Laura Parsons is an undergraduate of MMU and after completing her MSc in Landscape Architecture + Urban Design at Copenhagen University, she decided to remain in Denmark and has worked in a number of offices, including SLA, before setting up her own practice.
In the first part of her lecture she discussed the relationship of humans in nature and how we can learn from the cohabitation of biocentric systems and culture. She used Tasinge Plads, Copenhagen’s first climate change-adapted urban space as an illustration of this relationship. The site is a green oasis of 1000 metres sq, which both handles large volumes of rainwater and creates a place for the neighbourhood’s residents to meet.
She went on to illustrate this theme at a larger scale via the Nordhaven community of three circular manmade islands on the coast, that will in the future cater for learning, watersports and events, as well as hosting a new vegetation environment. The unique and "rugged" nature of the Nordhavn Islands is designed to differentiate the development from other water activities. The islands will be surrounded by free-growing aquatic vegetation that will contribute to this, but that will also provide a habitat for wildlife and act as a "natural safety zone" for young children in the event that they should fall in.
Naturbydelen Ringkøbing is a proposal, developed by a team of which Laura was a member, for a new city extension in the middle of nature, which attempts to create a “culture of nature”, encouraging maximum sustainability.
In the second part Laura focused on her own work as a sole practitioner. Visiting the rugged coastline of a National Park in South Sweden led to a commission to develop and brand the park, making it more accessible to the public, whilst at innate levels of interaction enhanced the nature/culture relationship.
As with many young practitioners, she shares a co-working space with a number of designers from different disciplines, which has helped her promote the extensive value of Landscape Architecture and to incorporate design thinking from a range of different subject areas within her practice.
To end Laura reviewed some of the work completed on the Norwegian Tourist Routes, which although enhancing the “captured view” and on the face of it supporting the nature/culture dialogue, could also be viewed (by this author) as a form of parasitic intrusion.
A tremendous number of ideas and thought provoking examples were packed in to a tightly choreographed presentation. Judging by the questions in the following 40 minutes, there were numerous ideas that students and guests wished to debate further. Many of these were centred on “How can we study/work in Denmark;” a fitting conclusion to an exceptional lecture.