WSP global exchange programme
For Canadian landscape architect Jenna Wouters a work exchange programme to New Zealand with WSP has opened up a world of new plant species and landscape environments. She’s here for four weeks as part of the WSP Global Exchange Programme, aimed at strengthening the company’s international network by exposing employees to new experiences.
Wouters is with the Ottawa Landscape Architecture and Urban Design team at WSP where she’s developed a broad portfolio of projects throughout Ottawa and surrounding communities. Her focus in the last few years has been Light Rail Transit projects and the integration of exterior spaces and pedestrian movements.
While in Auckland she’s been working on park concepts, coastal cross sections and ecology mapping, and has made sure to get out on as many site visits as possible.
“What I’ve noticed so far is there are many differences (between New Zealand and Canada) in terms of surrounding landscapes, based on climate and what can actually be built and hold up to the harsh winter conditions,” Wouters told Landscape Architecture Aotearoa. “The climate is very different. Auckland is a subtropical climate, whereas Ottawa is often considered as a winter city, where we can have winter for up to 6 months. We have to be able to accommodate salty roadway conditions, which is very hard on all vegetation and most hardscape materials, and snow removal overall. It’s eye opening to see the beautiful wood materials and flexibility of materials here.
Wouters has also been introduced to a completely different plant palette. “I have only recognized a few plant species here, again based on climate and the subtropical geography’.
Wouters says WSP’s exchange programme has not only provided her with fresh experiences, it’s also opened her eyes to a new area of the profession that she’s keen to take back to Canada.
“The major thing I’ve learnt is that visual assessment for landscape architects in New Zealand is a large industry, and that landscape architects lead that here whereas in Canada it is often performed and delivered by Urban Planners. That’s a service expansion that we can take away to Canada as an area to explore’’.
Wouters says she became a landscape architect because she’s passionate about the environment and it’s a profession that combines well with her artistic flair.
She sees this exchange programme as an investment by the company in her development, allowing her to broaden her thinking when tackling new projects. It encourages employees to “act local but think global”.
“Hopefully at the end of this exchange I have opened up a lot of channels to foster global collaboration,” she says.