Profile

O2 Landscapes Ltd. is a landscape design firm (based in Auckland, New Zealand) with a strong focus on the context of the environments in which we work, and a research-driven approach. Conservation, of both our native flora and cultural traditions, plays an important role in our work. We believe strongly that tradition and progress are not mutually exclusive. This is reflected in our planting ethos, and in our approach to the design of our projects’ built structure.

One of our primary interests is the integration of exotic flowering species into a framework based on native ecology. We believe that this approach can provide a future for New Zealand gardens and public plantings in which a greater range of native species are appreciated, and in which the seasonal change and colour provided by flowers are not lost.

We are heavily influenced by vernacular landscape within New Zealand – the everyday features that make up the greater fabric of our built environments. Whether from our cities, rural areas or wild places, New Zealand contains a great diversity of forms and patterns stemming from everyday use, which merit investigation as the basis for design truly founded within our own culture.

O2 Landscapes is made up of owner Philip Smith, Logan Drummond, Mathilde Doesburg, Troy Fan & Laszlo Reynolds. We also have established links with a range of sub-contractors and associates, for carrying out specialised work and moving effectively through larger projects. Individual profiles of our team are provided below.

Our people

Philip Smith

Philip Smith is the lead designer and proprietor of O2 Landscapes. One of his chief interests is in integrating natives with flowering perennials, to produce a different kind of ‘native’ garden; one in which the effect of native plants is amplified by association with selected exotic species which bring a greater range of flower colour, form and scent to the garden.

He has a special interest in the extended use of a greater range of native plants, particularly threatened plants. He is also especially interested in the preservation of the widest possible range of gardenworthy perennials for use in gardens (they are disappearing from gardens due to fashion), with a particular focus on trialling suitable perennials for Auckland’s difficult, warm northern climate.

Philip studied horticulture and landscape design at Massey University, Palmerston North, between 1995 and 1998. He worked in the landscape industry in Auckland following graduation, and in 2001 travelled to Europe. In Europe, Philip spent six months in Germany, where he worked for three months at Europe’s largest export plant nursery, Bruns, in Bad Zwischenahn (a small town in the northwest of Germany). From this base, it was possible to view the work of several twentieth-century German and Dutch garden designers, whose work focused on more naturalistic styles of planting (notably, the integration of grasses and perennials to create gardens with considerable seasonal distinction). This included visiting the gardens of the Dutch designers Mien Ruys and Piet Oudolf, and the garden of the great German plantsman, Karl Foerster (all of whom are strong influences).

Following working in Germany, he spent three months in the Spanish city of Granada, where it was possible to study the remarkable Moorish gardens of the Alhambra palace complex at length. Upon returning in February 2002, Philip established O2 Landscapes, working in a style based on plantsmanship and locally-inspired design.

After working on the 2006 Chelsea Flower Show project, Philip travelled to Italy, to spend a week studying the work of the Venetian architect/architectural professor, Carlo Scarpa. Scarpa is an important influence upon the design ethos of O2 Landscapes, as he believed in combining modernism and forward thinking with tradition. More information and photos on Scarpa can be found within the ‘Essays’ section of the website.

In addition to the design and installation of gardens and public plantings, Philip has written a wide range of articles for a number of publications; including ‘The Garden’ (the journal of the Royal Horticultural Society), Urbis Landscapes and Landscape Architecture NZ magazine – for whom Philip was the regular contributor of the planting guide for 8 years, up to 2015 (including a series of regional planting guides for New Zealand over the last three years of that time). In 2015, Potton & Burton Publishing released ‘Vernacular’; a book that Philip collaborated on with David Straight to bring more attention to New Zealand’s everyday landscape culture. Since 2010, Philip has lectured in planting design as part of Victoria University’s Landscape Architecture programme.

Logan Drummond

Logan started working with O2 Landscapes in the winter of 2018, during his Bachelor’s study at Victoria University of Wellington. Throughout subsequent university holidays, he worked part-time until the completion of a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture in 2021 before joining full-time.

Growing up in the Waitakere Ranges, regular exploration and exposure to the rainforest landscape led to a strong interest in the relationships between flora, topography and the geology it emerges from. Working in residential and edible gardening from an early age directed him to a Permaculture Design Certificate before leaving high school and ultimately toward Landscape Architecture.

Logan’s Masters thesis explored current and historic cemetery paradigms and investigated the ways in which societies relate death with the landscape. Alternative methods of burial were a driver for intertwining burial with ecology, including the creation of forested cemeteries in landscapes which have traditionally been ignored in burial zoning.

Logan is interested in how differing plant species structure the experience of space through their form, tone and transparencies. In line with one of our major values as a business, he believes in the potential of many native species that are yet to see wide-scale cultivation to play a role in the future of Aotearoa’s designed landscapes – and the ways in which people, native fauna and flora may interact.

Troy Fan

Troy started working with O2 Landscapes in the beginning of 2022, having completed a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture with Honours at Lincoln University in 2021.

Growing up in the garden city Suzhou, the traditional Chinese garden led to a strong interest in planting, art, and cultural design. Working as a part time photographer and training in drawing from an early age directed him to an Anime design and making Certificate before leaving high school and ultimately moving towards landscape architecture.

Troy’s major design explored the relationship between unprogrammed suburban space and local communities; seeking better relationships between people and nature, and rethinking methods to contribute to people’s wellbeing.

Troy is interested in the graphic quality of design drawing, as he places considerable value on landscape design and planning as a significant form of the arts. Troy also believes in the potential of all types of design to deepen bonds between people and culture, thereby bringing greater meaning to projects.

Mathilde Doesburg

Mathilde came to work with O2 Landscapes at the beginning of 2022 after her completion of a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture with Honours at Unitec in Auckland. An introduction to plant and animal behaviours through NCEA biology piqued her curiosity of the natural world, but the thought to pursue this particular career came only after studying nursing while living in Berlin, Germany for a year in 2016. The mixture of scientific application and design process within Landscape Architecture was attractive.

Mathilde’s honours project, which asked the question “how can post-agricultural landscapes productively elucidate national issues of conservation and sustainable management?”, was developed as an idea from studies about New Zealand’s land management policies. Geographic Information System mapping was Mathilde’s main research tool, and this was used as a strategic approach towards understanding and documenting land and water processes.

Along with her interest in agricultural landscapes and fondness for the ancient remnant bush landscapes of New Zealand, Mathilde is fascinated by the highly engineered landscapes of the Netherlands – a place with which she has blood ties.

Laszlo Reynolds

Laszlo started working with O2 Landscapes in early 2020, having worked for several years building valuable experience within gardening. Aside from his interest in plants and landscapes, music is a major strand of Laszlo’s life, with years spent performing and recording within Auckland.

Laszlo’s connection with native plants and whenua has undoubtedly been deepened through a longstanding family association with a patch of Auckland’s West Coast, near Anawhata.

With a strong grounding in horticulture and a developed interest in digital modes of representation, Laszlo is involved with both site-based and studio work.