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Andrew Grant on Architecture and Social Media

Interview Date: 17-06-2015
(More interviews from this person)

VIEW the entire interview on VIDEO!

Could you make some comments about the project, Gardens by the bay? Can you describe how it was for you as an experience to work on this project?

The Gardens by the Bay is like an once-in-a-lifetime project, like a dream that I never really imagined it could possibly happen. Its scale, you know, the idea that you can create almost this fantasy world that you might see in a movie actually, this is something that’s real and its going to stay here forever. I think a really nice thing about working by the Gardens by the Bay has been the team actually. We all know that I keep people to myself, Patrick Bellew the environmental engineer, Neil Thomas, Paul Baker, we all knew each other before, we’ve worked with each other before but actually it was a very nice thing to work as a team, good friends just pushing through, just helping each other, get the project working.

How did social media influence many if not all aspects of the project? How do you think this increasing use of media particularly affects the architectural realm?

The social media is reactive, isn’t it? People are seeing something or saying something or hearing something and they pass the message or the image on. So for architecture on one level, it’s helping inspiration, is getting faster information to you and making you think of what you see. But actually, it’s also an incredible way of getting your ideas out, across the world fast. I’m wavering to the whole thing however: social media, networks… My wife typically does all of the facebook and twitter etc… but certainly, the whole market inside of it is probably less driving it from the architectural side: it’s how you communicate your ideas how you communicate what you’ve done to a bigger audience as fast as possible and certainly the LPR consultants are like “you need to do this, you need to do that, you need to be using all of these sorts of systems”.

What do you think of the local authorities handling the social media in order to promote the project? You’ve seen that Gardens by the Bay was two months on the media when it was completed. So local authorities must have played a role in this, right?

Yea, I mean here you have people that are very savvy and sophisticated in the use of every sort of media they can. To get across what’s happening is simple, what’s going on here but I think we’re all learning, certainly the local authorities. I come from the UK, I live in Bath, which is a world-heritage city, a very beautiful place as a tourist attraction but they are just getting into the idea of how we use all of these media systems to help sell the city. So that’s where we’re starting from, isn’t it? We’re sort of selling ideas, we’re selling cities, we’re selling everything. And this is the media that’s been used. I’m sure there’s a sort of a widest opportunity for how we use it: through communicating things that are happening, this sort of social fabric, events, opportunities, make people more aware of what’s going on in the cities. It’s a road for it: in how people learn, the educational world.

Do you use websites or other media to promote your work? Does this come useful in getting tuitions within the huge international antagonism?

A website is a fundamental requirement indeed because people can get to you and information with a couple of clicks of the button and they can very quickly, if your website is good enough, absorb the key messages that you are trying to communicate. So yes, for us websites are essential.

Do you think that promotion creates wrong impressions regarding the project and how is it forming an opinion about a project without having the experience?

You’re right. People just see an image and they comment. So to one level it’s a very superficial response to something that has probably a lot more depth and richness and sorts of things than you just capture from the snapshots. And depending on who has taken that image, when it has been taken, it can all be misinterpreted, reinterpreted and…ways. So how do you manage that? That’s the thing. You can’t control it. A lot of this is basically beyond the self-control which is probably a very good thing. It makes the whole thing real and tuned in to the modern world.

Text Editing / Proofreading: Vanesa Souli
Voice transcription: Vanesa Souli

Created by:  Anna Varakli, Sofia Theodoridou


Vanesa Souli was born in Athens and she currently lives in Thessaloniki. She is a Senior at the English Language and Literature Department in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She speaks four languages and has been working with translation and text editing for one and a half year now, having attended specialized seminars on it. She has worked on technical translation and subtitling and she has volunteered as a translator for Greece4all, ArchiTeam et al. Her biggest interests are centered on matters of multilingualism, translation and culture.

Anna Varakli was born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1991. She is currently enrolled in her Diploma of Architecture Engineer at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She was an erasmus student for one year at University of Technology in Vienna. Her experience includes a traineeship at Caramel Architekten in Vienna and the participation in several architectural projects. 

Sophia Theodoridou was born in Kozani, Greece in 1996. She is a student of architecture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Sophia is the creator of two architecture videos, Gardens by the Bay and Surry Hills Library, broadcasted by ArchiPaper.TV.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Andrew Grant

Andrew Grant

Landscape Architect
Country: United Kingdom
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Studied Landscape Architecture at Heriot-Watt University/Edinburgh College of Art, 1977-1982

Andrew formed Grant Associates in 1997 to explore the emerging frontiers of landscape architecture within sustainable development. He has a fascination with creative ecology and the promotion of quality and innovation in landscape design. Each of his projects responds to the place, its inherent ecology and its people.

He is known for a creative approach to ecological / sustainable landscape design and the integration of landscape with engineering and architecture to create distinctive contemporary places with a strong ecological character.

In 2012 Andrew was awarded the title of Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) in recognition of his pioneering global work in Landscape Architecture and is also a Visiting Professor for the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield, UK. In 2010 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA reflecting the strong relationships he has developed with many of the leading architects in the UK and abroad and his work on key architectural projects such as the 2008 Stirling Prize winning Accordia.

He has been involved in all scales of development from sub-regional planning of National Parks, strategic planning of new towns and green infrastructure strategies through to the design of particular landscape spaces or components. Andrew has worked on a number of high profile award winning projects and has collaborated with some of the top architects and engineers in the world.

Andrew led the design team on the £500 million Gardens by the Bay project at Bay South in Singapore. The 54 hectare park explores the technical boundaries of landscape and horticulture in an Asian city and won the Building Project of the Year Award at the 2012 World Architecture Festival.

Andrew has been invited to present the work of Grant Associates at conferences around the world and has appeared in a number of radio and TV programmes and documentaries including for the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.

About Grant Associates

Grant Associates is a British Landscape Architecture consultancy specialising in creative, visionary design of both urban and rural environments worldwide, working with some of the world’s leading architects and designers.

Inspired by the connection between people and nature Grant Associates fuses nature and technology in imaginative ways to create cutting edge design built around a concern for the social and environmental quality of life.

Grant Associates has experience in all scales and types of ecological and landscape development including strategic landscape planning, master planning, urban design and regeneration and landscapes for housing, education, sport, recreation, visitor attractions and commerce.