Huanran (Patrick) Sun is in his first year of a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). Patrick joins us from China, where he graduated from Nanjing University in June 2015 with a Bachelor of Urban Planning.

As part of his studies at ECA, Patrick has visited Aviemore in The Highlands and, most recently, London. In this short article, he tells us about what it’s like to visit two such different environments and about how he has used the field trip experience in his studio work…  

“I first visited The Highlands not long after I arrived in Scotland in August 2015. Returning in October for our field trip, I was struck by how much it had changed following the arrival of autumn; all the fantastic colours. The variety in the landscape reminded me a bit of the north-western part of China.

The town of Aviemore is in Cairngorms National Park and our tutors had some interesting questions for us, like ‘is it reasonable to build another park in a national park?’ and ‘what’s the relationship between the urban and rural areas?’. It made me think about things in a way I hadn’t before.

Both on site and in the studio afterwards, my colleagues and I focused on the relationships between the wider range of landforms in Aviemore, flooding, the atmosphere of the area and so on. There was a lot of discussion, including with our tutors. The process helped my design skills too.

Compared with Aviemore, London was a LOT busier! While it wasn’t my first visit, I was still shocked by how many people there were on the street and on the Tube.

As with our trip to The Highlands, the visit was really well organised. Having prepared back in Edinburgh, we got straight down to walking around our site (the area around London City airport in the east of the city) to build basic understanding and took a lot of images and video to help us reshape the concept of land back in the studio afterwards.

The process is a bit like testing what we have first conceived of in the studio and then coming back with more incredible ideas. As a working model, I enjoy it".

Kenny Fraser is Director of Landscape Architecture at ECA.

Here, he explains why fieldwork is so important to our programmes…

“We believe in the primacy of fieldwork, so always spend an intensive period of time on site. It’s where our students can really grasp the 'genius of the place', as Christian Norberg-Schulz called it.

The skills and methods of fieldwork arguably precede all other forms of design competence and confidence. When we’re out in the field, we draw, produce diagrams and record information for subsequent graphic collation back in the studio and are increasingly experimenting with film as a mechanism to articulate complex ideas”.

Are you interested in studying Landscape Architecture at ECA?

We have an undergraduate MA programme, a taught postgraduate MLA programme and a research-based MPhil / PhD programme.