Vandals or Visionaries? From Capability Brown to the Garden Bridge: how our perception of landscape design changes with time

05 December 2016
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Does our perception of landscape design change over time? From the contested landscapes of Capability Brown to the controversial Garden Bridge, there are many examples of large-scale projects that initially cause public outrage. But how does hindsight affect our perspective?

This November and December, The Building Centre is exhibiting the very best landscape projects of the past year. 2016 also marks the tercentenary of the father of landscape architecture, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. To mark these events, The Building Centre and the Landscape Institute invite you to attend an evening of talks that examine current and historical thinking on landscape practice.

Michael Forster-Smith, the General Manager of Croome Court NT and the surrounding parkland, will set the scene by discussing the impact of Capability Brown’s work. Croome Court was an early Brown commission that ultimately lasted 30 years, and the importance of this project endures to this day.

LDA Design’s Board Director Selina Mason will then talk about how time affects the public’s perception of large-scale projects, alluding to, among other projects, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. As former Director of Design Integration at the London Legacy Development Corporation, Selina was involved in commissioning the Park. The Park’s transformation has set a new benchmark for future host cities, but in spite of its legacy, it attracted criticism during the early stages of its development. Selina will discuss the challenges that designers face when working with little space to create something truly enduring and extraordinary.

We will then hear from Roo Angell and Bob Bagley, Deptford residents with backgrounds in landscape architecture and architecture respectively and co-founders and directors of Sayes Court Garden Community Interest Company (CIC). After years of campaigning, Roo and Bob have successfully changed the scope of the forthcoming Convoys Wharf development, which threatened to erase a 350-year-old horticultural legacy. To do so involved negotiating with Lewisham Council, the Greater London Authority and the Wharf’s developers, international investors Hutchison Whampoa Limited. With the help of the National Trust, Eden Project, Gardens Trust, World Monument Fund, Harvard University and the community of Deptford, among others, they convinced the developers to preserve a large portion of the site as open space. The CIC will manage much of the open space, focusing on job creation and horticultural training, keeping the natural legacy of Convoys Wharf alive.

Finally, Noel Farrer FLI, past president of the Landscape Institute and director of Farrer Huxley Associates, will discuss the controversy surrounding London’s Garden Bridge project.

An audience response and Q&A session will follow the talks. Kate Bailey CMLI, Chair of the LI’s Policy and Communications Committee, will oversee the discussion.


  • 17:30 public registration
  • 18:00 guest speakers
  • 19:00 response and questions from the audience
  • 20:00 event ends


  • General public: £15
  • LI members: £10
  • Students: £5

For more information, contact Events and Competitions Manager Sabina .

Further Details

  • Event type:  Talk
  • Cost:  General public: £15 / LI members: £10 / Students: £5
  • Location:  The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1E 7BT
  • Opening times: 


  • Accessibility Details:  Wheelchair accessible
  • Telephone:  +44 (0)20 7692 4000
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