21 Jun 2021

A Central Queensland parkland has won two major architecture awards for its transformation from an industrial site to an environmental space.

The Gladstone East Shores project, designed by Urbis Pty Ltd, has been awarded a Landscape Architecture Award for Parks and Open Space, and a Regional Achievement Award from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA).

This project is one of 29 award winners across Australia.

The awards were announced in a simultaneous online production and in person cocktail event on June 17.

Winners were selected by a jury of industry professionals, who commended outstanding individual contributions to the profession particularly those of which champion quality design for public open spaces, enable connected and stronger communities and advocate for great environmental stewardship.

Jury chair Lauren Newton said they applauded Queensland’s landscape architects for their commitment to generating opportunities and connections across the state.

“In true Queenslander spirit, we are embracing the difficulties we face together by reconnecting with our neighbours, discovering places in our own backyard and remaining optimistic for a better tomorrow,” Ms Newton said.

“Over the past 12 months, Landscape Architects have been reminded of the undeniable importance of green space, by seeing our community’s appreciation for the outdoors, as together we are drawn to our local parks and streets to exercise, to connect, or simply to get some fresh air.

“Inspired by creating places that consider the broader environment, Queensland landscape architects are striving to deliver strategic design solutions that influence the overall community lifestyle.

“We’ve truly seen how the collective imaginations of landscape architects are shaping a bright and healthy future.”

AILA Queensland president David Uhlmann said the awards recipients demonstrated a commitment to communities in their response to the needs of an increasingly growing population, creating natural and built form environments which prioritised the community’s health.

“The last 12 months have seen an increasing spotlight on the quality and quantity of our public realm,” he said.

“Cities around the world have been reassessing the allocation of public space in response to changing use patterns necessitated by COVID-19.”

The jury noted the Gladstone East Shores project turned a decommissioned, industrial port site into a green community asset that celebrated the cultural identity of Gladstone’s people, while shifting its focus to the city’s waterfront.

“The project has sustainability at its core, and shows leadership in the repurposing of the land into an enriched and enlivened meeting place, while paying homage to the extractive mining of which the community is proud,” the jury cited.

“This parkland is interesting and playful and demonstrates successful integration into the social and cultural context of Gladstone.

“The presence and use of familiar and relatable industrial Port qualities is exemplary and the inclusion of these site-specific structural elements is thoughtful and well executed.

As the nation slowly transitions to more responsible resource management and energy creation, this project offers a stepping stone in shifting community priorities, gently guiding local values towards deindustrialisation and decommodification of critical environmental resources.”

AILA Queensland Award of Excellence and Landscape Architecture Award winners will gain automatic entry into National AILA Awards, to be held later this year followed by the International Landscape Architecture Festival.

This article was originally published by Lachlan Berlin for The Observer.