Sea Change




AILA Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture

Winners Announced

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There were many highly innovative ideas in most of the submissions. The Jury felt that there were three outstanding submissions that covered different aspects of local, regional and global responses to climate change and adaptation to sea level rise. These entrants were not readily comparable as they dealt with responses required over different scales of space and time.

The Jury decided that these three submissions be awarded equal first prizes.

The following descriptions summarise the key features of the three prize winners:



Sea-Life - NMGS, Queensland, Australia and Chile 

James Nash,  Michael Marriott,  Lydia Gibson, Bec Stephens

This is an immediate and local response to global climate change. James Nash and his team present tactical built environment responses to living, playing and building on the edge of Sydney Harbour. Their project based on the iconic Balmoral Beach, shows the value of typological analysis and performance responses for micro-scale harbour features such as beaches and rock platforms with an emphasis on access and amenity. This responds to the Sydney lifestyle and its focus on water-based amenity and also deals with the challenges of sea level rise alienating public space and access to safe recreational venues.

Their conceptual design solutions represent a ‘good start’ for a future design manual for local government with a set of edge treatments that are pragmatic, affordable, do-able and able to be further developed into simple guidelines. These typological responses can be implemented over time through a set of initiatives that are place-based and rely on on ‘learning by doing’ – a valid local adaptive response to the uncertainty of timing about inevitable sea level rise.



CATEGORY 1 : EQUAL FIRST PRIZE Metropolitan Solutions

Subtropical Sydney - OPSYS, USA :

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Pierre Bélanger, Miho Mazereeuw, Christina Milos, Andrew tenBrink, Erik Prince, Sarah Thomas

This submission takes a regional metropolitan approach to Sydney focusing on the connections between Botany Bay, Sydney airport and the low-lying lands along the Alexandria Canal. They propose a strategic response to adapting to sea level rise and intrusion of salt water into the former estuaries of the Cooks River with a conceptual design for what South Sydney could look like in 2030.

The ideas are based on urban renewal, reintroducing ecology into the city through green arteries and waterways. They propose a vision for re-engineering the urban form for cleaner waterways, recreational areas food production in urban gardens and improved access, amenity and mobility along green arteries. Their design integrates scales of place and time while producing a high value corridor for desirable and sustainable living. What they propose is a transition of Sydney into a new climate future based on a different valuation of ecosystem services and urban land economics.



Embassy of the Drowned Nations - OCULUS, Sydney

Bob Earl, Shahreen Alford, Simon Bond, Liam Butt, Katie Cooper, Daniel Firns, Ali Gaunt, Rosie Krauss,  Ben Nacard, Simon Trick

This stunning visual concept brings the boldness back into a vision of Sydney in 2030+. It presents an international response to Sydney as Australia’s only truly global city sitting on the western edge of Oceania and on the southern shores of the Asia-Pacific nations. In the background of the visualisation sits the two previous built environment icons of outstanding global significance and instant recognition. The Sydney Harbour Bridge designed and built in the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Sydney Opera House designed and built in the optimistic years of the post-world war two baby boomers in the 1950s and 1960s. Both of these previous Sydney harbour icons attracted great controversy and defied the conventional engineering and architectural wisdom of the time.

This bold venture, the Embassy of Drowned Nations, extends a hand of connection and friendship as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House did in the last century. By providing a meeting place and forum for adapting to climate change it opens the debate on conceptual engagement with other drivers of global environmental change, particularly around population and resource use. The bold vision of the Embassy of Drowned Nations is much more than a lament for a lost past; it’s an iconic engagement in a brighter future through building a world-class place for welcoming and regenerating the spirit of human adaptation to global change.

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Secret Hideout Tube - Jack Holt, Cranbrook School Year 2

We awarded Caspar Burke and Ralph Burke a Certificate of Merit and Participation.

In addition, the Jury awarded Cranbrook Primary School $1500 for their efforts in teaching children about climate change and adaptation to sea level rise. 




Manly Waterslides - Lachlan Horlyck & Oliver Horlyck, Northern Beaches
Secondary College, Balgowlah Boys Campus

The Jury commended the efforts of Lachlan Horlyck and Oliver Horlyck from the Northern Beaches Secondary College, Balgowlah for their entry, Manly Waterslides, in Category 2B - Secondary School.

In addition, to the award of a Certificate of Merit and Participation to Lachlan and Oliver, the Jury awarded $500 to their school. The Jury hopes that the school can encourage the visual design skills and communication efforts of their students.

The submission was highly innovative in visual terms in that it used computer generated imagery of iconic places such as Manly Corso under a half metre of tidal inundation or sea level rise. The Jury appreciated the use of poetry in a rap dance style for communicating messages about sea level rise and coastal adaptation. 

Lachlan and Oliver also used satellite imagery and created some fantasy technological landscapes using waterslides for personal transport. Their images encourage us to come to grips with the connection between energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and personal consumption patterns. Their concepts of the waterslides through the suburbs ask us to consider the feasibility of implementing other personal transport systems at mass scale beyond the bicycle and the bus.


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