July 18, 2018

NSW government proposes enclave around western Sydney Metro station


A proposal for the enclave development of government-owned land around an under-construction Sydney metro station would bring higher-density residential buildings to western Sydney.

Landcom, the NSW government’s property development arm, is seeking concept approval to develop the land around the under-construction Tallawong metro station (formerly known as Cudgegong Road Station), designed by Hassell, in Sydney’s Rouse Hill.

The station is being built as the northern terminus of the Sydney Metro Northwest project, which is set to begin service in 2019. The proposal would see surplus government land around the station converted into a largely residential enclave, with an indicative residential yield of 1,100 dwellings flanking a 2,900-square-metre central park.

A reference design concept for the application has been completed by Bennett and Trimble. The architects envision an “active and walkable” neighbourhood centred on the station, with a road grid threaded with pedestrian and cycleways. Mixed-use facilities, such as retail, childcare, community and office spaces, would be concentrated around the station entrance and the public park.

Housing would be provided through two- to eight-storey buildings, with a range of housing types proposed, including “maisonettes and two-storey terraces to the lower levels of developments, and a range of apartment types on the upper levels.”

An accompanying landscape architecture design concept by Clouston Associates calls for small paved terraces for ground floor apartments, rooftop gardens with community amenities and shared residential courtyards.

A design excellence report attached to the application says that the Government Architect of NSW (GANSW) “played an important role in project initiation, through guidance and recommendations, its prequalification scheme and through involvement in tender assessment.” The design was guided by an advisory Design Directorate, which included government architect Peter Poulet.


Last chance to enter: Landscape Institute Awards 2018


Applications are open to enter the Landscape Institute Awards, the landscape profession’s most illustrious awards, until the end of July 2018.

Celebrating excellence, innovation and creativity in the natural and built-environment, the Landscape Institute Awards showcase the exceptional work of the many different types of landscape professionals, including landscape designers, managers, planners and researchers and the impact it has on people’s lives.

There are two new categories this year: The Dame Sylvia Crowe Award for Outstanding International Contribution to People, Place and Nature – the first Landscape Institute Award that is open to individuals and organisations globally; and an award for Planting Design, Horticulture and Strategic Ecology.

Dame Sylvia Crowe was president of the Landscape Institute (then the Institute of Landscape Architects) between 1957 and 1959.  A pioneer of landscape design, she is associated with the ‘landscape of power’ – writing about, as well as creating landscapes at nuclear power stations. Her books include: The Landscape of Power and The Landscape of Roads. One of the most remarkable characteristics of her work is that she handled landscapes of hugely diverse scales, from small private gardens to hundreds of acres of new towns, forestry and reservoir margins.  She exerted a huge influence on projects, persuading interdisciplinary teams to recognise the significance of views, landform and local character in determining the location and impact of new interventions in the landscape.

In her honour, and sixty years since the publication of The Landscape of Power, this new award recognises the global reach of the profession and celebrates major achievements that benefit people, place and nature through landscape-led approaches. Entries can be from any individual, organisation, employer, government or university or combination of groups, and can relate to any project, design, management plan, delivery or research that has contributed to knowledge and learning in any field of landscape practice.

The new Planting Design, Horticulture and Strategic Ecology category is broadening the reach of the awards and will showcase established planting schemes and horticulturally focused projects which contribute to the art and science of landscape architecture. This could include a range of sites that are either standalone or form part of a larger project. Entries should be innovative and appropriate to the setting; creative; functional; aesthetically pleasing and demonstrate an environmental, ecological or educational responsibility.

Dan Cook, CEO of the Landscape Institute said: “There is no doubt that there is growing pressure on our towns, cities and environment. The landscape profession plays a critical role in connecting people, place and nature together in clever and sympathetic ways, and these awards celebrate novel and exciting approaches in the profession. They also recognise the different public benefits that good landscape can bring, including health, environmental, social, and economic and we are delighted to have two new awards this year that will help broaden the reach of projects that can enter.”

“Entries are also welcome from students, as well as qualified professionals, which we are keen to encourage as we are running a new campaign #chooselandscape. One of the most pressing challenges for the landscape profession is a skills shortage at a time when the sector is growing steadily, and our new campaign aims to inspire more people into the profession which really makes a difference to people’s lives.”

In total there are 21 award categories including:

  • 13 professional categories reflecting the breadth of work done by landscape professionals
  • Two student categories
  • One open category, the new Dame Sylvia Crowe Award for Outstanding International Contribution to People, Place & Nature, which rewards excellence and leadership in the worldwide field of landscape and place

The deadline for online submissions is Tuesday 31 July, and a paper copy (where this is required) must be submitted by Monday 6 August.  For more details, examples of the sorts of projects in each category and judging criteria visit awards.landscapeinstitute.org for more information or to enter.

Revamp of Springfield Park before adding new greenspace


Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted said every city should have a large park for “unbending of the faculties.” A potential reality now for Springfield residents.

Notable urban parks across the country offering respite from the hustle and bustle of the city include Law’s massive Central Park in New York City (843 acres), Savannah’s Forsythe Park (30 acres), and Boston’s Common (40 acres). If you can look beyond the decaying infrastructure and prison-like fences that keep residents out, then you’ll discover Jacksonville has a space that was once worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence with some of the country’s most revered urban recreational grounds.

Confederate Park and playground, H.J. Klutho Park, W.W. Schell Park, and McPherson Park combine to form 37 acres of green space forming the border between Downtown and Springfield. A look into the area’s history suggests that this was Jacksonville’s true, great urban park.

Historic markers and history books are quick to mention that it was the site of the 24th Annual National Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans, but this urban park’s history is much more culturally diverse and important to the development of the city than that limited mention.

What evolved into the city’s premier public grounds dates back to 1878, when 5.5 acres of land was acquired, establishing Waterworks Park. At the height of the Gilded Era, it was here where the Sub-Tropical Exposition was developed to lure tourists to Florida. When the enormous exhibition hall opened its doors to the public on January 12, 1888, guests included President Grover Cleveland, Frederick Douglass, and railroad magnate Henry Plant. A yellow fever outbreak hampered the hall’s ability to draw tourists, leading to a more functional use; the construction of waterworks pump house buildings that in 2003 were supposed to become the central features of a JEA Waterworks laboratory, museum and visitors center complex.


Council reveals Albert Square potential


Indicative proposals to pedestrianise and enlarge Manchester’s Albert Square as part of the £330m of works at the Town Hall have been unveiled by the city council.

The outline plans would see the square enlarged by around 20% to significantly enhance its role as an events space.

The ideas for Albert Square were set out as part of a presentation given to July’s full Manchester City Council meeting, detailing progress on the project.

Planit-IE is the landscape architect.

The proposals for the square, which will be subject to full consultation at the design stage, would involve limiting traffic access to only the Princess Street side and extending the square’s pedestrianised areas. According to the council, traffic surveys have shown that fewer than 3,000 vehicles a day use the route. Taxi and bus stops would also be repositioned, subject to consultation.

The design of the reconfigured square will also enhance its safety, security and accessibility, removing the need for the current concrete barrier around it.

The square, with its grade one-listed memorial to Prince Albert, predates the Town Hall and work on its construction started in 1863, five years before construction began on the town hall.

Cllr Bernard Priest, lead member for the Our Town Hall project, said: “We are making significant progress on this ambitious project to safeguard, refurbish and partially restore the iconic Town Hall building while enhancing its surroundings.

“Albert Square is a much-loved public space where Mancunians and visitors come together for a huge range of cultural and civic events. It is, in many ways, the heart of Manchester. These proposals will see it take its place among the very finest international public squares.”

The Our Town Hall project will see the grade one-listed Manchester Town Hall building repaired, refurbished and partially restored over the next seven years.

The building, currently closed to enable works to progress, is due to re-open in 2024.

Tropical recreation area set to cool central Singapore


Students from the Institute of Landscape Architecture are planning some natural ways to cool the heat-afflicted metropolis of Singapore. Their testing ground is a disused railway line reclaimed by nature and converted into a tropical recreation area.

The midday heat in Singapore is merciless. The sun over this tropical metropolis doesn’t shine, it burns. That’s why the city has air-conditioned underpasses that connect metro stations to shopping centres and office buildings, creating kilometres of interconnected tunnels that give its 5.6 million inhabitants at least some temporary respite from the adverse climate. This Wednesday lunchtime, ETH Professor of Landscape Architecture Christophe Girot, four teaching assistants and 14 students have sought shelter beneath the broad tin roof of the Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown. One of Singapore’s countless down-to-earth food markets, it serves a wealth of delicious meals that combine the influences of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian cuisine – the dominant cultures of the former British Crown colony.

Tucking into a spicy noodle soup and Chinese dumplings, Girot explains why he brought his students to Singapore: “Most of them have never been to Asia, so it’s hard for them to understand what life in a tropical metropolis is like – it’s something physical you have to experience in the flesh.” He hopes this experience will help his students gain a better understanding of the growing problem of urban heat islands (UHIs). Heat is increasingly posing health and energy challenges in big cities throughout the tropical belt, from Jakarta and Manila to Bangkok and Singapore.In Singapore, temperatures in central, heavily built-up areas such as Orchard Road sometimes exceed those in surrounding rural areas by up to 7 °C.

The city is heated not just by its tropical climate, but also by the continuous injection of anthropogenic heat from car exhausts, industry and fossil fuel power stations, as well as waste heat from hundreds of thousands of air conditioning units. Other UHI drivers include densely packed building complexes that are not optimised for wind, as well as dark surfaces such as tarmac roads and building facades that store heat instead of reflecting the sun’s rays.

Green spaces to cool the city

Girot’s colleagues at the Future Cities Laboratory – an urban research group at the Singapore-ETH Centre – are hoping to break the vicious cycle of self-heating cities. As part of the large-scale project Cooling Singapore (see box), they are working together with partner universities to develop a roadmap by the middle of this year that will offer measures designed to cool the city down.

The Bachelor’s and Master’s students who Girot has brought to Singapore as part of his three-month seminar Singapore hot, Singapore cool are here to help with that project. The testing ground is a 24-kilometre-long green space known as the Rail Corridor, a disused railway line that stretches from Malaysia in the far north of the island down to the port in the south. It was built at the turn of the century under British colonial rule. In 1918, the British handed over ownership to Malaysia, which ceased operating the line in 2011. Everything that was easy enough to remove was taken back to Malaysia, including the rails, signals and signs. What remained was a largely undeveloped green space, a corridor that nature has gradually reclaimed. Today, one million people live within a one-kilometre radius of the Rail Corridor – a space that offers tremendous potential for the city-state.

“The value of urban green spaces has been rising for years,” says Girot. “Not just for decorative purposes like before, but because they are increasingly taking on key functions.” Researchers have shown that green areas contribute to a more comfortable climate in urban environments. What’s more, targeted landscape architecture interventions can unlock further potential benefits such as using wind and water to cool the environment. “Urban planning in the 21st century is increasingly about landscape planning,” insists Girot, an award-winning landscape architect. “It will play a key role in giving cities a more liveable climate in the future.”