Rethinking Repton

Design undergraduates at Writtle University College are collaborating with RHS Libraries on an exhibition celebrating the work of influential 18th Century landscape designer Humphry Repton. The students have freshly interpreted his presentation ideas for their final year dissertation projects and their work will be exhibited in ‘Rethinking Repton – Looking to the Past to Design for the Future’ at RHS Lindley Library, London, from 3 May to 22 June 2018.
2018 is the bicentennial anniversary of the death of Repton (1752-1818). He was a self-proclaimed successor to Capability Brown and set out proposals for around 400 landscapes. He helped to establish the more intricate and formal styles that became a feature of the 19th Century garden and developed a new way of presenting his ideas to clients, using paper flaps to show ‘before’ and ‘after’ views in personalised books, known as ‘Red Books’ after their distinctive bindings.
Vanessa Moore, Exhibition and Events Coordinator for RHS Libraries, said: “The students explored Repton’s thoughts through his own words (through original works at the RHS Lindley Library) and through the landscape (with curated tours at RHS Hyde Hall, Chelmsford). They studied his ideas on boundaries and views, the picturesque, accessibility, and on working with, and presenting to, clients. Writtle’s students will be the garden designers and landscape architects of the future. With community as clients and sustainability at the heart of public projects, they have taken Repton’s approaches and pushed them further. The developing work we have seen so far has been fascinating and we’re looking forward to displaying their final project designs, each presented through the student’s own take on Repton’s famous ‘before and after’.”The students picked their own public space to re-design for their dissertation projects, with sites including Maldon’s post-industrial riverfront, Grenfell Tower in London, and Bukit Kiara Federal Park in Kuala Lumpur. Among the students producing work are Michael Ekers and Adam Newson.
Steve Terry, Senior Lecturer in Design at Writtle University College, said: “For the students, this project has enabled them to gain more exposure for the professional high standard and creativity of their dissertations. There are common themes in how Repton engaged with his clients and the landscape that continue today. However, the students have many more techniques and media at their disposal, as well as traditional hand-drawing, to represent their designs, including digital visualisation, and film.”
View the students’ dissertations at the Design Degree Show 2018, with public opening Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 May, 11am -5pm.

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