Press release

Student encourages you to get stuck in the mud in the Scottish Highlands

Published on 19 May 2022

Scotland’s landscapes have long been romanticised in the media, but interactive structures designed by a University of Dundee student encourage us to take a deeper look at the land and the people who own it

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Scottish tourism has boomed in recent years, with shows such as Outlander prompting visitors to live out their Scottish fantasy. Few, however, stop to think about the land they are standing on, who owns it, and if that has had an impact on the way it looks.

Daniela Federer (22) is originally from Italy and has spent a lot of time exploring Scotland since she moved to the country to study at Dundee. Her final-year project is a creative exploration of landownership in Scotland.

As part of her work, the Interior & Environmental Design student implemented two structures in the Sma’Glen, on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. The structures, named Micro and Macro, explore the contrast between natural and ‘manufactured’ landscapes, inviting visitors to observe and question their surroundings.

She is among hundreds of students exhibiting her work at the Art, Design, and Architecture Degree Show 2022, which opens to the public on Saturday 21 May.

"In the last few years land reform in Scotland has been talked about a lot,” said Daniela.

“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.”

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

“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,” she continued.

"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.

“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.”

The launch of the Degree Show will be open to the public on Saturday 21 May to students, staff, families, friends and other visitors.

Entry to the DJCAD Degree Show 2022 is free, with further details available online.


Jessica Rorke

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 388878
Story category Student work/achievement