ESALA Exhibitions – ECA Degree Show 2017

In June the Landscape Architecture Department at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) held its annual exhibition as part of the ECA Degree Show 2017.

This year the Landscape Institute Scotland prizes were awarded to the following students

  • Best Student Prize – Lidia Szatkowska awarded Best Student in the MS course
  • ESALA Portfolio Prize – Helen Willey & Sara Crichton jointly awarded the ESALA Portfolio Prize
  • Peter Daniels Prize – Helen Willey, Sara Crichton, Bella Knemeyer, Charlie Hawkes & Richard Connell jointly awarded Peter Daniels Prize

Lidia Szatkowska – Best Student Prize

“During my final year at Edinburgh University, I got the opportunity to work with two unique and challenging projects. Though both projects deal with different complex social and environmental issues, they both focus on how a landscape can be utilized as a mechanism for healing.

The site of the former Płaszów Concentration Camp in Kraków remains to this day in a static state, dividing those who wish to memorialize the site as a symbol of history, and those who wish to utilize the site as local parkland. My project aimed to strengthen the identity of the site as a memorial park, which brings together not only the memory of the victims of Płaszów Concentration Camp, but the consequential victims of the Holocaust. The proposed design provides areas for remembrance and healing for both current and future generations, whilst allowing the physical scars of the site to heal through natural vegetation succession. A central memorial space and definition of the camp boundary, invites the individual to reflect on their own memories, rather than implanting an unimaginable memory, whilst enhancing and providing opportunities for the local community to use the area as local flexible green space.

Closer to home in the South-East region of Edinburgh, there is an intriguing dynamic between a local community with high levels of deprivation and a fragile environment which is being threatened by a number of future commercial and residential developments. Also home to one of Edinburgh’s largest hospitals, my project aimed to challenge the perception of what a healthcare estate can provide for both its users and its local community. An estate, which promotes health and well being not only through medicine and physical facilities, but through its connection and protection of the surrounding natural landscape. My project takes advantage of this opportunity to also create a unique sustainable community legacy. Promoting local ownership over the surrounding landscape and reducing social inequalities through a proposed landscape framework and associated finger grain of space specific interventions.

Through the careful guidance at the University, I have been able to fully develop my individual interests in Landscape Architecture. An abundance of resources has allowed me to explore and expand both my knowledge and graphical communication. With a strong support network of tutors, guest lecturers and students, I felt encouraged to reach beyond my own capabilities.”


Helen Willey – ESALA Portfolio Prize

“My graduating portfolio presents the work of two projects both set within an urban context and located within the city margins. The landscapes of each site share the common theme of
being in a state of transition: one due to its abandonment to the processes of natural succession; the other the antithesis to this, is undergoing rapid anthropogenic development as a result of increasing demands from population growth.

The experience at ESALA encouraged using a ‘research through design’ approach for the first project set within the former WWII concentration camp of Plaszow, Krakow, Poland: a contested place conflicted between the concurrent desires for memorialisation and everyday uses as a recreational space. My design work employed the theory of liminality, originating in the field of anthropology and pertaining to thresholds; boundaries and transitions as a means of proposing an appropriate landscape architectural response to the complex issues at play in Plaszów.

The second portfolio project allowed me the chance to explore a personal interest in the application of social inequalities theory within the context of landscape architecture. Using the setting of south east Edinburgh I was able to propose a landscape led strategy for the future development of the city which addresses the underlying causes of social inequalities at a variety of spatial scales. This resulted in a flexible model of development for the city which is rooted in the unique landscape character of this site.

The setting of ESALA within an art college environment led me to develop an open and exploratory method of working, using an array of visual representation methods including print making, drawing, collage and model making to explore existing landscapes and illustrate proposed changes.”


Sara Crichton – ESALA Portfolio Prize

‘Inhabitation’, Little France, Edinburgh “In attempting to leverage the land of Little France Park primarily for the amelioration of the effects of poverty seen in surrounding communities I found that lessons could be learned to better plan the necessary expansion of Edinburgh. Little France Park becomes the fulcrum on a route that strongly connects existing isolated communities to the city and countryside. From the park emerges a car-free spine of tram and active travel that supports a new landscape led development. This is situated along a landscape corridor incorporating food and energy production, culture and recreation, services and habitat. In place of piecemeal suburban sprawl, new higher density communities inhabit rather than obliterate the landscape, becoming part of a well-planned and resilient future city that prioritises the elevation of marginalised citizens.”

The site of the former concentration camp Plaszow, Krzemionki Park, Krakow “The accelerated growth of the abstract poplar scheme developed for this contested holocaust landscape is designed to force the area from ongoing interventional inertia, brought about by the competing demands of disparate groups of stakeholders. Through the adaptation and application of anti-memorial principles, extended through semiotics, it is hoped that an egalitarian landscape has been created in which each participant feels encouraged to experience the landscape in their own way. Controlled degradation of the short-lived poplars occurs over two generations, leaving in its wake a well-managed parkland that embraces the possibilities and opportunities to come in this rapidly growing city.”


Krakow Group Fieldwork – Peter Daniels Prize

The 100 hectare site exists as a rigidly bounded island of green space, the largest in central Krakow, the vast majority of which suffers from neglect and consequent under and misuse. Within this island exists the landscape of the former Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, its past barely perceptible and difficult to read through the few scattered traces of concrete foundations that remain visible, these subject to ongoing concealment by untamed vegetation and topographical slump. Given the current state of the site, we chose to investigate the entirety of the site through the lens of ‘liminality’, discovering reasons geographical, sociological, historical and experiential for the lack of use and intervention upon the site. In-depth sample point analysis of the landscape provided our baseline information for mapping conditions. Augmenting this was experiential mapping of our movements to and through the space and analysis of boundary information captured on video. Given the precarious existence of historical traces on site it seemed important that we make an accurate recording of at least a part of these, which led to a 1:1 survey of part of the site. Such exhaustive focus on the camp grounds allowed each of us to begin to fix our own positions on subsequent intervention in this contested space.


Perimeter Thresholds Study – An audio-visual study undertaken by Richard Connell, Sara Crichton, Charlie Hawkes, Bella Knemeyer and Helen Willey


Landscape Institute Scotland would like to congratulate all students who graduated from ESALA this year, and for contributing to a fantastic showcase of their work at this years ECA Degree Show.


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