Ben Kirkby

Associate Landscape Architect

Ben leads landscape projects in our Bristol studio, working across a range of sectors and on a variety of project types through all stages from feasibility to completion. He specialises in sustainable urban drainage design, arboriculture, graphics, and hand-drawn illustration.

If you weren’t in this career, what would you be?

I started my early career as a tree surgeon (arboriculturalist) and worked in the industry for over ten years. So, becoming an arboriculture manager or running my own tree consultancy business would have been a natural career path. However, the bugs and the weather bothered me after a while, so I decided it was time for a change! Also, with my art and graphic design background, I wanted to find a career that combined my horticultural knowledge with my design skills – landscape architecture fit the brief and I’ve never looked back.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on to date?

My favourite project was a masterplan concept design for a wetland centre that I produced for my university dissertation project – the luxury of theoretical design with minimal constraints is an opportunity that isn’t achievable for real projects and enables fantastical ideas to be formed. The scheme included raised walkways and viewpoint platforms, a huge vegetated tunnel over an existing road with a park on top that had spherical windows looking down through natural reed filtered swimming pools and a host of other wild ideas!

Why is being a Building with Nature assessor important to you?

I believe that addressing the biodiversity crisis, and successful placemaking for people and wildlife, should be a fundamental focus for all new developments. It is therefore important to me to be equipped with as many tools as possible to integrate high-quality green and blue infrastructure into projects that are being designed and delivered. Being a qualified Building with Nature Assessor provides me with the skills to not only help guide the projects I work on to achieve this, but also those being designed by others.

Pet hate?

Seeing poorly designed landscapes, highway designs, and other missed opportunities in the external realm. I also have a habit of boring my friends by pointing out non-compliant aspects, such as tactile paving laid incorrectly!

Best book you’ve read?

This Perfect Day by Ira Levin – I must have read it more than ten times and when I do, I can’t put it down and often finish it over a weekend. Similar to Orwell’s 1984.

Industry bodies:
  • Carriageworks, Stokes Croft, Bristol: South West Insider Property Awards – Development of the Year (Winner, 2022)
  • GICU, Southampton Hospital: LABC Building Excellence Awards – Best Non-residential Extension or Alteration of the Year (Winner, 2021), and HEFMA Awards – South West Region (Winner 2021)
  • IAAPS, Bristol & Bath Science Park: Bhattacharyya Award (Shortlist, 2021) Michelmores Property Awards – Project of the Year over £5m (Shortlist, 2023)
  • Health and Life Sciences, University of Reading: Education Estates – Innovation in Delivering Value (Winner, 2021)

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