Students design innovative public ‘hangouts’

An inner-city wetland stream and a collection of disaster resilient social parks in Wellington, and activity precincts for an industrial area in Sydney have been selected as the top three proposals for landscape architecture design competition, This Public Space.

University student groups across Australia and New Zealand developed innovative design and programming strategies that make public spaces more inclusive. Run as part of the upcoming 2015 Festival of Landscape Architecture: This Public Life, the competition asked student groups to respond to the questions: why do we seek escape from the city, and what forms of escape can we find within the urban environment?

An unprecedented 231 students across 77 teams entered the competition. This Public Life Creative Directors Claire Martin and Ricky Ricardo, and competition partner, New York’s Van Alen Institute selected the top three finalists.

“We were overwhelmed by the high number and standard of entries, but the finalists we chose stood out as thoughtful and innovative concepts that cut across social boundaries,” said Mr Ricardo. University of Wellington is host to two of the finalist groups, while the third finalist group is studying at the University of NSW.

The two finalist submissions from New Zealand are:

• Urban Streaming by Sian Du, Christine Blunden and Tama Whiting is an inner-city wetland design for Te Aro, Wellington that exposes a historic stream throughout the CBD to enhance social interaction with water.

• Aftershock by Alex Prujean, Katie Nguyen and Michael Cook proposes a web of disaster-resilient parks, providing safe havens to meet, play and interact with nature, while also acting as a disaster relief zone for the Te Aro region.

The finalist submission from Australia is:

• Switching Gears by Brinlee Pickering, Clare O’Brien, Grace Hunt and Michele Williams, propose an urban master plan of the Bays Precinct in outer-Sydney. This design celebrates the importance of local industry to the site by championing existing industrial workings, dramatically altered natural conditions and the unique character of the site’s layered past.

The finalists have won the opportunity to present their work to an expert panel of judges at This Public Life in Melbourne, on Thursday 15 October. The expert panel includes David van der Leer (Van Alen Institute, NYC), Ana Abram (Amphibious Lab, UK), Cassandra Chilton (HASSELL, VIC) and Adam Husband (Intergrain, VIC). They will announce the winner and present the $3000 prize pool, sponsored by Intergrain.

The Festival of Landscape Architecture: This Public Life brings together international and local thinkers and practitioners from the arts and sciences to explore public life through the lenses of Life + Death, Love + Longing and Participation + Spectacle. With a provocative and inspiring program of Melbourne-wide industry and public fringe events, city tours, events and installations, the annual Festival of Landscape Architecture, will take over Melbourne from 10–20 October 2015.

View the full Festival program at

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