LIS ESALA Student Award Winners 2019

The Landscape Institute are delighted to be able to award prizes to graduating students in Landscape Architecture  from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. This year students had final year additional options of 3 uniquely different Scottish sites including rural, island and post industrial as well as Island Territories vi: Manhattan: Scapeland, a collaboration with the School of Architecture. The successful award winning students were announced at the Graduation Ceremony on 4th July 2019 by Alex Burton of the LIS.

Best Portfolio Prize is shared between:

  • Yun Liu
  • Jennifer Jones

Peter Daniels prize for best skills in site analysis is shared between:

  • Athena Preen
  • Clara Elliot

Best Student Prize is shared between:

  • Marion Lindqvist
  • Clara Elliot


Yun Liu – Best Portfolio Prize

In Manhattan, there are obvious and rigid boundaries between the grid and Central Park with stark contrast. My project entitled, The Moss method: Collecting, Disintegrating and Rebuilding aims to explore a way of designing that disintegrates these boundaries to prompt new readings and relationships between the two urban systems. The design process is divided into two parts. The first explores a general way to establish the transition between the grid and the park. The lock-like landscape develops along a small tunnel under the Central Park’s southern boundary to collect sounds from the city grid and natural materials – seeds, spores, dusts, or water vapor – form the park. The second part explores alternative boundary formulations in special moments along the park’s western boundary. A special focus is given to the area in front of the American Museum of Natural History due of its nature as a collection space of cultural artifacts. The new gate-like garden unpacks the collection rooms inside the museum into a series of reinterpreted open spaces. Following a cartographic analysis of historic maps, the landscape is reinvented as a sunken garden – a contemporary reinterpretation of the ha-ha – which results from shadow projections of the surrounding buildings onto the fabric of the park. The sunken garden collects water both from the city and the park. When applied more widely, the water strategy begins to create a necklace-like park boundary.

I’ve been studying in ESALA for two years. In this period, I have consistently explored the relationship between people and the environment, for example, how to deal with ash lagoons resulting from the activity of power stations in the firth of forth, how to design with dune restoration techniques to provide enough reproduction spaces for birds and finally how to break the rigid boundary between Central Park and the city grid in Manhattan. In these two years, I left my comfort zone and challenged myself time and time again, not only in the design imagination but also in the way of thinking how to design. I’ve been gradually developing a more sophisticated approach to human and landscape interrelationships as well as considering the important responsibility a landscape architect holds. I have really appreciated the experience of studying at ESALA and I believe I could become a good landscape architect in the future!


Jenny Jones – Best Portfolio Prize

This year my design studio focused on the Garnock Valley in Scotland; looking first at designing for a wider scale catchment strategy, and then focusing on a site-specific design based in time at Irvine Harbour. My design project this semester; ‘Landscape as a Catalyst’, aimed to be sensitive to the context of the site, and to the existing needs of the local community. It aimed to utilise the areas of derelict land within the Garnock Valley caused by industrial decline, and foster social resilience via the use and activation of the natural resource of the existing landscape and river network.

This semester my design philosophy was to create a proposal which was flexible and that could change and develop over time. I created an alternative masterplan, the projects are based in time, causing a catalyst nature with small scale projects directly leading to engagement and funding for larger scale projects. In the initial 10 years the projects are designed to be small scale and low cost, focusing upon social resilience, examples include: local samphire farming; the pilot house lookout point / co-build observation point; and the harbour entrance public realm. The projects in years fifteen to twenty are larger scale and focus more upon ecology and environmental resilience, examples include: dune restoration, outdoor classrooms and phytoremediation pools. 

I further detailed the harbour entrance point, a site which relates to the exiting maritime museum. The design had two major aims, the first to reconnect residents with the water’s edge. This was done by using boardwalks, stepped level change and coastal wildflower planting inspired by the Ardeer Peninsula. The second, to create an educational play landscape using structures inspired by maritime artifacts, to engage visitors with the historic context of the site and to frame views to the mountains of Arran. 

The past 4 years studying within the studios at ECA have been enjoyable and inspiring. The ability to be able develop as a landscape architect whilst learning from a range of dedicated lecturers, in addition to being able to learn from each other as students within the studio environment has been very important in my own progression and exploration of who I am as a designer.


Anthena Preen – Peter Daniels prize for best skills in site analysis

Getting to know each new site is rather like a approaching a new country- there is a new language to learn, a new history and new terrain to explore and new relationships to build. Sites I think I know will, when I look long and hard enough, reveal surprising secrets, while the more I explore what I think is foreign to me, the more I find that which I have already met. I like this contradiction, the switching back and forth between the mundane and the extraordinary that builds up so much of our experiences in landscape and in life. To reinvent the tools and approach for every site allows for time to listen. Listening, for the gruff comment that hides the story of a whole community behind it, the sound of water that binds a landscape together or looking for the fencing that delineates an identity: the process of getting to know a land, its details and the relationships within it is both greatly enjoyable and complicated.

In ESALA we were encouraged to plunge into this exploration from the very first day and it has been a constant journey ever since. From being taken outside to look at paving around the city in great detail in the freezing winter, to heatedly discussing landscape and landscape architecture while spending the whole day outside – these were moments I learnt the most about landscape. I have been happy to be encouraged to explore both within the studio and in the field throughout four years of the MA programme.



Clara Elliot – Peter Daniels prize for best skills in site analysis and Best Student Prize

My work in the final year of the MLA programme at Edinburgh College of Art sprang from a critical inquiry into the North Coast 500, a 516 mile-long road trip skirting Scotland’s north coast. The route was launched in 2015 to bring tourism to the Highlands, but only a few years on, narrow roads are struggling to cope with increased traffic and local quality of life is compromised by pressure on services. Bearing the infrastructural issues of the North Coast 500 in mind, my work focuses on the conceptual grounding of the route, with three pieces – Myth & Obliteration, Knitting the North Coast 500, Inflation // Deflation – revealing the North Coast 500 as a problematic construct, indebted to a place myth born of British imperialism and colonial discourse.

Given the problematics of the route, my site analysis set out to produce a ‘queering’ of the North Coast 500, using new humanist research methodologies to foster alternative readings of

Scotland’s northern landscapes. Stopping at various places along the North Coast 500, my team and I set up two divergent approaches to fieldwork, the first reflective of the normative tourist experience and passive ‘tourist gaze’; the second, an alternative reading of ‘site’ grounded in relational constructions of meaning, contingent upon time, place and subject-position. Rather than occupying the position of passive viewer, the walking, drawing, listening human body became an active agent in the space; another shape amongst the more-than-human agents of the landscape.

It has been a pleasure to take part in the MLA programme, supported by knowledgeable tutors and surrounded by talented students. Beyond the curriculum of the programme, the informal conversations held in the studios and workshops have greatly influenced my work and I would like to thank my North Coast 500 studio team in particular for their role in shaping this project.

My project is situated at Dounreay, a former nuclear testing plant on the north coast of Scotland. The site is currently under decommission and as it undergoes a significant material and social reconfiguration, the project stops to explore how the unraveling of Dounreay might occur if approached from a feminist perspective. What if the site didn’t simply pass from one grand narrative to the next; from a hermetically sealed nuclear plant to a vast tabula rasa, as the decommissioning authorities propose? What if the design approach addressed Dounreay in terms of narrative multiplicity and complexity? Could the all-knowing designer be de-throned in a non-hierarchical relationship between the human and non-human?

Working at the text/textile interface this project adopts the language and mechanisms of weaving, drawing on the power of thread to both construct and deconstruct; to be pulled apart and reconfigured to disrupt and produce new meanings. On site, strips of asphalt are left by the decommissioning works which begin to form a warp in the landscape. Over the course of three hundred years water, erosion, soils and ecologies weave their way into and over this warp, and, just like weft threads overwriting the warp of a loom, create a new pattern in the site. A shift in narrative hierarchy occurs: no longer is Dounreay ordered by man-made structures but by a pattern held within the rhythms of a multitude of ecosystems.

This project emerged from a studio convened by Elinor Scarth and Anaïs Chanon and I would like to thank them for creating a supportive and inspiring environment that allowed for exploration and creative expression.



Marion Lindqvist – Best Student Prize

As landscape architects, our role lies in (re)shaping landscape, including both its physical forms and its various processes. With a fluctuating global economy and a rapidly changing climate, our work as landscape architects may be more important now than ever, but what role can landscape architects have in mitigating climate change? How can we build resilient communities in a fluctuating global economy? And finally, how can we recover landscape that has been damaged by insensitive human use?

These are some of the core questions that underlined my final year design project, which is situated on the Ardeer peninsula in the outskirts of Irvine, North Ayrshire. The proposal focused on the socio-economic challenges that resulted from the town’s de-industrialisation, while exploring the meaning of (re)attaching people to place on a design scale. Ardeer Island Nature Park turns a landscape of rich ecological diversity and unique history into a community-oriented nature park, with three aims: to build community resilience, to enhance ecological awareness and to protect and support the growing biodiversity. The project proposed a river which cuts through the peninsula and creates an island. River Ardeer, is a dramatic resistance against current development pressures, but it is also a statement act with many dimensions.  Its core purpose is to create a boundary between the nature park and the part of the peninsula which is protected from human disturbance. The park aims to provide interest for a wide range of users through community-based interventions including ecologically focused education, small-scale food production and natural play whilst creating a recreational route, designed to provide a sense of exploration throughout.

The MA program at ESALA provided for a truly inspiring learning environment that allowed me to explore my own interests within the field of landscape architecture. The dedicated and supportive tutors majorly contributed to this experience as they always went above and beyond to assist with my development. Most importantly, the wide range of skills that I have gained from my time at ESALA make me feel very well equipped for the future.

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