The 2018 IFLA World Congress in Singapore

by Erik S. Mustonen, ASLA, CSLA, RLA (CA + MN), CLARB, LEED AP-ND

image: Erik Mustonen

The Republic of Singapore, an island city-state one degree north of the equator, has 5.6 million residents on 700 square kilometers (270 square miles.) Since independence in 1965, land reclamation has increased its size by 23%. With dense development on its small area, only 5% of its historical forests remain, but the creation of nature parks has become a national priority. It is a multi-ethnic community with four official languages—English (most common), Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Most of its people are bilingual. About 74% of the residents are of Chinese descent. It ranks very high in many economic measures and is known to be safe, corruption free, and extremely well organized (some say too organized). While working in nearby Malaysia in the 1980s and 1990s, I often visited Singapore, and I was impressed by how much it has developed since then.

The 2018 International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) World Congress and Trade Exhibition was held from July 18-19, at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. It was organized by IFLA together with the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects and the (Singapore) National Parks Board. The organizers also offered nine technical tours on July 20.

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International Practice Preview

image: IP-PPN Leadership Team
image: IP-PPN Leadership Team

The ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO will be November 6 – 9, 2015 in Chicago. This is a great opportunity for all current and potential future members of the International Practice Professional Practice Network (IP-PPN) to take advantage of networking opportunities and educational sessions! The world of the 21st century is becoming increasingly global in nature rather than being centered on America. Although ASLA has thousands of members, only a few hundred of us have shown an interest in international issues and work. Of these, fewer still have shown up and become actively involved.

The following events at the Annual Meeting offer rare opportunities for seasoned, as well as students and emerging, professionals, to meet to share our knowledge and make valuable connections. These connections can lead to friendships and future collaboration. We especially urge you to attend the IP-PPN Meeting on Sunday, November 8 at 9:15 AM, to share your ideas on how we can build the PPN and make it more relevant, active, and useful for all of us.

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The International Landscape Convention Initiative

Mexico City streetscape image: Erik Mustonen
Mexico City streetscape
image: Erik Mustonen

From May 20-23, 2015, I attended the Annual Congress of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA). This in itself was not surprising, since in addition to being a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, I am also a member of CSLA. What was notable was that the Congress was in Mexico City. Every ten years or so, CSLA likes to add interest to their annual meeting by having it outside Canada (last time, in Cuba).

Mexico City is amazing! Estimates vary, but the metropolitan area—the largest, by population, in the Western Hemisphere and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world—has about 22 million people living in an area of 2,072 square kilometers. This compares to 20.1 million in the New York metropolitan area, which is 17,405 square kilometers in size. Mexico City’s density is nine times greater in spite of having very few tall buildings.

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Logistics of International Work–Part 2

Street scene, Ipoh, Malaysia image: Erik Mustonen
Street scene, Ipoh, Malaysia
image: Erik Mustonen

My two previous posts, Getting Started in International Work and Logistics of International Work—Part 1, dealt with preparing to work internationally. This post deals with the logistics of when you are in a foreign country and after you return. The previously stated caveat—that conditions vary greatly between countries, within countries, and over time– still applies, but this should at least give you a few things to think about.

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Logistics of International Work–Part 1

Nefta, Tunisia  image: Erik Mustonen
Nefta, Tunisia
image: Erik Mustonen

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
–Saint Augustine (AD 354 – 430)

My previous post, Getting Started in International Work, covered how to prepare for international work generally. This two-part addition covers logistical considerations for working in a foreign country based on my own experiences in Canada, Germany, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and elsewhere. Conditions vary greatly between countries, within countries, and over time, but this should at least give you an idea of what to think about. I look forward to hearing other people’s experiences as well. Part 1 deals with the logistical issues before you go. Part 2 will cover issues relevant while there and after you return.

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Getting Started in International Work

Jalan Petaling (Petaling Street), a traditional location for vendors’ stalls in Kuala Lumpur – now modernized image: Erik Mustonen
Jalan Petaling (Petaling Street), a traditional location for vendors’ stalls in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – now modernized
image: Erik Mustonen

People interested in working internationally often ask how they can get started. The answer is a combination of preparation, risk, and luck. Part 1 of this three-part post covers six tips for getting started, and Parts 2 and 3 will include advice on logistical considerations for when you actually go overseas for work.

…chance favors only the prepared minds.
–Louis Pasteur

Many Americans are woefully unaware of the rest of the world. Before stepping off a cliff like The Fool in a Tarot deck, it is very helpful to become prepared in terms of languages, geography, politics, health, and finance.

1. Learn a foreign language (or languages) 

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The Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter’s Desert Parks

Rock art image: Erik Mustonen
Limestone rock art in the desert parks of the Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter
image: Erik Mustonen

History of the Diplomatic Quarter

In the 1970s the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to relocate the international diplomatic community from Jeddah on the coast, to the capital, Riyadh, in the center of the country. This was to include not only all the foreign embassies, diplomatic residences and offices of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs but also all the residential, commercial, recreational and other support facilities that would make up a complete, self-sufficient neighborhood on the edge of the city of Riyadh. A German planning firm, Albert Speer and Partners, developed the master plan with Boedeker, Wagenfeld & Partners (initially Boedeker, Boyer, Wagenfeld & Partners) providing landscape architectural input.

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