News from AILA's National President - 23 October 2014

Landscape architects across Australia have been challenged to take action and elevate the profession to its rightful place. A clear message I took away from the Festival of Landscape Architecture was: we have a central role in improving liveability and sustainability but our contribution is largely going unnoticed. Instead of worrying about definitions and boundaries of the profession, we need to take a more outward focus to make people aware of what we can and do contribute.

Julie Bargmann challenged us to think about our work as an Action Plan not a Master Plan and show greater leadership in projects to drive community benefits. Malcolm Snow astutely observed that the rise of ‘placemakers’ is an example of the failure of landscape architects to promote our skills and capabilities as well as challenging us to step outside our comfort zone on project types and roles. Every landscape architect has a role to play in promoting and growing the profession. Why don’t we identify ourselves as landscape architects in our workplaces or our job titles? As Chris Sawyer noted, his main outdoor living space is his front garden not the backyard. He proudly identifies himself as a landscape architect which invariability triggers an explanation of what we do. It might seem like a small step but it creates awareness of the profession. The public wants to know more about landscape architecture but we need to make ourselves visible and accessible. Evidence of this took place at the Festival when the ABC news had a live cross on Thursday night. This resulted in over 50 members of the public attending the Festival to view presentations, exhibitions and the walking tour. It’s a small step but it’s an encouraging outcome.

Overwhelmingly the response to the Festival has been extremely positive. The program prepared by the creative directors was engaging and inspiring for a profession on the cusp of a new era. Thank you to Sharon Mackay and Di Snape along with the advice provided by Catherin Bull for their passion and enthusiasm in the crafting of a program that connected with the profession. Thanks also to the AILA team who made the event run so smoothly and to the AILA partners for your invaluable support.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 AILA National Awards and thank you to the awards jury Adrian Pilton (Chair), Catherin Keirnan, Lorae Wild and Shane Thompson. Taylor Cullity Lethlean and their project partners were the stars of the night and their high calibre projects worthy of multiple awards. The role of government was also on show with nearly all projects having a government client. It points to the public nature of our work and the way we are shaping our cities and landscapes. It was without question one of the most memorable awards dinner I have attended. It was great to see social media alive with images of the night along with the media attention the awards have already attracted.

History was made in Brisbane at the Festival. It wasn’t a single event; it was a number of defining moments and firsts. I believe the Festival is the start of a new phase for the profession and AILA. The profession has been charging ahead and AILA is finally catching up. National Council are committed to setting an agenda to ensure AILA is relevant to future generations of landscape architects. As a profession we are in the fortunate position of having great opportunities ahead of us. If we work together, let’s see what we can achieve between now and when we regroup at the 2015 Festival of Landscape Architecture.