Cornwall LivingIssue #74

Back to the drawing board

We meet renowned landscape architect, Elizabeth Staveley, owner of LandARC, who’s marrying sustainability with culture, environment and architecture, here in Cornwall.

With Elizabeth’s clients including members of a world famous Irish rock band, a French fashion house and VIP stakeholders including members of the Royal family you could be forgiven for being somewhat in awe of practice director Elizabeth – but on meeting her, she is nothing but passionate about her art and her clients’ needs and she aims to add value to every project that comes her way.

The opulent landscaping, careful planting and procurement of exquisite ‘objets d’art’ to complement the overall effect is breath-taking.”

Brought up in Cornwall, Elizabeth was fortunate to start her journey at Bosvigo House in Truro. With a professional horticultural advisor for a father and an artist for a mother it was no wonder that Elizabeth went on to study a combination of the two. A degree in landscape architecture at Greenwich University with international masterclasses in The Netherlands and Moscow was followed by postgraduate qualifications in Cheltenham and seven years later, she became chartered.

This enabled Elizabeth to forge a career that combined her love of the landscape and its culture. After working on the seven key UK habitats for an installation at the Natural History Museum, she quickly became interested in how geology and climate interact to create unique landscapes all over the world that have been shaped by man and ecosystems. By understanding these distinct processes that shape our environment she has facilitated the realisation of a number of complex projects and has been able to create lasting and beautiful places.

Working with both developers and private landowners Elizabeth offers an expertise that ranges from large-scale settlement plans and urban and coastal regeneration to the conservation of historic landscapes and bespoke private gardens. And Elizabeth takes care of everything – from consultation with concerned stakeholders to planning, design, procurement and creation. Her specialism is to unlock the potential of a site, be that a private home, holiday home, country estate conservation or leisure related development, whilst keeping it rooted in its environmental, social and climatic context.

As we talk she tells me of her previous role as the first female director of a practice in the Middle East, working on multi-million pound landscape designs for palaces and luxury hotels chains as well as training and recruiting staff. Her portfolio is stunning with attention to detail second to none. The opulent landscaping, careful planting and procurement of exquisite ‘objets d’art’ to complement the overall effect is breath-taking.

As often happens when exceptionally talented people rise through the ranks, the hands on, creative element is usurped by managerial responsibilities. For Elizabeth, this needed to change. She explains that she wanted to return to her roots in Cornwall to set up her own practice, focussing on more local projects and spending time with her family.

So Elizabeth’s international life has now been exchanged for studio bases in Truro and London so that she can enjoy all that Cornwall has to offer and importantly, more time at the drawing board. Son Tom is also something of a prodigy, helping his mum to create 3D visualisations of her projects in his spare time. He joins us for coffee, as our meeting’s in half term, and his passion for design is no less strong than his mum’s. It’s lovely to see a family benefiting from the lifestyle Cornwall brings, working in harmony and spending valuable time together.

She talks passionately about drawing more with a pen than with CAD, dealing directly with clients and walking around their gardens being able to apply her experience by making sketches of proposed ideas, there and then.

Elizabeth’s designs take influence from a mixture of Celtic landscapes, blended with a classical French and Italianate structure. Growing up in Cornwall she understands the climate and the specific planting it requires. We talk coastal planting schemes mixed with more structured designs – Elizabeth takes great inspiration from one of her heroes, Rowena Cade, who designed and help build the iconic Minack Theatre at Porthcurno. Like Rowena, Elizabeth is dedicated and not afraid of hard work. She is  empathetic and takes great care to think through how her clients and the end users feel when they arrive in a landscape and is subsequently passionate about creating gardens and landscapes of distinction that are not discordant with their surroundings.

Elizabeth is a new breed of chartered landscape architect who combines a world-class portfolio with a local understanding of place and social issues. Her passion for high quality design adds value to both the development and the environment and in a world of shifting perspectives, unsightly developments and unwanted urbanisation her reputation for innovative, sensitive and elegant projects comes as a true breath of fresh Cornish air.


Discover More

LandARC’s services include:

Landscape and visual impact assessment

• Project development and strategic place-making

• Vision creation and project planning

• Masterplanning

• Stakeholder engagement

• Concept design

• Full design services

• Procurement and contract management

• Overseeing landscape maintenance

Projects currently on the company’s drawing board include coastal regeneration, city and rural garden designs, community spaces, landscape and visual impact assessments for new development within sensitive landscapes, a Mediterranean resort and leisure landscapes.

"The opulent landscaping, careful planting and procurement of exquisite ‘objets d’art’ to complement the overall effect is breath-taking."