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Catharine Ward Thompson

Image of Ward ThompsonCatharine Ward Thompson is Research Professor of Landscape Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art. Catharine has worked as a landscape architect and as an academic at Edinburgh College of Art since 1981.

Catharine research interests cover design for children, teenagers and older people, part of her focus on inclusive design for all. Catharine also has expertise in the history and theory of urban park design and conservation, the history of landscape design, environment-behaviour interactions, and landscape aesthetics and perception. She is passionate about landscape architecture and good access to open space that offers opportunities for rich experience for all.

Catharine was educated at Southampton and Edinburgh Universities and has practised as a landscape architect in Vancouver, Canada, and in the UK, where she made a significant contribution to the Megget Reservoir Scheme for W J Cairns and Partners from 1977 to 1983; this project was overall winner in the 1987 BBC Design Awards.

Catharine's Awards and Achievements

  • Catharine was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard and Penn Universities, USA, in 1994-95.
  • Catharine chaired the Research Jury of the Landscape Institute Awards in 1993 and 1995, and chaired the Institute's Research Sub-Committee from its inception in 1997 until 2003.
  • Catharine was a member of the Higher Education Funding Councils' Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) Built Environment Assessment Panel in 2001 and is deputy chair of the RAE2008 Architecture and Built Environment panel.
  • Catharine is a member of the Forestry Commission's Advisory Committee on Forestry Research and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's strategic advisory team for Infrastructure and the Environment.
  • Catharine was Head of the School of Landscape Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art from 1989-2000 and continues to teach in the School and direct its PhD programme.
  • In 2001 Catharine became Director of the newly founded OPENspace, the research centre for inclusive access to outdoor environments.
  • Catharine is a Fellow of the Landscape Institute and a member of advisory committees for the Forestry Commission, the Scottish Executive (Health) and EPSRC.
  • Catharine is a Fellow of the Chartered Landscape Institute and the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), and a Trustee and non-executive director of the Landscape Design Trust.
  • Catharine was awarded the international Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Outstanding Paper Award (the first of its kind) in 1998 and the Research Award in the Landscape Institute (UK) Biennial Awards 2004, for research on Historic American Parks and Contemporary Needs.
  • Catharine heads the Scottish Physical Activity and Health Council, advising the Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care.

Catharine's Book

  • open Space - People Space: This is a volume providing a rare insight into people's engagement with the outdoor environment; looking at the ways in which the design of spaces and places meets people's needs and desires in the twenty-first century. It is an essential reading for those working in child development, health care and community development.
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