海，并担任了ASPECT Studios中国区的设计总监。加入ASPECT Studios对我来说是一次完美的决定，迄今为止，我在ASPECT Studios领导团队已近六年。
Having spent several years in the Middle East and grown my family as well as my design approach and thinking, it was time to immerse myself in a new culture, to challenge myself further to experience new things. So, we made the move into China, and along with two close design partners and my family we lived and worked in Guangzhou for a number of years, before moving to Shanghai and taking on the role of leading ASPECT Studios. Joining ASPECT Studio was a perfect alignment for me. I have been leading the team at ASPECT Studios in China for nearly six years now.
My move to China not only deepened my appreciation and understanding of the importance of culture in design, but added an additional layer that I hadn’t previously experienced in ‘’Density’’. For nearly a decade I have lived, worked, travelled and designed while experiencing life and culture in some of the most densely populated urban centres across China. This exposure has given me a vast and detailed insight into both the positive effectiveness and negative considerations of dense urban environments, while at the same time providing me with an even deeper appreciation of the duty and responsibility designers and developers have to the society, environments, communities and people in which we influence.
▼苏州科技城源宿酒店 Element Eco Hotel – Suzhou
Since ASPECT entered the Chinese market in 2006, many quality works have been built. How do you manage to control the quality of construction?
This is a good question! Delivering a project in China offered may different hurdles compared with a western country. Regardless, design is problem solving and the challenges in different countries are indeed just opportunities for more problem solving.
▼重庆万科西九广场 Xiuju Plaza – Chongqing
I’m a fanatical believer that its irrelevant how well considered your ‘thinking’’ is, how beautiful the concept and renders are, or how poetic you bloody narrative is! If you can’t control the details and the quality of the final built outcome ( I wont shy away from stating, this is really challenge in the Asian market) then it’s a worthless endeavour and you may as well have not bothered in the first place. You’ve failed! I say that with a strong connection to realising projects in Asia as I learnt the hard way, failed and adapted many times along the journey.
I believe there are numerous factors that influence this outcome in this market, its essentially about decisions, and this relates to stages of a project, not just the back end. So, I’ll try and summarize starting at the beginning.
Client partnership – Alignment with the right client, that has a same drive and dedication to strive for excellence.
Design Team – I am blessed with an amazing team of creative designers that look to consider buildability and feasibility at every stage – regardless of the design language or form, working within ratios, systems, and modules even in concept can help this control. Control and defend the critical, character defining details at every step of the project.
Fanatical Obsession – Obsession of detail, materials, interfaces and how every facet, face and connection of every material comes together.
Local Design Partners – Alignment with a skilled and experienced local design institute that understands the word collaboration, looks to take joint ownership of the design and work with both our design team, client and contractor upholding the integrity of the design.
Contractor – Working with a contractor that takes pride and has a dedicated sense responsibility for bringing the design to life to the very best of their abilities.
Regular attendance on construction sites, undertaking construction reviews, communication and discussion with the contractor’s team.
Learning – each project is the opportunity to learn, develop and grow.
Whilst on the topic, I would note, I have great respect and indeed jealousy at times for some of the local design companies. There is a growing collection of extremely high calibre and talented local firms across Asia, that often do not get the wider exposer and attention they deserve. Each bring their own flavour of design, with the exquisite ability to control construction quality.
In the context of having worked in many different cultures, when faced with the setting of design in China, do you have any observations or thoughts relating differing approaches?
Where I do find differences is not necessarily in the design or designing, but in the process of delivering projects and the engagement of different perceptions.
In Western countries we find that projects may have multiple layers of stakeholders, from the community, government, and a vast consultant teams. While we still sometimes work with vary large consultant teams in China, in addition, some client teams are structured with so many, layers, lines of reporting and stakeholder its very hard to have direct communication with the actual decision maker. All of these additional stakeholders are (sometimes) equally unclear as to the project vision or the ultimate decision makers aspirations, and whilst they are happy to provide comments of their own subjective opinion, in attempt to add value, more often than not these turn out to be misleading rather than helpful.
Over the years we have found that the most successful projects are ones where we can engage collaboratively with a client team, have direct and meaningful dialog in which we can extract the fundamental objectives they look to achieve with the project and where each party is clear as to their role and input into the process and project. Our clients are very respectful of the design process, and while they input and give feedback, they understand that we are responsible for the ‘design’ and their input focuses on practical, functional, quantitively input, rather than personal subjective whims.
What impresses you most about the development of China’s landscape industry? Can you talk to us?
I love the energy and passion that design, and landscape architecture holds within the domestic Chinese market. It’s a future facing, conscious of it past, whilst carrying an ever increasing level of expectation on each project, a constant drive to create the ‘’never seen or experienced before’’. While this aligns with a unique and authentic response to a site, at the same time it challenges us to go further.
In more recent years, it has been amazing to see the transformation of attitude, from landscape seen simply as an aesthetic which is viewed and admired, to appreciation of landscape as an essential city shaping factor that can help achieve a balance to urban environments, and simultaneously consider social and environmental systems. I’m practically impressed at the development and application of the “sponge city” initiatives and development requirements, and more importantly the speed in which government direction can influence and activate positive change on a countrywide level. I recall talking with companies ten years back, who were struggling, trying to have clients embrace WSUD (Water Sensitive Urban Design) principles into their projects, with no immediate commercial gain. Now, it’s a fundamental system and consideration within all projects, which is great! But the speed and geographic range at which this change took place is remarkable, this only the first step towards a evermore sustainable development country wide.
Another observation is the change in developer mindset and a realisation that a successful project isn’t solely defined by short term commercial gains, that sustained success comes from attention to socially and environmentally orientated public space, that considers people as the priority. It provides a meaningful additional to the urban environment and considers human comfort, safety, accessibility, scale, and programme that can bring true value to the daily lives of all the community, covering people of all ages and status.
There is an awakening and consciousness in the industry, that a focus on people will inadvertently bring commercial success. Gone are the days of large empty paved plazas void of trees and shade just to achieve unhindered sight lines to commercial facades.
As designers and developers, we have a responsibility to the society and communities in which we are ‘invited’ to develop, In this new era which focuses on people and a diversity of urban experience, it is important that we can bring excitement, delight engage and inspire. This is everything that ASPECT is passionate about, “Creating places where people want to be!”.
ASPECT undertakes a variety of project types, including parks, public realm and urban space, infrastructure, hospitality, commercial, and mixed-use landscapes. Do you have any project types or preferences?
As a business and personally, I’d say we don’t have any particular typology or preference. We are recognized for some types of projects , but we try to keep our portfolio diverse and not scripted. We look for opportunities that support our thinking and our purpose.
Opportunities that are of our time, contemporary, and have positive impact both socially and environmentally. Across all our studios, we are guided by our purpose and seek opportunities that challenge and delight. This principle is unifying factor that flows through the DNA of ASPECT, our culture, studios, designers, and projects.
While unified by our goal, as a team we are equally diverse, and it’s this diversity that brings a unique character and energy to our individual approaches and the way we respond to each project.
▼阿德莱德Hart’s Mill儿童游乐项目 Harts Mill – Adelaide
▼珀斯雅干广场 Yagan Square – Perth
The scope of landscape is far reaching, as are our teams. We have the ability to operate across our different locations and pull in specialists and leaders from different fields to support the specific needs and complexities of an individual project. This ‘OneStudio’ philosophy brings a collective strength and allows our teams to collaborate creatively across all our locations on a diverse variety of project typologies, scales and complexities.
Over recent years we have been able to position ourselves in number of new geographies, imbedding ourselves in the cultures we are working within and in close collaboration with our client partners. Our studios currently stand at nine. Five across all the major cities of Australia, two in China and more recently Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam and Dubai, UAE.
ASPECT, as an industry innovator, has won numerous awards. You claim that the reason for winning the award is not just because of the design, but your unique way of thinking. What are the key points of your thinking when facing different projects?
As a practice, while we operate across different geographies and culture, there is a strong unifying purpose throughout company, this drives us. It is our point of self-checking and reference when making decision and choices, from strategic company direction to individual project designs. It’s about how can we bring progressive change, positive impact, and develop creative and innovative project specific solutions and ideas that address people, environment, culture, with all the layers of complexity and uniqueness that come with these considerations.
▼悉尼高线公园（左）; 墨尔本维多利亚DeSal生态公园 The Goods Line – Sydney(Left); Victoria DeSal and Eco Park – Melbourne
Whether we are dealing with larger scale urbanism, or smaller scale people spaces – letting the site, people, community, culture and environment lead us to the solutions – this has been the backbone to the success of many of our works. I don’t believe there is one singular “ASPECT’’ way of thinking or approach to projects, aside from the fact that all our studios, teams and designers approach a project with a site responsive mindset.
For myself, I will always start with people, understanding the unique demographic and culture specific to a project; who are they and how can my design actions bring some positive impact or influence. This would then expand to explore wider community, culture, habits, place, context, city or even global position. This exploration is to understand and appreciate what the obvious and hidden problems maybe be. Site, climate, environmental, technical are the just the general business considerations. I feel there are finer grain issues that we as designers of cities and urban environments are uniquely positioned and have a social responsibility to try and address, or at least go some way to consider.
I believe that as humans, each and every one of us is critically defined and influenced by the environments we exist within daily! The reparative mediocrity of mundane engineering defined urban environments is having a profound influence on society as a whole, physically and psychologically. There is a undeniable connection between the increased density of cities and the increase in mental health related issues, depression, anxiety, loneliness, isolation and stress. As designers of these increased density cities, we can look to consider the unspoken impacts more within our even if in a small way.
A small gesture within a design, that physically forces people closer together, or creates a obstacle making them look up from phones, so that they may have a real social interaction, potentially meet someone new, have conversation and engage.
▼珀斯雅干广场 Yagan Square – Perth
▼悉尼高线公园 The Goods Line – Sydney
Obviously, all designers wish to feel that their designs speak to everyone and loved by all. But maybe it’s more important that you make them feel ‘something’ rather than nothing, or that the experience of being in a space which speaks to the people of that place and community in a way that could not be planned and is inspired by something unique and special to them.
▼19号公园活动中心 Pityarilla (Park 19) Activity Hub
Since you have been in the designing for more than 20 years, your projects spread all over the world, as an foremost landscape designer with a portfolio of works gaining international acclaim and recognition, when you participated in the project design of different countries, how did you reflect the locality in the project?
With each project we strive to create a unique meaningful design response, and as such each project, its people, past, community, culture or environment hold the key to our design solutions. Each site has its own unique journey to take us on, sometimes this journey is obvious to the observer other times more subtle (personal to the designer). I like to think that our designs speak to time, place and people, whilst (by their nature, being designed by us) they are also a personal expression of our feeling of culture or place and a response to the site.
I approach the process of design with essential two ‘roads’ and have found that I consciously or subconsciously would apply this process to all designs, at any scale. One analytical and the other more emotional.
The first road is an analytical logical process that draws together site and project requirements, influences and considerations. Its extensive and pulls in relevant data on the city, district, context, demographic, experience, habits, sunlight, wind, rainfall, levels, microclimate and habitats, accessibility, movement, visual composition, people flow and numbers, scale, composition and sequence, flexibility, functionality, and progamme. The end result moves us towards a design framework of human and environmental systems which we analyse to extract synergies, conflicts, and opportunities.
The second road, the quest for authentic response, or narrative would start with experiencing and studying both obvious and more subtle things that are intrinsically unique and special about the place, its people, its past, its culture, urban character, architecture or natural environment. A search for an authentic, meaningful reflective of ‘place’.
As people we are the sum of our collective life experiences, influences and exposures, having a singular point of reflection offers a guide and solutions to lead us away from what might simply be imagined, but to something that strives to be a unique and authentic response to place, with colour, texture, form, character, experience reflective of this narrative.
ASPECT in collaboration with Lava won the Central Park competition in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam last year. The project received great acclaim and attention locally and globally. As the principle landscape designer, could you share with us some design details of the project?
This project is situated as “The” core open space at the center of the city, so we recognized its significance, importance and potential. For us, it was important to appreciate how the space would contribute and add true social, cultural and environmental value. We endeavored to create a design that integrated into one of the fasted developing cities in the world within complex and ever-changing dense urban fabric, we also appreciated the city’s role as a destination in Asia. We understood that the central park needed to perform on the world stage and carry a strong message for both tourists and visitors as well as local residents.
The spaces and places of our cities are one of the essential ingredients in forging the character, uniqueness and in helping to create memories and experiences. This was a key driver when thinking about the park as a future icon of the city on the global stage. The vast potential for the project deemed it to be ‘’much more than a park’’. It needed to represent the cities forward-thinking on sustainable living in an intense urban environment. We needed to design a place that created identity through experience, technology, sensitivity, and to provide a strong narrative that represented the client’s future vision of the city.
The site was a combination an existing and rundown urban park that dates back to colonial era, with three primary plots of land segregated by a network of intense downtown roads. A consistent principle of the design was to bring connectivity within the site and between the site and the city. As such, we developed the logic of connecting each parcel of land with a flowing network of bridges, allowing separation between pedestrian movement and vehicular movement.
In response, we applied a ground-up approach to our thinking, letting the site itself, its past history and current day attributes guide and inform the decisions. A adaptive layered framework of landscape of influence, consideration, programme and experience was developed, each layer representing and supporting one of the 4 guiding systems connection between past, future, people and nature.
This will be our first project within Vietnam, representing the values we bring can have meaningful impact and activate positive change. Following the principles of being present in the cultures we look to design in, we now have a studio in Ho Chi Minh City, and look forward to working with the government, private developers and community to realize this and many other city shaping projects.
ASPECT has grown to more than 200 people in recent years. As a huge firm, do you think ASPECT has any commendable company culture?
Think I touched on this a little earlier. While we are now a sizable business, and located across multiple geographies, each studio retains the intrinsic DNA of ASPECT Studios. Our studios’ operate with a strong learning, collaborative and connected studio culture, and have structured internal systems that support us to work seamlessly as “OneStudio” allowing us to pool our latest global thinking and skills to collaborate globally. At the same time, and of equal importance to the success. We have over 200 minds, we are also located within the heart of the cultures we design within, bringing a wealth of local talent, appreciation, perspective, knowledge and experience.
Q：ASPECT鼓励设计师走出办公室，参与教学、参与更多社区项目、甚至推动环境政策的改善，不仅仅局限于设计，这更多的是在选择一种生活态度， 你认为这对于公司的发展有什么方面的帮助呢？ 这是否会成为未来设计师的发展趋势呢？上海的公司分部是否遵循这样多元化的发展模式呢？
ASPECT encourages designers to go out of the office, participate in teaching, participate in more community projects, and even promote the improvement of environmental policies. It is not just limited to design. This is more about choosing a life attitude. What do you think this is for the company’s development? How about help? Will this become a trend for future designers? Does the company branch in Shanghai follow such a diversified development way?
Indeed, this is part of our DNA. As future focused people, we need to be obsessed with expanding knowledge, sharing information and learning, developing and creating new ways of thinking and designing. ASPECT has always had strong and active relations with teaching and academia. We encourage all our teams, at all levels to seek opportunity to engage with learning programmes, schools and universities.
Our advocacy for this comes from a responsibility that is collectively aligned across the leadership; a responsibility and desire to support the Landscape Architecture profession and the next gen-LA’s, to see it grow and strengthen to take a leading role in the biggest challenge of our generation, “climate change”. The need for multi-system thinking in battling climate change, creating resilience and sustainability is essential now, more than ever before and Landscape Architects are uniquely positioned, skilled to take active and leading role.
ASPECT keeps the spirit of innovation while practicing and has its own research on many emerging topics. Can you tell us what kind of research you are working on? What topics is the office in Australia focusing on now?
For the few year we have setup and funded and dedicated Innovation Lab. The current works are still under wraps, but I can say that the core foundation of this is in looking at bigger picture solutions, to drive learning, understanding, solving problems and knowledge sharing with a dedicated focus on industry related innovation, that will support and impact the industry as a whole rather than just our practise.
The scope of the Innovation Lab has no boundaries and ideas come from all levels of the company. These will range from sharing, past learning’s and data from projects, approaches to design thinking and materials. We are focusing on tools which are founded in parametrical system, data analysis and integrated BIM in landscape, WSUD , Future mapping systems, Big Data analysis and post occupancy learnings. This will allow our designers to have access to quantifiable data to assist with advocacy towards, social and environmental outcomes through differing design solutions.
Finally, what interesting projects are you currently working on that we should look out for in the near future, and who your collaborating with.
We have a diverse range of really exciting projects on the boards and on site at the moment, and its a going to be an exciting upcoming period for the studio. I’ll give you a little insight into few of them:
The HyperLane in Chengdu, a three level, 2.4km long skypark and life style development. It is vibrant, fun and dynamic linear connective development that is the core of the University of Music and Art in Chengdu. We are collaborating with Aedas, lead by my good friend Andy Wen in Beijing and the initial phase urban social gallery has just opened.
▼成都hyperlane超线公园设计过程 Design Process
The New Shanghai Library East in Pudong, is currently under construction and set to open next year, a landmark project for the city and an amazing civic, community and people orientated project. It’s in the most amazing unique location on the fridge of century park, and the landscape design looks to bring the surrounding character to every corner of the design. Collaborating with Chris Hardie and the team at SHL.
▼上海图书馆 Shanghai New Library
The Roof，是一个位于上海新天地中心地段的人文商业项目。这个项目反映的是上海传统的街道，它以红砖、盆栽和植被为特色，并有醒目的垂直绿化。该项目由我们与Ateliers Jean Nouvel合作设计。
The Roof, a human scale cultural commercial project in the heart of Shanghai (XintianDi) . The project is a reflection of the traditional streets of Shanghai, and embraces the character of red brick, plant pots and vegetation, with an eye catching green façade. In collaboration with Ateliers Jean Nouvel.
▼上海新天地The Roof精品商业项目 The Roof, Xintiandi
▼正在建设中的新天地The Roof精品商业项目，马当路视角照片 Under construction, photos from Madang Road, Xintiandi
A amazing experience based project with HKLand in Chongqing, The Ring. A project I’m very passionate about this as it’s a opportunity to help spread a important message relating to protecting our natural environment, and how even city people can have a big impact. This project is currently under construction.
▼香港置地约克郡光环购物公园 HKLand The Ring Shopping Park
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