Capital Metro, Canberra’s Light Rail, announces consortia to undertake design and engineering

Capital Metro Agency has announced the Arup/Hassell/PB consortia has won the design and engineering consultancy for Canberra’s new light rail system, the Capital Metro.

I am pleased to form part of the Arup/Hassell/PB team working with dsb Landscape Architects to ensure the ACT Govt’s objectives for the project are achieved and Canberra’s sustainable transport future starts it’s first chapter…

Adelaide’s newest train station opens at Seaford: electric trains!

seaford station:lia harris

Finally, Adelaide’s Seaford extension opens to train traffic.  A great day for the south, and I am proud to have been the station’s designer and landscape architect in one.

The project include’s Australia’s longest incrementally launched bridge over the Onka River, as well as a 6.7km rail extension, 2 new stations and landscaping for the entire corridor.

Image: Hassell/DPTI

Image: Hassell/DPTI

New AILA CEO Appointed


Australia’s peak professional body for landscape architects has declared its improved vision for the profession and Australian landscapes with the announcement of a new governance.

Responding to increasing challenges within the profession and its leadership, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) has commenced a new age for the profession with a new National Council (Board) and CEO.

Led by national award-winning landscape architect and recently elected National President, Mark Frisby, National Council has committed to providing transparent and engaging leadership in its efforts to unite the profession and advocate for better built and natural environments within Australia.

‘As we all try to manage the challenges of growing cities it is more important than ever to advocate for good design which translates to greater community benefits particularly in the areas of health and sustainability.

‘In order to achieve this goal, the profession needs to come together to develop a strong voice on the issues that matter to us as landscape architects and to the broader population to safeguard this environment we have been entrusted with,’ Mr Frisby said.

Focusing on a collaborative and inclusive approach to decision making, National Council will encourage increased member involvement to ensure the organisation is in a stronger position as it heads toward its 50th anniversary in 2016.

To assist with the National Councils bold vision, Mark Frisby was excited to announce the selection of a new CEO to drive the AILA into a modern era and to effectively align its state and national strategies.

‘It is with unconditional enthusiasm that I present Shahana McKenzie as our new CEO. I am confident that her energy and integrity will steer the organisation to an unprecedented level of membership engagement and public advocacy.

‘After eight years in key positions at the Australian Institute of Architects, Shahana has extensive industry knowledge to help advance our 1400-strong member organisation,’ Mr Frisby said.

Mark Frisby is joined on National Council by Treasurer, Andrew Turnbull; Secretary, Shaun Walsh; joint Vice Presidents, Daniel Bennett and Suzanne Moulis; Jerry de Gryse; Fiona Eddleston; Greg Grabasch; Liesl Malan and Julie Marler.

For further details on the AILA’s organisational policies, advocacy and board of directors visit

Media contact:

Shahana McKenzie, CEO, Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture E P +61 439 555 764

If a tree falls in Adelaide, does anybody hear?

Adelaide’s INDaily, 12 Feb 2014 Link:

In suburban Adelaide, when a tree falls it is heard.

And felt, and often blamed.  Chopped up, removed, mulched and forgotten forever.

Yet sometimes the poor old tree isn’t to blame. It is usually the end game in a long story often involving a plethora of actions, faults and events that date back to the minute the tree was planted in the ground.

It’s so easy to get emotive over trees when storms create havoc like they did last week.  I saw the damage and devastation in Hazelwood Park, and I must admit it brought a tear to my eye.

Unfortunately, the hysterical response is to call the tree lopper, close the parks, and get the trees out of our yard, out of our street, away from our parks and anywhere else there might be people … and that is after the event.

Emergency works are essential; so is safety, and preventing injury and death to people. The removal of dangerous limbs and trees is not the focus here – there is no argument with this premise.

However, we need to remember trees are living things. They filter our air, they create our breathable air; they need water, good soil and room to move, and they need a reasonable and stable climate to survive.  I think we tend to forget some basic premises about trees and why they are critical to our world – both in their normal places (forests, coasts, deserts, rainforests) and their adapted homes (our backyards, streets, highways, parks and public spaces).

Trees are also risky things. Like humans, they are affected by changes in climate and removal of support systems; they get sick when neglected or deprived of their basic needs.  This results in limb drop, leaf drop, falling over from destabilisation, and death.

As living things, trees are subject to the same forces as other living things.  In a week-long heatwave, imagine how you would feel if you stood outside in the sun, didn’t drink water for a few days, then got battered by 120km/h winds.

While this comparison seems a little hysterical, so is the call to water down our world-leading tree protection laws.  We need to remind ourselves of the suburban benefit of trees, acknowledging the risks and promoting good tree management practices.  In our parks, streets, public spaces and private gardens, we need to consider better and more informed design, which includes species selection and placement of trees.

Trees do many things in our society.  They provide shade, animal habitat and urban biodiversity; they also reduce the heat impact of development in urban areas (such as hot bitumen roads and rooves). Trees also help maintain and improve land values in residential streets, provide visual benefits (improving mental health), and create pleasant streets to walk in. In addition, they mitigate changes in our climate in the long term.

Occasionally, trees do create chaos: and as with humans, there are always many reasons why a tree might “fail”. When a falling limb or tree does cause our power to “fail”, it cops the blame. The onus is on society to reconnect the power, but there is less focus on the poor old tree being reconnected and cared for.

It is too easy to focus on the risks – which we do mostly to protect and insure ourselves. However, most councils have the task of mitigating tree risks, which is usually done via excellent reporting and management practices.  Picture your suburb, then add the number of streets, then the number of trees in streets and parks – now you can see the scale of the challenge of assessing and maintaining the “risk” of trees in public spaces.

Trees are also a signpost to the past: past planting decisions, past maintenance practices, past establishment practices and past species selection.  There are very few remnant trees in Adelaide, which means most trees have been planted by humans at some stage.

Instead of a reactionary change to the tree protection laws, the focus should be on improving the management and performance of our trees. For example, funding more undergrounding of powerlines, investing more in keeping our trees healthy via sound horticultural practices, improving services for more informed tree species selection, improving establishment practices and fostering better community ownership of our trees.

There is excellent research and field work on increasing a tree’s survival rate and establishment through capturing street stormwater, which also prevents street surface pollution from entering our creeks and rivers.  However, more research, testing and funding is needed in this area.

More collaborative work involving landscape architects, arborists, engineers, horticulturalists, the nursery industry, infrastructure providers, service authorities, risk managers and key authorities will help ensure that our future streets, parks and public spaces are more effectively designed to cater for the needs of trees. This will bring benefits in terms of our long-term sustainability and a healthy society.

Imagine our suburbs, parks and streets without trees.  It would be a sad city that doesn’t welcome these amazing, diverse, adaptable, beautiful and important trees.

Daniel Bennett is a registered landscape architect, and National Vice President of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

Laneway points to future for Port Adelaide

OPINION Liam Mannix  | Laneway Festival won’t be the catalyst for Port Adelaide’s rebirth – but it does point to a possible future for a failed suburban centre.

Landscape architect Daniel Bennett says Port Adelaide could look to New South Wales’ Newcastle. This was a dead industry town slowly resuscitated by the people who find decay interesting – artists. After the success of Laneway, that potential future has never been clearer. It just needs to be grasped.

Article here:

Any suggestion that an event or government proposal could be the shot in the arm the Port needs should be treated with an artery-hardening serve of salt.

The Port has myriad entrenched social and economic issues which will be expensive to fix; it is not in a politically-important electorate, but it is high profile. All this adds up to a place that has seen plenty of well-publicised but underfunded rescue plans.

So Laneway isn’t a fix, but it’s a success that might serve as a marker for what is possible.

Laneway is the hippest of Australia’s music festivals; it is to Big Day Out what a barista’s latte is to a mug of instant. And its crowd figures have been growing strongly in the last few years, meaning it’s now starting to reach major-festival status.

Last year the festival was held at the University of South Australia’s labyrinthine City West campus, where a sell-out crowd created significant safety issues for patrons (as InDailyreported).

In response – and for this they should be applauded – the organisers moved this year’s event to the Hart’s Mill precinct in Port Adelaide. And it worked well.

There was plenty of room, for a start. The festival complex was sprawling, with heaps

Lorde, one of the headliners at this year's Laneway Festival. Photo: AAP

Lorde, one of the headliners at this year’s Laneway Festival. Photo: AAP

of space for crowds to gather to watch the big acts. Laneway features a range of smaller bands, so you need small, intimate spaces as well – and the layout of the precinct created plenty of small crannies perfect for this purpose.

The city’s food trucks were out in force, and there was room for a small vintage market.

But where the event and the location really shone was the atmosphere. The Port has some of the best historic buildings in Adelaide – and Harts Mill is one of these. Here, the suburb’s heritage of ugly heavy industry is preserved beautifully in crumbling brown brick and rusted sheet metal. There’s grit, as they like to say in Melbourne.

The precinct layout ran along the Port River, where boats bobbed gently. Refreshing sea breezes occasionally curled up from the river and over the festival-goers. The experience was everything that last year’s Laneway wasn’t.

The Port is torn between celebrating its heritage and needing desperately to chart a path towards it future. Laneway illuminated one such pathway – celebrating heritage in an entirely new way.

Port Adelaide could become Adelaide’s cultural mecca, in the way the CBD promises to become our sporting hub. The space is perfect for festivals, if more could be attracted out there. The town already has a strong arts community; the local council could take inspiration from Hobart and get artists out on the street, painting, crafting, busking, performing.

In the rush to fix the Port’s problems, too often big solutions – big do-overs, really – are touted. What if the Port’s future is one we build grain-by-grain? What if we make an effort to drive festivals and arts events in the area, at the same time creating policies that will turn the area into a safe space for creative types (who are already going to be attracted by the cheap rents and historic housing stock).

I’m told the idea to bring Laneway to the Port came as much from government developer Renewal SA (which spotted an opportunity after last year’s event attracted negative publicity) as it did from the event’s organisers. For this, it should be applauded. The move demonstrates that the most effective actions are often the building of soft connections rather than the construction of hard infrastructure.