1Please give us a brief bio of yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
I grew to be a landscape architect following my childhood fascination with nature. This fascination later turned into a curiosity and desire to explore how man-made environments can be designed to replicate my early years’ sense of awe and wonder of the natural world.
We design for people; whether it is a large community, or just a single family. At its core, my design studio’s philosophy is to inspire the residents to enjoy, explore and reconnect with the outdoor environment.
2Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.
Our atelier studio specializes in designing resorts and resort-like communities that embody the tropical lifestyle experience. We integrate and weave environmental sustainability & community resiliency features into the design. Our designs provide a strong and unified identity and value to enhance the residents’ well-being and quality of life.
3Congratulations! As the winner of the 2019 Muse Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
We are extremely proud and honored to receive this Platinum Award. This international award means that we can engage like-minded developers and designer to exchange ideas on how to make community design better.
4Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2019 Muse Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
Botaniko is a community located near the edge of the Everglades National Park, in the City of Weston, Florida. It is a 123-acre master planned residential development with 125 modern home sites.
One of the strategies of smart growth and sustainable communities is to promote infill development, Botaniko adopts and embraces this concept. It was envisioned as a suburban ecotone where the Everglades biome and a residential community merge and blend. Influenced by proximity to the Everglades, we recognized the importance of water and used it as a key design feature.
We submitted Botaniko to the Muse Design Awards because I strongly believe in the design philosophy that guided us in this project. I also strongly believe that when testing your ideas you should set the bar as high as you can, and for me, the Muse Design Awards represent such a litmus test.
5What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The biggest challenge was how to create a strong indoor-outdoor relationship between modern architecture and the environment. We used lush native-dominated planting to created outdoor spaces with wide-ranging scale; as intimate as a pool side sitting area with a summer kitchen, or as expansive as open space with walkways and a trail system.
Another challenge was to integrate the community into the surrounding area. The master plan had to preserve the overall historical drainage patterns of the surrounding areas while improving local drainage issues with neighbouring communities. The design included reconfiguration of the lakes while maintaining on-site storm water storage and connectivity to existing lake system.
6How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Winning design awards enabled us to reach out to a wider audience that might find our philosophy and design aesthetic relevant to their future project.
7Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
I think that in the future there will be an increased pressure on outdoor spaces. With ever expanding urbanization, it will be critical to design open spaces that can serve as a counter point to the built environment. This trend will provide the creative industry with opportunity to come up with creative solutions for new development.
8If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Muse Award submitter, what advice would you give them?
It might sound banal and boring, but always follow your heart, design spaces that you would enjoy inhabiting or using and always document your work (sketches, drawings, photos, etc.)
9What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
Just keep working and keep designing. If you don’t have a project, invent one.
10What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Again, it might sound banal, boring and repetitive, but the key to success is to work hard. And if you fail, work even harder.
11Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Fundamentally, landscape architecture as a discipline is concerned with the quality of outdoor spaces. In a world of ever expanding gap between the different layers of society, equal access to well-designed outdoor spaces that enhances the residents’ quality of life can make a real difference to society. I would like to thank Muse Design Awards for giving a stage for work in this field.