The designers of Victoria’s most beautiful outdoor spaces took a virtual bow this week as the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) revealed the winners of the 2021 Victoria Landscape Architecture Awards. The ceremony was digitally broadcast during yet another lockdown in Victoria – a reminder of the lingering pandemic that has haunted the state. But the ups and downs of the last 12 months weren’t a hindrance on the awards program. A record number of entries were received this year, something which Naomi Barun, chairperson of the awards jury, sees as a demonstration of the commitment to making thoughtful outdoor places for public enjoyment.
“Submissions were centred around Victoria’s need to connect, play, roam, to give back to the community and to proactively adapt for the unforeseen,” Naomi says. “The past year has seen changes in the way public places are valued, with the rediscovery and enabling of new forms of connection and expression. These places became the backdrop for social exchange, exercise and mental reprieve.”
The past year has seen changes in the way public places are valued, with the rediscovery and enabling of new forms of connection and expression.
AILA 2021: The best new gardens and landscapes in Victoria
Seven Awards of Excellence and 11 Landscape Architecture Awards were handed out across 13 categories, calling attention to landscape architects that went above and beyond the sole purpose of the project; champions of collaboration, placemaking and community. Recipients of the awards were seen to challenge and push the boundaries of landscape architecture.
For Heath Gledhill, president of AILA Victoria, the awards program provides a vehicle to publicly promote and demonstrate the positive impact landscaping has on Australian lives. “We are proud to celebrate the talent and commitment of the industry and are thrilled to see the depth and breadth of all entries and their commitment to ensuring the values of the profession are articulated throughout,” he says.
Across the categories of Civic Landscape and Urban Design, this year’s jury observed value placed on connecting people in a world now impacted by Covid. Winning projects in these categories embody the spirit of “bringing life to a city” that was concealed during a vulnerable 12 months. The projects prioritise healthy communities while also responding to the needs of an ever-growing population.
The theme of connectivity continued through to the categories of Parks and Open Space, Play Spaces, and Gardens, further highlighting the importance of green space and the vital role it plays. “Collectively, this year’s recipients stood out as exceptional places that connect communities, bring comfort by adapting micro-climates, and reveal the beauty of our state and our relationship with it,” Heath says. “The range of diverse projects awarded set an inspiring benchmark for landscape architecture and give the industry inspiration to continue to think bigger and broader into the future.”
Continue scrolling for a selection of the year’s best gardens and landscapes in Victoria, listed by award category.