We are delighted to announce the results of the 2015 International Travel BursarySupported by British Council Scotland




Robert Hebblethwaite
University of Edinburgh

Robert Hebblethwaite’s bursary proposes international travel in Japan and Scotland to conduct comparative research into High Speed Urbanism by considering how we experience landscape and the national / regional spatial setting from strategic national rail infrastructure. Robert proposes studying the Tokaido in Japan and the East Coast Mainline in the UK, drawing upon and developing techniques has applied in his recently completed Masters thesis at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh. His portfolio of work provided in support of his application was very impressive and displayed an impressive sophistication of thought, design and graphic communication

Robert’s proposition is that, although national rail infrastructure alignment us governed by many factors the emergent route creates, ‘a highly orchestrated view; an incidental transect of a nation’s history, culture, architecture and urbanism’. He suggests that these strategic routes can ‘summarise a nation’s identity; ....(via) points (and passing landscapes) experienced passively and at a distance’ from the train window.

Consider the experience of shifting landscapes and landmarks as the East Coast Mainline ventures cross border from Newcastle, bridging the Tweed at Berwick, along the North Sea coast and past the geological markers of the Bass Rock, Traprain Law and Berwick Law, Arthur’s Seat and beneath Calton Hill into historic Edinburgh. Progressing under the Castle Rock the line swings north over the magnificent Forth Bridge across to Fife, beneath its cliffs and through farmland to the Tay Bridge and Dundee, in transformation. Next Angus and the coastlines that inspired James Hutton’s explorations of Geology, then around Stonehaven to Aberdeen’s granite heart.

In contrast the Tokaido in Japan connects Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka passing Mount Fuji, through industrial Honshu, the temples of Kyoto and the glittering skyline of Yokohama.

These routes traverse through culturally rich, historically significant and scenic landscapes and cityscapes that in turn convey the essence of spatial and cultural landscape of a region (and nation).

Whilst Japan has had high speed rail networks for 50 years only now is HS2 and HS3 being contemplated in the UK. How these high speed routes, and other enhancements to our existing rail infrastructure, affect the way we experience and interpret our sense of place and connection to the landscape is at the core of Robert’s proposition.

He intends preparing photo essays and drawings as well as using other visual methods (digital modeling / animation/ stop-motion) to ‘deconstruct the experience and distil its fundamental aspects’. The bursary will enable a ‘small publication and web hosting’ of the material prepared to convey and compare the visual narrative and significance of these routes and the spatial episodes the traveller experiences (at high speed).

It is hoped that his bursary findings can be shared with national agencies and stakeholders involved in the planning and operation of the rail network in Scotland and help to enrich our appreciation of how we engage and interpret our landscape ‘through the train window’.




Megan Grierson
University of Strathclyde

Megan proposed to visit the High Line in New York and seek to test the applicability of similar design ethos in Scotland. An interesting proposition that could be developed further to inform her future studies. Very good, strong portfolio.


Sabin Maguregui
Robert Gordon University

Outlines an area of ongoing research focusing on need for improved urban housing typologies in Scottish cities (esp. in Aberdeen) and proposes to continue this by (unspecified) travel ‘across Europe’ to visit new urban typologies. Excellent portfolio.