University of Melbourne graduate Hilary Hoggett’s concept that explores melancholy landscapes and designing spaces for grief has won the 2021 Hassell Travelling Scholarship – Robin Edmond Award. Hoggett was among 23 students nominated by the eight participating Australian universities for the scholarship this year.

Her winning proposal titled ‘Reorienting the Void’ explored the importance of melancholy landscapes using Fawkner Memorial Park in Melbourne as a case study. When creating spaces for grief and contemplation, landscape architecture could be an important element in achieving a culturally appropriate and respectful design response.

Hoggett’s proposal underlined the necessity of places such as cemeteries and memorials where people could experience and express a breadth of emotions, enhance the human experience and create a sense of belonging, especially within marginalised communities.

Hoggett believes this opportunity would help inform her professional interest in building resilience in communities and landscapes that have been impacted by natural disasters, pandemics and climate change.

“Learning to design with respect and sensitivity to the trauma suffered by communities, whilst simultaneously allowing for places to explore grief and loss, thereby acknowledging these as legitimate emotions to feel in public spaces, would both enrich my practice and be valuable to the broader design profession,” she said.

Hassell head of design, Angus Bruce observed that Hoggett’s concept was provoking and highly engaging as it addressed often disregarded social imbalances.

“Hilary's outstanding work explores the social imbalances and prejudices that exist even after death, where burial of immigrants within Australian Anglo-Christian dominated cemeteries have been pushed to the leftover edges and voids, spaces where the original formal design breaks down,” Bruce said.

“Through her work, Hilary looked to reorient this periphery, drawing on the ideas of melancholy and cultural diversity to introduce an alternative spatial and symbolic experience that re-frames the marginal,” he said.

Hoggett’s travel plans have been deferred until the current global travel restrictions on account of the pandemic are lifted to enable safe and permissible international travel. She plans to use the Hassell Travelling Scholarship to travel to Christchurch, New Zealand, to research and document the impact of the 2011 earthquakes on communities.

To know more about how the rebuild has been approached from a landscape perspective, Hoggett aims to meet with leaders in melancholy landscapes.

Now in its 31st year, the Hassell Travelling Scholarship – Robin Edmond Award recognises graduating landscape architecture students who show outstanding potential for future contribution to the profession.

The award provides the winner with the opportunity to expand their education through travel to a destination undergoing significant development or renewal.