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Big year for the landscape architecture profession

December 20, 2005

Massive year for the landscape architecture profession

The Year for the Built Environment played a huge part this year in the country understanding the value to the nation of landscape architecture.

The year 2005 will be remembered for the special awards for the New Plymouth Foreshore and Oriental Bay redevelopment projects.

The New Plymouth foreshore project by the Isthmus Group won several awards including the International Federation of Landscape Architects Award of excellence.

The redevelopment work became New Plymouth’s most popular project ranked first by the community in preference for public spending.

Oriental Bay’s redevelopment, also involving Isthmus, was the overall winner in the Year of The Built Environment awards. The project won nine awards in total.

Oriental Bay was described by Wellington City Council as “the jewel in the crown of Wellington’s inner city”. The capital’s only inner city beach was first created in the 1840s from ships’ ballast.

The project met with overwhelming support from Wellingtonians. The amount of dry beach space increased threefold, allowing greater numbers of people to enjoy this inner city beach.

The Oriental Bay project highlighted how a landscape project can be successfully accomplished by a collaborative team of landscape architects, architects and engineers.

New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA) president Renee Lambert said the profile of landscape architecture will be under the spotlight at the 2006 Pride of Place Landscape Awards in Wellington in March.

``We have a record number of entries in our two yearly awards which celebrate the best projects from throughout the country.

``Judges will be travelling the country in the new year to consider the entries,’’ she said.

Also in March, Professor Joan Nassauer will be touring the country giving public lectures and workshops about landscape architecture.
The NZILA Education Foundation along with the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture (RNZIH) will bring Joan Nassauer to New Zealand.
Nassauer is Professor of Landscape Architecture in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.
She specialises in landscape ecology and landscape perception, and is interested in the application of these in the design of settled landscapes.
She has previously chaired the United States International Society for Landscape Ecology, and has helped to build plans and designs, at federal, state and local level.
Meanwhile, Frank Boffa, NZILA life member, said cities like Wellington had made considerable progress for its built environment embracing open space and urban design strategies.
``Twenty five years ago, Wellington’s identity and reputation was essentially based on its inner harbour setting and town belt backdrop. Today Wellington’s identity and reputation extends well beyond its natural setting characteristics and now includes its revitalised urban spaces, places and its dynamic culture. In a relatively short period of time, Wellington has become an exciting, vibrant and attractive city.’’
He said Wellington had the makings of a vibrant, exciting and extremely attractive public amenity. Projects such as the Queens Wharf precinct, the Victoria Square and Grey Street redevelopment, Frank Kitts Park, the civic centre incorporating the city to sea bridge and the adjacent waterfront lagoon, Te Papa and Bush City, Waitangi Park, along with the upgrading of Oriental Parade and the replenishment of Oriental Bay beach, had all been created as focal points within an integrated and comprehensive inner harbour waterfront initiative.

Christchurch was also fortunate to have places and spaces like Hagley Park, Riccarton Bush, the Avon and Heathcote Rivers, and the Port Hills as urban form giving landscape features.

Auckland was redeveloping its waterfront and there are numerous urban design initiatives occurring throughout the larger metropolitan area, he said.

``Dunedin has announced plans to revitalise its waterfront with a strong focus on public access and amenity,’’ he said.

``Provincial New Zealand also look to be in good shape. Towns like Wanganui, New Plymouth, Napier, Hastings, Taupo, Nelson, Blenheim and Timaru all exhibit a feeling of vitality and appear to be embracing new urban design initiatives and actions that are creating more attractive and vibrant communities as a result,’’ Boffa said.


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