A finely crafted coastal project marrying architecture and landscape has won the coveted Victoria Medal in the AILA Victoria Landscape Architecture Awards.

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Awards aim to foster recognition of the profession of landscape architecture, encourage excellence and provide public acknowledgement of the valuable contributions made by the profession to the improvement of our natural and built environments.

Announced in Melbourne on Friday November 23, firm Site Office received The Victoria Medal for Landscape Architecture for the Keast Park project undertaken for the City of Frankston.

The jury recognised the project “sits firmly, yet gently” in the landscape to define the transition from coastal dune to the built environment.

They were impressed by the project’s understated design, noting the way it subtly embraces and reveals the landscape, demonstrating an exemplary sensibility to landscape and community.

The jury commented: “At the core of the project is a simply stated and well detailed boardwalk that protects the reinstated dune landscape, and shelters the grassy local park and community activity. The deck winds underneath a raised building, providing a strong physical and visual connection between the bowling greens to the north and the park to the south. The project explores the integration and overlap of multiple community facilities and activities, promoting a stronger sense of community ownership and engagement.”

“This project is also an exemplar of landscape architecture led master planning, leading to excellence in built outcomes in both architecture and landscape. Site Office received an AILA award for the original master plan in 2004, as well as a commendation for urban design from AIA.”

As listed below, the awards announced in 2012 span the categories Of Design In Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, Planning, Land Management, Research & Communication and the Victoria Graduate Landscape Architect Future Leaders Award.

All the winners:

Images courtesy AILA Victoria



Recipient:        Taylor Cullity Lethlean

Project:            Lonsdale Street Dandenong

Client: Places Victoria

Key Partners: BKK


Transforming a busy urban thoroughfare in a declining urban centre to a vibrant pedestrian boulevard has injected activity and life back into the heart of Dandenong. TCL in collaboration with BKK, rethink the traditional car-dominated thoroughfare function of a major road through the city centre and re-orientate it towards pedestrians.  With this single gesture, they transform Lonsdale Street into a more civilised street. 


A strong vision and a ‘principle-led’ urban design approach guided complex and difficult negotiations with stakeholders.   The successful reconciliation of competing user needs demonstrates the critical role landscape architects play in leading large multi-disciplinary public realm infrastructure projects. 


Masterful spatial planning, combined with a unifying suite of design elements, re-establishes Lonsdale Street as the civic spine of Dandenong via a distinctive new boulevard. By enhancing the character of the city in this way, Places Victoria has set the bar high for Lonsdale Street in its quest to revitalise central Dandenong.



Recipient:        ASPECT Studios & AECOM

Project:            Victoria Park

Client:             City of Yarra

Key Partners:  Lovell Chen, City of Yarra


The redevelopment of Victoria Park represents the revitalization of much loved inner city infrastructure at a time when our communities are looking for new public space. Through an impressive combination of historical research and engagement with past stakeholders - including the Collingwood Football Club - a confident, creative strategy for its re-imagining has resulted in a contemporary public space that celebrates local cultural values through simple reinterpretation of existing elements.

The project has transformed and made available to the public around 30,000sqm of open green space, including the clever restoration of important markers such as the ticket booth, and structure for the southern stand; reflected in new public gathering spaces for picnics, kicking a ball and enjoying time together.

The quality and variety of new spaces demonstrates the central place for landscape architecture in crafting safe, unique and desirable places as well as the role for the landscape architect in translating cultural values into meaningful places for people.



Recipient:        Fitzgerald Frisby Landscape Architecture

Project:            Toomuc Creek

Client:             Devine Limited

Key Partners:  Louise Lavarack, BIOSIS Research, Cardno, Taylors


The environment of Toomuc Creek has been transformed with the creation of a vibrant new green infrastructure belt on the edge of one of the Melbourne’s expanding growth corridors This project challenged the delicate relationship between habitat and open space provision in a well-researched collaboration between landscape architects, ecologists, artists and engineers.   New standards were set during the design process to further ecological and stormwater management practice. 

The design-led approach actively negotiates the tension between ecological systems and open space networks. The result translates complex technical requirements into high-quality design initiatives with a strong ecological underpinning. This includes the creation of habitat specifically for growling grass frogs, separate to wetlands linked to the stormwater treatment system and the open space system. 

A series of small scale interventions enrich the identity of the place and experience of users. This includes the abstract artwork ‘Ebb/Flow’ by artist Louise Lavarack that interprets the local hydrology. Other interventions include the secondary trail network that morph’s into a ‘kid’ scale BMX track, old bridge timbers that are reinvented as key pedestrian elements, and a truck turning-circle that houses a netball court in its spare time.



Recipient:        OCULUS

Project:            MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)

Client:             MONA

Key Partners:              Fender Katsalidis Architects, Architecture, Felicetti, Structural Engineering

Lincolne Scott, Lighting, Jonathan Hearn, Landscape Design &  Construction Hansen Yuncken Pty Ltd, Construction, Gandy & Roberts, Civil Engineering


Mediating between an existing topographically challenging site and a signature building that draws upon and extends modernist architectures at one with their landscape, Oculus has delivered a contemporary pleasure ground. These landscape sequences are simultaneously ‘grown’ from the site and draw from the museum of curiosity; visitors are given clues as to the varied experiences that await inside the buildings through a blend of humorous elements and elegantly detailed landscape structures.

Informed by a highly engaged client, Oculus’ response evokes allegory and experiment, plays with familiar forms and provides active spaces for visitor experience of the inner landscape of the Museum complex while providing views over the Derwent River and cultural landscape of outer Hobart. Their skilful use of materials and planting regimes provide tangibly artful gardens alongside dynamic public pathways that work with the topographical and management challenges that an important public institution requires. The designed landscape provides multiple experiences for visitors through a deep understanding of the spatial sequences afforded by the site and by the curatorial possibilities offered by this most unique of museums, the MONA event.



Recipient:        Rush \ Wright Associates

Project:            Williamstown High School Bayview Campus Landscape Redevelopment

Client:             Williamstown High School

Key Partners:  Spowers Architects, GHD


This is a design for a sustainable school landscape, integrated with an adjacent conservation area that increases the school community's understanding of the local ecology. The site is adjacent to the “Jawbone” marine reserve in Williamstown, and the design for each part of the school responds to the section of the dune system or coastal woodlands to which it belongs. This approach is evident in the plantings and landscaping treatments throughout the campus and the careful consideration of the flow of water.

The students carry out their daily school life in a respectful indigenous landscape. The school incorporates a fresh water ecology program into the curriculum, and a nature trail educates visitors of the landscape's importance. In other parts of the campus are productive gardens and a nursery. The project is a model for an 'environmental education in school landscapes'.





Recipient:        Taylor Cullity Lethlean

Project:            North Wharf Promenade

Client:             Waterfront Auckland

Key Partners:  Wraight & Associates


Auckland's waterfront is reinvigorated with elegance and care. This sensitive collaboration with WA (Wellington NZ), respects the historical and remaining maritime industries of this harbour. The design seeks to bring the 'gritty' experiences of the working waterfront along with it as well as carefully introducing a new future of post-industrial landscapes.

Gantries are retained and used as viewing platforms. Silos are also retained as viewing towers and projection screens. Micro-mapping of the site has ensured the retention of many other artefacts. These are juxtaposed with contemporary structures and promenades and softened with rain-gardens planted with indigenous species. There is a purposefully intended 'friction of uses' created by allowing traditional uses such as the fishing fleet and seafood markets to co-exist with the new recreational and retail and residential lands uses.



Recipient:        Places Victoria

Project:            Revitalising Central Dandenong Master Plan

Client:             Places Victoria

Key Partners:              Taylor Cullity Lethlean, BKK Architects, Aspect & Williams Boag Architects, Urban Initiatives


Revitalising Central Dandenong masterplan is a 'blue-print' for 7 ha of land in the centre of Dandenong that seeks to create a city centre of significance, an alternative urban centre in the Melbourne's south east. This is a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach considers all aspects of urban design, from the long term economics of revitalisation and the social dynamics of a city to the reorientation of the street towards pedestrians and the creation of cultural hubs and civic precincts. Importantly the strategy carefully considers the built form of Dandenong.

The strategy is crafted around well designed publications that summarise the strategic context, implementation and delivery for the project and addresses in detail character, open space, street-scapes and built form. Specific design guidelines complete the strategy. The success of the Revitalising Central Dandenong is demonstrated by the transformational projects such as Lonsdale Street.





Recipient:        ASPECT Studios

Project:            Knox Liveable Streets Plan

Client:             Knox City Council

Key Partners:  Context Pty Ltd


ASPECT's work with the City of Knox is an important body of work at an important time for Australian urbanism. The project exemplifies a new model for policy documents that is applicable for every sphere of government. The work shows we can convert high level objectives like those we see in the Council of Australian Government cities agenda, into action on the ground if we use a design-based approach.


Well curated layers of information span both the aspirational, technical and administrative. The documents serve to inform, engage, educate and ultimately empower the community, while providing clear guidance to the City administration on initiatives that are actionable and accountable.

Simple visualization conveys the components that must be considered for great streets. Research is translated for ease of understanding. The document layout is visually engaging. You want to use it.

ASPECT and the City of Knox have shown that policy can be both the business case and the roadmap for collective action for a common purpose. The jury encourages the City of Knox to share this work widely through the local government network in the hope that more communities can benefit from this excellent work.



Recipient:        AECOM

Project:            Davis Road, Tarniet

Client:             Stockland

Key Partners:  Stockland, AECOM, GAA, OLV, Wyndham City Council


The Davis Road Urban Community project demonstrates the distinct value of a design-based approach to the planning of Australia’s urban centres. Through an intimate understanding of the site and the behavioural ecology of natural systems, this project distinguishes itself from the myriad of placeless, characterless and spiritless developments that unfortunately characterise Australia’s capital cities.


Landscape is used as the primary ordering device to link neighbourhoods; encouraging outdoor interactions that are so critical to the forming of community. These are active spaces that manage stormwater and promote biodiversity.


The work also shows a more evidence-based, sympathetic 3-dimensional understanding of space and layout than conventional urban planning; embracing small details to illustrate how seemingly competing priorities can be integrated to define a unique sense of place.

The jury also congratulates the client; Stockland for being a champion for what the jury felt is an intelligent, human-centred vision for this new community.



Recipient:        Thompson Berrill Landscape Design

Project:            City of Melbourne Open Space Strategy

Client:             City of Melbourne

Key Partners:  Environment & Land Management Pty Ltd


If Australia's inner urban communities are to be renewed, high quality and inviting public space is essential. At the heart of any public space strategy for cities is the need for a network of open green spaces. The City of Melbourne's commitment to the renewal of the municipal area has set the standard for capital city authorities for over a decade. This leadership continues today with a suite of strategies to upgrade streets and spaces with programs like the Urban Forest initiative that look to renew Melbourne's street trees for the next generation.

The jury commends the City of Melbourne for commissioning the first municipal-wide vision for its open space, and for identifying that the success of a strategy like this lies in the skill sets that lead it, and in the commitment to implement.

This 15 year strategy covers around 15% of the local council area; linking 148 open spaces. The project demonstrates the value of research in best practice urban policy, in multi-disciplinary expertise and in how design-based tools can be used by civic leaders to engage people in better understanding the opportunities of urban change.





Recipient:        MDG Landscape Architects

Project:            Aurora Conservation Reserve Management

Client:             Places Victoria

Key Partners:  Biosis Research


Aurora Conservation Reserve is a realised demonstration project and a significant model for residential development that acknowledges and supports important rural ecologies and existing habitat as the drivers for future urban development. Careful documentation of existing flora and fauna supports locating and conserving remnant patches of native vegetation with the aim to enable local experience of the grasslands and woodlands north of Melbourne.

The Conservation Management Plan, supported by Places Victoria, has identified a number of conservation reserves that will be managed sustainably utilising a range of landscape driven measures that engage both developer and future local council involvement and responsibility. Landscape management that effectively provides the framework for multiple uses by both ecological and human communities ensures that biodiversity objectives in principle are effectively delivered in practice.





Recipient:        ASPECT Studios

Project:            Victorian Desalination Project Green Roof

Client:             AquaSure / Thiess Degremont

Key Partners:  Fytogreen Australia, Practical Ecology, peckvonhartel architects, ARM Architecture, Beca, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Australian Ecosystems


Research and communication for this green roof project has been exemplary, adding to the body of knowledge on the subject, and setting new standards for green roofs. The depth of research is impressive in exploration of the site and conditions, and in investigating the technicalities of green roof installation.  The jury also commends the inclusion of ongoing monitoring as part of the program.

The research papers and design presentation demonstrate how the knowledge base for green roofs in Australia has been extended by describing how the green roof design has overcome a number of barriers and developed a series of enabling technologies. These include: a light weight substrate with high water holding capability and air filled porosity; a measure to mitigate the effects of the high winds; an irrigation strategy that mitigates the regular extreme heat events; inclusion of a leak detection system; and a technique for selection of plants that assess the locally occurring plant species for the traits that lend them to be successful colonisers of the green roof.



Recipient:        Site Office

Project:            Children's Museum Garden

Client:             Museum Victoria


This is an innovative masterplan for Museum Victoria's children's garden, and collaboration between Museum Victoria and Site Office. The premise of the work is to allow children to 'create their own museum and manage it', fostering an understanding of the world in which they live and a lifelong love for the museum.


Various opportunities for the garden are described including eating, gathering, sand play, grassy mound and a ridge line. Within each of these opportunities, learning outcomes are identified along with 'doings' or activities and design opportunities to facilitate these 'doings'. The plan is far more than just a spatial outcome. It delves deeper into the future occupation of the space by children to maximise their opportunity to manipulate and manage the garden and its objects in a self generated and imaginative learning experience.



Recipient:        Taylor Cullity Lethlean

Project:            Tickle Booklets

Client:             Taylor Cullity Lethlean


The Tickle booklets have the potential to enrich the profession and to inform a broader audience. The booklets are accessible, yet thoughtfully and attractively compiled, capturing practice research and showcasing projects beyond those of the practice.  The jury agreed that the booklets reflect a maturity of practice of landscape architecture, and commend the initiative to contribute to the depth and breadth of the profession.

Tickle Booklets 01 - 05 is the first set of booklets to be produced by Tickle. The collection of booklets documents research into landscape architecture. The research is carried out through a culture of staff involvement, shared discourse and formed alliances facilitated through the identification and establishment of project / research relationships. Tickle will speculate on the future of landscape architecture and emerging practice, and how TCL may continue to contribute meaningfully and challenge existing paradigms.


The AILA Victoria Graduate Landscape Architect Future Leaders Award


Recipient:        Natarsha Lamb

Project:            Design Gesture in Mining Reclamation


Terra Strata is an important contribution to landscape derived research and design to develop pro-active strategies for open cut mining reclamation. Through the use of elegant and communicative landscape representation and design models underpinned by solid research Terra Strata has drawn from a project commenced as graduating student research to affect policy and practice at industry level. Landscape models and ecological concerns are the basis for proposing long term, design-led programs to the mining industry for site reclamation with the intent to benefit to local communities.

The panel was impressed with the potential of Terra Strata to inform future practices at a national and global context. The project is documented with a clarity, which advances the landscape project as a driver for change at a range of scales to provide an essential future thinking approach to reclaimed landscapes.


For more information on the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and the Awards program, visit the AILA website.


Apology and retraction:  Prior to the release date for this article, Architecture & Design mistakenly published results from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) 2012 Victoria Chapter Awards. This article was immediately taken down and Architecture & Design apologises to our readers and the AILA for this error.