Our 2023 Bursary winners

This was a great year for quality and all of our judges were impressed, ending the day on a high and feeling inspired for the future of landscape architecture and urban design.

Announcing our five bursary award winners is an annual highlight.

This year, we set students a challenging brief to reimagine their university or college campus so that it was a more welcoming, inclusive and climate resilient place to be, with improved social and physical connections to the host town or city. We were delighted with the quality of the responses, which were reassuringly well thought through. 

Zeliang Lyu and Jie Su’s joint entry proposes an eco-corridor for Edinburgh Veterinary Practice. This resilient, green corridor, which features landscape installations and natural woodland planting, is designed to create new habitats for wildlife, bringing nature in close to benefit students and staff and creating an empathetic learning environment with breakout spaces for socialising or quiet study.

The designs also seek to inject a sense of fun into the campus, giving it a unique identity through inventive installations. A wildlife app would help to make learning in this environment for students interactive.

Zimu Chen from the University of Edinburgh presented ‘Breaking Barriers’, exploring ways to open up the university’s three campuses through ‘urban acupuncture’ and a blurring of the boundaries.

Zimu outlined some of the current physical, social and psychological barriers to the university, including inward-orientated academic buildings and featureless campus lawns. Zimu argues that tuition fees for non-Scottish students creates a socio-economic barrier, with the exclusivity of some university events adding to the sense of ‘town and gown’.

Zimu’s vision for inclusive change includes portable wooden structures that create temporary and longer-term meeting spaces, study areas and galleries where conversations can spark up and research and graduate shows can be displayed for all to see, drawing in local people.

(Amelia) Lâm transports us to the University of Architecture in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Ha points out that the post-Covid rise of online study means there are less opportunities for students to get together and share ideas. The spaces that are there for the students no longer have tables large enough to allow students to work and lunch together outside.

Hà wants to bring people back to a space near the university that no longer meets their needs by creating a ‘red thread’, a lively, comfortable and green connecting space. It is inspired by East Asian mythology and the Red Thread of Fate, an invisible cord that ties soulmates together, with red symbolising happiness. Hà’s new linear space is generously furnished with circular, movable tables and seating enabling flexible usage and different configurations.

Zeliang Lyu and Jie Su's vision nurtures empathy by connecting students to an ecologically richer landscape

Jin Wen Kee’s entry looks to create a therapeutic garden for students at University College London (UCL), in the heart of London. Like many city universities, the UCL campus is scattered across multiple streets. This presents challenges when trying to build a sense of shared identity and community, and when tackling serious issues such as isolation and loneliness.

The submission focuses on reimagining overlooked transition spaces to create sanctuary from the busy London streets. For example, the university’s lawn in front of the main entrance on Gower Street becomes a new therapeutic flowering garden with paths through making it more convenient to cross. The space between the main campus and the student centre is transformed into a Japanese-themed garden, offering respite and calm. A refresh for Malet Street creates new pocket breakout spaces with a green canopy providing shade and cooling.

And finally, in ‘Bricks to Break’, Chui Shan Tsang’s explores London’s long history with brick, which dates back to Roman times, and how recycled brick which speaks of the city could be used to create ‘living ruins’, integrated social spaces and gardens, clear wayfinding and new habitats. This entry plays with the idea of using the rigid to make inviting, fluid spaces; carving paths ‘brick by brick’ to create spaces for people to roam more freely.

Our winners are a mix of undergraduate and post-graduate students studying landscape architecture or urban design/architecture in the UK. They each have been awarded £1,000 and the chance to join one of our eight studios for paid work experience. Well done to them all. 

And a big thank you to all those who entered. Next time.

Lead image by Zimu Chen. 

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