Student’s interactive structures to highlight manufactured and natural landscapes

Image credit: Daniela Federer/University of Dundee

AN Italian student studying at the University of Dundee has built two structures at the Sma’Glen in the Highlands in a bid to encourage visitors to observe and question their surroundings.

Daniela Federer is behind the two wooden structures, named Micro and Macro, which she explained explore the contrast between natural and manufactured landscapes. It is hoped that it leads to people stopping to think about the land they are standing on, who owns it, and if that has had an impact on the way it looks.

The Macro structure is a large, raised shelter looking out to the mountain view, in a spot that ‘represents superficial observation’. Meanwhile, Micro frames a different experience, with the structure encouraging visitors to look down at the small details found in the landscape, as well as the plants and animals living in different ecosystems.

Daniela said, “In the last few years land reform in Scotland has been talked about a lot. Scotland has the most concentrated land ownership in Europe. In Scotland, just over 400 people own half of all privately owned land – it’s quite unusual for a modern country. I find it quite bizarre.

“I wanted to respond to this topic and as a design student I thought about a more creative way of looking at landownership. I want to promote discussion, rather than make a statement – but I do think it matters that people become aware of it.

“After living in Scotland for four years I have come to learn that the romanticised vision of Scotland I pictured in my head wasn’t the full reality; Scotland hasn’t been natural for a very long time. It is undeniable that the land was and continues to be shaped by the ones who own it. Some areas have been shaped heavily by humans over the past few hundred years. In reality, most of what you see has been ‘manufactured’ for a purpose.

“Why are some of the hills bare? Why aren’t there trees growing in spots they probably should? The closer you begin to develop a deeper appreciation of your surroundings, questioning what is around you, you become aware that much of what you see has been shaped by those who own it.”

During her time at the University, Daniela was part of the Rucksack club, a society who meet regularly to explore and experience the Scottish Highlands.

“I came here having never been before and looked at the landscapes and just thought it was very pretty,” she added.

“After going out to the hills in the Highlands almost every weekend, I did start looking at it more. I hope others do the same.”