Programme: Landscape Architecture - MLA

Year: 2015

Thomas Chapman, winner of the George Simpson MLA Landscape Architecture Prize 2015 and a Landscape Architect at GROSS.MAX tells us about moving to Edinburgh from Australia, and why - after a "life-changing" three years - he's decided to stay…

I moved to Edinburgh just over three years ago from my childhood home in Melbourne, Australia, where the building tradition is of one or two storey terraces and single storey villas.

I distinctly remember driving into the capital for the first time and being overwhelmed by the contrast: the density of the tenement blocks, the intricate layering of history and the exquisite parkland refuges dug into (and out of) the landscape.

The finely woven fabric of an historic Edinburgh is something I had visualised, albeit two- dimensionally, but never lived in. To this day I am still finding hidden alcoves with their own ‘secret’ stories. This was the setting for my initiation into the world of fine design.

A turning point in connecting design theory and practice

The past three years have been life changing for me, as studying at ECA allowed me to develop my own individual style and views on design.

The final year especially became a turning point in my ability to connect design theory and practice through my final projects on memorial design.

Also, when I graduated from ECA, I realised how far across the world my friends would be travelling to practice their craft which affirmed to me the most exciting aspect of my generation; that it is freer to be more nomadic than any other. I now have friends and contacts widespread across the globe, but who are, nevertheless, in instant contact.

I also realised how in love with Edinburgh I had become; its stark contrasts with my homeland paradoxically helping to mollify my yearning for the expanse of Australia (though I miss the coffee and weather dearly).

Working at GROSS. MAX.

Soon after graduating I landed a job at GROSS. MAX., an internationally-renowned, Edinburgh-based firm of designers. It was here that I began to see how the inherent artistry of landscape design could be made to shine.

As individuals in such a respected collaborative, we are able to fully express ourselves through our work which allows many of our projects to become significant personal endeavours.

The people at GROSS. MAX. are its greatest asset, as we all share the same profound passion and interests, despite our far-flung origins.

Working here, we absorb so much from the amazing world-class designers that surround us and I couldn’t ask for a more positive and passionate environment to work in or a better city to live in.


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