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Elinor Scarth

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Biography

Elinor Scarth is a landscape architect and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. With over ten years experience working in an international context with renowned landscape and architecture practices, Elinor has managed a wide ranging portfolio of projects from private gardens and public spaces, to the design of a 60 hectare park including 10 hectares of intertidal mangrove. Elinor has led multidisciplinary design projects in europe and the near and middle east.

Elinor’s approach to research is enriched by a ‘making with’ approach to landscape architecture design; conscientious of the processes that form and perpetually transform landscapes, Elinor aspires to develop work that allows us to observe, understand, and question the landscapes we inhabit. She considers landscape architecture to be as much about creating the conditions for transformation as the need for a masterplan; this perspective does not overlook the necessity for design, drawing, and blueprints. The activation of a landscape through the invitation to physical exploration and the staging of landscapes through performances or socially engaged interactive experiences are instrumental to her investigation process. In addition to her work at the Edinburgh College of Art she has led design studios at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Paysage and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture in Marseille, taught on the European Masters in Landscape Architecture (EMiLA) programme and co-organized the EMiLA summer school in 2015.

Elinor has a sustained interest in coastal landscapes and performative fieldwork methods. Her 2006 work navigating the edge explored through an embodied physical performance the coast of the Firth of Forth from both a waterborne and landbased perspective as described in the forthcoming Fieldwork in Landscape Architecture, Methods Actions Tools (Taylor & Francis). An interest in thinking through making permeates both her teaching, practice and research and her exploration of the design process has been investigated through collaborative projects such as the L’Abeille Noire de Pourquerolles at the Land Art Festival «au coeur des Méditerranées», Domaine du Rayol in France, Champs de biere at the ‘Ville et Champs’ Festival in Geneva, and the Tunisian Playground Sculptures co-design project in El Guettar, in collaboration with the «Association Tunisienne pour l’Art Environnemental». In her work the elaboration of fictional or real scenarios often becomes the mechanism for opening up an imaginary that informs design practice commissions, installations, in-situ workshops, and exhibitions.

With a particular interest in the element of water she is drawn to projects situated in coastal conditions: recent research and design projects include studies for a 35ha lagoon and wadi park in El-Aaiún, and a forest park network for a 1,300ha future urban development site near El Jadida, both located in Morocco. In 2017 Elinor co-organized an active reconnaissance of the North Coast 500 tourist route in the Scottish Highlands; 20 participants from across Europe critically explored the life of the road through art, design, and architecture. She recently co-led with Anaïs Chanon a postgraduate design studio project exploring the impact and future of the north coast landscapes of Scotland: The journey north, actants and assemblages of a north sea coast. The studio focused design enquiry upon examining the paradoxes, problematics, and potentials present in the landscapes of the north of Scotland. The studio seeks to question the notion of the roadtrip, the concept of wilderness, the prevailing enchantment of the picturesque and the legacy of 18th Century aesthetics in landscape architecture.

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