Duncan Paybody

Director (Landscape)

Behind each drawing hides a much deeper layer of thought, research, technical understanding and rigour.”

I still can’t believe that a significant part of my job is to draw pictures. It’s what I tell my niece, nephew, and children when they ask. The older they get, the less they believe me: ‘That can’t be your real job.’ But it’s true, sort of.

It was never my plan to become a Landscape Architect. In truth, I had no idea what to do, but at 18, I originally began my further education as a Town Planning undergraduate. In the first week of this course, it dawned on me that this was a bad choice; I needed to be creative. My gut instinct was that I should have chosen Architecture. "I’d make a great Architect," I thought, but teenagers generally make poor choices. In the same week, I noticed a housemate was drawing a lot. I asked him what course he was taking. ‘Landscape Architecture with Planning’; the perfect side step, I thought. Serendipitous?

Since graduating from Sheffield University in 2005 I have worked at practices in the north of England, later moving south to help pioneer a new London base for a well-known landscape studio. This 8-year period was the perfect foundation to gain experience in both design and construction, working as Project Landscape Architect on a wide variety of landscape schemes, including the award-winning Brockhole Jetty in Cumbria.

I joined Studio Egret West in 2013. Previously I have often felt thwarted by the professional boundaries drawn between Landscape, Urbanism and Architecture. I don’t think a good designer should be contained by their discipline. At SEW I have been able to pursue a passion for all three and help exponentially grow the studio's Landscape presence, recruiting some of the best new talent in the industry and leading the design of significant landscape commissions such as Balfron Tower, Bromley Town Centre and Mayfield Park. Mayfield Park is perhaps the closest project to my heart; not many people get the opportunity to design a new city centre park in their home city.

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