LAD Canada International
by Fidenzio G. Salvatori, ASLA

LAD Canada International, incorporated in 2007, is a Toronto-based consulting firm with a branch office in Shanghai (Branch Office). The company is the amalgamation of SCI Landscape Architects and NRA Architects. LAD Canada was created with the intent of accessing the international markets in landscape architecture, ecological planning, architecture, and urban design.

Early on, LAD Canada attempted a joint venture with a local company but it generated only a limited amount of business, and there was no quality control over design and implementation. In 2008, LAD incorporated the Branch Office. This office offers full design and technical services in landscape architecture, including concept and schematic design, design development, technical documentation, and contract administration. The Branch Office also has full control over its designs and implementations.

Current LAD Projects in China

To date, LAD Canada’s international activities have largely been in landscape architecture. Opportunities in urban design and architecture have proven more challenging but the company continues to market these services and also participates in urban design competitions. Most of the project work in China is in the
Greater Shanghai Region including Hangzhou, Suzhou, Jiaxing, and Shaoxing.

Fidenzo Image 1
Main Entrance Median, Osmanthus Trees with Photinia and Rhododendron shrubs, and Sago Palms understory, Qin Qin Garden Community, Shaoxing, China. © 2009 LAD Canada International, used by permission. 

Fidenzo Image 2
Play-court by ‘loggia’, Model Block, Qin Qin Garden Community, Shaoxing, China.
© 2009 LAD Canada International, used by permission.

Fidenzo Image 3

Illustrative Master Plan Detail: Community Pool and River Link Promenade, Qin Qin Garden Community, Shaoxing, China.
© 2008 LAD Canada International, used by permission.

 Fidenzo Image 4
Illustrative Master Plan: Commercial, Condominium, Residential and Institutional (school), Qin Qin Garden Community, Shaoxing, China. © 2008 LAD Canada International, used by permission.

Fidenzo Image 5
Illustrative Master Plan Detail, River-water (By-pass Meander) Treatment and Water Gardens, Polytech. Wuxi Square (Commercial/Residential Complex), Wuxi, China.© 2010 LAD Canada International, used by permission. 

In its short history, LAD Canada has been quite active. It has completed the design of several landscape projects, two of which have already been constructed.
These are a six hectare condominium in Hangzhou, and a three hectare waterfront commercial and hotel complex in Shaoxing.

Fidenzo Image 6

Illustrative Master Plan: Riverfront Hotel Plaza and Public Park, Datan Yi Hao No 1-Ph. 2, Shaoxing, China.

Construction work has now begun on a fourteen hectare condominium complex in Shaoxing. This new community of mixed housing will provide residences for over 6,000 people.

Fidenzo Image 7
Water Garden, Constructed Wetland, Shan Shui Ren Jia-Ph. 1 (Residential Condominiums), Shaoxing, China. © 2008 LAD Canada International, used by permission. 

LAD Canada recently began work on its largest landscape project to date: a thirty hectare mixed use project in Jiaxing. LAD has completed the master plan concept for the first phase of the development, which will include a high tech industrial complex and riverfront parkland.

Fidenzo Image 8
Spiral Fountain Inspired by Spiral Nebula (Galaxy), symbolic of evolution and creative process, ZGC Yangtze River Delta Region Innovative (Software) Park, Jiaxing, China. © 2010 LAD Canada International, used by permission. 

Fidenzo Image 9
Illustrative Master Plan: ZGC Yangtze River Delta Region Innovative Park, Jiaxing, China. © 2010 LAD Canada International, used by permission. 

Fidenzo Image 10
Illustrative Master Plan Detail: River-link high tech. plazas alternating with storm water biotechnical gardens, Jiaxing ZGC Yangtze River Delta Region Innovative Park, Jiaxing, China. © 2010 LAD Canada International, used by permission.

Chinese Design Preferences

In China, there is a great deal of reverence for landscape. This is reflected in the extensive use of landscape infrastructure in all developments. Chinese clients are very design-/style-conscious and imagery-oriented, and they appreciate “exotic” ideas. These include neoclassical styles and highly decorative treatments. Recently however, perhaps due to international influence, there appears to be a shift in style preferences towards a cleaner contemporary form. LAD’s approach has always been to weave the architectural geometry with the curvilinear characteristics of the landscape. Thus, its designs display an asymmetry that is more dynamic and fluid. It is a style that can be described as “romantic” and has been well-received in China— particularly for residential projects.

LAD’s Goal: Designing for the Environment

LAD’s greatest quest is one that is quite a challenge in China. Its vision is to evolve landscape design so it benefits the environmental health of communities. In China, where urbanization and industrial activity are progressing at a quantum rate, ecological interventions need to be considered at the forefront so the human “footprint” protects and restores natural resources.

LAD’s message to all of its clients is the need for the landscape to play a key role in safeguarding the environment. Indeed, in China, the opportunities to provide an environmental value in its landscapes are enormous as tens of thousands hectares of landscape infrastructure are created, along with industrial and urban development. If sustainability is considered in the forefront of design, the cumulative environmental benefits can be very significant.
The landscape has always had a duality: on the one hand, it beautifies, and soothes and comforts our psyche. On the other hand, it nourishes, cleanses, and ameliorates our natural life-supporting resources. Admittedly, the latter function has escaped some of the more contemporary landscape work. LAD views each landscape both as aesthetic and utilitarian and as a natural system that should nurture and safeguard the greater environment.  Each of LAD’s landscapes, whether residential, commercial, or industrial, is designed to benefit the environmental quality of the community at large. In this regard, its built landscapes often include such features as “rain streams,” “purifying meanders,” and “water gardens” that function as amenities but also improve water quality and sustain the natural environment. 

Finally, LAD recognizes that landscape architecture should be artistic. Thus, in addition to being sustainable and contributing to health and well-being, it should provide unique settings that evoke a sense of place and real beauty.

Fidenzio G. Salvatori, ASLA, is the President of LAD Canada International, in Toronto, Canada and Shanghai, China. He can be reached at:  

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