It feels like spring is finally here with the recent warm weather and what seems like an extended flowering season. I hope everyone has found a moment in their busy schedules to take in the amazing wildflower displays we’re so privileged to have in WA.
As we rapidly approach the silly season, it’s important to take a moment to reflect back on 2021. This year’s festival of Landscape Architecture was contemplative and inspiring, spectacle and collapse certainly encapsulated the unpredictable nature of environmental and economic issues we’re faced with on both a global and local scale. 2021 has seen the spectacle of a thriving WA economy and has brought unpredictable challenges and opportunities to our profession.
The pace of WA’s economic boom coupled with the pressures of the pandemic on supply of materials, have stretched project timelines and inflated costs. As I’m sure many of us can attest, these issues have the potential to delay projects or even trigger a redesign to reduce costs, resulting in a project which bears little resemblance to its original form.
The issues of material supply shortages were raised by Nicole Foss at this year's festival as having the potential to be the ‘new norm’ rather than a bump in the road. However, it can also have a silver-lining.
Project briefs constantly strive for Green Star ratings, low carbon footprints and the use of local materials to create a sustainable and site appropriate design response. However, the process of ‘value management’ or budget restraints often leads to the use of imported materials & substitutions which produce larger carbon footprints and can dilute a projects integrity and potential.
The increase in lead times and prices supports the argument to utilise locally sourced products as they become more attractive in terms of timeframes and cost, as well as the environmental benefits and authenticity they can bring to a project.
Although projects are constantly under strain from budget and program, we as a profession can use the current climate and pressures as a catalyst to encourage the use of local materials, while simultaneously improving sustainability and the sense of place of our projects.