Reclaiming the Shoreline/The Terrain of Water – A Year of Coasts and Waters Case Study

Submitted by Yue Qin of ESALA

Reclaiming the Shoreline/The Terrain of Water is a speculative graduate student project developed by Yue Qin in 2019 as part of the Master of Landscape Architecture design studio Actants & Assemblages of Scotland’s North Coast Landscapes. The studio was led by Anaïs Chanon and Elinor Scarth at Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at ECA. Between 2018 and 2020, a total of forty landscape architecture students have explored the landscapes in proximity to the North Coast 500 tourist route in the North West Highland region of Scotland. It could be argued that the landscapes embody a romantic landscape perspective that permeates landscape architecture to this day. However, the widely accepted picturesque beauty of the Highland landscapes dissimulates multifaceted contemporary realities and complex social, ecological and political histories.

Based in Invergordon in the Cromarty Firth Yue explored in depth the ways in which humans are entangled with the watery world of Scotland’s North East Coast by persistent actions of intake and exchanges of water in their environment. Water, with its social and ecological meanings, is in constant movement between human and animal bodies and their environments. Yue considered the ways in which the social and economic context of the town and its region heavily relies upon water-based economies; from military occupation, the expansion of the oil industry and the contemporary increase in cruise ship frequentation. However, both the progressive decommissioning of the oil rigs and the increase in tourism put pressures on water-based ecosystems. Considering challenges related to coastal erosion and sea level rise the hypothetical project anticipates a 50 year sequential timeline and incorporates dredging processes together with corresponding artificial beach nourishment. The design project also imagines a park incorporating phytoremediation, bio-purification and bio-filtration ponds within the site of the former Royal Navy port fuel depot.

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