20th February 201820th February 2018Landscape, SustainabilityLeave a commentOur monthly professionals series; Louise Knights, Associate at LSI Architects Louise Knights; Associate, LSI ArchitectsThis month’s Landscape Professional blog features architect Louise Knights, associate at award winning AJ100 architectural practice and ‘Sunday Times Best Company to work’ for, LSI architects. Louise joined LSI in 2007 and over the last 10 years has worked on a whole range of projects from bespoke residential to sports and leisure but her focus (and passion) for the past 8 years has been on healthcare.“I have worked on new build Palliative Care Centres for patients with life-limiting conditions and their families, hospital projects, creating the Addenbrooke’s Major Trauma Centre and paediatric ward refurbishment projects. I have also been involved in several hospice projects [including] the Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge”It isn’t difficult to see that work on these health -related projects is more than just a job for Louise and she feels deeply both the privilege and reward of her role;“I am fortunate to be in a position where I can make a difference to people’s lives, I have designed buildings for charities where people have told me they now volunteer more because they love working in the building that I have been involved in designing.”Louise really sees the holistic nature of designing for healthcare and feels strongly that this begins early in the process of meeting the clients and understanding their needs. This is no easy task when the client for these types of projects often takes many forms.“…early client engagement is essential to unlocking how the design should evolve. I usually carry out several workshops with different members of the client group as listening to everyone is crucial. This is what I enjoy most about being an architect because getting this early stage right then feeds into the design and as it develops you can see everyone’s ideas, needs and requirements come together. It is rewarding to see everyone taking ownership of what is being created.”Her holistic view also extends to the consultants she works with and she uses her relationships with them to really get the most from building;“I have been fortunate to work with several like-minded consultants and contractors that all see the importance in achieving high quality architecture, landscaping and buildings on what is often a very tight budget due to the limitations of Charity funding. Working within constraints often results in creative thinking and working together to provide affordable solutions that don’t compromise the quality of design we are looking to achieve. It is important to appreciate that the charity funding comes from community donations; funds raised by local schools and sponsored runs, bike rides or other activities. The hard work that goes into getting the money together needs to show in the built projects and cannot be seen to be wasted; every penny counts.”Specialising in healthcare, Louise also sees the value in the link between building and landscape;“For me the landscape is just as important as the building and this is especially true of hospice design. it is important to me that every patient has a direct connection to the outside and the landscape becomes part of the bedroom. Just because a patient is bed confined doesn’t mean they don’t want to be outside with the sun on their face, the scent of the planting in the air and the sound of birds around them. With each of the hospices I have been involved in, this importance of the patients being able to be outside has been paramount to the design.Where possible I like to involve Landscape Architects in the briefing stage of the design. I find their input invaluable in ensuring that we are considering the right approach for the building and landscape connection as early as possible”.In fact, so passionate is Louise about landscape and getting the right outcome for her clients that when the landscape for the Palliative Care at the James Paget Hospital sadly fell victim to value engineering, she and LSI architects, worked with a local garden centre to get plants donated and several the staff at LSI gave up their weekend to help plant them. When questioned about this, Louise states simply“It was important that the centre didn’t lose the landscape it needed and deserved”Hearing this made me wonder whether Louise’s translation of problem to action stemmed from her very applied route into architecture;“I got involved with the built environment at an early age, my father is a builder and when he built an extension to the family home, I got involved and wanted to learn. I helped with brick laying and went on to spend several weekends helping on different projects he was working on. This kick-started my passion for the built environment and my enjoyment of design at school encouraged me to pursue a career in Architecture.”Projects Louise has worked on, have won recognition for patient experience and community benefit from recognised industry bodies such as RICS, Building Better Healthcare and CIAT but Louise’s humble response to these accolades is this;“More importantly my work has improved people’s lives. Because of the buildings and spaces that my team at LSI and I have created, patients, staff, visitors and families have a better experience. The last 8 years of working in healthcare have been truly rewarding”Being part of the leadership team at LSI, part of her role is to mentor less experienced members of the team and she seems keen to share her knowledge and expertise to inspire the next generation of architects to remain in or join the profession.“The skills gap is ever growing and we all need to do our bit to show students how rewarding the construction industry can be”LSI Architects’ philosophy is to create sustainable, innovative, valuable and positive architecture that improves lives, builds communities and enhances society. Louise pretty-well embodies those ideals, so I’d say for these mentees to have Louise as their guide, they are some very lucky future architects indeed.