Sunday, July 25, 2010

the end of an era

I have learnt a lot over these past three years. About myself, about the plants, about sustainability, about the world. And I am happy that I did this even though I am filled with feelings of shame and regret. Regret that I didn't give it my best, shame that I did the same thing over and over again.

I will go in to this year of internship with eagerness to learn, but I must say that already is the feeling that I will not be there to do fifth year overshadowing everything. I am thankful for the wonderful ECA and that I had a chance to go to to Australia as a part of my education. But when something doesn't feel right we have to think about wht is wrong and how we can move on.

See you out there landscapers!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

to timbuktu and back

Architecture and the City. Year three.
This was a class I took in Brisbane and it was called Architecture and the City. It was urban planning, architecture and landscape architecture all mixed into one. And oh how fun it was! A big class with over 200 students and we all got divided into groups of three or four and were all assigned a city each to analyse. We got Timbuktu, a small city in the middle of the Malian desert, a city with great historical influence that has since the French colonalisation deteriorated into a just fraction of it’s former glory.

We analysed and researched and researched and researched some more. I was in charge of making all the maps and the layout of the final poster whilst Fiona and Jessica wrote the text and we all made the scale model together. The nolli map was a fun thing to learn how to do as it really shows the open and enclosed space for the people of a city, a way of mapping I haven’t heard of before but that I will really keep working with in the future.

It was a tricky project since there are little to no information on Timbuktu in libraries and on the internet but we were told to make the most of what we had so we all lowered our expectations and I do think we managed to make a really good project in the end. I learnt how to be patient when working in a group and also when to say no. This project gave me a greater love for urban planning, a greater interest in Africa and foremost two lovely friends that I hope I will keep in contact with in the future.

Feedback from Helena Piha:
Excellent nolli map and neat presentation. Timeline could be more complete.

6 out of 7.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

shelter from the sun

Design 5: Land Art. Year three.

This was the first project that I did in Brisbane and it was so totally different from anything I have ever done before. First of all working with a place that we couldn’t visit and also the fact that the brief was that from a real competition. The project was about creating a piece of land art in the desert outside of Dubai and the land art itself was supposed to be some sort of renewable energy. The groups were told to be bold and almost vulgar since the surroundings of the growing city of Dubai is so extreme in every way we had to match that and make something to fit into the context.

Our group focused on shadows on the sand and shelter from the harsh winds and strong sun. Dubai’s wealth is created on oil so we had this idea to imitate oil cisterns but with a more modern and sharp edges as a thought and a provocation to the oil industry with its renewable energy built into the shapes. Put in the landscape they look like they have been sunken into the sand and they themselves create a skyline by themselves almost like the one of the big city.

We had a good dynamic in our group and were able to divide the tasks but also help each other out when someone was stuck. It was a stressful couple of weeks before the handing but it was a fun project to make. On request from our tutor we let him send our project in to the competition. So fun, both to send something away to a real competition and also to have that gratification from our tutors that they really believed in our project and us.

Feedback from Ian Weir:
Interesting philosophical standpoint. We get a strong sense of the built landscape and ideas behind the scheme in the presentation. You have created a somewhat apocalyptic yet intriguing landscape. The design seems to have stopped too soon. Energy story is quite secondary regarding the comments in your text: not having direct physical experience with a site does not preclude site-specificity. Many international competitions and commissions
been won by designers who have never been to the site. The key is to uncover from the available information qualities that are particular to a place/brief (its all just information)
Very good graphics - though 'sameish' - eg it is a little too reliant on the one digital model - from which you generate most of your views. You don’t make it clear enough that the red crystaline roofs are the solar PV panels. Good idea to include your design process graphics on the bottom - some explanatory text on these might help judges.

7 out of 7.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

god I wish to never see this project again.

Design- Sports Park. Year One.

Oh, the sports park project. I think this was the first project where I struggled with inspiration. I remember sitting in the library hours after hours searching and searching. I had this great idea of these beautiful mounds where each mound had a purpose but could also be used for general recreation when they were not used for football or rugby. But as everything for me in first year it just got a little bit too much… I think we all focused on the contours and for me that meant that I forgot about the design. It was in the end just a little bit too much of everything for it to work together. It was like I was too eager to make sure I had everything on the brief that it all just collapsed. Sport pitches: check. Canal: check. Artwork: check. But it didn’t flow. I remember being so scared during the crit because I was so ashamed of what I had produced. I just wanted to get away and die somewhere. I learnt a lot during this project, but again as I look through all my projects I see a pattern in my work. I do great at the beginning with beautiful and grand designs and ideas and then I chicken out, because I get scared of what people would think of me if I did something really crazy. Weird that is, that I never learn to stay with my initial ideas and be strong and confident enough to carry them through all the way.

Feedback from Ross Mclean:
The projects has some interesting ideas underlying it, such as colour theme and the interactive structures that encourage people to use the park. There is a strong sense of earthworks in your workbook but not carried through to your final design proposal. You should have more confidence in your ideas as there are several ideas in your exploration work that have not materialised or been accentuated in the final design. You should also look to strengthen the essential aspects of the landscape, such as spatial structure and hierarchy, circulation and tree structure. The plan also lacks some detail, again explored in your workbook but not carried through. Areas such as the car park and slipway don’t look like convincing or rigorously refined designs. Overall: some good exploration and development work, but lacks the final product and levels of detail.

Survey: D
Site Analysis: C
Evaluation: C
Exploration: C
Presentation: C

(When my computer broke down in the summer after first year all that I had done got lost, the image above is all I have left.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

when it all was new and fresh.

Design – Spatial Studies 1-4. Year one.

Year one, what a joy, what a chock! I remember the first weeks as a total stressed and panicked time in the studio. We had hardly any tutoring time and none of us knew what we were supposed to do or how to do it. But we worked together and helped each other out when we were stuck, for me I remember having no idea what a sketchbook was or how to express myself in an artistic way. Since I had no background in art whatsoever, I had been working with politics and hadn’t had an art class since I was 14 I felt loss and I was questioning why I had been accepted to the programme at all. Here I was in the studio with 20 really talented artsy people and all I could do was discuss politics. In no way did I feel that my work at the Swedish parliament could benefit me here. But I did try and I was one of the few who went to every single class of first year studies, trying to learn and eager to make sure I could justify my spot at ECA.

The Meadows project was great fun, creating a space for all those dreamers of Edinburgh and working with plants for all the senses. The crit went very well and I remember Ross giving me an A right there and then saying it was one of the best projects of the lot. Well, that didn’t span out, I got a B in the end and learnt to never really trust the tutors until you have the feedback sheet in your hand! Never get too confident too soon, it will only come back to bite you.

Cammo Park was also fun and I do feel that maybe my project was a bit misunderstood because I couldn’t express fully what I meant and how I wanted it to be. But yes, I understand the feedback; it was just one apple after the other. Although for me this came like a bit of a chock since I had absolutely nothing said to me about this before the crit, and the guidance I so, so needed at that point wasn’t given to me until after the project was done. That made me disheartened and I felt alone and lost. Maybe it was this first term that made me doubt my ability to be bold and courageous in my projects. I don’t know. But I do remember being much more daring and creative in these first two projects that just never came back.

Feedback from Ross Mclean:
Meadows project: has good exploration of the designed space, especially as a more gardenesque sub-space within the openness of the broader landscape. This project is well detailed, with a good exploration of planting material and how this creates the structure. Its location within the meadows seems a bit arbitrary, in regard of how your space would interact within the broader landscape. But overall this is a strong project, well thought through and clearly presented. You also avoid the problem of using symmetry – i.e. design has to form a space rather than a pattern on paper – try to relate your design to the dynamic of how humans will experience it.

Cammo park: the choice of sculpture could have been developed further to include more variety from other artist who work with scale. In effect its one big apple after another! It’s also not so clear how people should interact with them – are they for vision only or can people climb/sit on them?
The placement of the sculptures around the park is good, with coverage throughout. The final design creates some issues; you have designed an enclosed space but potentially the walled garden would have provided as good a setting, with the same interaction between inside/outside. Beyond this issue the spaces are interesting and follow your idea to create a fantasy/stage set type landscape. You should maybe also think of how people move through these spaces.

Overall; some very good exploration and detailed designing, that has the potential to develop into some strong landscape proposal.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

is a space a sum of all its parts?

Computer Aided Design. Year two.

In this project I took the café I worked at, recorded the sounds of the space and photographed the interior and then I built a virtual copy of it in the Meadows.

The project was so different and so interesting on many levels. I think we all thought we would be learning AutoCAD but instead this module was all about finding new ways to display a project. We got taught the basics of many programs but I focused my project on MediaScape. It gave me a new understanding of how a landscape or a piece of architecture is more than the structure or the space it takes up. It’s about the people moving through. The sounds of the passing cars, the wind, and the espresso machine making a cappuccino. It’s about the visible obstacles as much as the invisible ones. And it also made me wonder about what a space actually is if you can’t see all the parts or if the parts are moved and distorted. Is it still the same thing? I know I could have analyzed the retrieved information more and made connections to other designs and artists and if more time would have been given I think I would have made more of an effort representing the actual building in a better way than the extremely poor SketchUp drawing I made. This method though is definitely something I’ll use again in my future projects to show clients an onsite experience of the proposed design.

As an extra fun note, I think Chris Speed used my project in an article he and Dermott McMeel wrote for a landscape architecture journal!

Feedback from Chris Speed:
Fascinating piece of work that warrants further exploration in your studio practice. you sustained a strong line of enquiry and brought a lot to the module that has enabled you to deliver a fascinatig experience. The final production is strong and allows you to reflect upon the work with insight and interest. It would be interesting to continue to explore the use of mediascape and in particular exploring the resolutions of GPS and the construction of invisible landscapes.

Demonstrate a broad understanding of CAD & its relevance to landscape architecture: A
Perform simple 2D & 3D drafting, editing & modelling operations: B
Employ simple computer presentation techniques: A*

Friday, April 2, 2010

"our house, in the middle of the street"

Urban Design and Housing. Year two.

This is one of the modules I have enjoyed the most during these three years of my degree. I have realised that this is what I love, urban planning. Bigger. Bolder. Since I have worked in politics for several years before coming here I have really found an interest in social issues of how, why and where people live. When I worked at the parliament I worked with several issues concerning social structures and urban environments. This is what I enjoy with urban planning as a subject, it contains bit of everything that I find interesting. Design, psychology, demographics and politics.

This module was divided into three parts and all from the first one week project of redesigning the square in the Quarter Mile, to the group project in Portobello and the housing project in Kirknewton it was a truly fun and enjoyable term.

Quarter Mile
The first project was situated in the Quarter Mile and here I made an Urban Scottish Oasis Plants has always been one of my strongest interests and one of the reasons I choose Landscape Architecture. Here I wanted to create a space where everyone can experience a bit of Scotland even though you are just here for a weekend or a business meeting. I understand what Kenny meant by playing it safe, seems to be my most recurring feedback. To be more bold and adventurous. And every time I try and do very well in the beginning of the project but then seem to panic and change all my ideas at the last minute to make a more safe design. Something that always ends up being extremely boring.

Feedback from Kenny Fraser:
Conceptually and in terms of planting this was one of the strongest projects in the group. Technically you should be able to get some of the smaller plant established in the raised plant beds you propose; however I don’t think the Scots Pine would survive, you would need a minimum of 900mm topsoil and even then it’s probably not a good idea. Spatially the project is fine, just a bit safe; you should be a bit more adventurous next time.

This group project was several weeks of pure fun. I think we all got surprised of how well we all worked together and this was the first group project we had. We had a tricky bit of land shaped like a triangle situated between to highly trafficked roads. We tried to resolve this by creating sound barriers and by making a pleasant community within the courtyards of the housing development. In this project I produced a film that showed our work in progress, how the scheme evolved and how much fun we had with it.

Feedback from Kenny Fraser:
Overall, this is a very good project with an excellent presentation model. The building layout us very promising although neither fully refined nor resolved. Massing of the buildings is good. The other two aspects of the project, infrastructure and landscape are less well considered and there are one or two obvious ‘glitches’ in the relationship of landscape to building. The contouring along Sir Harry Lauder Road is sensible.

Your workbook is good while your movie is excellent (especially so given that it was not a project requirement). Sections and visualisations require greater attention as they let the project down somewhat; visualisations must be at eye level.

This site has proven to be very tricky in the past and your project is a very good effort.

I remember getting extremely ill during this project so most of it is just a big hazy fog due to high fever and sleeping. So therefore I must say that what I am most proud of about this project was the fact that I finished it on time. I designed a self-sufficient eco village in the style of Findhorn where the focus laid on new technology and where the SUDS were a prominent part of the design. Gardens and community was the main feature where all houses were individual and built by each and every one of the residents to fit their needs.

Sadly the whole lot got destroyed in one of the drawers in the studio. One day when I pulled my drawings out it was all covered in coffee. So the handmade sections that Kenny mentions in his feedback has all been lost. Witch is really sad because those are things I was most proud of. Well, I guess that taught me yet another thing about designing. Always record what you are doing and keep copies…!

Feedback from Kenny Fraser:
You have performed well throughout the module. Both the first two module components were successful. Your Kirknewton project is quite nicely resolved with some reasonably successful experimental graphics; the masterplan graphically works well but gives more of an overview of your ideas rather than a really precise description. The section graphic is an interesting technique. Your sketches and detail plan are less well resolved. The masterplan layout is very good.

Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of urban design: B
Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles involved in housing layouts: B
Design simple housing layouts employing basic principles of urban design: B

Monday, March 29, 2010

oh scotland ye beautiful.

Design: Landscape Reclamation. Year three.

In this project I tried to distil and reconstruct the landscape that makes the Highlands what it is. To take all the components and separate them to them put them back together again but in a slightly different order. The plants are so much what make Scotland so special and I wanted to showcase them and bring them into focus. And at first plant them in a strict pattern to then let them grow and spread, as they want. To let Scotland take over and be what it once was. So you can see the change from year to year and have evolution happen right in front of your eyes.

For this project I also made a quilt that symbolised my thought processes and what Scotland represents for me.

Overall this was an emotionally loaded project for me, whilst struggling with the thought that I am not right for Landscape Architecture I had to produce a new piece of landscape and be just what I couldn’t identify myself as; a landscape architect.

Feedback from Lisa Mackenzie:
You present a rich array of concepts in this project, during the crit the external visitors felt that a further explanation of the way you apply concepts to structure and form for the site could have been addressed more clearly. It is important that you let analysis and investigation inform some of your design moves.

For example – How might some of your ideas been applied to the south west of the city?
What is the relationship of your ideas to the edge of the water?

You have an ability to pick up on intriguing and curious external inspiration, if you can also apply principles from an understanding and reading of the site and context you will sharpen yours skills and make better projects.

This is often about thinking about scale and the difference between MICRO and MACRO.
I appreciate that you found the project a challenge and I am glad that you pulled together your work towards the end of the semester. I particularly liked the ideas about management with sheep and the strips of gorse.

Demonstrate a knowledge of a range of complex issues associated with derelict land: C
Demonstrate a basic understanding of ecosystem restoration using the principles of landscape engineering: C
Design at a range of scales, strategically and a over time: C

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"i'm in the grip of a hurricane, i'm gonna blow myself away"

I'm doing two projects right now that both are about Islamic cultures.

One is for my architecture and the City class, my group have been assigned Timbuktu in Mali. We're analyzing the structure and the grid of the town. History, demographics, traffic flows. Everything. And just as we speak I'm doing my first ever Nolli Map. Interesting stuff.

The second project is the one in Dubai. The design project. Every group has to come up with one site specific sculpture that includes some form of renewable energy. So much fun.

That's why I'm so happy I found this film on youtube. It's in 10 parts but it's so worth watching each one.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"it really really really could happen"

I usually find inspiration in the weirdest of places. And often things like this can stay in my head for weeks.

Just love, love, love it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"hold the earth above me, lay down in the green grass"

Design, Landscape Planning & Ecology. Year two.

This was an interesting project and it is always a great experience to work in groups. The project was set in Dunbar and it was the first project that had a wider concept than just a park or a housing development. We were asked to find a new profile for the town to attract more tourists and improve the overall living standard.
The first half of the project we were divided into different research groups that all had different subjects. My group focused on the biodiversity in Dunbar and that meant hours and hours of reading documents given to us by the council. I found this fun and a good practice for doing research. Many times I often skip doing thorough research because I want to start designing straight away and that is never ever good. It always backfires somehow when you need to explain the choices you've made. So, this was really, really important for me on how to prepare myself before designing.

In the second part of the project we got split up into new groups so that one from each group ended up in a new one and it was now our research showed to be important in every part. To be able to deliver a good project like this one you really have to know all aspects of the client. I.e. Dunbar. Euan Maharg, Jono Burgess, Nicholas Gruter and I spent several weeks in the studio focusing on finding relevant solutions for a sustainable town but also to add more fun projects to attract visitors and make the people of the town more proud of Dunbar. We came up with an overall plan on how to make the town more self-sufficient, with local produce and Saturday farmers markets. We also connected the town with the so popular cycling route that runs along the east coast of Scotland. We had great fun doing it together and I learnt so much from the boys, my Photoshop skills improved dramatically as they showed me new techniques and pushed me to try new things. We were all very proud of our project and got very good response from the Dunbar council when we presented it.

Feedback from Simon Bell:
The work on nature conservation was a good summary and ...(have no idea what he wrote) of a lot of detailed material. The plan contained many original ideas, though was somewhat weak in the use of green corridors.

Application of skills and knowledge in the design and planning of large-scale landscapes: B
An understanding of sustainability as it relates to landscape architecture: B
An understanding of the main principles and concepts of landscape ecology: B

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"the flowers you gave me are rotting and still i refuse to throw them away"

It's fun studying here in Brisbane! Right now I'm doing research on both Timbuktu and Abu Dhabi. A little bit different from Inverness to say the least. For the Abu Dhabi project the whole class is divided into research groups and then one from each group are joining a new design group for next week. Super fun. The brief for the project is from an actual competition. Definitely different.

My research group is investigating solar panels and photovoltaics, my task is to find examples of renewable energy in art. Just love Sara Hall's projects. And ZM Architects Solar Lilly for Glasgow City Council is really refreshing.

The research on Timbuktu is for the class Architecture And The City, one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken. And on the lecture the other day I won a large chocolate bar because I was the first out of 200 students to identify a picture on the slideshow as Paris! Haha.

I'll keep you posted on my progress in the different subjects.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"sittin' on the dock of a bay. wastin' time."

Oh! I'm so excited about this year. First of all just being in Australia has opened up so many things in me. Hopefully I can figure out how to utilize them to their fullest!

The classes I take here are so totally different from the ones at ECA. First of all there are so much more people. (One class I take has more than 200 students in it..) And secondly, it seems that they are more theoretical. I have one design course and it's as big as the other three. Interesting.

I'm taking Landscape Design 5, Architecture And The City, Landscape Construction and Interior Design History. The last one I had to change to just because my first choice of Environments In Transition clashed with Construction... Hrm.

Today second week of classes start and I'm as excited as ever! Will upload more portfolio stuff soon, first I need to write a reflective review on the Industrial Revolution.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"and all that i can see is just another lemon tree"

Design, Space & Function. Year One.

I look back at this project with great joy. It was the first real big project we had. I remember struggling at first on how I was supposed to get information on the site as it was so far away from Edinburgh. And what information that I found would actually be of importance to the project? The site itself had been an orchard and it was from there I took my inspiration. My project focused on the symbols of trees, and I reserched the mythology and the history of the symbol. In art it is a commonly used subject and that fell quite well in with the fact that the building on the site was a proposed art centre.
The idea of the design was that the tree structure of the paths and the planting would only be noticable from above and as you moved through the woodland different clearings with video art and sculptures would appear. One of the ideas with the choise of video art on the site was to get people out exploring even after hours of darkness, portable chairs would be up for lend in the art shop, an idea to keep the clearings as natural as possible without to many built structures.

Feedback from Ross Mclean:
The proposal has many strengths in particular the use of a central and clear motif to generate the rest of the design. This is carried through the site well, with varied application from functional structures of the car park, the singular tree specimen in contrast to dense planting. It's good to use a bit of poetic touch in design to appeal more directly to why people and users are moved by landscape. The use of moveable chairs also creates a good interactive idea.
The notion of a forest on such a small site needs to be explored ans demonstrated. At present it doesn't have the impact of a forest and is too clustered in one area, while it could be applied more comprehensively through the site. It is
also not clear what effect the dogwood would have? And how this transition between planting and outer border spaces works. The decking also creates an interesting experience, but seems somewhat isolated from the tree planting.
Graphically your proposal is described well, with good use of sections, diagrams and montages that portray your proposals. The index of materials also is effective at describing what elements make up the proposal.
Overall the use of technology and the manipulation of natural elements create compelling encounters. The arrangement of these elements could have better effect and create more comprehensive site coverage and connection between various elements. Try to rationalize and itensify your ideas a bit more. There is some good thinking here, so be more confident and apply things more boldl

Wow, reading this again makes me proud of this project, it was fun and I enjoyed every bit from the research to the final presentation. The thing that strikes me the most is Ross' last sentence. If I had a penny for every time a tutor have told me to be more bold I wouldn't have to take a student loan anymore. Funny that though, that I've noticed that the more I hear that the more freaked out and nervous I am going in to the next project. In first year I felt like I had quite a strong theme behind most of my projects, something I hope I still have, although I know I've dropped it a bit. I don't know if I have moved away from poetry, history and thematic importance to become more commercial and fit in. Or have I become uninspired and tired or is it all just me being extremely harsh about my own work? I don't know. Funny how this process is supposed to answer the how and why but I just end up dwelling up on it more.
I know at least that this project made me a bit more confident and it was also a great practice when it came to designing hardscape in a better way. I think it was here I for the first time started using planting as a way to solve the issues of pollution and it was here my love for sustainable and ecological design started. I remember reading about Sedum in books and on the internet and I couldn't stop! Overall, I'm proud of this project and I think it gave me a lot more than I can really comprehend.

Site Exploration: B
Evaluation: B
Design Exploration: C
Presentation: B

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Sitting outside enjoying the sun thinking about all the things I've done over the last couple of years at ECA. It's overwhelming in a way. The first feeling that hits me is sddly dissapointment. I'm really quite dissapointed and ashamed of my work load. It's like I know I could have done better but for some reason I haven't. Hopefully I can use this blog to investigate why this has happened and if everything becomes clear to me I hope I can use that knowledge to become the better, more serious landscape architect I know I can be.

The structure for my inputs into this blog doesn't follow a definitive pattern, I'm gonna go through them as they appear to me in my memory or heart. If I'm having a good day I might write about a good project, if I'm feeling down I might take one of those that I'm not very proud of. We'll see what happens. This blog will be a reflection of how unstructured and haphazard my everyday life is. And hopefully I will learn more about myself by doing it that way as well.