Year Out Refelections

Working at Planit-IE during our year out couldn’t have provided us with a better insight into the landscape profession. We have both had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects throughout the year; ranging from parks and large public spaces, to streets and garden design.

The time we have spent at the practice has helped us develop valuable skills and knowledge in all areas of the design process – from inception to completion – that we can take through to our Masters degrees. Our ability to design and vocalise our opinions on design matters have certainly increased. We have come to understand design and access statements and grasp the lifecycles of projects. We have attended meetings, presentations and public consultations throughout the project stages.

Working in such a creative environment has helped us both to progress our graphic and communication skills as well as the use of multiple design software programmes. This includes Vectorworks, of which neither of us had any prior experience and can now utilise when we return to university.

Cesca – Attending a Client presentation for a design competition was definitely a highlight of the year as it gave me the opportunity to see how drawings produced in the office are then presented to others. It was interesting to join with the Architects to jointly present architecture and landscape proposals together as a team. Another scheme which gave me invaluable experience was Circle Square, the redevelopment of the former BBC site on Oxford Road, Manchester. Being part of such a large project, that has already started on site, gave me a much deeper appreciation of the variety and depth of information required for a live job. It also helped develop my understanding of levels and construction details, which are a skill I was very keen to improve during my time at Planit.

Emma – A few key projects have provided particularly valuable experience. Writing the HLF bid for Rochdale Town Hall gave a great insight into setting the expectations of a brief and a heritage site. Attending the Public Consultation for a major, and long overdue regeneration project in the heart of the City exposed me to the collaborative nature of public space for the community and gave me experience in explaining schemes to people outside of the profession. Working on Preston Bus Station I gained detail and construction skills, and a better understanding of the physical elements through a construction site visit. Lastly working on RHS Tatton is broadening my plant knowledge and experience, incorporating exciting new concepts.

Planit has a very collaborative culture, with continuous support and training from colleagues. In comparison to fellow students undertaking their year out, we have both experienced a continuous stream of comments about how fun our office sounds. This is because we have been lucky enough to be surrounded by people we can call friends, not just colleagues. The studio is full of enthusiastic, passionate and creative people; which has created a great environment to work in.

Along with a passion for landscape and urban design, there also seems to be a shared passion for food; starting as ‘treat Friday’ but gradually extending over the whole week. With any excuse to have group lunches and sweet treats, there is never a shortage of social events. Shrove Tuesday resulted in a mass pancake production line, with a huge selection of toppings for all to enjoy. Burns night treated us to haggis and tatties for lunch, and a recent creative day included local makers and creators teaching us to thrown pottery. We have also made the most of the office location in the beautiful town of Altrincham by regularly going to the much-loved market for Friday drinks.

We both agree that we couldn’t have chosen a better company to spend our year out with and, although it will be sad to leave Planit, it has given us both the momentum and inspiration for our future landscape careers.

Written by Francesca Boldy and Emma Thompson, Landscape Year Out Students.