Hear what the judges and winners have to say

Future Vision award winners with Ian McMillan
Future Vision award winners with Ian McMillan

Run by the Landscape Institute in association with the Homes and Communities Agency, Future Vision is an awards scheme for students that aims to find ideas for making our villages, towns and cities better places to live; contributing to the development of thriving communities that will stand the test of time.

At the awards presentation, LI President Jo Watkins said: “The four winners demonstrate the rigorous thought and bold ideas that are vital if our professions are to continue to push boundaries and champion landscape.”

 

Winner of Future Green Thinking Award
The Mbare Project
Lee Miles

Judges’ comment:
“A systematic approach to addressing the urgent needs of many African townships. The project offers low-tech solutions in order to have a significant impact.”

Q&A
The Mbare project is an urban scale intervention, focused around an infamous area of Harare in Zimbabwe. This area was formally a slum and informal market, but was notoriously cleared and then torched, leaving former residents with no livelihood. The design is essentially a best-case scenario: what if we bypassed the politics and aimed to sustain people simply through better land and natural resource management? The outcome is a series of elements that converge to form a relatively self-sufficient prototype for improving cities, including better agricultural management, bio-energy production, improved infrastructure and economic growth.

Where did your inspiration for the project come from?
Primarily from the media coverage of the slum clearing in Harare and the ensuing devastation that followed. A lot of people also lent support to the project via feedback, and I felt that this gave it much more depth. Furthermore, inspiration came from the architects, designers and planners who I researched as part of my masters’ programme.

What’s the benefit of winning this award?
The main thing is being recognised by your peers and the people you look up to. I’m still shocked by winning this category, but for me it is a seal of approval that I can attach to the project when describing it. It should give me much more credibility and confidence in tackling projects of a similar nature in the future.

What do you hope to achieve as a landscape architect?
My own area of focus gravitates towards exploring the potential that nature can offer when coupled with considered urban design. As such, I would love to dedicate my career to exploring this.

What would be your ideal project?
Throughout my masters I was drawn to notions of nature and design, but also the informal urban design of favelas and townships. Ideally, I would like to work on projects that strive to gentrify informal and neglected areas simply by utilising nature and natural resources in a more efficient manner.

 

Future Open Space Award
The Educational Energy Hub
Elspeth Reddish

Judges’ comment
“The project offers multi-layered, functional solutions that are geared to family lifestyles. It offers a strong focus on alternative energy, while providing transferable skills and knowledge.”

Q&A
The Educational Energy Hub looks at an underused and under celebrated section of the Don Valley between Sheffield and Rotherham centre. In the planning phase, a series of strategies propose solutions to attract new housing, business and users; reduce flood risk, air and water pollution; enhance ecology and celebrate history; and provide sustainable transport options – all with an overall vision of creating an attractive park framework alive with activity and wildlife. The design phase focuses on a former power station site where a biomass plant is proposed. By considering surrounding land uses, the project suggests collecting and producing biomass locally, and the design incorporates an existing educational centre, which aims to educate visitors on more sustainable ways of living and power production.

Where did your inspiration for the project come from?
My inspiration came from the site. It’s historic links with industry and power generation led me to reveal and understand other intrinsic industrial processes, such as water treatment, waste disposal and food production. Issues around flooding, water, and air pollution inspired me to investigate natural processes and systems such as water cleansing, flood alleviating wetlands, agroforestry and ecosystems. An existing tourist attraction inspired me to tell an educational story through the landscape by showcasing technologies for a more sustainable future.

What’s the benefit of winning this award?
It is fantastic that the Landscape Institute recognises university projects. I am delighted to win this award, as it offers great opportunities to network, develop my career and experience, and continue building my knowledge of sustainable design.

What do you hope to achieve as a landscape architect?
I hope to be involved in the creation of some truly great places – places that benefit the environment, and are adopted by the users. I hope to use my skills to improve the lives of local people while protecting ecology in developing countries.

What would be your ideal project?
I would love a project that combines the outdoors with design and hands on practical work. Influencing a project over the long term would be great. I would like to be involved in creating meaningful, innovative designs that push the boundaries of sustainability, and give landscape architecture a greater standpoint in future planning decisions.

 

Future Work/Life Award
New Life on the Block
Ronan Watson

Judges’ comment
“A strong concept, presented well. The project adapts theory to innovative, practical solutions that work on a domestic scale. It addresses the full spectrum of sustainability.”

Q&A
The aim of New Life on the Block was to tackle social deprivation and environmental sustainability in the country’s poorest high-rise communities by empowering their inhabitants and revolutionising the way they interact with their environment. The project looks to do this through regeneration rather than removal, where the structure of the tower block is turned to maximum advantage. By integrating a form of renewable energy, in the form of solar updraft towers, into the buildings’ structure the tower blocks become energy self-sufficient. In turn, the greenhouse required for this process could also e used for year- round food production and recreation, creating a more cost-effective lifestyle and strengthening the community through shared responsibility of this integrated living space. Overall, New Life on the Block looks to boost social links and provide a secure neighbourhood for future generations, while also contributing to carbon reduction and sustainability.

What inspired the project?
The principles of the Transition Town network were very important in my decision making throughout this project. I’ve always been inspired by innovative ways of making communities more sustainable, especially those communities that are often neglected. Not long after hearing about this network, I stumbled upon solar updraft towers. It got me thinking: what if you could exploit such a technology in an existing structure? The rest followed from there.

What’s the benefit of winning this award?
Winning this award has not only been a fantastic confidence boost, but has also helped give me a real sense of direction. To be given the chance of working at the Eden Project is also a dream come true. I’m hoping it won’t look too bad on the CV either!

What do you hope to achieve as a landscape architect?
I hope to find innovative ways of making places better.

What would be your ideal project?
In all honesty, probably the Eden Project.

 

Future Buildings Award
Bio-craft
Jonathan Woodward

 

Judges’ comment
“The most visionary and futuristic concept to provide temporary disaster solutions. The thought process demonstrates innovation, with technology designed to mimic nature.”

 

Q&A
The Bios-craft project investigates the possibilities of designing innovative structures to respond to unpredictable climates. Focused primarily, though not exclusively, on societies it suggests potential means of producing a rich resource of renewable electrical and consumable energy. Its multi dimensional structure juxtaposes dichotomous, but entirely dependable programmes, to begin considering a solution to the issues we will face in the future with climate change.

Where did your inspiration for the project come from?
Inspiration arrived from a range of sources, some from intensive research and some, unexpectedly, found me. My tutor became the main crux of inspirational energy for the project, applying refreshing discernment at every stage of its development. A consistent dialogue with my fellow peers also provoked new directions that would not have emerged without their enthusiasm. This collated vitality made the project one of intense enjoyment and enlightenment.

What’s the benefit of winning this award?
The greatest benefit for me will be if my work inspires other students or architects.

What do you hope to achieve as a landscape architect?
I look forward to continuing my education as an architect and hope to transport the energy surrounding me into the built environment with projects that respond to both their time and place.

What would be your ideal project?
I would like to work on a project that makes a difference to the evolving urban condition, making conscious interventions into the existing trends of architecture for the better.

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