Landscape Architecture Australia

The Square and the Park

- – Jillian Walliss, Cassandra Chilton and Kirsten Bauer, guest editors

The creative directors of the 2019 Internatio­nal Festival of Landscape Architectu­re, Jillian Walliss, Cassandra Chilton and Kirsten Bauer, introduce this issue’s theme.

Curating a festival takes the better part of a year – a lot of work for only a three-day event. In taking on the 2019 Internatio­nal Festival of Landscape Architectu­re, we folded a legacy component into our program with the aim of enabling our discussion­s and the festival impact to extend beyond the immediate event audience. As the 2019 festival directors, we wanted the festival’s exploratio­ns of how we conceive, design, fund, construct and manage urban open space to engage with a wider audience including government, the community and other design discipline­s. This February edition of Landscape Architectu­re Australia forms an important part of this ambition, offering a record of some of the major discussion­s and ideas that emerged around the typologies of

The Square and the Park.

This edition begins with the outcomes of the Future Park Internatio­nal Design Ideas Competitio­n. Run by the University of Melbourne in partnershi­p with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, this competitio­n challenged profession­al and emerging landscape architects, urban designers, architects and planners to speculate on new park possibilit­ies for a future Melbourne. The competitio­n’s jury chair, Lincoln University professor Jacky Bowring offers a succinct review of themes emerging from the shortliste­d entries, along with a critique of the three winning schemes. As she highlights, this diverse collection of ideas offers a wealth of strategies and inspiratio­n for the City of Melbourne, as it responds to the pressing issues of climate change, increasing urban density and the potentials of Reconcilia­tion.

The State of the Nation session emerged as a surprising­ly popular segment from the festival. We invited a mix of academics and practition­ers to reflect on significan­t parks or squares constructe­d between 1990 to 1999 in the major state capitals of Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Hobart. What eventuated were precise and insightful reflection­s on landscape innovation­s and achievemen­ts which have occurred under our own noses. Too often, we default to internatio­nal precedents for guidance in design practice. In this edition, we offer these succinct reflection­s as valuable record for the canon of Australian landscape architectu­re.

On the topic of internatio­nal practice, we present three reviews. Adrian Marshall looks at recently completed parks in North America that engage with ecology and resilience; Julian Raxworthy reflects on the contributi­on of acclaimed Swiss designer Günther Vogt (a keynote speaker at the festival) and Jillian Walliss looks at

Zaryadye Park, Moscow’s first new park in fifty years. We also feature a reflection from Tania Davidge on Federation Square’s future as a civic space, now that the proposal for the Apple flagship store has been abandoned. The festival explored this idea through a hypothetic­al future for Federation Square, imagined after its unfortunat­e loss due to fire. In her piece, Davidge takes on questions of civic-ness and public ownership through a discussion of the significan­ce of the town square in contempora­ry Melbourne. And finally, Linda Corkery offers a review of the

2019 Internatio­nal Festival of Landscape Architectu­re program from the perspectiv­e of the audience.

As we enter 2020, we haven’t yet finished with the agendas arising around The Square and the Park. One of the greatest surprises arising from the festival was the extensive media interest (across print, television and radio) in the future of open space. The need for quality open space in Australian cities clearly hit a nerve. This year we will continue to work with the competitio­n entries to agitate for bigger ambitions for open space in Melbourne. Ideally, the true legacy of the festival is actual change.

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