Landscaping skills have been lost recently in the Middle East, says Frederic Francis

We frequently build landscapes from scratch, where nothing exists other than barren, desert land.
– Frederic Francis

Frederic Francis believes a drop-off in landscaping skills is one of the main challenges facing landscape architecture as a discipline in the Middle East.

Speaking to CLAD about the challenges of practising in the region, he said: "The first one is the harsh climate, which makes things harder to grow than in Europe. Also, we frequently build landscapes from scratch, where nothing exists other than barren, desert land.

"Although there’s an ancient culture of gardening in the Middle East, in more recent times those skills have been lost and people generally have no idea what landscape architecture is."

Francis is principal of Francis Landscapes, which is based in Lebanon and delivers projects across the Middle East, Africa and Europe, often working in harsh climates.

The firm was established in 1987 by his mother Irmtraut Schoeber Francis. She inspired a love of nature and, ultimately, the profession in her son, who joined the business after returning from his studies in Belgium in 1992.

"It was challenging in the early days, as I needed to persuade people that they needed a landscape architect to conceive their outdoor spaces," he said. It felt as though I was setting off on a pilgrimage.

"I came back to this part of the world so that I could express myself. I’m constantly having to break new ground and discover new techniques."

You can read the full interview with Francis in CLADmag 2020 issue 1.

Frederic Francis  Francis Landscapes  landscape architecture  Middle East 
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FEATURE: Landscape design – Frederic Francis

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