Five Edinburgh College of Art graduates were recently awarded prizes by Alex Burton of the prestigious Landscape Institute Scotland (LIS). Each of the former landscape architecture students produced individual and impressive work that wowed the judges.

This year, students had the option of three unique sites that were all located in Scotland that included rural, island and post-industrial qualities – in addition to the Manhattan Project, which is a collaboration with the School of Architecture.

Of the five graduates; Jennifer Jones and Yun Liu shared the Best Portfolio Prize, the Peter Daniels Prize for best skills in site analysis was awarded to both Athena Preen and Clara Elliot, the latter of whom also joint-won the Best Student Prize with Marion Lindqvist.

Masters graduate and winner Athena Preen enjoys getting to know each new site and relishes the challenge of reinventing it. She describes it as approaching a new country; “there is a new language to learn, a new history and new terrain to explore and new relationships to build.”

Athena credits the ESALA for encouraging its students to plunge themselves into the exploration of sites, and support them through their investigative journey. This, along with her analytical nature, led her to win the award for site analysis. From taking the students to study the detail in paving on a frosty winter’s day to heartedly discussing landscape architecture outside, Athena was never short of inspiration during her time at ECA. She adds:

“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.”

'Unravelling Dounreay' by winner Clara Elliot
Clara Elliot
'Unravelling Dounreay' by winner Clara Elliot

“It has been a pleasure to take part in the MLA programme, supported by knowledgeable tutors and surrounded by talented students."

Clara Elliot

Fellow Peter Daniels Prize recipient and joint-winner of the Best Student Prize Clara Elliot also found the informal conversations held in studios and workshops to have greatly influenced her award-worthy work. The concept of the MLA graduate’s work arose from a critical enquiry of the problematic North Coast 500, a 516 mile-long road trip skirting Scotland’s north coast that aimed to bring tourists but caused issues for residents. She said of producing this work at ECA:

“It has been a pleasure to take part in the MLA programme, supported by knowledgeable tutors and surrounded by talented students. I would like to thank my North Coast 500 studio team in particular for their role in shaping this project.”

 

'Ardeer Island Nature Park' by ESALA Award winner Marion Lindqvist
Marion Lindqvist
'Ardeer Island Nature Park' by ESALA Award winner Marion Lindqvist
'Garnock Valley' drawings by ESALA Award winner Athena Preen
Athena Preen
'Garnock Valley' drawings by ESALA Award winner Athena Preen

Cara shares the Best Student Prize with ESALA graduate Marion Lindqvist, who found the course to be greatly inspiring and encouraging of her interest in using landscape architecture for the benefit of the environment and communities. Throughout her research process, she asks herself questions such as:

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 a landscape that has been damaged by insensitive human use?”

She adds that the tutors at ECA always go “above and beyond” to support the developing ideas to find answers to such questions.

Jenny Jones, who joint-won the Best Portfolio, is another graduate whose design philosophy centres around improving communities and repurposes natural landscapes. Her prize-winning work, ‘Landscape as a Catalyst’, utilised the areas of derelict land within the Garnock Valley caused by industrial decline. With every project, she aims to create designs that are sensitive to the context of the landscape and could develop over time. Jenny also credits the dedicated ECA lecturers with her development and adds: “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.”    Yun Liu, who studied ESALA at ECA for two years before being awarded the joint-Best Portfolio award with Jenny. During those two years, Yun has pushed himself out of his comfort zone and consistently challenged himself; which has pushed him to explore the relationship between people and the environment. He said: “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!”


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