The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) NSW on Thursday night held a sparkling event to announce its 2022 awards winners in a packed house at Sydney’s Walsh Bay, with Sydney’s illuminated Vivid festival casting a glamourous and colourful backdrop.

Among the guests were the leading thinkers and practitioners of better landscaping the state: among them Jess Miller, former deputy Lord Mayor, City of Sydney, who sat on the judging panel and will be MC for our Urban Greening event on 29 July; and Clarence Slockee, presenter on Gardening Australia, who notched up the President’s special award for contribution to the industry.

Also in attendance were NSW Government Architect Abbie Galvin, Barbara Schaffer, Principal Landscape Architect NSW Government Architect, Anita Mitchell, chief executive officer Places NSW, Suellen Fitzgerald CEO Western Sydney Parklands, Caroline Butler-Bowdon, executive director, Cities Revitalisation and Place, Transport for NSW; Nikki Woolley, portfolio manager, Cancer Institute NSW; Liz King, manager of skin cancer prevention at Cancer Council NSW.

  • Full disclosure, AILA is our collaboration partner on our Urban Greening event along with UTS and Living Future Institute.

Regional winners

Regional projects took out a third of all 91 entries and won half of the 38 awards given, while urban tree coverage projects scooped top spots as well. 

High levels of regional entries were a huge surprise, considering that by some estimates 90 per cent of the population live in urban areas (according to data from the United Nations), it signals a significant increase in investment in regional areas. 

AILA NSW awards jury chair Andrew Turnbull said the awards highlight how regional areas are evolving in response to increased tourism and migration. He stated that this “has encouraged regional townships to reimagine their offering for residents and visitors alike”.

“At the core of all awarded projects is a focus on creating community and climate resilience for the health and happiness of our people,” he said. 

“Landscape architects are at the forefront of empowering regional communities to explore and realise their shared histories, shared knowledge and shared ideas.”

Albury Skate and Active Recreation Precinct by Playce – the largest skatepark in Australia – scooped up awards in the categories of parks and open spaces, and regional achievement for southern NSW. 

“The project provides a valuable community asset for inclusive youth recreation and for people of all ages and abilities,” the jury said.

Byron Bay Bus Interchange by DesignInc Sydney took home awards for infrastructure and regional achievement in northern NSW. Exemplifying sensitive design practice in its respectful incorporation of historical sites and the cultural heritage of the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung Nation, the jury said it was “well conceived and delivered”. 

“[It is] an exemplar project that embeds a deep connection to its locale and explores the transport heritage in its detail.”

Gosford Leagues Club Park by Turf Design Studio took out an award for its unique children’s playground design. In collaboration with Darkinjung people, the playground tells the story of pre-European history and local aquatic life in the area. The jury said that the design was exemplary for its strong connection to Country informed through deep engagement with the local community.

“An intricate blend of play, storytelling, land and water, public art and interpretation, that powerfully tells the shared history of the site… This place, which was once an important camp, a place of trade and cultural exchange, a meeting ground between the Darkinjung clans and with adjoining nations the Gadigal, Goomeri and Wiradjuri, has been reimagined as a place to play.”

Other regional projects include the Coonamble Shire Master Plan by sala4d, the Terrigal Boardwalk and Rockpool by Arup, and the Minyon Falls Lookout and Picnic Area by NewSpace Design.

Urban tree canopy awarded for cancer prevention

On the urban side, awards were given out for designs that incorporate strong tree canopy cover to counteract Australia’s high rates of skin cancer. Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, costing approximately $1.7 billion a year. 

AILA collaborated with the Cancer Council NSW and the Cancer Institute NSW to award projects that could help prevent skin cancer through the design of outdoor spaces. 

The NSW Urban Tree Canopy – Targets and Controls and Bankstown and Campsie CBD Urban Tree Canopy Master Plan scooped the awards for this category due to each projects respective investment in urban shade to support a healthy and sustainable community.

Winners of the state awards will proceed to the National Landscape Architecture Awards program held later this year. 

  • With Tina Perinotto

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) NSW landscape architects awards night / AILA NSW / Photographer Jackie Chan

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