HASSELL has announced Queensland University of Technology (QUT) graduate Jared Thorp as the winner of the 2019 HASSELL Travelling Scholarship - Robin Edmond Award.

A graduate of QUT's Bachelor of Design (Landscape Architecture), Thorp was chosen following interviews with seven participating universities around Australia. His chosen project, titled 'ZOOSubverted', challenges the traditional design of zoological encloswures to destabilise the power dynamic between captive animals and human observers - aiming to forge a new ideology and landscape order.

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Thorp explored his concept using the example of the ‘Sea World’ aquatic theme park on Australia’s Gold Coast, proposing a landscape intervention that could enhance the lives of the captive animals, while providing the infrastructure for wildlife habitats to adapt and emerge over time.  

“The existing character of the site and ecology are engaged as instruments of animal enrichment. Conditions are intensified, and mapped upon the substrate of the enclosure, providing an environment for species to be stimulated by, react to and exert control over,” says Thorp, who was inspired by the ‘Five New Freedoms’ ethos of zoological design specialist Jon Coe. 

HASSELL principal and head of landscape architecture, Angus Bruce says Thorp presented a provocative proposal, supported by powerful graphics, that aims to stimulate discussion around animal welfare awareness and the changing collective conscience that’s driving the transformation of zoological landscape design.

“Through his satirical, speculative concept for the Sea World site, Jared hopes to encourage the exploration of ‘natural immersion’ design models for zoological parks and enclosures, with restricted and unobtrusive observation opportunities for people – subverting the redundant idea of human-dominance over wildlife and allowing the animals greater freedom,” says Bruce.

Using the HASSELL Travelling Scholarship, Thorp plans to travel to China to research the government’s implementation of a national ‘social credit’ system and how it might influence the public’s attitude to conservation and animal welfare.

"I am interested in the relationship between (quasi) altruism as a social phenomenon and the zoo as the infrastructure through which this altruism can occur," says Thorp. 

The HASSELL Travelling Scholarship – Robin Edmond Award is an annual award that recognises graduating landscape architecture students who show outstanding potential for future contribution to the profession. The award provides the winner with the opportunity to expand their education through travel to a destination undergoing significant development or renewal.