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    RMIT landscape architects create installation that questions the role of parks in the built environment

    Geraldine Chua

    Landscape architects from RMIT University’s Office of Urban Transformations Research (OUTR) were selected to create a pop-up park at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress 2014.

    Held once every ten years, the IUCN World Parks Congress is a global gathering of thousands of delegates from over 160 countries which focuses on the value and importance of parks. This year’s forum, Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions, discussed original approaches for conservation and development.

    OUTR’s design, #getparked (Nature’s Cathedral) , was created to highlight the significance that parks have on personal and social wellbeing within the landscape of the built environment.

    “The installation aimed to inspire and challenge our understanding of what a park is, and perhaps what it might be,” said Associate Professor Rosalea Monacella, who led the OUTR team with Senior lecturer Craig Douglas.

    Nature’s Cathedral/getparked is an immersive space of wonder and celebration, of contrast and difference, and of challenge to the significance of the landscapes.”

    The design features trees suspended at a height, which the team explains is a move to inspire the “reverence which we generally attribute to our ‘natural environment’.” However, these same trees are exposed and held in stasis by a man-made structure, the scaffold armature.

    “The composition is to simultaneously celebrate the beauty of the natural, and question our relationship to it that potentially both supports its being, and potentially restricts its matter,” OUTR notes on its website.

    The scaffolding, a common icon of growth and construction, is designed in the traditional plan form of a cathedral, which gives the project its name. Halogen lights cast light onto the trees through the scaffold, while the trees reveal their own structure in the form of a root ball system, a ‘system’ usually hidden in the ground.

    Other design initiatives, such as the glowing green transfusion bags around the trees, demonstrate society’s ability and willingness to support the natural environment, but also question what is natural and artificial in our parks, their design and maintenance.

    The design was selected by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects and a jury of five experts from around Australia for showcase at the Sydney exhibition in mid-November. Digital QR codes implanted on all components enabled visitors to track data through their phones on each item, with descriptions of its qualitative and quantitative significance.

    Find out more about the installation  here. Images: OUTR.

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