Australia’s best landscape architecture projects for 2023 have been unveiled.

(above image: Discovery Early Learning Centre; Architect PlayStreet, image credit: Joel Everald)

In an award ceremony held in Adelaide last month, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects unveiled the winners of 51 project awards.

A major project winner was The Great Ocean Road Trail Master Plan, which took out the top award of excellence in the Landscape Planning category along with a Regional Achievement Award.

Released on September 6, the master plan aims to guide the future construction of the Great Ocean Road Coastal Master Trail – a 90 kilometre walking trail along Victoria’s iconic Surf Coast that will connect with the Surf Coast Walk at Fairhaven and the Great Ocean Walk at Skenes Creek near Apollo Bay.

An initial concept was advocated by the Wye River, Separation Creek and Kennett River community after the 2015 Christmas Day Bushfires.

That has since evolved into a ‘series of trails’ to provide multiple, all season walking experiences and connect to local townships.

The 90-kilometre walking trail will traverse Gadubanud Country along the Otway coast.

It will boast new breathtaking views from suspension bridges as well as camp sites, lookouts, boardwalks, river crossings, carparks, and day visitor areas. Some of the suspension bridges will have spans of up to 160 meters.

The new trail will deliver a mixture of hiking and walking experiences. This will include a full 7-day 6-night hike, day walks, half-day walks and shorter loop trails.

New dedicated walking paths will allow visitors to ‘tread lightly’ and safely. This will leave minimal impact as they connect with this environmentally and culturally significant landscape.

Great Ocean Road Master Trail (image source: DEWLP)

Another award winning project was the Hanlon Park/Bur’uda Waterway Rejuvenation project.

Undertaken by the Brisbane City Council, Tract, Bligh Tanner, Epoca Constructions, and AECOM, the project involved a complete ‘renaturalisation’ of 800 meters of existing concrete stormwater channel in Hanlon Park, Stones Corner and the redevelopment of parkland including a new nature play.

The design includes extensive geotechnical, services, groundwater, ecological and surface water quality investigations.

In addition to the new channel, design elements included new concrete paths, park and feature lighting, a bikeway under Logan Road and landscaping works.

The project won an Award of Excellence in the Parks and Open Space category, a Landscape Architecture Award in the Land Management category and a Climate Positive Design Award.

Hanlon Park/Bur’uda Waterway Rejuvenation project (image credit: Epoca Constructions)

Another winning project was the Thorndon Park Playground in South Australia.

Designed by JPE Design Studio and inspired by bird life for which Thorndon Park is renowned, the playground’s design aims to offer ‘something for everyone’ and ensure that all feel welcome.

Its design includes four sculptural bird structures which offer unique activity and experiences including swings, slides, climbing and opportunities for waterplay.

Focused on creative play and storytelling, the play space delivers a multitude of play environments that foster interaction, autonomy, exploration, curiosity and communication.

Thorndon Park Playground (image: David Sievers)

AILS National Awards Jury Chair Claire Martin congratulated the winners.

Martin says the importance of landscape architecture should not be underestimated.

“The need for landscape architecture has never been greater,” Martin said.

“Whether by accelerating adaptation, strategising for carbon and flood mitigation, increasing biodiversity or improving the health of our waterways. Likewise, landscape architects can strengthen people’s connection with their environment and to each other, improve livelihoods and health outcomes, foster truth telling and simply bring joy to people.

“In an emerging context of increased loss, damage, isolation, inequity and reduced insurability, the 2023 National Award winners offer valuable case studies on the benefits of good design.

“They demonstrate what is possible when, as a community, we invest in living infrastructure now and into the future.

“The jury commends the winners for their skill, commitment and conviction.”

The full list of winners can be viewed here.


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