Fieldwork: uncovering cultural landscapes

Catriona Cheyne

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


This paper will discuss three years of an undergraduate design studio at the University of Brighton, and how working continuously in the field has enabled students to gain a richer and more complex reading of the British landscape. Each year, the studio stationed itself somewhere in the British countryside – recent locales have been the Isle of Portland, Shoreham-by-Sea and the South Downs National Park. We journey away from our usual environment on multiple field trips for extended periods of time. Immediately developing beyond the observational into the propositional, we begin each project with each student making a gift to offer to the place or community that we visit. This gift is designed in response to the stories, memories, myths and folklore that are uncovered when initially researching the history of an area. They are given to people or left in landscapes to reveal change, collect data, unveil hidden stories, provoke conversations or start friendships. The studio returns periodically to retrieve and critique the findings and test new ideas through physical interventions, events and exhibitions. By being in residence the students are empowered to propose brave and incisive future scenarios. They are then more confident in developing these ideas into new rural architectural languages that still remain relevant to the existing communities. By setting up year long conversations with the local community we have shown that some of the project ideas can act as a catalyst to local regeneration that moves beyond the sentimental or nostalgic and understands the British Countryside as a culturally rich landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2nd Annual AAE Conference 2014 Living and Learning
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherUniversity of Sheffield
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780992970529
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2015
Event2nd Annual AAE Conference 2014 Living and Learning - The University of Sheffield, UK, 3-5 September 2014
Duration: 20 Feb 2015 → …


Conference2nd Annual AAE Conference 2014 Living and Learning
Period20/02/15 → …


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