We caught up with Mark Hattie, this year’s recipient of the Just Trees Scholarship through ILASA, to find out a little bit more about this aspiring landscape architect!
Maybe you could start with telling us a bit about yourself: where you’re from, who are you and how you came to study landscape architecture?
I have always had a love for plants and exploring nature, growing up in Cape Town there was never a shortage of being exposed to nature. In High School I became fascinated with architecture and consulted with a city planning and architecture firm in what might be a good career option for me, one of the employees suggested I look into landscape architecture. I was sold on the profession almost immediately, it combined both my fascinations. I studied at CPUT for my diploma in Landscape Technology, then worked for a local contractor for 3 years and then decided to complete my studies. I finished my Btech in Landscape Technology at CPUT in 2016, qualified for the Master’s in Landscape Architecture Programme at UCT and completed my Honours in 2017, currently busy with my final year of the Master’s Programme at UCT
How did you come to be a recipient of the Just Trees Scholarship?
I applied for the scholarship after my Lecturer Julian Raxworthy made me aware of the Scholarship, it is the ILASA annual scholarship, funded by Just Trees. I have known about Just Trees since 2009, during a working weekend a few classmates and I worked on the tree farm, helping with stock take. After that I was exposed to them in the industry and during my Btech year, I applied through a website for part time employment, and the company was Just Trees! I captured data from sites for the company for most of the year. It was great experience
What is it about landscape architecture that you are passionate about? Why do you think it’s such an important field of study?
Place making and the need or want thereof. We had a lecturer that uses to tell us if you want to be famous, you should be a doctor. Which is true, because whenever people utilize an outdoor space, that works well, they don’t think, “I wonder who designed such a great space that allows the community to utilize and benefit from it.” In the mind of the everyday person this space is just a courtyard, plaza or park. But these seemingly ordinary spaces often require months of research, design and public participation. I love the fact that I am involved in an industry that creates these spaces, there is almost an infinite detail in space making which is simply fascinating.
What would your ideal project to work on look like?
In all honestly I have two ideal projects I would love to work on, the first is a Dr. Seuss inspired garden, with fluffy trees and curled up grass cliffs, can you imagine the joy?! Secondly I love the seasons, and nature is the best indicator of seasons, so why not use deciduous bulbs as a seasonal clock. I would love to work in a large seasonal wetland, which is filled with seasonal bulbs, each distinguished by a different colour palette. Ie blue and white for winter and orange and yellows for summer, that would be a sight!
What does the term ‘Treeification’ bring up for you or make you think of?
‘Treeification’ to me is the image of the ideal urban balance. A city densely populated by trees, allowing for better quality of air, bringing biodiversity back to cities, giving life to microclimates in the city and reducing the temperatures in our cities. A tree is like a natural aircon, without electricity. In the perfect world, landowners in the city will see the importance of trees and other vegetation within our cities and allow some of their land to be populated by nature again. Imagine two or three parking lots in the city occupied by a tree and a seating area with some groundcovers, we can put the jungle back in concrete jungle