IMS landscape consultancy
Simkins BSc, Dip LA, PCHE, PhD, FHEA, MI Hort, CMLI
Chartered Landscape Architect
|IMS landscape consultancy: research activity|
Current research: Leverhulme Trust funded project
The research is conducted by myself and Dr Alice Mathers and co-ordinated by Dr Kevin Thwaites. It offers new representational methods to investigate and express experiential dimensions of place. Its application has particular relevance for working with under-represented groups, which holds implications for their self esteem and empowerment.
This is based upon ongoing research into Experiential Landscape together with the doctoral work of Alice Mathers who worked with people with learning disabilities to give them a voice in the experience of public open spaces, and my doctoral research working in a similar perspective with primary school aged children.
The Leverhulme project is also developing upon other research undertaken in 2008 which examined the tram travel experiences of people with learning disabilities in Sheffield. The project provided a travel guide which has since been adopted by the tram operators for staff training. This research led to working with learning disability groups to reveal their experiences of bus travel in Sheffield. This project not only involved learning disability groups but also was supported by the involvement of travel operators, the City Council and other interested organisations.
Additional work has been undertaken at a North East primary school, at the request of the staff to examine potential improvements to the grounds of their foundation stage unit. Participation has been undertaken with the foundation stage children, teaching staff, support staff, and interested parents to understand their views in order to develop concepts for improvement, as well as acting as a potential for social cohesion and inclusive ownership of the resultant design.
PhD research: The development of the Insight method: a participatory approach for primary school children to reveal their place experiences.
Exploration and testing of methodologies has been ongoing since 1999 in a number of practice based case studies involving primary school children. As a result of refinement through a review of practice and literature a provisional framework of methodological tools was constructed for testing and developing in the participatory phases of the research. This involved the contribution of 68 participant children.
The primary output of the research was the development of a participatory framework called the Insight Method which consisted of a number of components. These were; its approach; the methodological constituents which were the tools of participatory practice; and its evaluative methods. The Insight Method can be used by researchers and practitioners of the built environment professions that would include Landscape Architects, Urban Designers and Planners and those involved in policy making. The Insight Method facilitates that the hidden views of children on the environments that they encounter on a daily basis are actively sought in appropriate ways, valued and understood as well as being incorporated in design and planning decisions. This is to ensure that the physical manifestation and experience of these environments which have a significant impact on children’s health, well being and development are child friendly, experientially rich, and provide not just settings but places that the children have been involved in creating and that sustain community life.
Research: Experiential Landscape
Experiential Landscape Place is an approach to urban landscape architecture which stresses the importance of place experience to the planning and design of fulfilling urban open space settings.
It is based on increasingly compelling evidence that quality of human life depends, in part, on there being a close bond of association between open space and human experience. Although this is known to be an important contributor to the psychological health of individuals and communities, it is not always given the same level of attention in the planning and design of urban landscape as, for example, technical, aesthetic or economic considerations.
This work developed into the current Experiential Landscape funded research project.
Design with People in Mind