03 December, 2009

Interview with London-based Eva Castro

Argentinean born Eva Castro, PlasmaStudio cofounder and Landscape Urbanism Masters Director at the AA was interviewed in November 2009.
Landscape Architecture China Magazine (LACHINA) caught up with her in Beijing...

Do you mind if others describe your work as being "feminine"?
EC No. It has never happen. Actually, its been described as masculine.

How did you become a landscape architect? And why did you choose this career?
EC I am not a landscape architect, I am an Architect. Journalists often get confused.
Landscape Urbanism, the Masters Degree at the Architectural Association, has a different understanding and perception of what a Landscape could be, should act and might perform. AA Landscape Urbanism seeks to propose performative landscapes where its principles are based on a set of rules that follow a set of parameters and players/ stakeholders.
On that way, the Landscape Architecture we design doesn't have the allure of a traditional and pictural Landscape. Instead, it resembles more to a working machine responding to a context, in general following the ground, employing the dynamics of it for its worth: wind flows, water catchments and recuperation, soils remediation, dryness or steepness of a given site …etcetera.

What are the worst difficulties you have met throughout your professional life? And how did you overcome them?
EC To deal with clients that didn't appreciate the work enough. Overcoming with such challenges is a common denominator for firms like Plasma Studio or Groundlab. In both practices, we want to deliver a strong message, to deliver it requires an important engagement with our principles and design statements, always trying to find tune with politics and construction constraints.

What is the most important ability for a landscape architect? In your opinion, what are advantages and disadvantages of female landscape architects?
EC I consider landscape architects capable of having a higher degree of control in any project. As a matter of fact, the so-called 'processes of thinking' that as landscape designers we acquire is an advantage that conventionalism hasn't gain. These processes of thinking outcome could be rooted by a certain amount of analysis, an overall understanding of a given site through mapping and diagramming, or simply, a critical position on regards to a client's call or a targeted market.

Do you think there is any female landscape architect who is as influential as Olmsted? Why?
EC No. Not yet. I mean, to that extend, Olmsted has been one of the stronger practitioners of Landscape Urbanism principles, specially through out that multiscalar Landscape project in Boston that serves as a necklace of greenery and performative parks of the city.

Which landscape architect or which project has influenced you the most?
EC As designers our references and precedents look wider than landscape architecture or architecture per se.
Right now, we are fascinated by the chefs d'oeuvre of a few contemporary Chinese artists, such as Cang Xin, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Needless to tell you that our favourite area in Beijing is Dashanzhi 798 District.
What I mean to say with all this, is that architects, besides the awareness of what is going on in the design world (from haute couture industry to industrial design and beyond) we must constantly enhance our field of sources with disciplines that branch out directly from the realm of creativity, like contemporary art, interactive installations, digital photography, music, and so forth!

How would you evaluate the current situation of female landscape architects in your company (their ratio, influence, recognition of their work, etc.)?
EC In our company equal to the male pattern. On the last 10 years, Plasmastudio have had many collaborators, ranging from engineers, photographers, artists, architects, designers, constructors, and so on. They have all happen to be recognized from their work value, not from their gender definition. Between you and me, we both know a woman will always have the best and most objective decision when it comes to design! (…laughters...)

As female landscape architects are increasing, how do you view the future of them in the field of landscape architecture?
EC Through our project World Horticultural Expo in Xi'An 2011 I have had the enormous pleasure to meet and work with a few Chinese female landscape architects. I think woman in general have an important role in the Chinese society now at days.

Could you provide some advice and suggestions to students in landscape architecture?
EC To be critic about everything!
Been an architect is a way of being.
Through our architecture we found a modus operandus to position ourselves in the world of design.
Wo hen gaoxing ren shi nimen.
To read the interview in Mandarin click here.