I came to landscape architecture by a very roundabout route. Whilst living in Barcelona and working as an English language teacher, I watched in amazement as the city was transformed in the build up to the Olympics of 1992. Much of the transformation was through the appropriation of spaces throughout the city for people. The extraordinary energy and confidence of Barcelona at that time expressed itself in the design of squares, parks, boulevards and incidental spaces, which dramatically changed the environment, quality of life and image of the city. This inspired me and led me into the profession which I eventually discovered was behind much of this work.

Since then I have never looked back, coming to Manchester to study at the MMU in 1994 and subsequently working in a very diverse range of local practices for more than a decade. The profession has led me into activities and areas of life which I would never have suspected when I first became interested. Outdoor space affects our lives in so many ways, whether in big cities, small towns or the countryside. These are the areas in which we socialise, relax, play, shop, exercise and watch each other: where groups of individuals become a community or a society. The process of designing, planning and looking after these spaces expresses a great deal about our shared values and self-perception.

Landscape Architecture is an immensely complex field which requires an unusual combination of intellectual rigour with spatial awareness and strong visual communication skills. I strongly believe that the profession has a critical part to play in shaping a richer and more sustainable human environment. The challenge of nurturing these abilities in others and fuelling the spark of their enthusiasm is one that fascinates and excites me.

Projects

Bolton Great Estates

In a partnership lasting over 4 years with Bolton at Home, I led a team which looked at strategies for investing in public and communal space as a means of improving the environment and pride of communities in social housing estates across Bolton. We also designed and implemented four ambitious pilot schemes to demonstrate the impacts of significant environmental improvements. These were developed through close consultation with local communities and have been enormously popular, paving the way for a 20 year strategic programme of investment in the external environment throughout the borough.

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Irwell City Park

A visionary project to restore a largely forgotten and ignored river into a major new linear park running though the heart of Greater Manchester. The project aims to create 8km of new footway and cycleway providing sustainable linkages between a range of important focal points of the city, as well as improving connections across the river through several new footbridges and enhancements to existing crossing points. In addition a number of new public spaces will bring new focuses of life and activity to the riverside and enliven the routes.

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Leeds Civic Quarter

A project to transform a large city centre campus of Leeds Met University into an urban quarter, closely integrated into the fabric of the city. A key part of the masterplan was the creation of a hierarchy of pedestrian routes and spaces linking into others in the surrounding area. The proposals reflected typologies of streets and squares found in Leeds city centre and aimed to reinterpret these to create a centre of education and high technology for the 21st century as well as a new hub of life and dynamism on the edge of the city centre.

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Matlock Parks

The preparation of a strategy and masterplan for the restoration and reinvigoration of a chain of 5 historic parks in the Derwent Valley, Derbyshire Dales. Extensive historical research into the original design intentions of this unique complex of parks was combined with detailed analysis of the needs and aspirations of the community and visitors, as well as the international significance of the habitat and geology of the area. A complex design strategy was developed to balance these widely differing elements, that ultimately formed the basis for a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £2.2m of funding.

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Design Guide

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Research

Journal Articles

Fox, ELC., Fink, P., 2012. 'Irwell River Park: The Rediscovery of Manchester's Lost River', Topos.

Fox, ELC., 2007. 'Rediscovering Manchester's Lost River', Green Places.

Conference Papers

Fox, E., 2011. 'Irwell River Park - Reclaiming Manchester's Lost River', Scales of Nature, Zurich, Switzerland, 27/6/2011 - 29/6/2011, in Scales of Nature, IFLA World Congress Proceedings.

Fox, ELC., Turnbull, M., 2010. 'Bolton Great Estates: Transforming Lives through Landscapes', Landscape Institute Annual Conference 2007: Landscapes for Living, London.

Fox, ELC., 2010. 'Irwell River Park: The Rediscovery of Manchester's Forgotten River', Formation and Persistence of Townscapes, 17th Seminar on Urban Form, Hamburg, Germany, 21/8/2010 - 23/8/2010.