INTERVIEW WITH LJ-GROUP TEAMDecember 28, 2023
1. Kindly tell us something about your work profile/business including yourself.
LJ-Group is a progressive network of Landscape Architecture studios with 30+ years of experience. We envision meaningful spaces connecting nature and communities through innovative design, fostering human experiences and sustainability.
Our work aims to actively contribute to restoring ecological networks, creating resilient microclimates, and encouraging biodiversity. We believe that sustainable practices enrich ecosystems, creating thriving habitats with lasting benefits for both our clients and our environment.
Innovation and adaptability is our response to a rapid changing world. We believe those are key to operate in a design discipline that daily addresses many of the biggest challenges of our time.
The office is leaded by Pedro Pedalino, founder and lead design from Brazil, and Daniel Alonso, Managing Partner from Spain, both of them currently based in Vietnam.
Mr. Pedro founded LJ-Group in Vietnam in 2013, gradually earning recognition for the company’s impactful projects. Influenced by his father’s lifetime career in his own landscape design firm, and his educational background strongly related to architecture and visual arts, Pedro’s vision transformed LJ-Group into a multi-award-winning studio.
Mr. Daniel, Master’s in Architecture deeply specialized Landscape Design, committed his expertise to LJ-Group’s success since the company’s very beginning, having leaded over 150 worldwide projects, through three continents: Asia, Europe, and South America.
2. What made you / your company decided to develop in Europe market?
Our office has always had a strong international character: LJ-Group team is a blend of professionals with diverse nationalities and backgrounds, dynamically collaborating across three continents. This inherent global vision has been a key factor, enabling us to naturally seek and embrace opportunities of expanding our reach to other parts of the world, such as Europe, China or Middle East.
Europe is globally renowned for exporting ideas and design excellence, providing us a valuable foundation to access new markets and keep growing our expertise.
LJ-Group opened its branch in Porto four years ago. For this mission, Pedro’s already established connections in Portugal, and Daniel’s European background were a decisive starting point.
3. How has your professional career or your company’s career developed since then?
In coordination with our design hub in Vietnam, Mariana Sardoeria (LJ-Group’s Associate Director) and the rest of our Portuguese team have greatly contributed to developing a meaningful portfolio of landscape works in the region along the past years.
We are currently collaborating with several internationally renowned European design firms based in European countries with such diverse backgrounds as Norway, England, Germany, Spain or Portugal.
4. As far as your sector stands today, what services LJ-GROUP offers to their clients?
We offer a comprehensive landscape design consultancy service. Our design typically incorporates the entire outdoor area, including both hard and soft elements, for example: pedestrian networks, garden design, swimming pools, water features, sport courts, streetscape or open viewpoints and landscape pavilions.
LJ-Group’s design expertise includes a wide range of scales and programs, ranging from hospitality and residential projects to institutional spaces and public realm; from boutique designs to urban scale landscape projects extending several kilometers.
This versatility reflects on our team’s ability to adapt our design approach to diverse contexts and client needs, addressing the unique requirements of each project type.
Our scope of work normally consists of both conceptual and technical design stages, commonly divided in Concept Design, Schematic Design, Detailed Design, and Construction Drawings. We also actively participate during the authorship supervision, to ensure the realization of the design intent throughout the project’s implementation.
Our commitment extends beyond fulfilling functional requirements and enhancing the project itself, to shaping outdoor spaces that contribute to the well-being of surrounding neighborhoods and promote the restoration of local flora and fauna.
5. What do you think are the biggest challenges for this sector in the future?
Our world is rapidly being urbanized. This process is generating exponential imbalances that severely affect our environments, having become the main threat to our future existence. Most of the challenges we face on a daily basis are directly or indirectly related with this situation:
Some of the main discussions/challenges that we face in our daily practice are:
* Climate change, which underscores the urgency to redefine our relationship with nature, emphasizing the need to collaborate with it rather than against it.
* The combination of excessive use of hard infrastructure and the lack of regulation to protect basic existing natural environments, which combined generate a huge impact in sustainability and citizen wellbeing, compromising the resilience of our urban ecosystems to withstand growing natural hazards related to climate change, such as flooding and global warming.
* Scarcity of public spaces, exacerbated by rapid urbanization and the expansion of megalopolises, which have a direct impact in community well-being.
* The pressing issue of increasing loneliness in urban environments, which urgently demands the creation of contemporary spaces that foster human connections and help to mitigate the adverse effects of urban pollution.
* Cultural heritage preservation, especially in urban areas stressed by a growing real estate market demand.
* Rapid technological development may also be considered a challenge in itself. At the same time, it has great potential to become a crucial source of opportunities to successfully undertake current and future challenges, as innovative solutions and sustainable practices are bound to be integrated.
As landscape designers, we operate in between boundaries deeply related to the space around us, such as urbanity and nature, built and open space, or private and public realms, negotiating to seek the right balance, which can sustain our future development.
For this reason, communicating the meaningful value of our profession becomes an essential part of our work, in order to effectively contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future.
6. What type of promotional and communication campaigns do you work on?
We strongly believe in human contact, placing a great importance in building trust and long lasting human relations with our partners.
Everything always begins with a conversation, where we normally try our best to identify shared goals and values. Building a common vision is a determinant factor, which together with our professional commitment and expertise will help immensely to bring success to a landscape project.
On the same line, we place the highest value on recommendations from our previous clients and partners. Their endorsements provide a genuine showcase of our quality and expertise, which has helped us to build a consistent reputation along the years of our professional practice.
At the same time, we are gradually increasing our presence in online platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, sharing our work, activity and latest news. These channels are an effective way of communication, helping us bring together a global community interested in our work. This community network not only includes potential clients, but also different specialists from the industry, students, or specialized media, allowing them to contribute and be a part of what we do.
We also participate in design competitions and share our work with specialized media, which so far has been a nice way to expand our reach and receive public recognition, having been internationally published and awarded.
There have even been some cases in which projects that were not awarded in local competitions, have received worldwide recognition, being exhibited as award winning landscape design examples. For example, last year one of these projects got awarded and exhibited in Guggenheim Bilbao.
7. What is your advice to companies interested in your services?
Both Pedro and Daniel as well as the rest of our team are very accessible people, always ready to explore possibilities of collaboration. Reaching out and starting a conversation with us would be perhaps the most straightforward and easiest way to explore a future collaboration, since we will always be friendly, respectful, and open to discuss.
Perhaps another important advice would be to go through our portfolio and previously designed projects. Although we are very flexible when exploring the best ways to approach a certain project, we have a quite consistent line of work and action.
There are certain practices that we are not ready to undertake, and this is an important thing to understand and be transparent with since the beginning when seeking a potential collaboration.
8. Please tell us a little about future plans of your company in Vietnam.
Our team in Vietnam is our main global creative hub. Our plan here has been and will continue to be to keep evolving, investing in quality and technology. This will allow us to keep expanding our local and global reach.
Quality is both our main asset and main goal. For this reason, we are not interested in growing substantially in number, but rather in nurturing younger leaderships that will help us grow and improve organically keeping a unique brand identity.
We are also gradually working to expand the limits of our professional activity beyond the regular orthodox landscape design office, to gradually become a network of creative thinkers in outdoor space design and culture.
We believe that everyone can develop a critical landscaper mindset, and we are more than ready to share our expertise and create opportunities where other people may contribute. This way we can have a bigger positive impact in the open space around us, making it more meaningful and contributing to create vibrant, sustainable-shared environments for everyone to enjoy.
For more information about us kindly find LJ-Group’s website below: www.lj-g.com
Many thanks to LJ-GROUP team for sharing your experience with us.