American University of Beirut

Sara El Samman | '19

​​​​​Master Student in Landscape Design, Focus: Ecology​, ESAJ

Paris, France

Sara discusses what attracted her most to study at LDEM, the meeting points between the BLA program and her art-oriented career choice, and shares the reason behind her interest in ecological landscape design.


What attracted you to study at LDEM in particular?​​

I have developed a fascination for nature from a very young age, one that was immediately crushed under the weight of the unfortunate realities in Lebanon, where people's rights to public spaces have long been disregarded. But this started a fire in me that turned my “disappointment" into a relentless drive to create coexistence for human communities within themselves and within nature.

The LDEM department at AUB, with its position as one of the first in the region, held the responsibility of demonstrating the fundamental importance and value of this field.

This made it the ideal place for the activist and artist in me to coexist in a program, which did not fail at transmitting to its students the multidimensional nature of landscape architecture and the global mission of landscape architects.

You are very active in producing illustrations and storyboards; where do you see meeting points between the BLA program and your art-oriented career choice​?​​

On one hand, the BLA program showed me the importance of visual representation and communication that I was also able to translate through my artistic work. It encouraged me to learn and to use additional sets of tools, which was beneficial for my art as well.

On the other hand, working as a storyboard and concept artist gave me a storytelling skill when narrating the story of a site or illustrating a design narrative.

In addition, the environmental sensibility that I developed as a landscape architect complemented perfectly my artistic one, I was able to perceive, assess and develop landscapes from additional dimensions. For instance, my interest and work in sound art allowed me to be more aware of sonic environments and to develop a passion for working with soundscapes as an extra layer.

You are much interested in ecological landscape design; how do you think your future plans can be elevated from landscape architecture practice to be more relevant to world contemporary ecological issues​?​​

As landscape architects, our role is to work with all the living for all the living and I believe that one of the main missions of this field today is to re-establish the connections between the human species and the existing ecosystems.

Gaining deeper knowledge on the ecological aspect of landscapes is an extra tool that I needed to become more sensible and aware of the rapid transformations that are occurring nowadays and that will therefore allow me to take part in the ecological transition, a challenge that we are all facing on national and international levels.

This could be done through a process of reintegration of natural ecosystems within the urban fabric by working with existing interstices and changing perspectives on ruderal landscapes, areas of high ecological value that can act as pioneers to the ecological transition.​

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