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MA Landscape Architecture

Angela Hobson

Angela Hobson / MA Landscape Architecture

My interest in the environment started 1984 - I was seven, David Attenborough’s Living Planet was compulsory Sunday night TV - the series captured my imagination and sparked a lifelong interested in the environment. Fast forward 18 years my qualifications now included a BSc in Environmental Science and a MSc in Local Sustainable Development. I was on holiday in Iceland - stood on the top of a Terminal Moraine looking over the Vatnajokull glacier and about to embark on my professional career in environment, community and urban regeneration. 

In my late twenties I secured a role with Groundwork working as a Project Manager. In this role I had the responsibility for the delivery of a number of significant regeneration schemes and community initiatives  – including the development of a new neighbourhood park, alleygating schemes, defensible space projects, allotment improvements and the creation of a number of  “health and wellbeing” gardens associated with mental health charities or women refuges. In 2008 I took voluntary redundancy as like many other charities Groundwork suffered the consequences of the banking crisis and restructured. For the next few years I took of number of short contracts that fitted around my personal circumstances as I relocated and built my experience within the third sector – In 2016 I joined English Heritage to work on their project: ‘Voices of the Rebellion’. In 2018 I secured a promotion to a national project manager role for their flag ship youth involvement project ‘Shout Out Loud’. 

In September 2019 – I found myself feeling out of my professional comfort zone – and on my way to the course registration for a MA in Landscape Architecture at Leeds Beckett University. 

So why Landscape Architecture? Professionally what really interests me is people – or more specifically - how people interact and value their environment. Landscape Architecture bridges my academic interests and professional experience enabling me to develop a career that pursues both landscape design and a greater understanding of how an individual’s behaviour, health and well-being is affected by their physical surroundings. I chose the MA at Leeds Beckett as I believed that it would give me the flexibility to build upon my existing skills and interests – I haven’t been disappointed. I have been allowed to develop my confidence as a designer and my creativity has been actively encouraged and supported. I was really nervous stepping back into education but in reality, I realised that my experience has given me a wealth of knowledge and understanding that I can draw on when designing. My current project is designing a ‘joyful space which supports health and well-being’.  

Throughout my professional career I have observed many individuals interacting with their landscape, people smiling at a temporary installation or performance which reimagines a space, neighbours laughing as they transformed their newly gated alleyways into a green oasis, a child’s eyes alive with discovery as they explore a new play space - all individual moments of excitement and happiness. Joy is always there ever present but never measured, reflected on or quantified - yet those moments for clients and beneficiaries are often the most memorable and impactful – my current module is letting me look behind those experiences and begin to understand the concepts of joy, playfulness and fun and see how the phycology behind these emotions can be transformed into aesthetics that can be utilised to promote health and wellbeing. As I consider my future within the environmental field, I suspect that design principles that respond to the environmental challenges and support the economic and social recovery of our community’s post pandemic, will become increasingly important within landscape design. 

So, what’s the vision for my future post MA? I want to develop my career further either through further academic research or landscape practice - which ever route I take bringing my project management, creative and community-based experience together via landscape design is for me an exciting prospect.