Arcbazar chats with Bledi Dule, MSc Architecture and Landscape, Founder and Owner of a+bd.architects in Tirana, Albania. Born in a family of forrest engineers, Bledi has been connected to nature and landscape all his life. His professional studio works in Architecture, Landscape and Visualisation in a variety of projects ranging from residential, commercial or public design, to art installations.
Arcbazar: How did your background influence your architectural practice?
Bledi Dule: Both my parents are forrest engineers and being in close contact with nature has been part of my life since I was very young. It was really personal and easy for me to choose the architecture/landscape route. I draw inspiration everywhere and I have always felt inclined to use natural materials in my design. For example, I love wood houses. I am generally interested in how natural material behaves and how can we integrate these materials and bring landscape and its elements into people’s homes.
Arcbazar: What do you currently see as trends in landscape design?
Bledi Dule: Homeowners, today, are informed and conscious and they have high expectations when investing in professional landscaping design and services. Two things are currently in high demand. One is to build gardens and use landscape practices that save water, provide an healthy ecosystem and are ecologic. Green design and practices are fortunately the current gold standard in landscape design. The second has to do with creating functional outdoor spaces that add usable living area to the home. Homeowners, specially the ones living in warm climates, now want to extend their home outside with seating, lounging and cooking areas. For me, as a designer, the most important is to keep updated in trends and techniques, to understand the critical needs of the client and to deliver beyond that.
Arcbazar: How can we achieve green landscape and sustainability?
Bledi Dule: Gardening practices have changed significantly in recent years. There is a growing movement towards a more relaxed and more ecologic style of gardening (which also means more time to enjoy the outdoor space!). One major trend is the decreasing garden area dedicated to grass. Today, we are converting these lawn spaces into perennial beds or introducing hardscape in the backyard for outdoor living areas. These changes create different ecosystems that better spare water, energy and other resources and are more renewable and usable. A chief philosophy in my design is to incorporate natural raw materials. Stone, wood, concrete and steel are more beautiful and durable and thrive for years with little maintenance. Sustainable landscapes are the future of design and architecture. The key is to blend the local environment.
Arcbazar: Any brand in particular that has been developing innovative solutions for outdoor living and cooking spaces?
Bledi Dule: Outdoors materials, such as pavements, fabrics and kitchen solutions have evolved and improved substantially. There are many innovative brands creating more durable, more ecologic, prettier and user-friendly products. I prefer Unilock, which has the most sophisticated products, colours and styles. When building a lounging or kitchen area, we just need to understand the backyard climate (ex., daily sun changes, direction of wind blow) and design the space around that.
Arcbazar: You often incorporate water features in your designs. Why so?
Bledi Dule: Many designers and owners agree in one thing: water can be the centrepiece of a successful outdoors space because it creates a vital mood and interesting atmosphere. Some owners are looking for something to use- like a pool, others are just looking for the sight or sound of water, like a pond or a fountain. There are many alternatives that range from a water body, to water supply, to water circulation.
Arcbazar: Can you pick a favourite project at Arcbazar?
Bledi Dule: I am very proud of everything I present to clients at Arcbazar. Everything is a unique creation so it is difficult for me to pick a project over others. However, one of my favourites is the “Front, Back and side yards” project for a client in California. It is a beautiful project that combines many of the elements we have talked about: landscape and hardscape, pool and other small water features, and outdoors living and recreational areas.
To see more of Bledi Dule’s Landscape Design, click here!