In year one of the MLA a range of students, from very varied backgrounds, work together to develop the foundational skills and knowledge for the discipline of landscape architecture. This year saw 33 students transition to landscape architecture, bringing their valuable expertise and perspectives from their diverse countries and cultures, as well as previous qualifications and experiences.

The course challenged the group to develop innovative and critical responses to the multi-faceted subject of landscape architecture, and the diverse man-made and natural systems of which the landscape is composed. This was supported by a pedagogy based on collaborative learning, experimentation, problem-solving, and systems thinking. The development of design and visual communication skills in the Landscape Ateliers was underpinned by the acquisition of historical, theoretical, and technical knowledge delivered in Landscape Studies. Students were encouraged to combine their knowledge and skills gained from complementary units to address the landscape from a holistic, systems' perspective.

The continued involvement of multiple guest tutors, from landscape practice and related areas, has ensured that the course remains grounded and externally facing, while simultaneously challenging students to become creative, independent, and critical thinkers who can effectively engage with complex problems associated with climate change and loss of biodiversity, which landscape architects must address.


Landscape Atelier 1a

Landscape Atelier 1a

This atelier entitled Space and Place tested students' ability to respond to challenges across three urban projects at varying scales. Situated within the Northern Quarter of Manchester, the brief encouraged students to explore the historical development of the city, its evolution, and the formation of its current urban fabric and public realm.

Project 1, Memory and Space, asked students to design a garden with a multi-layered concept derived from both a contextual analysis and a personal memory, bridging tangible spatial qualities with the intangible. The second project, Materiality and Space, involved a sensory exploration of the site, reinforced by a rigorous analysis of the surrounding context, and underpinned by seminal theories of urban space design. This resulted in exciting multi-faceted design frameworks, abstract form studies, and designs driven by multi-sensory human experience.

Community and Space, the final project, asked students to reclaim grey urban infrastructure to create a community park. Students selected end-user groups based on a demographic study, and developed inclusive schemes that redefined the landscape narrative. A diverse range of proposals emerged, including a healing garden, a youth community park, an urban meadow for mental health and wellbeing, and wetlands for the enhancement of birdlife in the city.

Landscape Atelier 1b

Landscape Atelier 1b

The second atelier of MLA1 focuses on a site located in the green belt of Stockport and challenged students to design across multiple scales from 1.5000 to 1.50. Entitled Sustainable Stockport. The brief asks students to; create a multi-functional, multi-dimensional landscape that supports future sustainable ways of living; incorporate mixed-use landscape to enhance the lives of the existing community of Stockport and a new intentional community; and engage with our global crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and housing shortages.

During the site analysis phase, students collaborated in groups to explore the site through the lens of a given theme as follows: topography and flows; infrastructure and transport; programme, constructed forms, and the vernacular; habitats and biodiversity; social networks and nodes; and climate and environmental quality. The robust site analysis created a library of information that supported the group in generating multi-layered, complex strategic proposals informed by design rigour and rationale.

Through investigating the local context of the site in Stockport while simultaneously exploring global pressures, students refined individual proposals by designing key areas within their overall masterplan, demonstrating both the experience and technical qualities of an integrated landscape system and the life of an interconnected sustainable community.


Landscape Studies 1a

Landscape Studies 1a

LS1A introduced alternative perspectives on the history of landscape architecture. The traditional canon of landscape architecture focuses on stylistic developments overlooking the social, political and cultural factors that underlie landscape creation. In this unit we explored the structures of power that underpin landscape architecture through six key themes of NATURE, GENDER, RACE, CLASS, POLITICS, TERRITORY. Through these thematic discussions we questioned the traditional canon set forward in Jellicoe’s ‘The Landscape of Man’ to question the ‘imagined line of progress’ (Raxworthy 2018) and instead explore some of the ‘many different versions of history’ (John Dixon Hunt).

We adopted ‘epistemic disobedience’ (Raxworthy 2018) to reorient our approach towards landscape history, encompassing other knowledges and practices by decentring the European-, male-, white-, cis-, middle class-, dominated histories of our conventional subject textbooks.

Together the students compiled 20 global case studies exploring intersectional aspects of a range of historic landscapes from prehistoric India and the Bhimbetka painted rock shelters, to Bolivian cultural landscapes and Wangari Maathai’s role in the creation of the Nairobi Green Belt.’

Landscape Studies 1b

Landscape Studies 1b

The Architecture, Climate, and Society course takes a key contemporary thematic that is at the forefront of academic and professional activities in architecture and landscape architecture: critically understanding the climate emergency. Through situating our contemporary predicament within a long history of architectural engagement with energy, nature and climate, and through engaging with knowledge from allied disciplines such as geography and sociology, the unit helped clarify student thinking in relation to addressing the climate crisis.

LS1b students created reading diaries on key texts addressing the climate crisis, they were asked to visually represent their critical understanding of each text along with a written critical narrative.


Landscape Studies 2a

Landscape Studies 2a (Technology)

Landscape Studies 2a introduces students to a range of processes and systems which are generators of landscape, and goes on to explore the materials of landscape, both living and inert. Students are introduced to plants and hard materials through direct engagement with, and analysis of, the designed landscape, undertaking site surveys and background research on a range of sites. Staff and guest speakers provide contextual information through a series of case studies, giving further insight into design decisions and material choices, and the wide range of considerations which underlie these.

Landscape Studies 2b

Landscape Studies 2b (Technology)

Landscape Studies 2b builds on students’ developing understanding of materiality in landscape architecture and challenges them to apply this knowledge to a specific case study. The unit initially provides familiarisation with professional conventions in drawings and specification through a detailed study of a particular site and analysis of a full suite of construction drawings. This insight into the multiple technical issues underlying a complex, built landscape subsequently enables students to apply this knowledge through a series of detailed material studies leading to alternative design drawings for selected areas of the site.