Sheffield in Paris

Five days in the French capital saw second year undergraduates learning about the value of exploring landscapes in person. MLA Landscape Architecture student Habeebah Usman reflects on the experience.

MLA student Habeebah Usman in Paris
Habeebah Usman in Buttes Chaumont, Paris, presenting her research on the 19th century park

In early November, thirty undergraduates from the Department of Landscape Architecture spent one week in Paris, as part of the module Exploration of Contemporary Landscapes. In a packed programme, the group explored landscape projects around the city.

By visiting designs in-person, students had the opportunity to immerse themselves within spaces and experience the impact of design decisions.

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

Welcome back to Sheffield Habeebah! How did you find the Paris trip and how did it help develop your knowledge of Landscape Architecture?

“It was my first time visiting Paris, so I was really excited! I think my knowledge of Landscape Architecture was quite limited to the UK; although we learn about the histories of landscape in other countries, seeing it with your own eyes is a whole different experience. You can see how and why the Landscape Architect decided to do what they did.”

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

You were tasked with researching one project and presenting to your classmates. How was learning on site different to learning in the studio?

“Learning in the studio means you need to rely on the internet; you have to take the internet’s word for it and you never truly get a sense of what you’re researching. On site you get to experience it personally and gather your own research. You also get to see the types of users and speak to them if you want, which you can’t do online.”

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

The first day of the trip saw the group explore the parks and green spaces in the north of the city with Senior University Teacher Laurence Pattacini and Lecturer in Landscape Planning Pablo Navarrete Hernandez.

They visited contrasting designs, created between 19th - 21st Century, including Parc de La Villette, Parc Martin Luther King and the site of Habeebah’s own research, Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

What was it like visiting the site of your research?

“When we visited the park I researched, Buttes Chaumont, I was mesmerised; it was beautiful in the pictures but in person I couldn’t believe it was real. When I was doing my own exploring, I stumbled upon an area called Lamarck and it was the most picturesque place I visited - the hills and the views were amazing.”

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

Throughout the week students were tasked with exploring a topic of personal interest in more detail.

With free rein to focus on any element of Landscape Architecture that sparked their imaginations, students chose a vast range of topics, including colour identity, textures of Paris, seasonality and vertical greening.

Once back in Sheffield they created a poster to communicate their observations and findings.

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

Tell us a bit about your topic - how did you decide what to focus on?

“My topic revolves around the power of people and vegetation to reclaim the urban realm of Paris. When I was in Paris one thing that caught my eye was how much people used the landscape, but not necessarily for the purpose it was designed for."

"It was almost as if they were trying to reclaim spaces and make them their own. By talking about my idea with Laurence and Pablo, I was able to give it a clear objective."

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

Day two of the trip primarily took place in 21st century developments to the South of the city, including Parc de Billancourt, Ile Seguin and La Seine musical, where the group examined ideas surrounding water management, green roof maintenance and access to green space for new housing.

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

An early afternoon visit to the garden of the Musée du Quai Branly, designed by Gilles Clément, left plenty of free time to enjoy the iconic city centre in the Autumn sunshine.

Second year Landscape Architecture students in Paris

The final full day of explorations began with a three mile walk, along the tree-lined Canal Saint-Martin, from the group’s hostel in La Chapelle to the renowned Place de la Bastille.

With much of the canal covered in the mid-19th century to create wide boulevards and public spaces, the walk presented a perfect opportunity to explore what is known as 'green-blue infrastructure', as well as connections between different types of public spaces.

Walking Paris. For sound visit @landscapesheff on Instagram

Student posters communicating aspects of the landscape architecture of Paris

Check out more photos and videos from Paris @landscapesheff