Gill Wynne-Williams reflects on the success of the end of year show
This year, undergraduate projects from the BSc (Hons) Landscape Architecture and the BSc (Hons) Landscape and Garden Design courses displayed a strong sense of optimism with many projects focussing on post-industrial revival of brown field sites, weaving social, ecological and design themes to produce aspirational and ambitious work.
At Writtle School of Design the undergraduates and post graduates show their work together in one of the spacious studios at the college in a well-curated show.
One of several high quality projects was Mark Moss’s ‘Post Industrial Redemption’, examining the sustainable regeneration of Mayfield Station in Manchester. The project masterplan wove a strategy for retaining some of the industrial buildings with a new parkland setting where woodland and sustainable drainage features created a series of linked spaces.
The postgraduate work on display was from the MA in landscape architecture, MA in garden design and the post-graduate diploma in landscape architecture. The students were required to select a topic for exploration which runs through their studio work and is the focus of their dissertation. Students explore their topics through mapping, layering, model making and each produces a video to accompany their display work.
Awareness of contemporary issues
The post graduate work on display shows a real awareness of contemporary issues in practice, achieving a cohort of work which will position students very well for careers in the industry. The projects were thought provoking, and, like the undergraduate work, look to the future with optimism.
Developing strategies to put landscape at the heart of communities was a theme running through several of the projects. ‘How We Live Now, a new village typology for the future’, by Corrine Joy Payne explores a system for living in a post -fossil fuel era where energy, agriculture and society are bound together in a self-sustaining community. Using the example of the hamlet of Braaid in the Isle of Man, the project imagines a new type of community.
Corrine studied architecture at The University of Liverpool and while she was there developed an interest in the context of the buildings she was designing. This led her to choose further study on the MS course in landscape architecture at Writtle and she now aims to go into private practice and study for chartership.
Laura Gardner graduated with a BA in garden design: arts and environment before working for the charity Trees for Cities in London where she designed and delivered a range of projects which used landscape to improve the urban environment. Her project, ‘Astiveri an lanwes mor: Restore the tide’ focusses on the on the area around the Penhryn River in Cornwall. Her design is backed by research into the context of the community, local history and the current strategies which guide landscape policy in the area. The final masterplan presents a creative approach to linking fragments of landscape into a new place for people to connect with the river.
‘Memoryscape’, by Stuart Davies, imagines the awakening of the abandoned Chatterly Whitfield Colliery near Stoke on Trent. This huge site, once the largest UK colliery, is reclaimed in the project as a recreational space which respects and educates about its past. Stuart’s drawings are highly evocative and the spirit of place is well communicated through his sophisticated visualisations of the scheme. Stuart returned to Writtle, where he had completed the BSc in landscape architecture, after a year out in practice. He says the experience of working in practice gave him a new perspective on landscape as a career and strengthened his skills. He now plans to return to working in landscape architecture and start the pathway to Chartership.
Overall, the 2016 Writtle School of Design show demonstrated that the students have not only attained a very high level of skill but also are in touch with the current themes and issues which face the landscape profession. The professional review group was extremely impressed with the end of year show and high standard of the accredited landscape courses at Writtle School of Design.
Gill Wynn- Williams is the principal of Wynne-Williams Associates, and chair of the Writtle School of Design professional review group (PRG)