Olivia Bird positively fizzes with enthusiasm as she describes how she feels about OBD, her landscape design business.
It’s clear that Olivia is passionate about her work and although she only established OBD a relatively short time ago, she already has an impressive portfolio of clients, both corporate and residential.
Locally born and bred, she spent some years working overseas before returning to New Zealand where she then gained her qualifications as a landscape architect at Lincoln University. But it was the lure of the climate and outdoor lifestyle in Nelson, along with strong family connections, that motivated her move back here.
She’s excited to see the amount of development that’s happening in the region, but feels strongly that it shouldn’t be at the cost of destroying the local landscape, hence her interest in preserving as much of it as possible. “It’s really cool to work on projects with local people and, in the case of those from further afield, sharing local knowledge with them.”
As for setting up in business on her own, this was because of her desire to connect with people on a one-to-one basis, rather than operating within a larger corporate environment, where you can, as she says “become disconnected from people”. Also, working for herself, she particularly values the fact that it’s always easy for clients to contact her, which she believes has resulted in a healthy number of referrals from contractors and architects. “They can just pick up the phone to talk to me, particularly if they need to sort out a problem, rather than having to leave messages all the time as they would when dealing with a big firm.”
Among her favourite commissions are high end residential builds, which she says are “really cool to work with, particularly some of those sited in the hills above Ruby Bay where the architecture has been well considered”.
In the case of new builds, experience has taught her that by simply studying the plans she can often see what will work best for the environment. Sometimes the client will have firm ideas on what they want, but which may not be suitable or even sympathetic to the environment, however Olivia is skilled at coming up with attractive alternatives.
Currently much of her work is coming from all the development activity in the Tasman region, especially when people discover they need resource consent not only for building, but for any landscape development. This requirement by TDC is not necessarily common knowledge, but a quick call to OBD will see Olivia working with her clients to get that all-too-essential approval from council. “I do my best to juggle things to get it through as quickly as possible.” What this actually means is submitting the landscape plans at the same time as the building plans, a step that is, as mentioned earlier, not well known in the community. The reason behind this is to ensure the landscape is not unnecessarily compromised. As Olivia notes, “You don’t want your neighbour putting up an ugly big fence without any consideration.”
Olivia enjoys breathing new life into outdoor spaces and existing gardens, whether it’s an extension or perhaps a whole new look.