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West Midlands National Park Lab

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36 month fully funded PhD Studentship

West Midlands Landscape and Infrastructure: data, communication and decision-making.

The research aims to set out a new idea of landscape as the governance mechanism through which a diverse and complex region can be brought together, exploring the principles of a regionally based connection to the culture and materiality of the land as a lens through which both established and entrepreneurial mechanisms can thrive. It explores how digital communication tools can best be used to convey the complexity of data and concepts.

Follow this link to find out more and to submit an application – closing date 30th April 2024.

Global influence extends

The global reputation of the West Midlands National Park Lab continues to extend with director, Kathryn Moore in Bhopal this week at the invitation of the Indian Society of Landscape Architects, as a keynote speaker for their 15th Conference, “Landscapes of Coexistence”. Responding to multiple international partnership requests, we were delighted to contribute to the conference theme of emphasising the fundamental role of sustainable development in maintaining the health, productivity, and stability of biodiversity for all. 

Kathryn said: “This was one of the best conferences I have ever been to. It was an absolute pleasure to meet so many inspiring people and establish new partnerships and friends.”

International Accolade

Awarded a ‘Special Mention’ by judges, the WMNP becomes only the second United Kingdom winner in the history of the competition. It is also the first and only Rosa Barba winner based on a new concept of landscape, a new strategy and a new approach for regional transformation rather than a built project. Championed by the Architects Association Catalonia and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · Barcelona Tech (UPC), the Rosa Barba Prize recognises the best and most innovative practices in landscape architecture worldwide.

Professor Kathryn Moore, Director of the West Midlands National Park project, said: “Disrupting the traditional view of landscape, this properly integrated approach is delivering impact where it matters – at scale and across sectors, providing answers, identity and hope for the future. I want to thank the Rosa Barba Biennial for their recognition and for the significant shift this win represents, understanding value of ideas and visioning as agents of change.”

WMNP Lab receive British Academy funding

A partnership between the West Midlands National Park Lab and Library of Birmingham archive, this project is framed around Birmingham’s locally iconic Number 11 bus route – a 26 mile circuit around the city’s diverse landscape and communities. Working with local historian Carl Chinn, Stan’s Café theatre company, the bus operator and transport authority, the project aims to help residents discover a new sense of pride, belonging and curiosity in the often-hidden landscape of their city. This grant from the British Academy will enable us to produce an exhibition of artefacts, narratives and street portraiture associated with the number 11 route to illustrate how landscape shapes cultural identities, forms the bedrock of society and the infrastructure upon which we depend for everything. Further details here

WMNP finalist in the Rosa Barba Casanovas International Landscape Architecture Prize.

As a Rosa Barba finalist, the WMNP Lab has been recognised as one of the best and most innovative practices in landscape architecture worldwide. The WMNP project will be exhibited at the 12th Barcelona International Landscape Biennial Symposium from 24-28 November, published in the Biennial catalogue and included in its online archive.

WMNP Lab Director, Prof Kathryn Moore said: “This is a great honour. It is brilliant to receive such prestigious, international acclaim for a new way of looking at landscape, following closely on the approval of UN Habitat to host an Urban Thinkers Campus in the region in the summer of 2024”.

Mapping the Tame Valley

Research by the WMNP Lab was showcased at the BCU annual degree show as part of a wider exhibition demonstrating work undertaken by the University’s faculty of Art Design and Media.

Our research examined the availability of data and its role in enabling insightful analysis of spatial relationships and landscape vision at scale. Whilst plenty of data is available in forms that can be investigated, we noted that recent trends in web-based embedded interactive maps make analysis at scale difficult.

As part of our recommendations, we have called for greater clarity and transparency in open-source data availability, and for further research into the use of large-scale analogue maps as tools of stakeholder engagement.

WMNP/Student Collaborative Research Showcased

Two projects showcasing the best of collaborative approaches between the West Midlands National Park and BCU students were selected for a recent exhibition.

The first, an in-depth project undertaken by Landscape Architecture MA students used innovative conceptual design processes to explore how United Nations Sustainable Development Goals could be harnessed to make the most of Birmingham’s recent announcement to redevelop the city centre.

The second project selected was a new collaboration between students from architecture, landscape architecture, interior architecture and design for living courses. Students from across the disciplines re-imagined Birmingham’s iconic number 11 (Outer Circle) bus route as celebration of the city’s landscape. Proposals included the re-foresting of Birmingham inspired by the ancient Forest of Arden, a culinary tour of the world visiting the dozens of cultures situated across the city, and Virtual and Augmented Reality tour that brings the history and culture of Birmingham alive as passengers travel around the route.

Top-Deck Landscape Tour

The West Midlands National Park Lab accompanied a group of Birmingham City University students ton a top-deck landscape tour tracing Birmingham’s famous number 11 Outer Circle route with social historian Carl Chinn. The study of the city is part of the School of Architecture and Landscape’s Collaborative Laboratory project that brings students from different design disciplines to work together.

Kathryn Moore said: “It’s an incredible way to kickstart the whole project, especially as not many of the students will have been all the way around on the 11 before and may not have seen all of Birmingham yet. Birmingham’s three rivers, the Cole, Tame and Rea, along with many of its brooks and tributaries, featured in the tour. Social historian Prof. Carl Chinn MBE Chinn said: “It’s important for students both from inside and outside Birmingham to see the city as it is. The number 11 is what us Brummies would call the Outer Circle, as the route encompasses nearly 27 miles of Birmingham’s landscapes, history, and peoples.” The number 11 bus route has played an essential role in the social and cultural fabric of the city since being established in 1923. Recognised as one of the longest urban bus routes in Europe, the 11 bus and its route has been immortalised in song and dance and documented in books and prose. 

West Midlands National Park

2022 International Lecture

Watch world-renowned landscape architect KongJian Yu give this year’s International Lecture on Sponge Cities – a holistic, nature-based solution to protects and restore ecological infrastructure and make wise use of nature’s services for the benefit of the planet and the welfare of people.

West Midlands National Park

2022 Awards announced

Twelve projects have been chosen as winners of the 2022 West Midlands National Park Awards, as outstanding examples of reimagining landscapes. Eleven winners based in the West Midlands are joined by the first International WMNP Award winner from Bangladesh.

West Midlands National Park

2021 International Lecture

Prof Martha Schwartz, Harvard University Graduate School of Design presents SEQUESTROPLIS: Cities as Machines – creating Urban Forests to tackle the climate emergency.

Turning roads into linear forests by planting 300 trees in every six parking spaces has the potential to transform cities, capturing carbon, cleaning the air that we breathe, cooling our cities and drastically improving our quality of life.

West Midlands National Park

2021 Awards announced

Judged by an international jury, the inaugural winners demonstrate excellence in the way their submissions align with the WMNP ethos to create integrated approaches to the development, transformation and management of our physical and cultural resources. This is not about rewarding business as usual, but proposals that are influencing change, catalysing action and informing debate and that have flair, potential, and the ability to make a difference.

West Midlands Combined Authority

Presenting the West Midlands National Park to the WMCA Environment and Energy Board, October 2020.

Professor Kathryn Moore gave a presentation of the National Park for the West Midlands to the West Midlands Combined Authority Environment and Energy Board, highlighting the importance and need for the project.

West Midlands National Park

2019 SATURN Conference

The SATURN project comprises partners from Birmingham (UK), Trento (Italy) and Gothenburg (Sweden).

Launching the SATURN project, the overall aim of this
event is to help put quality of life, health, well-being
and climate change front and centre of the political
agenda as an economically resilient proposition for
future generations, delivering greater social and spatial
democracy and quality of life.

LAUNCH Event for the West Midlands National Park 2018

The West Midlands National Park was launched at BCU’s Landscape & Infrastructure conference and exhibition in 2018. Expert speakers from around the world set this project in its international context, anchoring it in political, academic, economic and cultural spheres as a vision to transform a region.