2016 IFLA World Council and Congress a smashing success!

Renee Davies is the current IFLA delegate for the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA).

World Council

IFLA World Council and Congress 2016

Writing to you all from Italy with an update on a very successful IFLA World Council meeting and Congress held in the beautiful city of Torino.

The IFLA World Council meeting takes place over two days and includes a very intense agenda which aims to consolidate work that has occurred over the last year by the various IFLA Committees, working groups and Executive team.  As with many professional organisations this work is all done by members in their own time and on a voluntary basis.  Given this scenario, there has been some significant achievements over the last year within IFLA and a promising status for the organization going forward (compared to last years situation which raised concerns over financial stability of the organization).

In terms of the financial aspects of IFLA, the acting treasurer James Hayter and Executive Director Ben Roberts and the Finance and Operational Committee of IFLA have done a huge amount of work to assess and strategise a sustainable approach to IFLA finances.  As a result the World Council approved a balanced budget for 2016 and 2017 – which places IFLA on a more secure footing in terms of operations.  Special projects have been identified and are either being carried out at no cost (using our voluntary people assets) or are identified for targeted sponsorship.

Gaining sponsorship is a key aspect of the organization going forward to build funds for the implementation of key projects linked to the strategic vision.  The Communications Committee of IFLA, of which I am a member, had an excellent workshop where we developed some innovative thinking around a potential approach going forward for IFLA World Congresses and an IFLA Awards.   Bruno Marques, the Committee and myself will now develop these ideas for broader distribution in a discussion paper, with the aim of having an agreed approach and sponsorship in place for the Montreal Congress in October 2017.

As the delegate for the last few years, I’m often asked what the benefit of IFLA is.  This World Council meeting highlighted to me the critical role that IFLA plays in the global profession of landscape architecture and it revolves predominantly around one of the key strategic visions of IFLA – advocacy and raising the profile of the profession.  This was highlighted this year with the significant achievement of establishment of the Middle East Region (previously part of the Asia Pacific Region).  The challenges in the Middle East for landscape architects was highlighted to me by the Lebanese delegates who outlined how it has taken them years of hard work to have their government allow them to form an organization and become a member of IFLA.    In many countries in this region there is no word for landscape and the profession is not recognized officially.  IFLA therefore becomes a vital connector and advocate – providing a credible and robust international family of colleagues who share a discipline.  This is invaluable in supporting the growth of the discipline and profession in these countries.  IFLA therefore, is altruistic and serves a much larger purpose than most of us in the West can even begin to imagine.   It is truly humbling to experience the passion and engagement of our global colleagues in these situations and secured my dedication to and support for this global organization and which I hope will continue through the NZILA.

As an example of the importance of support networks, the newly established Middle East region will be continue to be supported where required by the Asia Pacific Region and we will be creating a presence for the newly established region within the Asia Pacific Region website while they develop a stronger and more resilient regional presence.

So, the strategic vision of IFLA, includes four main focus areas, which provide the lens for all projects and action plans.  These include

  • Raising the profile of the profession
  • Development of member services
  • Sustainability of the Federation
  • Advocacy

A major project linked to development of member services and raising the profile of the profession is being carried out by the Education and Academic Affairs Committee.  The Committee has developed a proposal for IFLA to establish a world accreditation/recognition process.  This is a long overdue initiative that will enable IFLA to provide support globally to academic institutions that have credible landscape architecture programmes  (but no national organization accreditation procedure) to apply for and become accredited.    For the Asia Pacific Region, this initiative will be a valuable support for many landscape programmes.   A working group has been confirmed and this work is now progressing to the next stage ensuring appropriate processes and policies are in place to retain and develop capacity in accreditation at National organization level while building the opportunity for enhanced consistency and opportunity for accreditation globally – building and supporting our profession and providing consistency and opportunity for global movements for our students.

In terms of IFLA’s strategic vision, one of the actions is to build our interdisciplinary network globally.  The 2017 World Congress to be held in Montreal, Canada exemplifies the potential power of such collaborations.  The Congress was launched in Torino and combines major design disciplines (architecture, design, landscape and planning) from across the globe in the first ever world design summit and congress.  The Presidents of the three core Partners, IFLA, IFHP, COO (DEN), and ico‐D, International Council of Design, along with the Organizing Partners WDSO ‐ World Design Summit Organization have made significant progress on the details of the Congress, which is titled “Ten Days to Change the World” and aims to make a difference globally during the Congress.  The website has just been launched and more information can be found at:  http://worlddesignsummit.com

Alongside the many and varied discussions, workshops and meetings, there was also time to enjoy and appreciate the landscapes (both contemporary and historic) of Torino, Italy.

One of the benefits of attendance at IFLA Congresses are the unique opportunities provided to experience landscapes that might otherwise be inaccessible and the Torino experience provided just such unique experiences.  The World Council meeting was held beside the river in the Medieval village (Borgo Medievale), with stunning views of the hills of Torino and riverside walkway and park.


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Photo: IFLA delegates congregate on terrace of meeting room by the River at Borgo Medievale.
The gala dinner for IFLA delegates was held in the Piazza Castello in an incredible palace – the Palazzo Madama (also housing the museum of ancient art), mixing and mingling in front of original impressionist paintings – including a Renoir no less.  The Mayor of Torino welcomed us to the City and we spent a pleasant evening connecting with delegates from across the globe (meeting up with old friends and establishing new).

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Photo: Gathering by impressive paintings of the museum.

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Photo: Italian AIAPP delegate Ana Sessarego and Congress organizer Alessandra Aires, IFLA President Kathryn Moore and Congress Proceedings Convenor  Uta Muhlmann Zorzi at Palazzo Madama.


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Photo: Gathering under the astounding baroque painted ceiling of the Palazzo Madama.

The Congress welcome event was held at the UNESCO world heritage site LA Venaria Reale – a baroque masterpiece in the Pietmonte region on the outskirts of Torino.  As the sun set, a water feature danced in light to classical music as we mixed with landscape architects from across the globe.

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Photo: The sun setting behind the mountains of Pietmonte.

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Photo: The Unesco World Heritage Site of Venaria Reale – presentation of student awards and Congress welcome event.

The Congress – Tasting the Landscape, explored a range of themes including Sharing, Connected, Layered and Inspiring Landscapes.  There were presentations of papers from New Zealand from Victoria University Landscape Architecture programme.  One particularly inspiring talk by Studio Vulkan from Switzerland, where projects showcasing how to put atmosphere into design were discussed.  The challenge of creating a dialogue between person and place in order to create atmosphere.  To finding the poetry in the benile using light and materials.  The point of landscape having always animated our kinesthetic sense of movement was emphasized with projects where paving became a playmate for children in a playground and how constructing the ephemeral is one of our challenges as designers.

There were a range of very interesting technical tours to contemporary and historical landscapes throughout Torino and the nearby area.  Extremes of contrast, from fantastical baroque gardens to contemporary monumental public parks in reclaimed industrial spaces.   This park – Parco Dorma is a remnant derelict industrial space transformed into a large city park – characterized by preserved industrial monuments. The most fascinating place of Parco Dora is the Capannone di Strippaggio. The untouched steel construction of a former factory hall is monumental in scale (which might at first seem to large to be connected to human scale) and yet when we visited it was alive with activity – a truly successful space.

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Photo: Isola Bella – baroque marvel on lake Maggiore.

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Photo: Isola Bella

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3 Photos above: Contemporary 37 ha parco Dora in Torino by legendary German landscape architect (and this years Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe award recipient) Peter Latz.

A very special treat was the opportunity to visit the very private garden of the Agnelli family (owners of the Fiat company) outside of Torino.  The ancient Villa Perosa is surrounded by a Russel Page designed garden and the experience of exploring this beautiful landscape was a treasured moment for all of us on the trip.  The Agnelli family generously surprised us at the end of the garden tour with prosecco and lunch by the pool terrace – yes, I know, the life of an IFLA delegate can be very tough!

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4 Photos above: Images of the Russell Page designed garden of Villa Perosa.
Torino is an amazing city, with vibrant, highly walkable public streets and a great vibe – a hidden gem in Italy.   The AIAPP prepared a series of fabulous project books which showed locations of various landscape projects of interest throughout Torino and Milan – so that we could all explore in our own time by Metro or walking the numerous sites of interest to landscape architects.

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Photo: Outdoor dining spills into the streets throughout the City and is alive at night.

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Photo: Architectural creativity – the contemporary forest house apartment block which supports 150 trees and 900m2 of roof gardens.


So, in summary, the 2016 World Council and Congress was extremely productive and progressed the IFLA strategic vision further, providing clarity and focus for specific projects going forward and personally highlighted to me our fortunate status in New Zealand as a profession and how the strength of our own organization (built also through voluntary advocacy), can contribute to and learn from the global family of IFLA.

I’ll be giving a seminar on the various landscapes encountered on the trip in the coming months, so I’ll keep you posted when that is scheduled if you are interested to see and hear more from this part of the world.

For more photos click here.


I will sum up this update with the words of President of IFLA Kathryn Moore and I look forward to providing you with further updates on IFLA project developments over the coming months;

“We are here because we all believe, passionately, in landscape architecture. Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, my mentor was a founding member of the Landscape Institute in the UK, and helped found the International Federation of Landscape Architects in 1948. With a vision for a better future after the war, this followed the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, UNESCO in 1946, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the founding of the International Union of Architects (1948). A truly global federation, IFLA currently represents 73 national associations from Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific and a newly emerging region in the Middle East. It officially represents approximately 24,000 landscape architects across the world – the actual figure is probably nearer 35,000 – in both governmental and non-governmental organisations, such as the United Nations, UNESCO, UIA, ISOCARP and ICOMOS.  The international Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) is a highly respected not for profit institution, acknowledged by other international organisations including various United Nations Agencies as well as regional and local institutions. Although not often acknowledged or even articulated, this respect in turn, bestows considerable value on the profession and each of us in turn, whether president, vice president, chair or other elected officer, delegate, member of a working group or committee, friend or sponsor of IFLA. It gives status to the profession, opens doors for you, commands respect and with that of course, comes responsibility.

The value of this connection to the global organisation is not to be underestimated in anyway. It makes all of you, each and every one of you, our most vital resource, and it is our responsibility as members of this World Council, to raise the public profile of IFLA, advocate strongly for the profession, help improve services for our members, and ensure the sustainability of the organisation. As the World Council, we each need to become active and supportive members of the global community. We have a big agenda. It cannot be achieved by the EXCO alone.

 Given the global challenges we face, the potential for landscape architecture becoming increasingly significant. IFLA is one of the most important vehicles we have to transform the profession. The only global body for landscape architecture, it is a vitally important advocate. Raising the profile of the profession, assisting nations where the profession is emerging or conflicted, raising aspirations and the capacity of our members, IFLA works at a global level to support the development of landscape architecture, the landscape and landscape architects around the world at every stage of their career. Providing a robust international platform for the exchange of knowledge, expertise and networking, IFLA connects landscape architects, builds networks between supporters and partners, collaborates on joint initiatives, helps to find funding and delivers projects to develop the discipline”.

For those interested, please see information below on a global survey being undertaken to understand the current tasks of landscape architecture.


Dear landscape architect,

International Federation of Landscape Architects working group “Global professional standard” partnering with The Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards are conducting a joint online research project called “Task Analysis” to better understand the current scope of professional practice worldwide. Results will be shared with all participants and the data will be analysed for its implications on current and future practice.

The survey will inquire about demographics, types of projects undertaken and practice-oriented tasks, and there are multiple opportunities to add what’s missing (for example, if the type of work you do isn’t included).  It should take less then 30 minutes and you can stop and return to it later by using the same link and device to access the survey (just be sure to have cookies enabled and click “next” to save responses).


Individual responses will be kept confidential and results will only be reported in the aggregate.  The data will not be used for commercial purposes.

Thank you for taking time to help us all better understand the current state of practice.


Kind regards,
Ilya Mochalov
Chair of IFLA working group “Global professional standard”.


Report fully available at: http://www.nzila.co.nz/about-nzila/nzilaifla-delegate-update.aspx