AILA Awards // Building Stronger Communities


WHAT // South Australian Landscape Architecture Awards 2017

WHO // Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

WHEN // Monday 31st of July, 9am - 5pm (all week)

WHERE // ODASA, Leigh Street (you’ll have to knock though)



As one of the talking heads on the accompanying documentary states, “Urban spaces are going to very important in the future”. This may be the case considering the often quoted projected increase in people moving to the world’s cities, but also the case for landscape architecture as a discipline, based on this year’s landscape award picks. The exhibition, open to the public, is not only an annual celebration of the state’s landscape projects of merit, but also a commemoration of 50 years of AILA, and broadly an opportunity taken to define the present scope of the discipline.



 13 Holland St by JPE // Photograph S. Noonan



The 28 projects on display are separated into nine categories as Civic Landscapes, Play Spaces, Parks and Open Space, Urban Design, Landscape Planning, Research, Policy + Communications, Community Contribution, Small Projects, and Gardens. There seems to be a conscious effort to shift the emphasis from an historically informed notion of literally designing a landscape to a focus on ‘urbanity’, both of terms of where most of the projects are situated but also in terms of approach; thoroughly, massively public spaces. In place of traditional notions of ‘program’, you get ‘community’ and evidence of consultation. In place of ‘beauty’, you get celebrations of a collective sense of ‘place’. 



 Quandong Garden by Oxigen // Photograph Dan Schultz



Perhaps the talking heads were too polemic, or maybe it was AILA’s awareness of reaching out to the broader public; but the consistency of the projects on display is a testament to how well ingrained these principles already are in practice. The categories on display are really ‘public spaces’ at 8 different scales, plus gardens. Personally JPE’s Holland Street Upgrade was a highlight, exemplifying the ‘flat’ approach present in many of the projects, seemingly designed to integrate the immediate natural environment while enabling the uses of the immediate community; but never too precisely as to be restrictive. On the contrary the two garden projects (both by Oxigen) were satisfying examples of the lush, view and material oriented experiences possible in a bespoke private commission. 



ABG Kitchen Garden by Oxigen // Photograph Dan Schultz



Within broader consistencies, there are a diverse range of implementations represented. What seems to characterise landscape architecture in South Australia is that, in lieu of opportunities for spectacular High Lines and Ballast Point Parks, the built and unbuilt environment exists so closely together than even in the most urban ‘pocket’ projects, the simpler, pastoral qualities traditionally associated with landscape are always present. 



Victor Harbor Mainstreet Precinct Project by WAX // Photograph Simon Vaughan



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