Landscape Architecture & Design Student Stories: Part 2
In this second of two special blog articles we take another look at the work and projects that some of our Landscape Architecture & Design students have been working on in 2020 and 2021. Read the first article here.
I have always had a strong interest for nature and the outdoors for as long as I can remember and finding this degree has further deepened my interests. During my time at university, I have been particularly interested in the greening of grey places and bringing back pockets of wild spaces to cities. To create sustainable places and communities and the impact this has on not only on our planet but also on our health and wellbeing.
A key point early in the course was the spatial design module. Where we created simple models out of materials like card and clay, then placing card figures of several scales and photographing them to see the environments they could create. This is where I first began to understand the importance of how spaces can subconsciously make people feel. Now I always try to create spaces that I would feel comfortable in and enjoy using.
In my dissertation and final project this year, I have been researching and creating a design to investigate how Permaculture can be used to benefit the urban environment. This involved creating a new productive urban forest in Leeds Innovation District and using green infrastructure to link to other green spaces in the city, to combat the impact of climate change on people and wildlife. Whilst creating walkable people friendly streets.
The area will go from a dark grey space to a green wild space, with dense planting and intriguing places. The use of permaculture principles will ensure the Innovation District is prepared for the effect of climate change. The addition of these new plant focused spaces will reduce the urban heat island effect through reduce heat absorption and increase in evapotranspiration. The plants will also act as a filter removing pollutants in the air from traffic, create a range of habitats for fauna and a space that people want to travel to rather than quickly pass through.
Since starting the degree, I my overall skills have greatly improved from creating & presenting plans & visuals and working in teams, to understanding the design process from, survey and analysis to construction details. Overall, the degree has expanded my passion and knowledge for nature and design, and I can’t wait to apply what I have learnt in practice.
I decided to study Landscape Architecture after not 100% knowing what I wanted to do for a career, but I enjoyed Geography and Art at A-Level and after researching I found out it was a combination of the two, even though 99% of people who ask what I study at Uni think I am going to be a gardener for the rest of my life…
Being able to do something that contribute towards the improved health and well-being of the people and the environment is what motivates me in every project I complete. It gives me a huge sense of pride to know that my design decisions are making a positive impact on small and large scales.
It’s crazy to think these three years have gone so quickly but I have enjoyed every moment, learnt so much about my sites and about myself along the way and met so many amazing people some of which who will be lifelong friends.
The tutors have been extremely inspiring and supportive at guiding all of us along every step of the way of our University experience with regards to the academic work and also the adjustment of the new lifestyle.
A love of nature, design and simply being outdoors, pointed towards the subject of landscape architecture.
Conversation with professionals in practice whilst spending time researching were incredibly welcoming and supportive which helped in my decision-making to change career. I made my application to study something rewarding and closer to my interests.
The course developed my confidence as a designer and understanding of what makes a landscape desirable. Forming a personal style and design approach, with freedom to explore ideas in a variety of landscape contexts from rural woodlands to small-scale urban design.
Modules I particularly enjoyed were in first and second year, learning about horticulture and construction techniques at the Headingley campus. In final year I found the process of writing my dissertation rewarding. Titled “Restorative Landscape Typology for Humans” - it establishes concepts in psychology and design, analyses case-studies and experiments, and explores how the physical environment corresponds with health and well-being. Findings were applied to my specialist design project “An urban sanctuary”.
A memorable part of my university experience was running the hiking club, organising day-trip and weekends away across Yorkshire, making the most of exploring the beautiful national parks surrounding Leeds.
Being thoughtful, conscientious and perceptive I found to be helpful qualities in sensitively responding to briefs and exploring finer details. I now look forward to creating beautiful places, for both people and wildlife, that contribute towards forming healthy and resilient landscapes.
I clearly remember on the first few days of the course looking at some of the third-year work covering the walls and thinking I could never create work to that standard. However, as a class we have all been on an amazing journey and even with the setbacks from COVID have all come such a long way. Now hopefully our work can be the inspiration for the younger students as the older students’ work was for me.
My passion in design is using plants to improve spaces through various means. For example, in our community and design project we were tasked with improving an area of Leeds East Academy school to create a relaxing space for the kids to get away. Through speaking to both the kids and their teachers we found that aromatherapy was often used to help the kids relax. As a result, we decided to put a focus on sensory planting that would constantly immerse the students in the space. Another feature of the site that I tackled personally was a SUDS (sustainable urban drainage system) that would allow water from the site to be utilised in growing food and creating biodiverse rain gardens. Here I was able to take on the fun challenge of selecting a range of species that could survive in the unique conditions of the SUDS while also providing a sensory experience for the kids and habitat for wildlife.
I also put a large focus on planting in my development of the Leeds innovation district project. Here hostile urban microclimates prevented people from using the streets and instead vehicles were dominant in the space. To solve this, I proposed large areas of pedestrianisation in which I create an urban woodland. The dense planting of native species would not only cool, reduce air pollution and reduce wind tunnels in the microclimate but also provide and escape to a familiar and immersive woodland setting for pedestrians.
I hope to be able to apply this ethos to many real projects in the future and have a positive impact on both people’s urban experiences and the environment.
I will especially remember the planting tutorials we had with an amazing tutor called Steve. He transformed our tutorials in the LRC, into interactive fun spaces. He filled the whole room with every plant you can imagine, put music in the background and waterfalls from the projector. He was a main reason why my knowledge of planting and ecology came about. University is about learning new skills and pushing yourself past your boundaries, these lectures helped me view plants as a new art medium. Now I see a new site as a blank canvas that I paint with different plants as well as art structures and lighting.
I especially loved the live community project I was part of this year. We were asked by Leeds East Academy to create a peace garden for the students who needed a safe, and relaxing place to go to during school time. It required strong communication between my team and the client. Due to COVID, my meeting with my design team was all over Microsoft team, however we did not let distance stop us from creating a special place that our client loved.
Trudi is a senior lecturer in Landscape Architecture. Currently she teaches mainly on the undergraduate programme, and is Level 4 coordinator. Her particular teaching interests lie in the exploration of place through art and spatial design, and the crossing of boundaries within landscape architecture through interdisciplinary teaching.