Now in its fourth year, the WAN Landscape Award specialist category was established to celebrate and promote the best in landscape architecture from urban interventions and small developments through to master plans. Landscape design can enrich the experience of a building, improve a public area and enhance the experience of movement between buildings.
A longlist of 27 projects were recently assessed by a panel of experts. The judges used their experience within the sector and considered a number of factors to get to the short list including; originality, innovation, form, function, sustainability and context.
This year’s esteemed judging panel were: Andrew Taylor, Director at Patel Taylor, Rob Aspland, Board Director at LDA Design, Nigel Koch, Associate and Leader of London's Landscape Team at Populous and Tom Armour, Director and Leader of Global Landscape Architecture at Arup.
The jury were impressed with the high standard of all of this year’s entries and had the difficult task of selecting a shortlist. However, after much discussion, the jury agreed on a shortlist of six, listed below in no particular order:
Rampart Zone 's-Hertogenbosch in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands by MTD landscapearchitects / urban designers - Van Roosmalen van Gessel architecten and Studio Leon Their.
In 2008, MTD landschapsarchitecten were commissioned to draw up an image quality plan for the Zuiderpark, the rampart zone and the Casinotuin, in which the main intention was to set out a spatial framework for the developments. To this end, the choice was made for a comprehensive approach in the architecture, the public space and the works of art in the public space.
The first strategic objective of the image quality plan was the restoration of the rampart and for the re-establishment of the excursion along the wall, under the leafy roof of the impressive trees. Whilst the second strategic objective of the image quality plan involves the realisation of an attractive and unambiguous link up from the parking garage through the Casinotuin in the direction of the inner city.
Andrew commented on the complexity of the scheme: “This project is very impressive, the detailing is exquisite. It’s an incredibly controlled project, which has been beautifully carried out, beautifully executed and ultimately brings a good connection to the city.” Rob added: “It appears to be a very subtle intervention, in a very historic context and the precision in design is very impressive.”
The Meadow Garden at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, United States by Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects.
The Meadow Garden at Longwood Gardens is a model for showcasing artfully restored native ecology in the context of one of the world’s premier horticultural display gardens. Juxtaposed with formal and heavily maintained exhibit gardens, the 86-acre wild, temporal and intuitive Meadow Garden re-imagines the “display garden” while preserving the memory of the American Piedmont on former fallow farmland.
Grounded in ecological consciousness, the Meadow Garden’s design was driven by Jens Jensen’s notion that “a garden, to be a work of art, must have the soul of the native landscape in it.” This theme is woven into the site with a complex native plant palette and the interconnected web of migratory birds, important pollinators and native wildlife that these plant communities support.
Public response to the Meadow Garden has exceeded expectations, since opening in June of 2014, attendance has increased from 900,000 to over 1.3 million. This success was considered alongside other elements of the project with Tom saying: “I like all the different techniques the architects have used in terms of maintenance, creating landscape and changing seasons.” It’s clearly successful as well, which is always a positive.” Nigel agreed, adding: “A wholesale enhancement of ecology and visitation and within its context fantastic detailing.”
TAGUS LINEAR PARK in Alverca, Portugal by TOPIARIS Lda
The Tagus Linear Park is an area of 150 000 sq m that was conquered by the surrounding communities of the industrial private sector and was felt as a democratic intervention by those forever deprived of access to the River.
For the first time, people of adjacent urban communities are given recreation and leisure opportunity in direct contact with the riverside, which was until recently blocked by large industrial lots. People of all ages, from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds are now invited to come and enjoy a diverse palette of equipment and activities: from sports, fishing, walking and cycling to environmental education, or simply to get an eyeful of the landscape. The objective was to rethink urban public space located in a complex, unexpected, almost improbable universe of urban, industrial, agricultural and natural landscape.
Andrew was impressed with the renovated space and the benefits to the community, commenting: “A superb project. It has real soul to it, a place I would love to visit.” Most landscape projects will inevitably change over time; this was an aspect which impressed Tom: “I think as the years go by, it will do even more.”
The P.O.R.T. (Publicly Operated Recreation Territory) in Chelsea, United States by Landing Studio
The P.O.R.T. is a shared-use industrial dock, public recreation area, and wildlife habitat landscape built from a former oil tank farm.
The primary challenge of this project was to balance conflicting demands for the urban waterfront to serve the industrial infrastructure of the region while creating recreation and wildlife habitat for the local community. In many cities in the US, the infrastructural capacity of harbours has been dramatically reduced as maritime industries are displaced by increasing property values and gentrification. Such cities have become increasingly dependent on inefficient, costly, and environmentally degrading goods transportation through increased reliance on trucking. The project’s ability to mix industrial operations and urban life was praised among all the judges, Rob went on to elaborate: “I feel it’s a very good model for the programming of space, two seemingly incompatible uses, and industrial and recreational they’ve managed to bring together whilst adding an art dimension, which makes it a very interesting space.”
The design of the P.O.R.T. results from collaboration between an industrial salt company, state waterfront authorities, and local city government to develop a new model of integration between maritime industrial operations and urban life.
Nigel felt the project could act as a blueprint for other designs attempting this difficult task, adding: “A very good example of transformable spaces, bringing together industry and the public. It’s inspiration for how you can deal with the concept.”
Organic Garden in Naucalpan, Estado de Mexico, Mexico by SENOSIAIN ARCHITECTS
The organic garden was designed with the idea of being a recreational and learning space, in which children and adults can create a more spontaneous connection with nature, and discover new and better ways to relate to it. Colourful bridges, slides, mazes and secret passages become the stage where nature plays the leading role.
This is the first phase of Quetzalcoatl’s Park, a medium term project located at the outskirts of Mexico City. The structures of the garden are made of ferrocement and are covered with colourful talavera tile cullet in meander designs; artistic traditions inherited from the Spanish and Prehispanic architecture, characteristic of Mexican plastic arts.
This project grabbed the attention of the entire judging panel. Andrew appreciated the difficulty of the project, commenting: “It’s a good composition, the form is fantastic. This is not an easy thing to do, it works well and kids will want to go there; a real fun project.” The forms are quite incredible; I think it’s a great project.” Rob agreed with Andrew and shared his thoughts: The forms are quite incredible; I think it’s a great project.”
"The Park” in Las Vegas, United States by !melk landscape architecture & urban design.
As the first-ever park on the infamous Las Vegas Strip this project represents an unprecedented addition to the experience of the most visited tourist destination in the world. “The Park” is part of a larger overarching project which is one of the most transformative urban landscape projects in the US today: the Strip's transformation into a cohesive pedestrian-centric boulevard.
With over 40 million visitors per year property owners are re-thinking the Strip's urban form by investing in quality pedestrian infrastructure with a coherent design language.
Contributing to the iconicity of “The Park” are the soaring 60-foot tall shade structures. Organized as series of clusters throughout the park these “Desert Blooms,” twice the height of the trees in the park, are artful contributors to the microclimate of the place. The shade structures are an example of some of the innovative elements found throughout the park, which impressed Nigel: “The detail is fantastic, they have a nice density here to create the shade and allow people to meander from one place to the next. Very nicely done.”
The decision to name this project on the shortlist was unanimous, with Tom adding: “I think it’s really powerful with a strong historical connection, perfect for the city.”
WAN AWARDS would like to thank the jury and congratulate all six finalists in the WAN Landscape Award 2016. The final winner of this award will be announced on 6 September 2016.