SA AWARD OF EXCELLENCE FOR DESIGN
North Terrace, Adelaide
North Terrace Redevelopment Stage One.
Landscape architect: Taylor Cullity Lethlean
Architect and urban designer: Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design
Civil and service engineers: Dare Sutton Clarke
Traffic engineers: QED
Pavement engineers: HDS Australia
Lighting and electricalengineering: Barry Webb & Associates
Irrigation design: Hydro-Plan
Quantity surveyor: Rider Hunt
Furniture design: Dryden & Crute Design
Surveyor: DSC Andrew
Graphic design: Gregg Mitchell Design
Water features(hydraulics andelectrical): Sydney Fountains Waterforms
Scope of work
Sketch design, design development, contract documentation and assistance with contract administration for stage one of the overall North Terrace Redevelopment project. The site extends from Kintore Avenue in the west to Pulteney Street in the east and includes the north and south sides of the street including the State Library and South Australian Museum forecourts.
Concept and intent
Stage one involved a complete review of the concept masterplan (prepared by Taylor Cullity Lethlean with Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design, and James Hayter and Associates in 2001) for this section of the project.
The fundamental principle of reinterpreting the historic layout of a dual path system was explored as the basis for the north side of the street. The thirteen metre wide space between these paths responds to the function and activities of the adjoining buildings and institutions. This has resulted in a strong and robust overall template which is flexible enough to complement and enhance the important adjacent buildings and spaces.
Key objectives explored and resolved by the project are:
- improvement of visibility of the adjacent heritage buildings
- creation of generous public entrance spaces for key cultural institutions
- retention of the open, spacious and relaxed character of North Terrace
- encouragement of north-south access between the central business district and the cultural institutions and river to the north
- reduction in road width while maintaining vehicle numbers
- improvement of pedestrian road crossings
- improvement of overall pedestrian amenity
- inclusion of a public art program (initiated and programmed by the landscape architect).
Design excellence and functional quality
The project is the largest urban development led by a landscape architect in South Australia in recent years. It demonstrates the profession’s ability to successfully undertake large scale urban design projects within complex environmental, cultural and economic contexts.
One of the most successful aspects of the project is its consistently high quality and complete expression of the original concept. This has been achieved by a tireless commitment to a design based approach to all problem solving, and a steadfast insistence on quality outcomes from beginning to end. This approach was requested in the brief and followed through by the landscape architect as principal consultant, the consultant team, the contractor and the client representatives.
The functionality of the completed project is best expressed by the utilisation of the spaces and the urban elements within them. Without exception, the spaces have become popular resting and meeting places for ‘Adelaideans’ and visitors.
During the recent warm autumn weather, large numbers of people of all ages fully utilised the spaces, taking advantage of the multitude of seating opportunities to rest, talk or eat lunch.
All aspects of the brief were fulfilled. The main requirements were:
- Attracting more people to the Terrace, generating both economic and community benefits, not the least of which is greater statewide community pride and appreciation of South Australia’s past and future.
- Providing a coordinated, high quality setting for major community activities and individual enjoyment on the Terrace.
- Generating more events, services and installations to add value to properties and visitor and everyday user experiences.
- Realising the potential of the best showcase street in Adelaide, which has not been comprehensively upgraded and promoted for decades.
As lead consultants, Taylor Cullity Lethlean undertook all landscape architectural and urban design tasks and coordinated a team on nine sub-consultants.
The project budget was $14.0 million The project has been executed well within this budget. Excess funds were used in May–July 2005 to undertake additional works.
The project required a high level of sensitivity to cultural and heritage issues, both at an overall site planning level and at the level of micro-detailing around heritage buildings. As Adelaide’s premier cultural boulevard, North Terrace demanded a thorough approach to historical research and the identification of precedents from the past which could inform the contemporary redevelopment of the street. The adoption of the dual path system, a planning principle set down as early as 1862 and progressively reinterpreted throughout the twentieth century, is an example of how this has occurred at a fundamental level.
The quality of materials and detailing of the project has successfully sought to set an example for other public spaces in Adelaide. This commitment to quality was expressed in the brief and fully embraced by the landscape architect.
Environmental responsibility and sustainability
A key aspect of the project has been the choice of highly durable materials and the design of flexible multi-use spaces. This ‘long life, loose fit’ approach maximises the longevity of the project and minimises the need for frequent reconstruction.
Within the South Australian Museum forecourt a water capture, filtering, storage and re-use system integrated within the forecourt design utilises bio-retention to save half a million litres of water annually by utilising stormwater from the street gutters and adjacent building roofs.
All timber used in the project is recycled, thus avoiding the use of any rainforest or Australian hardwood timber.
The project, particularly when taken as part of the earlier body of work by Taylor Cullity Lethlean in preparing the urban design framework and concept master plan for the greater site, represent a significant commitment by both the South Australian Government and Adelaide City Council to improve the public realm of the city. That this commitment is being implemented by a landscape architect led team is an important step in raising the profession’s profile in South Australia.
A primary thrust of the design intent of the project has been to demonstrate the manner in which the cultural significance of the site can be interpreted in a contemporary manner relevant to modern urban lifestyles. The project has demonstrated to Adelaideans the value of public plazas as venues for social interaction. It has also highlighted the use of plantings which, while geometric in layout, exhibit contrasting textures and forms which add colour, interest and richness to the public realm.
As mentioned above, the project was completed under-budget, with excess funds being utilised to undertake work additional to the original scope.
Project budget $14.0 million.
The project was undertaken in a complex political, cultural, environmental and economic context. The landscape architects were required to provide leadership throughout all phases of the project to ensure that the quality outcomes requested in the brief were delivered.
This was achieved within a sometimes highly politicised environment where the designers commitment to the integrity and intent of the concept was repeatedly tested.
Testimony to the achievement of the project’s objectives; functional, aesthetic, financial, cultural and social has been the immediate commitment on completion of stage one by the South Australian Government and Adelaide City Council to undertake a $6.0 million second stage in the 2005–2006 financial year.
SA MERIT AWARD FOR DESIGN
Playford Civic Centre
Landscape Architects: Oxigen
Client: City of Playford
Scope of Project
The City of Playford engaged Oxigen to design, document and administer the construction of the landscape component of their new Civic Centre at Elizabeth. This development re-used former buildings including the Octagon Theatre to provide a new civic heart to Elizabeth. The civic centre now houses Council officers, a Council chamber, civic function rooms and the Elizabeth library. Outdoor spaces have been designed as an integral component of the development, and these include a main civic plaza, entries and enclosed courtyards.
Oxigen worked with the building’s Architect and Council to not only complement the building in its setting, but to provide functional outdoor spaces and establish a contemporary public realm that projects a confident and progressive image to the City.
Oxigen’s scope of work included all aspects of the public realm associated with the development, including the design and documentation of the following:
- The main civic plaza, entries, carpark planting and lighting, internal courtyards (the Mayor’s courtyard and civic courtyard) and planting beds.
- Playford Boulevard, including footpath paving, lighting, planting and irrigation.
- Grenville Centre community garden – located on the southern side of the civic centre carpark, this garden was designed in conjunction with the community centre’s clients and planted by them as part of a community building program.
In respect to the above areas, Oxigen designed all elements in the public realm, including the fencing, planting, irrigation, paving, public lighting and street furniture elements such as bollards and the Playford Boulevard bus shelter.
Concept and Intent
Oxigen shared their Client’s passion for the use of native plants and a desire to use landscape design as a means of reinforcing a project’s sense of place and identity. It is often difficult to use only a palette of native plants in a highly-used civic location due to the limited availability of suitable species, but this was achieved at Playford. Local native species are used in the majority of planting beds, providing a future seed source and a demonstration garden that illustrates the qualities of our native flora. Overall, the planting requires low water use and represents an environmentally sustainable solution to urban landscape design.
This project continues Oxigen’s exploration of the development of a unique Australian design vocabulary. By using articulated spaces and native plant material in a structured and contemporary way, they have formed the landscape into a recognisable and distinctive canvas that is attractive, functional, educational and memorable. This project extends the boundaries of design from the palette often seen in landscape design in South Australia. In particular, the use of mature Boab trees in the main civic plaza is a bold interpretation of the original trees planted in the Elizabeth and Virginia district over a hundred years and twenty years ago. A number of these original trees still remain in the district – they remind us of the original European settlements and the use of native trees brought to the district by explorers returning from journeys to Central Australia.
The paving pattern in the plaza reinforces this sense of place. Setts evoke the shallow creeks flowing over the Adelaide plains from the Elizabeth foothills to the sea. Oxigen designed the quirky fences that separate the carpark from Playford Boulevard as well as the distinctive bus shelter along this road. Other elements, such as the timber bollards, reinforce the craft and care that has gone into the design of all of the elements comprising the public realm.
Like many landscape architectural projects, this landscape will change and mature over time as the planting grows and reinforces further the articulation of spaces. Importantly, the City of Playford has adopted ownership of the public realm and now vigorously protects the integrity of the design and its intent.
The Playford Civic Centre project is a highly visible project that advances the cause of contemporary Australian landscape design. By structuring forms and lines within the landscape, using local native plant material, evoking cultural memories and fragments from the early farming settlement of the district and involving the Client – particularly the Mayor, Councillors and horticultural staff – in the design process, a distinctive and well liked project has evolved. This project is also important in educating both the community and decision makers on low water use, environmentally sustainable design, and has proved a model for the development of other parks and civic places. This project has within it a sense of playfulness and confidence that reflects on the community itself and assists in changing some of the previous negative associations that the Elizabeth community held.
Oxigen were consultants to the City of Playford in the design of all elements comprising the public realm. Oxigen worked closely with the horticultural staff at the City of Playford who assisted in the procurement plant material, some of which is localized to the immediate Elizabeth district and had to be raised specially for this project from seed.
Budget: $350,000 (includes bus shelter and Playford Boulevard footpaths)
SA MERIT AWARD FOR DESIGN
Taylor Cullity Lethlean
Taylor Cullity Lethlean's entry Fire Stories for the 2004 Chaumont international Garden Festival shows an innovative approach to engaging in progressive ideas within the profession, providing a vehicle to showcase Australian expertise and a definitive Australian experience.
Addressing the theme of 'chaos, order and confusion into the garden' the firm has used the device of fire to illustrate the process of destruction and renewal in the native Australian landscape.
The project engaged sculptural ideas, meshing contemporary art and the landscape profession, providing potential for future discourse.
Whilst being an innovative design solution, the project showed extensive research to propagate indigenous plants in Europe and provided a collaborative opportunity for the firm's botanical supplier, Rann Botanicals to showcase their plants to the European public.
A hands-on approach by the members of TCL has ensured a finely crafted exhibit, which successfully "explores the boundaries between Landscape Architecture, Sculpture and exhibition Design".
A restrained palate of materials and ideas has provided a uniquely Australian design, promoting the Australian landscape, the practice and wider Landscape Architecture profession to a European and Asian audience.
SA MERIT AWARD FOR DESIGN
Mount Gambier Civic Buildings Heritage Precinct
Landscape Architect: Graeme Hopkins of Fifth Creek Studio
Project intent and scope of work
The intention of the project was to create an urban space so that Mount Gambier’s Civic Buildings were visible to passing motorists and pedestrians on both sides of the road, as well as integrating this space with the heritage Cave Garden to the rear of the buildings.
In fact there were two major parts to the project at the start:
- Integration of the public space with the heritage Civic Buildings along Commercial Street and the Cave Garden
- Creation of an environment for the heritage buildings to operate as commercial tenancies, ie to be visible and accessible to the public
As the project developed a third part became an important factor:
- Development of the forecourt to the Civic Buildings to provide a significant sense of place for the community
As a result of the project the community developed a sense of ownership and pride for the built heritage which they had previously taken for granted, and renewed their interest in the redevelopment of their Cave Garden.
Unusual or interesting facts
This project created a robust debate in the local newspaper The Border Watch, with people expressing their views for and against the design solution. This type of debate is expected when a civic area is dramatically changed. In particular the use of one metre high blocks of roughly hewn stone to create seats challenged some people’s concept of street furniture. Interestingly in this case the debate lasted only a couple of days in the paper until people in support of the changes began to write letters to the editor and those against it ceased to make further comment. With no ongoing debate the issue ceased to be newsworthy.
Significance of project
The project is significant in a number of ways:
- Integrating heritage into contemporary design
- Drawing the urban and landscape components of the precinct together in a uniform design
- Creating an elegant solution through an economy of design elements
Innovative design and new direction in profession
The design solution for this project was very innovative in the way the landscape architect used elements of the heritage buildings and plantings to reintroduce these into the new pedestrian precinct as functional and accessible objects for the users. For example, parts of the decorative building quoins were carved into the pink dolomite seat supports to encourage appreciation of this architectural detailing at pedestrian level.
Consistent and competent expression of concept
The heritage value of the buildings was a significant factor in creating a forecourt that enhanced the strong architectural character without intruding or dominating visually. The buildings and the heritage plantings were respected and incorporated into the design using the principles of the Burra Charter, to create a sense of place for this important community precinct.
Appropriateness to function
Commercial Street is the main vehicular and pedestrian thoroughfare through the city. At the same time it is a precinct of strong cultural and historical interest, so pedestrians need opportunities for more detailed appreciation of what the precinct offers, and motorists also need visual access. The forecourt design now allows an open view of the buildings, unlike the closed tunnel effect created by the former cluttered planting beds. Ample seating is provided for pedestrians to view the buildings at their leisure and various texture changes in the pavement identify building entry points and directional movement. A clever use of lighting, both in the paving and the pink dolomite seat bases, makes the precinct safe and interesting for pedestrians to use in the evening.
Response to brief
The brief for the project grew out of the ongoing work of FCS and Council on the Cave Garden precinct and restoration and upgrading of the Civic Buildings. There was never a precise written brief for this precinct, but the landscape architect helped to guide and develop the brief through a series of meetings and conversations between FCS, Council officers, elected members, and community stakeholders. This brief included:
- Providing good pedestrian access and motorist visibility to the buildings during both day and night
- Creating a physical link between the Commercial Street forecourt and the gardens at the rear of the buildings
- Locating identification signage for the building tenants
Role of landscape architect within collaborative team
The landscape architect Graeme Hopkins was pivotal to the process, by providing concept options for discussion and feedback from stakeholders, and then developing the final overall design and detailed design of all components. FCS invited a number of artists to express their interest in the stone carving and developed an artist’s contract for the selected artist Ivo Tadic. The landscape architect sourced other fabricators to manufacture the various components to his design. Council’s project architect Michael Silvy worked closely with the landscape architect and oversaw the installation stage to ensure the design integrity was maintained.
Sensitivity to cultural, historical, physical and natural context
The design is sensitive to the cultural and historical context of the precinct and conforms to the Burra Charter in using traditional materials in a contemporary style. For instance, pink dolomite features in the structural elements of the buildings such as columns and wall bases, whereas white dolomite was used for the walling. In the design for the Commercial Street forecourt pink dolomite is used for the stone supports of the new seating, thus reflecting the structural use of this stone in the heritage buildings.
The paved courtyard area adjacent to the gardens provides a physical link to Commercial Street and is also sympathetic to the heritage of the gardens through the planting of additional palms to augment the existing Cotton Palms dating from the 1880s. As well as working in collaboration with Council and community stakeholders, FCS worked closely with the South East Heritage Advisor Richard Woods to ensure that cultural and heritage issues were addressed.
Quality of detailing in built work
This project is unique in regional areas in that the detail and quality of design and materials bring together an outstanding heritage legacy and contemporary design, in a way that respects the heritage and provides an urban space equal to that in any capital city. Graeme Hopkins selected manufacturers with excellent work standards to fabricate the built components of his design:
- Norwood based firm Street and Park Furniture constructed the stainless steel and red gum seats
- Local artist and stone carver Ivo Tadic carved selected building façade details into pink dolomite stone
- Custom Made Lighting worked with the landscape architect to develop a suitable LED lighting system to be housed inside the stone seating
- Best Pavers provided paving for the Commercial Street forecourt and rear courtyard area
Expanded scope of the profession
This precinct is an excellent example of how landscape architecture practitioners can achieve an outstanding high quality solution in a regional area within a limited budget. This project shows other professionals and council and government decision makers what landscape architecture is and can do, rather than other professions taking charge of these types of projects as in the past.
While the heritage integrity of the precinct is maintained, a contemporary design approach and use of materials takes this precinct beyond a historic town character. Mount Gambier is a vibrant modern city, with a proud history and significant cultural institutions and buildings. The newly renovated Civic Buildings are given the contemporary relevance they deserve with this elegant forecourt and lighting.
Value for money
The budget was limited but the use of Council’s own construction team made possible the detailed construction methods employed without creating major cost blowouts. The design created a cost effective solution with maximum effect.