The Australian Garden designed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean, TCL, with Paul Thompson offers an experience that follows the metaphorical journey of water through the Australian landscape, from the desert to the coastal fringe. The project has won the Landscape of the Year Award at the prestigious World Architecture Festival.
Developed in a former sand quarry within the Royal Botanic Gardens, by Cranbourne on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne, the project blends horticulture, architecture, ecology, and art together creating the largest botanic garden devoted to Australian flora.
Casting over 170,000 plants across 1700 species the Australian Garden takes inspiration by the national landscape, creating a sequence of powerful sculptural and artistic landscape experiences that recognise its diversity, breadth of scale and wonderful contrasts.
Writer Tim Winton once said that “Australians are surrounded by ocean and ambushed from behind by desert – a war of mystery on two fronts”. Australians do have a love/hate relationship with their landscape: “it is, loved for its sublime beauty or loathed as the cause of hardship” Comment Taylor Cullity Lethlean, TCL, with Paul Thompson.
“At the Australian Garden, these tensions are the creative genesis of the design, expressing our reverence and sense of awe, the natural landscape, and our innate impulse to change it, to make it into a humanly contrived form of beautiful, yet our own work”.
On the east side of the garden, exhibition gardens display landscapes, research plots and forestry arrays that illustrate our propensity to frame and order our landscapes in more formal manners, whilst on the west, visitors are subsumed by gardens that are inspired by natural cycles, immersive landscapes and irregular floristic forms.
Water plays a mediating role between these two conditions, taking visitors from rockpool escarpments, meandering river bends, melaleuca spits and coastal edges.
Designed experiences such as walking across the tangle of a Eucalypt forest floor, or the passage through wind pruned coastal heath, is juxtaposed amongst the order reminiscent of forestry plantations and gardens that evoke the patterns of urbanisation on our coastal fringe.