According to McGregor Coxall managing director Adrian McGregor the landscape architecture and urban design sectors are on an upswing, with an increasing number of projects underway. The integrated urban design and landscape architecture practice is itself also in expansion mode, with five positions currently available across its three studios in Sydney, Melbourne and Dubai.

This will bring the company’s staff numbers to 30 by the start of next year, McGregor told The Fifth Estate.

Most of the firm’s work is in the early strategic development stages of projects, taking a leadership or co-leadership role, particularly on public domain projects. A recent example was work on the renewal of the city centre in the New South Wales regional centre of Maitland.

Current projects at the firm’s Sydney studio also includes the CBD Renewal Strategy for Parramatta City Council and a number of public private partnership infrastructure projects.

The Melbourne studio’s workload is also growing. One of the current projects is a masterplan for a 28 kilometre-long part of Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast. Mr McGregor said this project incorporates the conservation and preservation of the Twelve Apostles tourism and National Park areas, and managing the sustainable growth of tourism. Three townships are within the planning area, which makes for a “complex and challenging environment”.

Mr McGregor said that through “embracing” the local communities as stakeholders and shifting the view on how communities can inform strategic directions, the process generates a more solid foundation for ongoing approvals and more “robust” results, leading to an easier task for both government and local councils.

The planning process is also considering and integrating a range of environmental factors including impacts on the coastline and park system from sea-level rises and climate change. McGregor said the firm aims to develop a plan that will “strengthen the resilience of the National Parks and townships to environmental challenges.”

“The work we do is very diverse. There is a lot of public domain and environmental projects,” he said.

In terms of the solid work prospects across the landscape architecture and urban design sector, Mr McGregor said the key sources of activity are the number of major urban renewal projects underway, such as North West rail and Green Square, in combination with a growing number of projects arising from the local government sector.

However, in terms of the broader commercial development sector, Mr McGregor said the wide-scale adoption of urban greening is “still moving very slowly”.

“202020 [a program organised by Nursery & Garden Industry Australia and Horticulture Australia Ltd] is trying to spearhead a focus on urban vegetation and urban forests, and there has been a slow and incremental shift in that,” Mr McGregor said.

“Possibly now there is a more holistic view of urban renewal, in terms of creating a more prosperous urban environment, and that is being coupled to the public domain, and creating a more prosperous public domain. Probably in Sydney it has a lot to do with the increasing trend of more housing in the city, so there is a far greater demand for the urban environment to provide for people what the suburban backyard used to. Streets and laneways, as well as parks, are being seen more as urban places for people, not just transport corridors.”

Applications for the positions of associate director landscape architect (Sydney), associate landscape architect (Dubai), landscape architect contractor (Sydney), senior landscape architect (two positions – Melbourne and Sydney) close this week. See details here.