Landscape Architecture student, Matluba Khan, has been selected as the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities’ (SGSAH) first ever Thinker in Residence. Winner of Edinburgh’s Falling Walls Lab 2014, Matluba is currently undertaking a PhD into the design of spaces for outdoor learning.

Matluba is based at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), where her supervisors are Dr Simon Bell and Dr Eva Silveirinha De Oliveira, and is co-supervised by Sarah McGeown at Moray House School of Education. In this short article, she tells us how she found out about the SGSAH opportunity and what she hopes to achieve during her time at Deveron Arts, a dynamic arts organisation focusing on social engaged arts practices…

“The aim of the new Thinkers in Residence scheme is to provide doctoral researchers in Arts and Humanities the dedicated time and space to think around a specific subject and to share that journey with a relevant partner organisation.

I found out about the scheme through an email from SGSAH and the postgraduate office at ECA.

The Director of Deveron Arts was looking to support projects that she considers will be catalysts towards new thinking, or re-thinking, for her arts team and other interested parties; local school teachers, for example.

To apply, I had to submit a research proposal answering questions such as ‘what will you be focusing on during your residency?’ and ‘how does this relate to your PhD study?’.”

Imagine a classroom that has no walls...

“My research is about how to design primary schools’ outdoor space to appeal to children and motivate them to learn.

My field work is based in Bangladesh where I’ve worked with the children, teachers and local community of a rural primary school to design and build a new school ground for learning and play.

The school ground has been designed around the children’s preferences and evaluated on the basis of their interaction with, and experiences of, the environment; in many instances, they’ve associated their place preferences with landscape aesthetics, which I’ve found intriguing.

As a Thinker in Residence at Deveron Arts, I will be focusing specifically on children’s perception of aesthetics - their preferences, likes and dislikes - both in relation to their school landscape and neighbourhood open spaces”.

Matluba’s residency at Deveron Arts runs for three weeks from 29th February to 19th March 2016. At the end of the residency, she will present her research to the Deveron Arts team, with a transcript kept in a new Thinker in Residence Library.

You can keep up to date with Matluba’s residency, her recent Innovative Learning Week event Play+Design=Learning, and her PhD progress, on her blog.