Our people: 5 minutes with Vaswar Mitra, Grant Associates
Vaswar Mitra joined Grant Associates in 2015 and specialises in large-scale landscape systems, infrastructure and digital technology. Having previously worked in Bangalore, his project experience covers diverse climatic, social and geographical contexts.
Within our practice, Vaswar plays a key role in implementing new technology and design methodologies such as Building Information Modelling, Computational Design and 3D printing. He shares his thoughts on future trends for landscape architecture and life at Grant Associates - and reveals where he turns to for creative motivation.
When and why did you first become interested in landscape architecture?
It was during my post-grad studies in urban design: I was especially interested in how you can make positive changes to cities through the landscape as much as through architecture. While I was working on a project in Mumbai, it emerged that there were a number of challenges which were more ecological than they were architectural, so it became a case of asking how we can we address these through landscapes, public parks and green spaces, rather than via other interventions. This experience really energised me to go into landscape architecture; it made me appreciate that landscapes, when they are well thought-through, can do certain things that architecture on its own cannot.
What are you most passionate about?
Sustainability and landscape urbanism - and how this is facilitated by technology: how we can use better, sophisticated technology to make strategic and sensitive urban design decisions, especially in large infrastructure projects that generally have a sizeable carbon footprint. Technology now plays a big role in helping to mitigate this and protect our planet. I believe that intentional landscape architecture with purpose can really affect people and how they live their lives, making things better for certain communities.
What projects are you most proud to have worked on, during your time at Grant Associates?
I’ve worked on a high profile international airport project in India, designed and delivered fully in BIM, which has taken around six years. This was a big infrastructure project that used a lot of computer modelling, analytics and simulations to deliver a very sustainable project that reflected the local architecture, traditions and the communities that it serves.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Day-to-day, there’s a lot of sketching involved, design reviews and generating ideas. Site visits are one of the most enjoyable aspects of landscape architecture, and while these are more challenging for us to carry these out internationally at the moment, we’re still continuing with local site visits in the South West wherever possible. These are always great opportunities to talk with lots of different people professionally: whether it’s architects, engineers or other designers, it’s good to bring together knowledge from different professions.
I’ve always really appreciated the great mentorship that’s provided at Grant Associates since joining the practice. There’s also a real diversity of ideas - we’re all encouraged to be experimental with our concepts. We have a big variety of skill-sets: people who are more technically-minded and others who are more artistic in their approach, and we all work together well. I’ve always found life at the practice to be very encouraging and creative.
Where do you turn to for creative motivation?
I have many disparate sources actually, which is why I probably enjoy working at Grant Associates so much! I draw a lot on traditional, local architecture as well as Indian architecture, but I also love science fiction - futuristic movies have a very big role to play in my designs!
What trends do you see influencing the future of landscape architecture?
I think the main overarching trend will be how best you can use higher-functioning landscapes to mitigate against climate change and rising sea levels; that’s on top of everyone’s minds right now, especially in countries like India and China. We’ve seen our world expanding as landscape architects, and as everyone becomes more aware of the importance of public parks and green spaces - especially looking ahead to a post-Covid world - landscapes will have a powerful role to play in our future.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in landscape architecture?
Design with empathy; look at where you’re designing and who you’re designing for, and then think about what that person’s environment and lifestyle is like. Design for the person to lead a better life; don’t impose your own ideas on others. Landscape architecture should be infused with humanity.
Lively minds making a liveable world…
Our continued success at Grant Associates is due to the talent and commitment of our multi-skilled team.
The practice currently employs over 70 people, from over 17 countries, across our two design studios in Bath and Singapore. The majority are qualified landscape architects, working together with architects, 3D modellers, BIM and visualisation specialists, horticulturists, designers, IT and other technicians.
We are always interested to hear from talented and enthusiastic people who would like to join our dynamic teams in both offices. Take a look at our latest vacancies and get in touch.