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LI conference in Manchester

By Ben Gosling
The LI conference in Manchester in June will examine all aspects of this vital topic
In his 2014 Review of Architecture and the Built Environment, Sir Terry Farrell observed that ‘In order to create the kind of high-quality places we all want, a major cultural change is needed where the focus of everyone involved moves towards the wider context of what is already there and its all-important setting and context. 

‘Landscape’, he continued, ‘is the primary infrastructure.’ 
Landscape as infrastructure is a vital theme for the LI, and we will explore it in detail at this year’s conference. Landscape is not just about creating spaces, but transforming them: about harmonising disparate elements in a way that creates value and addresses the needs of everyone. Whether climate change and the environment, green infrastructure, health and well-being or natural capital, the intervention of the landscape profession can benefit society on every level. Our annual conference will be a lens through which we can scrutinise, promote and debate the issues central to the needs of our members’ clients and the wider public. 

By recognising the importance of landscape as infrastructure, the LI seeks to weave together achievements in resilience, flood prevention, public health and more, highlighting the public good that practitioners do, whether through design, planning or management. No matter their discipline, our members operate in the natural interface between people, their environment and infrastructure. 

It is time not only to recognise and celebrate this, but to determine how best we can use our skills to create the sustainable future society needs. 

The conference will take place over two days. Day one will consist of a mix of hour-long plenary sessions and breakouts, and on day two, delegates will attend site visits to some of the most innovative and exciting infrastructure projects in Manchester and Salford. The plenary sessions on day one are structured in such a way as to build a cohesive narrative, developing the brief of landscape as infrastructure throughout the day: 

From the Humber to the heart of China, the first session will examine where people and nature meet: large-scale regeneration, densification and urban parks, the building of flood defences, and the destruction of landscape character by urbanisation. 

The second session explores how turning infrastructures into ecological networks can lead to massive ecological restoration initiatives. The ever-changing definition of landscape and its role as infrastructure allows practitioners to address challenges of carbon creation, habitat destruction and deteriorating public health. 

The value of landscape is well known, but rarely understood. Natural capital accounting will be of immense importance to the profession in coming years, as by demonstrating the value of green infrastructure, we will be able to fully unlock its benefits. The third session discusses in detail the applications, and implications, of the natural capital initiative. 

The final session deals with social infrastructure; the places where we meet, eat, shop, relax, protest; the places where our communities form and thrive. It examines the changing face of our city centres and the part landscape practitioners can play in transforming our cities for the better, and looks at the role landscape can play in welcoming refugees and nurturing children. 

Followed by a reception.

The LI Conference 2017 will take place at Manchester Metropolitan University on 22 and 23 June. For more information about key themes, plenary sessions, speakers and other activities, visit the Landscape Institute website, www.landscapeinstitute.org.

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