MLA1 Exhibition insights

In the last post we brought you the highlights from this year's incredible exhibition. In this post, we aim to give you an insight into the work produced by our conversion students and show the diversity and creativity generated by the newcomers to the field of Landscape Architecture.

The students were tasked with developing urban design proposals for a derelict area on the periphery of Lancaster city centre. The area contains a large number of historic buildings and temporary car parking, resulting from the clearance of terraced housing. Students were challenged with recording and understanding the existing peri-urban condition and proposing urban design strategies at a range of scales, which will imaginatively address the need for a new Arts and Culture Quarter to reconnect this site in to the city centre.

Beth Houston

Beth has a degree in Fine Art and had a career in teaching in Further Education before deciding on a career change. She has two children and is currently on a work placement at CW Studio in Manchester.

Read Beth's biog here.


This piece of work is an exploration of the 4th dimension within landscape, the concept of a spatial dimension that is considerate of time. The materiality of Landscape helps to communicate its past and origins, and the structure communicates movement. When designing the square I was interested in preservation of the past, movement hierarchy and community colonisation. This piece maps out motion paths through Community Square, Lancaster.

I identified 3 character motion paths within this area, each serving a different purpose. These paths were: peripheral movement, the main thorough fare and community interaction. The patterns created within each character path were determined by the engagement and connection between people and space, and are reflective of the time spent within the environment. The thoroughfare is straight and direct, in constant motion. The peripheral movement becomes more angular with diversions as we engage with street furniture and navigational options. The community interaction begins to create shapes as people mill about and circulate around market stalls and street furniture, spending more time within a space.

Much of my thinking within the design process was influenced by the theories of Halprin and his pursuit to design public space based on how it is utilised. Also the principles of Gordon Cullen: his observations of streetscape and it’s influence upon our choices of motion as we navigate around spaces. Finally, Lynch and his studies into the impact of navigation on our psyche.

The dialogue between the landscape and the public is poignant. I feel it has to be fully understood before a successful design can be built. The materiality of local stone, and historic function of Lancaster played a significant role in my design decisions. Preservation of local vernacular helped to embed my design into the surrounding townscape and allowed for what I hope is a sustainable outcome.

Beth Houston's MLA1 Exhibition Showreel

Mohammed Saad Sait

Saad came to Manchester to study Landscape Architecture after completing his degree in Civil Engineering in India. He is currently on a student placement at Capita in Bolton.

See Saad's biog here.


My design strategy focuses on producing a pedestrian-friendly urban centre with a public open space in it. I have used the concepts of visual connections and mental mind mapping to break the existing hard boundaries and create the possibility of multi-disciplinary space.

I believe that public realm spaces are more crucial than buildings and individual artefacts: I intentionally created the outdoor space, rather than it simply being the space left out between buildings. I aimed to craft the design to a proper urban scale with clear appreciation of urban grain and built form; with streets, squares, footpaths, park, open spaces and canal side that are visually, functionally and psychologically connected.

By focusing on the human scale I was able to create buildings lines that re-establish and define streets and squares. The shopping streets and markets create active and attractive pedestrian street frontages, with the integrity to human scale maintained throughout.

My design concept centres around philosophy that the uses of, and the activities that take place in, the various spaces are more important than buildings to the life of the city. Greater diversity of function has been added to create a more liveable city, ultimately resulting in rich and varied character environments around the site.

Saad created a flythrough for his exhibition, you can view it here.

Saad Sait’s MLA1 Exhibition Showreel

Oliver Kingshott

Oliver came to study the MLA conversion course after gaining experience on the design and install of childrens' play park projects, both at his own business and for other firms. He is currently completing a placement at a Landscape Architect Practice in Liverpool.

View Oliver's biog here.


My design approach was to extract and explore aspects of the sites historical uses, the connections with the surrounding context both physical and visual, and then to combine them to form a new community which functions as a self-contained live in/ work habitat which enriches the wider city through its diversity and functionality.

The design offers space for residents to grow food together in community gardens, shop and have fun in cafes and bars etc, work in start up / incubation spaces for small businesses, craftspeople and makers and is charged with vegetation, tying the site together into the canal corridor that runs past it. This breathes a new life into the site, refreshing the post-industrial nature and revitalising the space into a more positive habitat for the community to flourish, grow and reenergise Lancaster’s growth into a forward thinking, green city.

I particularly enjoyed the interplay between the spatial planning aspect of the design and the design of the spaces that needed to function for the people and place.

Find my portfolio and exhibition book here:

Oliver Kingshott’s MLA1 Exhibition Showreel


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