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Some weeks ago I attended a conference on art and landscape. It was a sad affair: Art + landscape = willow weaving. There is still a lot of work to be done. Landscape architecture in this country is dead below the waist, all passion seems to have gone. The ethos of our practice is to embrace creativity with a puritan rigour for detail and construction.

Maybe because within our own profession the discipline is, at least in Britain, seen as the odd one out, we are invited to collaborate with artists. Working with them acts as an eye-opener: a dialogue which forces us to reconsider our own position and to sharpen our thoughts. Artists in general seem to operate more within an oeuvre and bring certain ideas to a site while we tend to respond to what is already there. It is the difference between a conceptual and a contextual approach.

In our collaboration with light artist Adam Barker-Mill in Glasgow we see the result of a strong mutual affinity with Minimalism resulting in a seamless integration of art and architecture. Our project with Mark Dion at the Earth Centre will no doubt be completely different. This collaboration is after all the result of a blind date with all the potential pitfalls and excitements. Meeting Mark for the first time, on an early morning train down south, was the most definitive moment in the whole process of collaboration: it was ideas at first sight.

Eelco Hooftman is with Gross. Max. Landscape Architects in Edinburgh. 'Notes on Collaboration', which contains longer accounts from RSA award recipients, is available for £5 (tel 020 7451 6871)

Collaboration is an expedition into unknown territory.

Eelco Hooftman is with Gross. Max. landscape architects in Edinburgh

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