At the beginning of 2017, the Department of Landscape Architecture (ILA) started as a new unit at NMBU, after being part of the former Department of Landscape Planning. The new department’s work focuses on design, engineering, management of outdoor spaces, green aesthetics, history and theory, landscape planning, ‘green environments’ and 3D visualization.
A department working in such field requires a clear-thinking Head; enter Tore Edvard Bergaust who started in this position on 1 September 2017, dashingly dressed and ready to make his subject more visible both beyond and within NMBU
You are not quite new to the department. Tell us more about your background at NMBU
I started as a casual worker, then got a permanent position as a lecturer in landscape architecture from 2007, with an emphasis on green space management. After a while, I became Head of the Landscape Architecture section at the university, a position I had until 2012. After I started working elsewhere, I maintained a small teaching position here at NMBU, and so had the pleasure of following the department closely, albeit from the sidelines, all the way 'til now.
You came to this position from a management job in the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. What was it that triggered this switch?
I was already familiar [with the landscape architecture community at NMBU] after working at the university and keeping a small position here when I left a few years ago - it was difficult to cut the umbilical cord completely. When landscape architecture resurrected as a new, separate department, I thought ‘this is something I have to be involved with’. It is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to bringing the department forward and to make the subject more visible and prominent both at NMBU and externally. The ‘department’ status allows for new collaborations and the setting of some challenging goals for the future. At the same time, I knew that there is a wonderful academic community here, and skilled students who want to make a difference. It is a privilege to be a part of this.
What are your priorities in the near future?
There is a lot to be done in terms of organizational structure with clarifications of tasks, roles, responsibilities and expectations. Work is also being done with a new campus plan for NMBU, which will set the framework for localization for where the department and the faculty [of Landscape and Society at NMBU] will be housed for many decades to come. Having been nomads for almost twenty years, it is a must that NMBU now provides ILA with permanent, functional premises.
How will people notice the ‘new’ department?
In 2019, we will celebrate 100 years of teaching in landscape architecture at NMBU and in Norway. It is our ambition to mark the occasion with both large and smaller arrangements throughout the year. We will, among other things, participate in arranging the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) World Congress and we will also host the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS), both in September. Our staff are working on books, exhibitions and much more. I hope that these events will be visible both internally and externally.
That sounds exciting. Any recent academic news?
Yes - just recently, an interim Program Council has been established for a new two-year international Master’s program, which will be launched in the jubilee year. We are excited to welcome both new colleagues and students from various parts of the world to the department.
How do you envisage ILA's role, both nationally and internationally?
ILA belongs to a major environmental and bioscience academic community at NMBU. This is a strength for us and for the students. We can create real sustainable solutions and contribute to the green shift. The staff have become far more international during the last ten years. The new additions to the department have brought with them their own networks. In addition, we have the new international two-year Master’s program, which will be an important contribution in our internationalization. We are opening up to the world.
Finally - is there anything else you would like to put out there?
Talking of putting things out there – the subject of landscape architecture must be more prominent in public debate – both via practitioners and the institutions – we need more involvement. This also applies to the students. We all have a responsibility.
Interview translated from Norwegian.