News from AILA Victoria

News from AILA Victoria Chapter 25 May 2023

The last month has been quite a reflective one for me, talking projects, people, and practice.

The state jury spent 100 hours or so reading descriptions, reviewing documents, and scanning through photos of your projects. This was followed by an intense couple of days at The University of Melbourne to review and debate more than 100 entries across Victoria and Tasmania. The breadth of projects was amazing. We discussed leadership through design and the beauty of those projects that embraced the uniqueness of landscape architectural knowledge. It is evident that there is a sensibility (particularly in Victoria) that has been emerging for a few years that appears in the design process, form, and materiality of projects. It talks to a design practice that is deeply connected to place, the systems that frame them and the communities that inhabit them.

If the awards program provides an opportunity to reflect on where we are, the passing of Jim Sinatra and the subsequent conversation in remembering and celebrating an exceptional life have provided an opportunity to reflect on where we have come from.  Jim’s significant impact on the landscape architecture profession both as an academic and practitioner was one of deep understanding, knowledge, and advocacy. Fundamentally it was about sharing and receiving knowledge. It is such conversations that talk to eldership, sharing stories that connect a community through a shared history and fundamental values. There is a commonality that I believe landscape architects share and it is through conversations we are reminded of the purposes and passions that guide our practices.

Jim’s notable maxim "If you don't see it, hear it or feel it, then you just don't get it" provides an interesting reflection not just as a practitioner operating in a dynamic environment but also as an industry that looks to share and celebrate publicly who we are and the benefits we bring.

A wander around the current exhibition “Landscape Architects as Change Makers” at the Dulux Gallery at The University of Melbourne offers an opportunity to investigate the strategies used by landscape architects to implement innovative design outcomes in response to cultural and ecological contexts. The exhibition is a reminder of the importance of exhibiting landscape architectural projects, the sharing of technical information, the fostering of critical debate, and the celebration of the places we create and curate. 

However, this exhibition is unique in its embracing of audio-visual media. The exhibition mixes interviews, site footage, drawings and photographs to offer an insight into a series of Australian and Japanese projects as well as conversations about critical issues facing practice. It is through the use of audio-visual media that the landscape architect is positioned in their project, talking about place, design, and professional and cultural identity, sharing the uniqueness of our practice and the passion that we all collectively have for what we do.

So, keep being curious, keep talking, and keeping sharing knowledge. As the current Victorian Executive prepare to hand over to the next one, the focus on engagement with our members and practices, in person, to talk and share stories is definitely front and centre.

Naomi Barun, AILA Vic Vice-President

Naomi Barun