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The Three Minute Interview…Samantha Leathers, Chartered Landscape Architect

Brief introduction, name, job title, location.

Samantha Leathers, Senior Associate and Chartered Landscape Architect, Bristol


When you were at school what did you want to be and why?

An interior designer or an architect because I loved creating schemes and drawing plans and diagrams… I did not know Landscape Architecture existed.


How did you get to be where you are today?

A careers advisor told me I could indeed be a designer, but with plants rather than just buildings or furniture, and I was fascinated… I also always loved being outside and exploring nature, so really it was a ‘no brainer’… to ‘design’ the ‘landscape’! Bingo!


What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?

Designing places…I love developing an idea, getting other people excited about it, and then seeing it become reality… I liken it to being ‘Alice in Wonderland’, walking into a dream; when you walk into the reality of your drawings once they are built on site!


What is your proudest achievement?

Difficult one! – perhaps pioneering a new path membrane in a Deer Park in Cornwall – it had never been used in the UK before and I convinced the Client to install it across a vast network of trails because low visual impact and durability was really important.. and now, years later, people have told me that they really enjoy using the path – on horses, bicycles and on foot – just as it was intended.


What is the best advice you’ve been given in life?

If you reach for the top of the tree you will probably find yourself the middle of the canopy, if you reach for the sky you will probably find yourself at the top of the tree.


What is your next adventure / goal?

Restoring the industries perspective of what a Landscape Architect can do – I think the recession had a really damaging impact on the profession – our services became too competitive and the allowance for inspiration, research and design development has been really parred down. I would really like to bring the space for ‘creativity’ back into every project.

Also – becoming a Fellow of the Landscape Institute.

Samantha Leathers

You can contact Samantha directly:

The Three Minute Interview…Mat Hull, Landscape Architect

In a new series we will be asking staff at Liz Lake Associates to give us a quick three minute interview.

First up is Landscape Architect and plant guru Mathew Hull…


Brief introduction, name, job title, location.

Mat Hull, Landscape Architect, Stansted Mountfitchet.


When you were at school what did you want to be and why?

When I was at Primary School I wanted to be a Policeman, in particular a river Policeman on the River Thames. My plans changed as I grew older and from the age of about 13, I knew I wanted to work with plants. At this time I was very lucky to have my Uncle’s garden to experiment with and I spent most weekends from the ages of 13 to 18 developing my plant knowledge and playing with plant combinations.


How did you get to be where you are today?

It was more by chance than judgement. I had always seen myself as more of a garden designer, but ended up as a landscape architect. To some people there isn’t much of a difference between the two, but I guess the main difference is your audience. As a garden designer you work closely with a person or a family, trying to create what they see in their minds eye. As a landscape architect you have to consider many landscape users at once and you are designing to please many people. I like the idea of working as both, so when I work I try to make spaces that are personal to people.

So in answer to the question, I guess I got here through hard work, but also because I know that as a landscape architect I have the freedom to work with landscapes at a number of different scales and that is what I enjoy.


What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?

I like going to see finished jobs where I played a part in the design process. At the end of the day, I think that is why we are all here, to see progress and to create beautiful outdoor environments.


What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement to date is my work on Peterhouse Technology Park. I am proud of my involvement in the project and pleased to see the designs being laid out on site.


What is the best advice you’ve been given in life?

In terms of my profession, the best advice I have been given is not to pigeonhole yourself. If you are very good at one thing, it is easy to be stuck doing that one skill for the rest of your life, whether you love or hate it. Try and diversify your skills and improve your knowledge in lots of areas.


What is your next adventure / goal?

I would love to work on a show garden at one of the RHS shows. It is certainly a goal in life to be able to do this and showcase my style as a planting designer on a public stage. I would love to be recognised as a planting designer, landscape architect and garden designer all in one go. All of these job roles are so close to one another, why be stuck in one compartment?


You can contact Mat directly:

A Short History of Host Street

Host Street in the centre of Bristol, plays host to our Bristol office. It is now a quiet cul-de-sac, but it has a long history, with interesting origins.

From the foot of Christmas Steps, turn right to go past the Christmas Steps pub. Host Street, accessed through an inconsequential gap, rises before you. A quiet lane faced onto by a mixed assemblage of Victorian and Georgian buildings is screened behind the modern development along the south side of Colston Avenue. But the well-worn cobbles and the cast iron kerbs hint at what it could have once been.

Situated at the confluence of the River Avon and River Frome, Bristol’s relationship with the water is fundamental to its development. The safe harbour offered by its tidal waters inlets led to Bristol’s early development.Trade and industry, houses, workshops, warehouses and activity crowded along the water. Somewhere beneath what is now Colston Avenue – before the modern city over took it – the River Frome once flowed. Host Street’s origins lie in this now forgotten relationship. Along with the narrow alleys, steps and lanes, such as Zed Alley, Steep Street, Queen Street (Christmas Steps) that led up St Michaels Hill, ‘Horssetret’ as it was then known, took a gentler gradient as the primary route from Frome Bridge.

As the docks developed and warehouses were built along the waterfront, Host Street bustled with commercial enterprise set up to service weary mariners and dock workers. Our building, which we share with CSJ Planning, is late Georgian in origin and grade II listed. Initially constructed as a residence, the building has been a pub for much of its history – with an apparently salubrious reputation. Narrowly surviving the blitz – number 2 and 3 next door were not so lucky – the building has been remodelled, initially to accommodate a print works and latterly being converted into the office in which we work today.

But for the steep Christmas Steps, the remnants of Zed Alley and this cobbled cul-de-sac, the memory of the dense medieval street pattern and the docks is now mostly forgotten. The tradition of this particular building, to satisfy its clients, continues to this day.


Number 1 Host Street, centre of image beside steps of Zed Alley

For more information on historic maps of the area: