AILA SA Executive Message

Another year, another festival over. I'd like to start by recognising our festival directors and organisers, for providing us with such a wonderful program! It's going to take a while for all that info to process! Here in South Australia, we have a great bunch of Landscape Architects and that really shone through at the festival. And how good is it to see our local projects gaining recognition on the national stage at the AILA national Awards on Thursday!

If there is one thing the festival leaves me with every year, it is a sense of comradery. As Landscape Architects we advocate for change for the better, for the benefit of all humans. We work for the betterment of our diverse community and engage with them, whenever we can. Through our work we are slowly but surely building the profile of Landscape Architects and the enduring benefits of the work we do. And we do all of this with the support of our great AILA community.

We were especially privileged to hear from our first nations speakers, sharing their wisdom, knowledge and culture so we too can connect to country at a deeper level. It was especially inspiring to hear the science backing up the innate wisdom of our first nations people - for millennia they have sung and thanked the ancestors for the truffles they are about to harvest, whereas western science is only just beginning investing the effect of sound on fungi, and the results are mind blowing. Something first nations have known and used for thousands of years.

And if you weren’t able to attend, you missed some wonderful international speakers! We all enjoyed the entertaining presentation from Michele and Miguel, and their innovative Dark Line project. The ingenuity of the light touch on the landscape was truly thought provoking.

A personal favorite was the key note from James Lord. From colourful slides to colourful delivery! The integration of history and biophilic design all with a human focus shone through. James showcased the art of scaling geometric elements to suit their location, whilst retaining the integrity of the inspiration - The Auckland International Airport to be viewed from both the air and the ground!

If there is one thing the Dutch know a little bit about, it’s reclaiming land. They also know a thing or two about agriculture - being the second biggest exporter of agricultural products in the world. Saline Verhoeven helped us to understand the issues this brings to a sinking landscape, whilst highlighting the creative solutions some of the complexities help to create!

It was particularly heartening to have Aziza Chaouni join us via video link from Morocco, still reeling from September’s earthquake. Reintroducing vernacular architecture serves more than the aesthetics. Using local materials and reviving historical building techniques adds to the cultural heritage, creating a sense of place. Aziza’s practice takes this one step further, however, engaging the community, teaching them anti desertification and permaculture techniques in the hope the local communities can become completely self sufficient.

From Moss and Mycelia to fossils of the earliest complex forms of life ever found, from the rethinking the subterranean to rethinking conventional agriculture. I for one am so grateful to all of the speakers and guests for sharing their valuable knowledge with us.

We can now look forward to the mystery that is AILA Festival 2024 - it feels a bit like a treasure hunt is on the way! So keep your eyes and ears peeled for those clues!

Rachael Roberts
AILA SA Executive