Designs on better world

David Yocca... a fan of the iconic Australian Parliament House. Photo by Silas

CANBERRA Landscape Architects put on their sustainability hats last week at a seminar and workshop entitled “Designed for Change: Creating Adaptable Urban Place”.
Starring American David Yocca and British-Australian Cathryn Chatburn, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects’ event used suburban Dickson as a case study for investigating ways to combine urban renewal with sustainable practice.
Local landscape architect Jennie Curtis, from Fresh Landscape Design, said Canberra’s urban designers wanted to look at how green infrastructure and landscape strategies could be incorporated into urban design projects to prepare for climate change adaptation.
“The workshop started out as an opportunity for landscape architects to actually explore how we might do sustainability better,” Curtis said.
Yocca said that sustainable practice was often seen as an add-on to urban design, rather than a guiding principle.
“It’s a huge challenge,” Yocca told “CityNews”.
“It’s more than just high performance; water conservation; energy conservation; long-lasting, durable, beautiful materials, it’s supporting the local economy in how it’s specified and engaging children and being aware of those things.
“There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests landscapes that provide these qualities have very real benefits that are very pragmatic and make sense economically.
“In office blocks where people have access to windows and trees and fresh air and are closer to nature will have much lower absentee rates and much higher performance levels.
“Because so much land has been degraded the only way to get to sustainability is restorative, to have a net positive effect on air and water quality, soil health, building biodiversity.”
Yocca is a fan of the iconic Australian Parliament House and says more landscape design should be as multi-faceted.
“Using an integrated design process where you’re not solving one problem but creating another, then you get some of these of these benefits and a green roof [Australian Parliament House] is a great example. By putting the green roof over the surface of the building it protects the roof and makes it last much longer, which saves money over time, it better insulates the building, it can provide usable space and amenity and provide real-estate value and urban spaces.”


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