My Hoang Vo, Landscape Architect at HLM’s Sheffield studio, has recently achieved his professional chartership with the Landscape Institute. This follows his impressive win as one of Pro Landscaper’s 30 Under 30 : The Next Generation for 2021 – his passion for the natural world is clear.

But what has fueled this, and what else interests him? Read on to find out!

What attracted you to come to the UK and study landscape architecture?

The University of Sheffield leads the way in landscape architecture. When I applied to study, I got one offer in New South Wales in Australia, but the UK and European landscape is more developed and that is what interested me in coming to study in the UK. I didn’t know much about landscape architecture before I started the landscape architecture course, but after a little research on urban design and sustainability and how people focus on the external environment, I found that in Europe [eg. Berlin] it is further developed than other areas of the world.

I would still like to go to Australia in the future though!

When did you know for sure that you wanted to pursue a career in landscape architecture?

The first day I went to university, my lecturer took me on a landscape walk to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where I was amazed by the Deer Shelter Skyspace – the experience of spatial relationship, lighting, and exposure. This interested me in how important the surrounding experience is in landscape, and this inspires everything that I design now.

How has your approach or thoughts to the industry changed since studying at university?

In the last two years, working in a multi-discipline company it has developed my understanding of the relationship between landscape and architecture. There is currently so much waste, and what we are doing at HLM has massively influenced my work, especially my interest in the user experience of spaces – and how landscape is crutial to this.

Has sustainability always been an area of interest for you? How has this interest evolved?

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago with the Landscape Institute raising the climate emergency, and how this has been brought into design following the policy changes. The main focus is looking at how to recycle materials and be creative with this, especially when recycled material isn’t always aesthetically pleasing – this requires the creativity and expertise that we develop while using it.

What are your particular areas of interest in the industry and why?

I am really interested in the ‘Masterplanning’ and ‘Living and Communities’ sectors at HLM. It’s about L&C – the work I’m doing will have influence on people; their daily living and how they use the spaces. Housing shortages are a big issue, and the sustainability focus on this is something I am keen to be involved with in the future.

This is the dilemma of construction industry, to meet the needs of people but still protect and enhance the environment.

What are your aspirations?

My aspiration is to lead projects with a sustainability focus. I’m interested in exploring how we can focus on user experience and external spaces in a connected community, and incorporate environmental sustainability. I’m particularly interested in the social and environmental benefits that landscape provides, and breaking these down to focus on users to deliver projects.

It’s challenging, because while the big vision is community connection and environmental sustainability, each individual project, from tiny schemes to masterplanning, has an impact in the individuality of the people involved.

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