Home > Trust Activities > Grants/Awards

The Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust promotes the study of living society
in its environment, according to the principles and practice of Professor
Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932). He was one of the first biologists to
stress the prime importance of habitat in what would now be called
ecology, using a method of survey and synthesis developed in Scotland,
France, the Near East and India and based on the principle of

The Sir Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust Awards Scheme

2012 Awards || 2012 Awards Introduction

Previous Awards: 2010/11 Awards || 2009/10 Awards || 2008/9 Awards


Results of the Sir Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust Awards Scheme for 2012

On 4 September 2012, as part of the Scottish Government's Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning, Mr Colin Haylock, President of the RTPI UK, presented certificates to winners of awards in the Sir Patrick Geddes student awards' scheme.

Four awards were made this year and Trustees attending the awards' ceremony were delighted to meet and congratulate those students who were able to attend the ceremony held for the first time in Glasgow at the Lighthouse.

The Category 1 award went to Catriona Macdonald of the School of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde. Her dissertation entitled "Aig An Airigh:People and Place" recorded beautifully the history and present practice of the summer Shieling in Lewis. In so doing it illustrated the close interaction between man and his environment and how it was changing over time. The judges liked the subject, its presentation and the way Catriona captured the importance of the shieling as part of the cultural history of the Outer Hebrides which ought to be conserved in a variety of ways.

In Category 2a the judges awarded the prize to Vanessa Jones of the Department of Geography, School of Geosciences, at the University of Edinburgh for her dissertation entitled "One Place, Many Stories" a neighbourhood's response to the Calthorpe Project. It considered people's engagement with a community garden project in London's King's Cross and how they appropriated and used it in a multiplicity of ways. It also showed how the garden's role was contested and reconstructed by its users reflecting an evolving and complex social interaction between different groups. The judges considered it an insightful study of an urban space seeking to accommodate diverse interests.

In Category 2b Scott Abercrombie of the School of Architecture, at the University of Strathclyde is the first student to achieve an award two years in a row. His M.Arch in Advanced Architectural Design with the intriguing title "Macro algae and the micro community:utilising Scotland's natural resources to generate sustainable economies" was an ambitious project that investigated the history of the seaweed industry in Scotland and how it might be revived. Recognising the potential of algae and ways in which it might now be developed, he analysed the opportunities that could be pursued in Scotland and then presented a series of detailed proposals in selected locations on the west coast where the industry might be established. The judges were impressed with the comprehensive nature of this work and welcomed the willingness to re-explore Scotland's natural resources in the light of potential new uses for seaweed in modern industry linked in scale to the communities on the west coast of Scotland.

Emma Watson of the School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University was awarded the Category 3 prize for the best first year student. The examples of work submitted proposed a sustainable building that would provide an exhibition space with scope for interactive learningand advice on ways to promote sustainable building and living. In the second piece of work on a design brief for an eco-community, the judges felt that Emma had demonstrated a good grasp of the many ways in which planning could help deliver sustainability and the need for detailed and inter-related examination of many issues in securing sustainable development.

The Trustees are pleased with the continuing level of interest in their awards' scheme and are most grateful to those universities that submitted entries this year. The work received varied from the regional to the local scale and was of a particularly high standard. It is most gratifying to note that many of them resonate well with Patrick Geddes thinking and approach.

The Trust's thanks go to the Scottish Government yet again for their continuing kind support in letting us join their national awards' ceremony.

Abstracts of each student's work is set out below.

Catriona Macdonald

Air An Airigh: People and Place aims to chronicle the tradition of annual migration to the moors; research the reasons for the decline in the practice of transhumance in the area and investigate what the shieling villages of Cuidhsiadar and Filiscleitir mean to people now.

The deserted moorland villages of Cuidhsiadar and Filiscleitir remain as crumbling monuments to the lives of generations past. Using only the materials they could scavenge from the surrounding area and driftwood collected from the nearby shore the local people used their skills passed down from their forefathers, to construct these dwellings to provide shelter for their annual exodus to the moors to graze their cattle and make butter and cheese for the coming long, harsh winter.

The culture of annual migration to the shielings was practised throughout the Outer Hebrides until the Second World War (Miller 1967). From "Glanadh a' Bhaile" or "Clearing the village", in early May when women and children would direct their animals across the moors to their summertime abode, until "Oidhche na hlomraich", or "Night of the Flitting" in September, when they could pack their belongings once more and head back to their crofts on the west coast, the entire three months of summer were spent on the moor. But on the isle of Lewis, despite the necessity of transhumance having been long negated, there remain a stalwart few who still keep the tradition alive by using these humble dwellings as weekend escapes or bases for peat cutting (Miller).

There seems to be a sense of romanticism surrounding the shielings amongst the current generation. This is surprising considering the levels of social and economic deprivation in the area until the mid twentieth century (Campbell 2011). Despite this hardship, many have fond memories and a sense of nostalgia as they recall the summers spent out on the moorlands. The shielings themselves are now a little known part of the history and culture of the north of Lewis. But, there are a few who are attempting to record and illustrate the shielings in order to preserve better both the physical characteristics and essence of the buildings.


Vanessa Jones

One Place, many Stories : A Neighbourhood's response to the Calthorpe Project.

This paper examines peoples' engagements with a place - the Calthorpe Project, a community garden in London's King's Cross. It explores how a diverse public appropriate and use the garden in different ways, and identifies how the garden comes to be a representational space for different social groups. Research involved volunteering at the Project for a number of months and using the method of participant observation to fully capture the goings-on in the garden and identify a relationship between the garden's physical design and users' social practices. Moreover, the stylistic method of ethnofiction was used to embed the reader in the rich context of the garden.

This research therefore demonstrates how one site can reflect a multiplicity of place, whereby the garden's value as a collective and communal claim to urban space, is contested and reconstructed by its various users. As such, this paper also investigates how notions of "community" and "public space" are reproduced and/or resisted in this setting, as part of the project's complex social structure. This study subsequently focuses on how popularised understandings of "public space", "community"and "community gardens" match the reality of the Calthorpe Project and how the garden operates as a place for living with difference.


Scott Abercrombie

Macro Algae and the Micro Community : Utilising Scotland's natural resources to generate sustainable rural communities.

This has been undertaken in response to the industrial decline of the seaweed utilisation in Scotland in order to develop a methodology through which this sector can be re-ignited and stabilised. The establishment of a commercial biofuel sector answers Scotland's current requirement for a sustainable transport fuel to complement its flourishing renewables sector, whilst responding to pre-existing global concerns over the environmental and social impacts of first-generated biofuels and the expansion of industrial agriculture.

The potential of the co-products resulting from the biofuel production process will also be analysed with particular attention being given to their ability t reduce Scotland's dependence on diminishing hydrocarbon fuel and its derivatives.

Exploring historical precedents will unveil the issues that have caused the downfall of three major algae industries that have preceded the impending biofuel era. Through the exposure of these flaws policies will be put in place to assuage fears of the industry suffering a short lifespan.

The exploration of contemporary algal research and its considerable success provides the impetus for moving forward with this project and offers an insight into the potential mass markets of the future.

The document concludes that a number of investigations are required to further establish the commercial and environmental possibilities of establishing such a venture and recommends design proposals for three building typologies be investigated alongside Crown Estate surveys of the existing resource and its annual sustainable yield and field testing of mariculture to develop an economic cultivation method.


Emma Watson

The first example of work was part of an integrative project which all professional disciplines in the School of the Built Environment are required to take. It comprised a piece of group work which examined a sustainable building that would provide exhibitions and interactive learning methods to promote sustainable building and living techniques (REED) The second piece of work, prepared in conjunction with a Construction Management student, was a comprehensive design brief for an eco-community.