ECA Degree Show 2016: Landscape Architecture

This year's crop of Landscape Architecture students are all set to disprove the art student stereotypes with a dynamic and ambitious show

Feature by James Trevers | 17 May 2016

Like us, you may already be acutely aware of the clichés concerned with the life of an art student. More specifically, the life of a Landscape Architecture student – the caffeine-fuelled evenings washing drearily into early mornings, or even the brutal ‘crits’, the landscape architect’s chosen form of anguish and assessment. Despite all this, the exhibition at this year’s degree show promises to be a remarkably polished reflection of five years' work. 

Tucked away in an exhibition space in Adam House, Chambers Street, the degree show is a chance for ECA’s graduating cohort to show friends and family that their last five years of their existence weren’t devoted to a ‘fancy gardening course.’ Despite the conceptions of many, Landscape Architecture students are not all protégé Alan Titchmarshes, demanding nice water features to be knocked up by junior Charlie Dimmocks. Instead, as soon-to-be landscape architects, they are concerned with a myriad of variables; ecology, urban planning and geology to name a few, but always with design at the discipline’s core. They attempt to direct a series of experiences and views for people to appreciate, possess and question, with the added dexterities and nuances of weather, season and time. While this may seem somewhat poetic, the discipline is coming to forefront of many people’s ponderings of how a future world may look.

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More on ECA's 2016 degree shows:


 Graphic Design and Illustration

The range of projects at the degree show is perhaps the best example of what landscape architecture represents as a discipline. On one hand there are the more classical plans of urban renewal and park design, where the student’s self-elected sites take an increasingly indefinite and ambitious view of the landscape architect's role – an 'unconsecrated concentration camp' and a study into a whole island system are but a couple within a wide range. Andrew Cumming’s project – Finding the Bidasoa – reflects how the discipline is able to shed its traditional skin and emerge on a global-political scale. Cummings looks towards a redefinition of the border landscape between France and Spain, as an area formerly demarcated as one of war becomes ‘a living monument to non-conflict.’ Within his design, shared space is formed through the interplays between hydrology, ecology and an existing railway infrastructure. These interventions create a porous border; a celebration of free movement along a river.

Indeed, the draw of working with or near water, and the childlike wonder inherent in looking out across oceans, feature in many projects. Katie Kelleher, in her investigation of the River Severn, explores the gradations of decay that water inflicts upon shipwrecks. As iron turns to rust and the effects of time ensue, the balances of a maritime past and a future use provide an intriguing narrative for her project. This nature of foresight is consistently seen throughout the works of students, however, and taking equal focus are the processes of memory and forgetting.

All but a handful of the students were tasked with the site of SS Lager Plaszow, Krakow, where the elective amnesias of a local populace have seen the Holocaust landscape immortalised by Schindler’s List neglectfully corrode into a meadow. The tormented history that infects Plaszow manifests through broken gravestones or the concrete footings of barracks. This history dictated a painfully intricate challenge of design for all those involved, eight of whom have been selected to exhibit in the Schindler Museum. However, rather than a select few projects, the degree show will as much be about the individual students as it will be a spectacle of the whole – the sum of its various inter-woven and nuanced parts, touched upon here, will surely be the main charm of the event.

Go with the Glow – Wanshu Li

Want to know more about this year’s ECA degree shows? Read our guide:

ECA Landscape Architecture Degree Show 2016, Adam House, Chambers St, 28 May-5 Jun