Royal Park

PROJECT Royal Park


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS Grace Fraser (1977 design for 4 hectare Australian Native Garden), Laceworks Landscape Collaborative (Brian Stafford & Ron Jones – winners of 1984 design competition), Chris Dance Land Design (1997 Revised Master Plan), Rush Wright Associates (Draft Landscape Master Plan – wetlands)

Royal Park, Melbourne’s largest park located 3 kilometres from the CBD, has a long history of European use. Set aside by La Trobe in the 1830s for recreation, the park was a generous 240 hectares in area. This was later whittled down to its present size of 180 hectares. The park combines a range of sporting facilities, areas for passive recreation and is also home to the Melbourne Zoo. Original plantings included pine species along with the locally occurring Eucalyptus camaldulensis, (River Red Gum).

Melbourne City Council gained control of the parkland in 1934. The overall character of the park has developed over time into an informal Australian native landscape. Indigenous Eucalyptus species dominate the plantings along with Casuarina and Allocasuarina species.

In 1977, Grace Fraser, one of the AILA’s initial members designed the Australian Plant Garden. This four hectare site, adjacent to Gatehouse St, displays indigenous plants and attracts a variety of native birds.

Seven years later, Melbourne City Council and the AILA sponsored a national design competition for a Master Plan for the park, offering prize money of $13,000. Laceworks Landscape Collaborative, made up of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) lecturers Brian Stafford and Ron Jones were the successful entrants creating a subtle vision for the park.

The park was to express the character of the landscape first experienced by European settlers – a spacious landscape which opened up to the sky. The report accompanying the winning Master Plan explained the design concept:

The aim is to create a coherent, informal pattern of dominant eucalypts in a naturalistic woodland, crowned with the hill covered in native grasses. (Landscape Australia Report 1985, 137)

Stafford and Jones felt that the designer’s role should be disguised and earthworks and infrastructure should be as simple as possible to complement the unstructured park character.

In 1997, Chris Dance Land Design lead a team to provide a Revised Master Plan and Report on the future development of Royal Park. This plan draws on the work a decade earlier by Laceworks, aiming to update the winning Master Plan whilst maintaining its philosophy. The report recommends increasing the use of the park by improving visitor facilities such as picnic areas as well as providing interpretive signage.

In keeping with greater concern for the care of urban waterways, plans for development of wetlands within the park were completed by Rush Wright Associates in 2003.

Melbourne CBD Streets and Laneways

PROJECT Melbourne CBD Streets and Laneways


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Numerous including Ron Jones, Peter Abraam and City of Melbourne Urban Design

Swanston St is a key pedestrian link between Melbourne’s CBD, Flinders St Station and the Yarra River.

A traffic calming project was designed by the City of Melbourne’s urban design team in 1991. A number of Landscape Architects were involved in the project including Ron Jones and Peter Abraam working for the City of Melbourne.

As well as reducing traffic to essential vehicles such as public transport, delivery bans and bike; the team were challenged with dealing with drainage in a low lying area of the CBD as well as planting 100 trees over the main stormwater drain. Tough London Plane Trees,Platanus x hispanicawere chosen to line the street.

Bluestone paving, street trees and artwork create a cohesive streetscape. The projects success is evident in the revitalisation of the residential precinct and overall increase in pedestrian use between 1993 and 2004.

The City of Melbourne Landscape Section received a National Merit Award from AILA in 1994 for the successful implementation of their concept. Fiona Harrisson was responsible for the successful redesign of a number of the cities lane ways.

Melbourne University South Lawn

PROJECT Melbourne University South Lawn


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Rayment & Associates (Ronald Rayment), Loder & Bayly, Bryce Mortlock

Prior to the development of a 1970 Master Plan the university had suffered from ad hoc planning and conflict between increasing numbers of cars and students. The Master Plan determined that the university grounds should consist of a series of outdoor rooms of differing character with the common use of modular unit paving. This would help unify the campuses disparate buildings.

The pedestrian precinct, South Lawn located in the heart of the campus was designed by Rayment and Associates in association with Loder and Bayley and Bryce Mortlock. This area is sited over an underground carpark.

The space consists of lawn, broad areas of paving for circulation, a water feature (designed to stop pedestrians cutting across the grass) and deciduous trees. These Platanus (London Plane trees) are sited over the carpark’s structural columns.

The Landscape Architects created a restrained yet elegant solution to this space based on modernist principles.

Monash University

PROJECT Monash University


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT John Stevens with Grace Fraser, Mervyn Davis, Robert Skeritt, Lindsay Pryor, Gordon Ford with Peter Glass as well as Beryl Mann.

The development of Monash University commenced in 1958 and was the stage for the native versus exotic debate being played out in the profession. It also indicates how a powerful and forceful personality can have a strong influence on development of the campus character.

A number of Landscape Consultants worked on the early development of the campus – these included John Stevens with Grace Fraser, Mervyn Davis, Robert Skeritt, Lindsay Pryor, Gordon Ford with Peter Glass as well as Beryl Mann.

John Stevens from the multi-disciplinary firm, Bates Smart McCutcheon (BSM), developed the overriding principles for the campus. The built form and landscape were to create a unified composition. This is in direct contrast to Griffith University in Brisbane where a conscious decision was made for the buildings to contrast with the landscape. BSM determined that the landscape should include a mix of Australian natives with exotics. The exotics would provide the Autumn colour while native trees would be used in a formal manner.

This idea was hotly contested by the colourful character, Professor AJ (Jock) Marshall of the science faculty. He advocated for the almost exclusive use of native plants. At one stage he sabotaged Poplar plantings by Fraser and Stevens, removing them from the site. Marshall’s vision was for Monash to be the first Australian university to showcase a wide range of Australian flora. According to research by Dr Andrew Saniga, Marshall managed to alter BSM’s master Plan from a parkland based on British ideals to an Australian scheme. Slight concessions were made with non-natives under 3 foot in height allowed as well as the use of exotics in select courtyards.

More recently Landscape Architects, Loder & Bayly, Jim Sinatra and Landscape Designer, Paul Thompson have designed areas of the campus. Thompson was responsible for establishing a self supporting native garden in a cold shaded site. Selecting shade-adapted forms of a range of plants Thompson created a visually attractive space which no doubt Jock Marshall would approve of.

Images of the campus today reveal a mature well tended landscape with a predominantly native plant character dominated by mature plantings of Eucalyptus.