Landscape Design Trends for 2012
The attractiveness of the Australian landscape to both tourists and residents alike is due in many ways to the multitude of small acreage properties that nestle in the bushland fringes of the cities and towns.
Although these properties have a certain timeless appeal, they reflect broader trends in landscape design and our management of natural resources. As a Science gradate and Landscape Architect, I am finding that more and more clients want to address current issues such as sustainability, property management, the rapidly emerging carbon economy and the ever-present human needs for beauty, meaning and connection with the natural world. In this context, the predominate landscape design trends for 2012 that I see emerging are:
1. Landscape design is being seen as a means for all enterprises, be they large or small, to engage with the rapidly emerging carbon economy. Landscape Architects are working with clients to calculate the carbon sequestration value of existing trees and to plan future plantings with the economic value of trees as part of the total property budget.
2. Landscape design is placing a greater emphasis on viewing, interpreting and experiencing the land and the landscape where a particular site is located. This trend is associated with a growing awareness of the power of the land and the forces of nature that impact upon us, in forms such as bushfires, floods, cyclones, dust storms, hail storms and destructive winds.
In turn, this awareness is being reflected in landscape design for rural residential and small acreage properties. There are two parallel themes under this trend. One is back to simple, sweeping lawns that allow views around structures that have classical proportions.
The other theme is to lawnless designs, where the colours, textures and massing of structures are designed with an organic feel, so that they "read", or are "interpreted," as part of the landscape in which they sit.
3. Landscape design is taking a far more significant role in the process of integrating the mining sector of the economy with the development of a diversified, stable, sustainable total economy. The current mining boom and the associated industries such as coal seam gas are impacting upon both the above ground and below ground natural resources of the nation. These are publicly owned resources. This mining boom is heightening awareness of landscape design as a process that considers what is happening both above and beneath the ground.
Rural residential and small acreage properties that find themselves subject to mining infrastructure such as coal seam gas pipelines, roads, drilling rigs, storage facilities and so on, will be seeking professional advice not only on their legal rights in such situations but also on what landscape design mitigation works can be undertaken.
Just as it is possible to site a high voltage electricity line so that it has a greater or lesser adverse impact upon the landscape, so also it is possible to site coal seam gas infrastructure being mindful of the multiple values of the landscape it traverses. These values include the economic values of scenic, agricultural, water, and biodiversity resources located on these properties.
4. Following on from the above trend, the economic value of landscape design will be highlighted as part of a growing awareness of how to create a sustainable, multi-faceted economy.
In rural residential and small acreage properties, there is a trend to developing multiple use nodes of activity. For example, the trend is towards clustering of structures to obtain efficiencies of scale. Particular features include on site generation of electricity, on site employment through value adding to products harvested on the property, on site waste treatment, on site medium density residential and tourist accommodation and on site carbon farming to achieve carbon neutral investment properties.
All these trends are part of the premise that landscape design is part of the larger picture of sustainable management of the natural resources and the processes that underpin stable and functioning ecosystems and economies.