“Embassy of the Drowned Nations” design by OCULUS

4 August 2010 – The winners of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects international ideas competition SEA-CHANGE 2030+ have been announced.

The competition invited design proposals to protect the Sydney harbour foreshore from rising water or to make modifications to the environment to ensure sea level rise does not adversely affect property, parks and open spaces.

Three equal first prizes were awarded in the professional team category, with each winning submission covering different aspects of local, regional and global responses to climate change and adaptation to sea level rise.

Comments from AILA on the three winning proposals include:

Local Solutions: “Sea-Life” – NMGS, Queensland, Australia and Chile – James Nash,  Michael Marriott,  Lydia Gibson, Bec Stephens

An immediate and local response to global climate change, James Nash and his team present tactical built environment responses to living, playing and building on the edge of Sydney Harbour. Their project based on the iconic Balmoral Beach, shows the value of typological analysis and performance responses for micro-scale harbour features such as beaches and rock platforms with an emphasis on access and amenity.

Their conceptual design solutions represent a “good start” for a future design manual for local government with a set of edge treatments that are pragmatic, affordable, do-able and able to be further developed into simple guidelines. These typological responses can be implemented over time through a set of initiatives that are place-based and rely on “learning by doing” – a valid local adaptive response to the uncertainty of timing about inevitable sea level rise.

Metropolitan Solutions:
“Subtropical Sydney” – OPSYS, USA – Pierre Bélanger, Miho Mazereeuw, Christina Milos, Andrew Tenbrink, Erik Prince, Sarah Thomas

This submission takes a regional metropolitan approach to Sydney focusing on the connections between Botany Bay, Sydney airport and the low-lying lands along the Alexandria Canal. They propose a strategic response to adapting to sea level rise and intrusion of salt water into the former estuaries of the Cooks River with a conceptual design for what South Sydney could look like in 2030.

The ideas are based on urban renewal, reintroducing ecology into the city through green arteries and waterways. They propose a vision for re-engineering the urban form for cleaner waterways, recreational areas food production in urban gardens and improved access, amenity and mobility along green arteries. Their design integrates scales of place and time while producing a high value corridor for desirable and sustainable living. What they propose is a transition of Sydney into a new climate future based on a different valuation of ecosystem services and urban land economics.

Global Solutions: “Embassy of the Drowned Nations” – OCULUS, Sydney – Bob Earl, Shahreen Alford, Simon Bond, Liam Butt, Katie Cooper, Daniel Firns, Ali Gaunt, Rosie Krauss,  Ben Nacard, Simon Trick

This bold venture, the Embassy of Drowned Nations, extends a hand of connection and friendship as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House did in the last century. By providing a meeting place and forum for adapting to climate change it opens the debate on conceptual engagement with other drivers of global environmental change, particularly around population and resource use. The bold vision of the Embassy of Drowned Nations is much more than a lament for a lost past; it’s an iconic engagement in a brighter future through building a world-class place for welcoming and regenerating the spirit of human adaptation to global change.

The full list of winners include:


Category – Open Professional – Award of 3 equal first prizes for

local/shorter term adaptation response
NMGS Australia (Qld) and Chile, ‘Sea- Life’

metropolitan /medium term adaptation response
OPSYS, USA – ‘Subtropical Sydney’

global/longer term adaptation response
OCULUS Sydney, Australia (NSW) – ‘Embassy of the Drowned Nations’

Category – Open community, NGOs, academics, non-landscape architect students
No award

Category – Schools Primary

First Prize – Cranbrook School, Sydney
Jack Holt (Year 2) – ‘Secret Hideout Tube’
Merit Awards – Cranbrook School, Sydney
Ralph Burke & Caspar Broekhuizen (Year 1) – ‘Island Parks’ & ‘Rising Water’

Category – Schools Secondary
Merit Award – Northern Beaches Secondary College, Balgowlah Boys Campus, Sydney
Lachlan & Oliver Horlyck – ‘Sea Change Manly Waterslides’

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