Laura Parsons

“In Sweden, there is a strong focus on the natural environment and its role in health and society.”

While studying BA Landscape Architecture at Manchester Metropolitan University, Laura Parsons spent five months at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science in Alnarp on an ERASMUS exchange. This fuelled her passion for European landscape architecture and she is now studying a two-year MA programme at Copenhagen University.

Laura ParsonsI became interested in landscape architecture, initially, because it combines my passion for design and the environment. Since studying abroad, I have become increasingly aware of the social perspective. The experience has enabled me to compare my home environment with international models and, at times, question British concepts.

In Sweden, there is a strong focus on the natural environment and its role in health and society. Legislation stipulates that everyone has access to nature in accordance with ‘allemansrätten’.

With this ‘right to roam’ comes a sense of ownership and respect for the landscape, and this environmental responsibility spreads across the Nordic countries. In Copenhagen, it is apparent as landscape practices push for innovative and sustainable design.

As well as giving me a different perspective, studying abroad has highlighted the pertinence of being able to communicate effectively in classes of mixed nationalities and specialities. On a broader spectrum, being able to articulate your ideas convincingly and clearly to those outside the profession is even more key, and could be what sets us apart from other built-environment disciplines.

One of the biggest challenges that our profession faces at the moment is justifying its own value, however, I also see this as an opportunity for our generation to seize and define.