• March 24, 2020



1280 720 Triad Architects

Landscape design fronting The Arch Place in Kilimani, Nairobi


For many centuries, people have practiced landscape design both for aesthetic value and for practical reasons. Aesthetic value is achieved when people understand how to manipulate the landscape leading to beautiful sceneries around their homes or public realms. Landscaping for practical reasons on the other hand applies where landscapers plant gardens for economic gains and environmental benefits such as air purification. Both reasons have transformed and improved on the art of using landscapes for the purpose of human use.

Landscape design therefore has many definitions. From our practice, we have established that this is the art of selecting, designing and carefully organizing landscaping features to create a functional and aesthetic appealing outdoor or indoor space for humans. Landscaping features include vegetation, outdoor structures, art and sculptures, outdoor furniture, water, circulation routes, lighting, signage and drainage. Landscaping design is organized as softscapes and hardscapes. The ability of professionals to bring together all these components to creating impressive and functional outdoors determines their success.


Softscapes in landscape design are landscape features are established using living plants. It ranges from small plants such as groundcovers and shrubs to use of tall trees. This design is influenced by several factors such as plants life cycles, time to maturity, climate, location and maintenance cost. Hardscapes consists on inanimate elements such as walkways, furniture, structures such as gazebos, retaining walls, sculptures etc. The use of both organization scopes is very effective and produces beautiful and well thought outdoor spaces.

In urban settings where buildings occupy majority of space, landscape design is necessary as part of these buildings. Landscaping as part of a building has a variety of uses and significances. A major importance is that landscaping is used to repair damaged ecosystem resulting from a building construction process. The extent to which landscaping design is integrated with a building determines the role it plays in incorporating the building with the environment it sits on. This integration creates a natural unity and a visual harmony that is attractive, comfortable and welcoming to humans.


Landscape design is determined by the use of the building and the existing surrounding.

Success of a landscape design is determined at the start. It is therefore very necessary for the designers and the client to be intentional. Since landscaping features help in bringing out the objectives of a project, the incorporation at the beginning determines the overall approach. Every landscape feature has a specific usage. The use of more than one feature to complement each other is also determined by the overall functions of a space. For example, an office building can allow the use of softscapes and hardscapes while an industrial warehouse with heavy machinery may discourage small softscapes. Similarly, sculptures, art and water features may be added to softscapes and hardscapes in a museum design to bring out its functions.


Several concepts are available for landscape architects to help the landscape design amalgamate the environment and the building to conjoin the landscape. The focus being the main building, landscaping helps in softening ‘harsh’ edges and concealing some hard-architectural elements. Majority of humans are innately attracted to more natural features such as plants which signify presence of life in a building. You are therefore likely to find architects using planters to host plants on hardscapes such as parking areas above ground. Plants are also used to welcome people into buildings. They present soft sceneries which humans identify with.

Design of landscaping should therefore be considered right at the start of every project. This will go a long way in registering success for any given project during its use since landscaping design has a special influence on human’s psychology. In conclusion, as people approach a building, they first interact with landscaping features which help in developing an attitude towards the building. The success of a landscape design significantly determines the success of an architectural project.

Landscape design at Arch Place Building Kilimani

Landscape design at Arch Place Building Kilimani

GTC Centre Terrace design

Groundcover planting design at AEA Plaza

A view of the outside landscape design from the inside of AEA Plaza