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New beginnings in Aotearoa

Posted 13 07 2022

in News

Manpreet Kaur at Park Guell in Barcelona.
Manpreet Kaur at Park Guell in Barcelona.

Landscape architect Manpreet Kaur is new to Aotearoa, and to Boffa Miskell, joining it’s Auckland office in April.

She’s loving her new home and learning how the profession works here by getting stuck in on four different projects varying from residential landscape design, initial concepts for a community walking route and space, a campus plaza space and design of a harbour environment.

We caught up with her to hear more about what drew her to Aotearoa New Zealand.

LAA:  Tell us a bit about where you're from, where you studied and your qualifications.

MK: I was born in Punjab, India but moved to the United States when I was five years old. I grew up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina where I completed all of my schooling including a bachelors in design studies and masters in landscape architecture at NC State University. After 22 years of living in southern US and a few jobs working with the Natural Learning Initiative and private firm, Surface678, I moved to New York City. My first two years at NYC Parks and Recreation was with the Green Infrastructure Unit and then the other two were with the Brooklyn Capital Projects. As a result I have experience designing and building GI elements and parks/playgrounds in a dense urban environment.

LAA: Why did you choose landscape architecture?

MK: I took a course on environmental psychology in design school which allowed me to break down previous relationships I had with landscape. That course and the professors, Nilda Cosco and Kimberly Siran, instilled within me a desire to investigate landscape architecture and its impact on human behaviour and emotion. It was the first time I had received an introduction to landscape architecture and I thought it was incredible designers could enhance human life and systems through the built environment.

LAA: What's your particular field of interest within the profession?

MK: My first place attachment experience was walking to the village school with my cousin through our grandparent's farm in Punjab. As we exited the farm there was a row of Safedas (Eucalyptus) trees which would bring comfort and a sense of security.  That landscape and others continue to impact me 27 years later. Place attachment is a concept I intend to continue researching and expanding knowledge upon in order to apply to design work. I am especially interested in place attachment as it relates to children’s environments and identity forming and belonging.

LAA: How do you think you can improve our world through your practice?

MK: I want to design built environments that provide more than what is visible to the eye; that make people slow down and observe and feel. Built environments that turn from space to place, ones where temporal elements are noticed.

LAA: What were you doing immediately before you came here?

MK: The five months before moving to New Zealand my husband and I were traveling the US and Europe.

LAA: Why did you choose New Zealand?

MK: I married a kiwi and chose to relocate to NZ versus him moving to the US. As a result I am enjoying the change of pace and quality of life New Zealand has to offer.

LAA: What do you like doing outside of work?

MK: It's hard not to get out and enjoy nature in NZ as there’s so much beauty to experience. We do a lot of weekend road trips to different beaches, hiking trails, spontaneous off roading, play tennis and explore the neighbourhoods/food scene of Auckland. I'm especially looking forward to my first snowboarding season here.