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The Valley Land Trail

01.29.21 ā€“ PhD student Kanwal Aftab receives research sponsorship from the Landscape Architecture Foundation

Each year, the Landscape Architecture Foundation funds a series of research grants for use in producing case studies of landscape projects. This year, the international group of 10 grant recipients includes a familiar name: Kanwal Aftab, who earned her Master of Landscape Architecture at the Daniels Faculty in 2018 and is now a student in the Faculty's PhD program.

Aftab will use her LAF grant to study the University of Toronto Scarborough's Valley Land Trail, a 500-metre public trail, designed by Schollen & Company, that connects the campus with the adjacent Highland Creek Valley. Aftab will conduct her research under the supervision of Jen Hill, the Daniels Faculty's assistant dean of academic planning and governance. ā€œIā€™m delighted that the Landscape Architecture Foundation supports our interest in this wonderful, universal-design project on one of our own campuses," Hill says.

Kanwal Aftab

Kanwal Aftab

Aftab's final product will be a case study brief. It will be published online as part of the LAF's Landscape Performance Series, a collection of scholarly evaluations of the environmental and social performance of various works of landscape architecture in locations around the world.

"This case study will examine a combination of social and environmental factors," Aftab says. "We'll be seeing how the trail was built out and how it's being used."

The case study's analysis, Aftab hopes, will help illuminate the way the trail, which opened to the public in 2019, has transformed U of T Scarborough's relationship to the nearby ravine. "I'm interested in looking at the placement of the campus within the larger community of Scarborough," she says. "COVID has been an interesting turning point because it has forced people to find more outdoor public spaces, like this one."

When she's not studying the Valley Land Trail, Aftab will be working on her PhD thesis, a history of the integration of systems thinking into landscape architecture pedagogy in the 1960s and 1970s.

Top image: The Valley Land Trail. Photograph courtesy of Schollen & Company.