The thesis is a manual for designing school grounds in crisis and development areas. It has been produced in collaboration with Finn Church Aid. The award criteria state that the thesis is based on a touching issue, its approach is humanitarian, and it has been prepared with dedication. It widens the scope of landscape architecture in an international context. The manual is easy to read and the illustrations are clear. It expresses explicitly the communal significance of school grounds in terms of environmental education and the application of sustainable action in disaster conditions.
Dedication to combine humanitarian work and landscape architecture
“Reasons for choosing this topic lie in my personal interest in humanitarian work and the possibilities of landscape architecture in that field. I did not want to work entirely on my own and started the long process of searching for a suitable ”partner”. Coincidence and good luck also played a role in this process, as, after numerous contacts and meetings, I finally found the Finn Church Aid architect responsible for the construction of schools, and the topic excited him,” Jenny Asanti says.
Inadequate guidelines regarding the outdoor spaces of schools
“Two significant themes arose during my research. The first issue, and this also surprised me, was that guidelines and minimum standards governing school grounds are highly inadequate, almost non-existent. The planning and construction of school buildings is governed by numerous standards, manuals and guidelines, with several documents published every year. Attention is paid to making buildings disaster-proof, safe and, more and more often, comfortable, but the outdoor spaces are ignored. In terms of school grounds, the situation is clearly bad, even disheartening, which is why it should be addressed. There is a need and demand for this, enough for much more than one thesis,” says Jenny.
“The second issue was the important role of schools in the community. The school is the ideal place for reaching the whole community and an effective channel for providing information and skills. The information and practical experiences provided for children at school regarding topics such as vegetation or rain water management will be passed on to their parents and eventually to the whole community. This is why the school yard should not only be a safe and comfortable place for play but also a learning environment,” Jenny continues.
Motivated by a useful and interesting topic
“I found this compelling topic very rewarding. It has been great to work on a project that has kept me excited even during the long hours at night. The work also proved more and more necessary, the more involved I got,” says Jenny.
“Naturally, the biggest challenge was to try and keep the project under control. The topic is wide-ranging and challenging, and relevant information is scarce. It was also challenging to handle the issue at a level that is concrete enough, but also general enough, in order to produce design principles that would apply to as many different sites and projects as possible.”
Raising awareness is best
“Of course, receiving recognition like this feels good after so much hard work, but raising awareness is what makes me happiest. I believe that I received recognition because of the topic I chose. My thesis opens new opportunities and proves that landscape architecture has plenty to give in this field, too. The stipend has brought attention to my thesis and I hope the issue will finally start to attract more attention,” Jenny says with a smile.
Lappset Group awards a stipend every year to the best thesis in landscape architecture.