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Kathryn Moore's ongoing research for the West Midlands National Park continues to gain support

Kathryn Moore’s radical proposal for the West Midlands National Park, based on 25 years research, applauded in the 2019 UK Government Review of Landscapes, is attracting considerable support nationally, from UN Agencies and regional institutions. Formally endorsed by the West Midlands Combined Authority in June 2020 and Birmingham City Council in October 2020. Her ongoing research is developing new insights into the connection between philosophy, theory and practice.

A member of the national HS2 Ltd Independent Design Panel she has unrivaled expertise in recognising the importance of good design in infrastructure projects. Immediate Past President of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) she is founding partner of the 2017 World Design Summit, the 2014 Arnold Weddle Visiting Chair, University of Sheffield and the 2008 Thomas Jefferson Visiting Chair, University Virginia, Charlottesville.

Moore has published extensively on design quality, theory, education and practice. Her book Overlooking the Visual: Demystifying the Art of Design (2010), providing the basis for critical, artistic discourse and practice, sets landscape at the heart of the design of the built environment and in recognition of the impact she is having on the nature of pedagogy, research and practice. She was celebrated by the LI in August 2019 as one of the most inspiring women landscape architects this century.

West Midlands National Park: Kathryn Moore, 2020

This exposition sets out evidence of the research undertaken over the last decade to understand the implications beyond the academy of the new paradigm presented in ‘Overlooking The Visual: Demystifying the Art of Design’ (2010), leading to ‘Towards New Research Methodologies in Design: Shifting Inquiry Away from the Unequivocal Towards the Ambiguous’ (2018) and the development of the 'West Midlands National Park', a vision to lead the transformation of the region over a 30 year period. The exposition shows the process of developing ‘The Art of Design’ at a regional scale through a number of sequential case studies. Requiring investigative and analytical drawing from a position of knowledge and the reimagining and re-presenting of places in order to rekindle and reinvent the connection between communities and the space they inhabit, recognising the pride people take in that space, its cultural identity, be it urban, suburban or rural, is very much a modern, contemporary view of how our landscapes work. The ideas expressed in the visual narratives have engaged a wide range of decision makers and are shifting perceptions, planning policy and practices at a local, national and international level. The student work exhibited in 2019 (BCU) explores the spatial implications of the ethos of the West Midlands National Park focusing on specific locations and is vital in persuading key regional and national stakeholders of the significance of this new approach. This predominantly visual exposition presents the transformative practice-based research process manifest as visual artefacts from philosophy to practice, interrogating the art of design.

Understanding the relationship between the canals, the river valleys, woodland remnants and the built environment.
Tame Valley Wetland Landscape Vision: Kathryn Moore, 2016

Author: Kathryn Jane Moore This exposition is in progress.

Using words and images referencing nature and culture, this research investigates the process and impact of creating spatial visions for ‘seeing the bigger picture’ in order to inform the transformation of regions. The researcher’s work explores radical mapping as an analytical and artistic tool, which has led to the development of a sequence of case-studies, exhibitions, richly illustrated presentations, publications, new policies, mentoring, student collaboration and an infrastructure of stakeholder engagement. Across this powerful and varied range of outcomes the research has situated a new cohesive and integrated landscape-led approach which transforms the physical materiality, ideas, memories and visions of the future in order to shape the experience we have of place as the social, physical and cultural context of our lives.

This research crosses professional and disciplinary boundaries using artistic, landscape and geographical expertise to re-evaluate the assumptions underlying practice-based research inquiry and the relationship between landscape and philosophy. It represents a significant shifting of methodology, away from the dominant scientific/social science paradigm, towards an approach that is deliberately more ambiguous and interpretative. The methods require an understanding of perception as intelligence and define landscape as the relationship a community has with its territory. The research thus seeks to address whether ideas can transform a region, and if so, how?

The research has led to an extraordinary number of high-profile outcomes spanning academic and public arenas. This includes peer reviewed papers, numerous exhibitions and developmental publications. In addition, it has informed the policy and ‘landscape-architecture’ thinking used by HS2 in the development of its pioneering West Midlands National Park, which underpins the West Midlands Combined Authority’s current sustainability agenda; directed long-term socioeconomic and environmental regeneration in the Black Country; and informed a UNESCO International declaration. Details of the research and publications are in the Research Catalogue exposition.

For further information about the West Midlands National Park please click here.


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