AILDM, the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers, has announced its annual awards for residential and commercial landscape design, plantscape and landscape management. AILDM always puts together a great awards night with impressive projects on display, inspiring discussion, and plenty of laughter.
As one of the judges for these 2014 AILDM Awards (along with Arno King from Queensland and Michael McCoy from Victoria), I can say that it’s certainly not an easy process. It’s a big responsibility, but also a privilege to see in such intimate detail what AILDM designers can do. And that is always something remarkable.
The winners for each of the 9 categories, and each judge’s citation are:
1. Residential Under $50,000 – Alex Haskey, Valley Garden Landscapes
The elegant design of this narrow courtyard, provides a wonderful backdrop to the house and a great space to entertain for the owners. The careful use of materials adds interest, while complementary the restful planting palette. The judges liked the clever screening of the air conditioning unit and the pond and waterfall, which provides interest at the rear of the garden.
2. Residential $50,000 to $150,000 – Matt Leacy and Justen Hess, Landart Landscapes
This rear garden started out as a plain and uninviting space. The land drained away 3.5m to the lower boundary, there was little privacy from neighbours and the garden was featureless and uninteresting. The owner also wanted to add a pool, a spa and level lawn for children’s play.
The design cleverly turns the topography around by lifting up the height of new swimming pool and including raised garden beds to form a sunken outdoor area, hidden from neighbours by a graceful cantilevered pergola.
By shaping the floor plan so that it’s in two wings – one for seating and one open area for standing or cooking, it stays intimate for 2-4 people, but becomes a great place for a bigger poolside party. I also really like the way parallel lines repeat throughout the design, in the pergola posts and joists, timber slat covering and storage cupboards. The design documentation is simple but precise and the large number of section elevations clearly explains the proposed level changes. I’m sure this elegant and practical garden and outdoor area is used and enjoyed every day of the year.
3. Residential over $150,000 – Matt Cantwell and Robert Finnie, Secret Gardens
The Allan Correy Award for Design Excellence
This is a sophisticated design that makes the most of its long, narrow and sloping site. And it really is narrow for a suburban block – only 9.2m wide – although you’d never think that from the photos. I think that the way a designer works with levels is often what separates out the truly excellent from the quite good, and their management here is superb, especially the way the pool straddles the main ground level change, tying the two together.
The other thing that really stands out for me in this design is the use of contrast. You can desaturate every photo of this garden, and it still looks amazing. The green lawn is edged with pale grey, and the pool is edged with black. Pleached, emerald green bamboo is set off against a stark, white wall. If it were just all hard rectangles and crisp lines, it might have a got a little boring, but the sensible and sensitive retention of gnarled banksias and eucalypts with their ropey textured bark brings it very much to life. It’s a contemporary, highly styled garden but it’s also one that’s allowed to have real personality.
4. Commercial Category A – Adrian Swain and Michael Doak, ecodesign
The striking Conference Centre is grounded by dense plantings, which visually respond to the character and scale of the surrounding landscape. The design addresses disabled access and incorporates a swale that collects and channels runoff into the natural site drainage system.
5. Commercial Category B – Steve Warner, Outhouse Design
All the judges were struck by the difficulties of this RSPCA site – surrounded by carpark, a building that will be demolished, vet clinic and holding kennels, and also what would seem mutually exclusive requirements in the brief, for a quite, reflective memorial garden for those whose pets are interred here – and that needs to generate income – and alongside it for a fun, interactive place where people can engage with ‘pocket pets’, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and mice. Then add to that a multitude of different stakeholders, thousands of expected visitors, an easement right through the middle and several mature eucalypts. Difficulty level 9.5!
The judges were really impressed by both the quality of the problem solving and the design of a robust and low maintenance landscape that’s also so visually appealing. In the memorial garden, a curving, stone textured wall guides visitors into a central ellipse, rising in height to create a calm, protected and private space that invites them to stay. Beyond is a row of brightly coloured little ‘houses’, reminiscent of beachside bathing pavilions, that hold different types of pocket pets, all contained by a secure black mesh fence. Gravel paths protect adjacent tree root zones and a separate enclosure provides a ‘get acquainted with a new pet’ area.
It’s cute, it’s calm, and it’s very clever.
6. Plantscape design – Adrain Swain and Kieren Hills, ecodesign
The winner of the plantscape design category celebrates plants for their own sake, proving that plants don’t only have to perform in a supporting role, but are worthy of the main billing.
The plants chosen, along with their placement creates a really good balance of the clipped and unrestrained, so that good crisp outlines contrast with loose, more flowing forms. There’s a good balance of flowers and foliage, demonstrating that you don’t need that many of the former, as long as there’s plenty of the latter.
There’s a good balance of light and dark foliage, with deep reds as base notes and variegations providing the treble. And there’s a good balance of seasonally static and dynamic content, in which woody plants are effectively used to create a bone structure, which is well fleshed out with plenty of ornamental herbaceous material.
7. Landscape Management Environmental – Adrain Swain and Michael Doak, ecodesign
This multi-unit development is adjacent to a riparian zone. Project involvement was from predesign, with the development of a Vegetation Management Plan (VMP), to documentation for Development Approval and Tender. The project incorporates deep soil areas, podium plantings and roof top gardens. Disabled access was provided on a difficult, sloping block. Planting varies from local native species in the riparian zone, through to succulents and herb plantings on the roof top gardens.
8. Landscape Management Amenity Horticulture – Adrain Swain and Andrew Morrison , ecodesign
I went to Macquarie University back in the in the late 1970s and, even then, the grid-like planting of 115 lemon-scented gums within this confined and heavily used space that is the Central Courtyard was a maintenance nightmare. Fast forward to 2014 and the trees survive despite major development within their root zone but, understandably, the University has major concerns about the safety and structural integrity of the trees.
This landscape management report contains a careful and thorough assessment of every tree combined with tree work proposals. It also has a practical and easy-to-understand plan for University staff by which they can monitor the trees’ condition in the future, especially as they move beyond maturity to senescence, so they know what and when action might be needed.
9. Pro bono – Daniel Kavanagh, Fiona Temple, The Gardenmakers
If there’s one place that pretty hectic use of diverse materials can be justified, it’s in a children’s playground. This entry utilises natural materials for creative, non-prescriptive play along with primary-coloured manufactured equipment for a very diverse sensory and play experience. A high value has been placed on planting, given the space allotted to it, and the plant palette provides diversity of colour and form, while being necessarily resilient.