Landscape architecture students capture their surrounding
Landscape architecture students capture their surroundings
Lincoln University’s School of Landscape Architecture has taken its practical design-innovation approach to new heights with a recent field trip to Kaitorete Spit, along the Canterbury coast.
Last week, 130 landscape architecture students took part in a vertical studio – a combined practical design exercise for all levels of the programme. It was the first time all students from the School of Landscape Architecture (SoLA) have been involved in such a large-scale natural installation project.
Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture and Academic Programme Manager Mike Barthelmeh says the exercise was designed to encourage engagement with the environment.
“We were interested in looking at how students express the evocative quality of their surroundings,” says Mr. Barthelmeh.
“Students were separated into groups of varying sizes and given a brief to create a temporary installation in response to the environment, using only materials found on-site.
“All of the installations were different – some were designed for aesthetic value, others emphasised or highlighted an aspect of the surroundings, and others still took the observer on a journey. One group even created an easel and then suspended a driftwood frame further along the beach, playing with the idea of sightlines and visual composition.
“We were very impressed with the level of conceptualisation and experimentation – it was exciting to see so many different installations emerge from the one landscape.”
At the end of the day, once photographed and recorded, some of the installations were left, and some were dismantled, to ensure the landscape was left largely as it was found.
Mr. Barthelmeh says offering students the opportunity to develop and apply practical design skills is key to the department’s approach throughout the curriculum.
“The students were actively involved in each step of the process, from concept to construction, and were able to employ a range of graphic techniques to record their three-dimensional sculptural elements along the way,” says Mr. Barthelmeh.
“Involvement in such a large-scale studio is a great addition to the students’ CVs, as it shows they have experience in interacting with the environment, problem solving and teamwork, and the creativity to conceptualise and construct an installation from raw materials.”
Each student will also complete a page in a daybook to document the project and provide commentary on the experience, which was a key part of the exercise. While the studio was not formally assessed, a number of daybook entries will be selected for inclusion in a small-run publication for the department.
Mr Barthelmeh says the exercise also provided an opportunity for the students to get to know their peers, including those studying at different levels.
“The day was as much about constructing installations as it was about the social aspect – seeing how students engage with the environment and each other,” says Mr. Barthelmeh.
“By mixing the year groups, local and international students, and changing the number of people in each group, we are able to see different dynamics emerge. This encouraged communication, engagement and collaboration, and has set the scene for the year to come.
“It is an exercise we absolutely hope to repeat in future years.”
The vertical studio is one of a number of SoLA initiatives planned for this year. The School of Landscape Architecture also welcomes Graham Bennett as the campus sculptor-in-residence for 2013.
Mr Bennett is an accomplished artist with more than 50 solo exhibitions, including ten in Japan. He is represented in collections internationally and has been the recipient of prestigious awards, residencies and commissions.
Previous sculptors to hold residencies at Lincoln University have contributed a number of notable installations to the campus, including Te Paepaetapu o Rakaihautu – stone column structures by Chris Booth.