Carbon Work – A Year of Coasts and Waters Case Study

Submitted by Laura Esplin of ESALA

CARBON WORK is a speculative graduate student project developed by Laura Esplin in 2020 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.

Over the last two academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20, 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. This landscape context has provided a rich and varied basis of design for a range graduating studio projects. The studio premise took the recently promoted and controversial 500 mile tourist itinerary as a starting point, the successive studios investigated coastal landscapes by means of design led research and through a wide range of investigative lenses.

Laura’s design research proposal examines the climate crisis through the lens of the North West Highlands UNESCO Geopark. Here, the landscape has been re-worked by civilians towards an active state of carbon sequestration both on land and at sea. A keystone intervention of seagrass restoration is introduced to Achmelvich bay as a case study for marine habitat expansion along the coastline. The proposal explores the human relationship with carbon and its localised cycles within site ecologies. Addressing such themes as marine plastic debris, kelp forests, the restoration of peat and wetlands, and the diversification of woodlands in the generation of biochar. The project touches on alternate means of thinking economically with carbon, and our collective roles and responsibilities in reshaping landscapes. Laura worked with creative printing techniques in the workshops at Edinburgh College of Art in her early project explorations.

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