Taylor-Cullity-Lethlean is considered today one of the leading landscape architecture firms in Australia. Over the last decade the developing office was decorated with national awards, the last of which is the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence, bestowed for the Australian Garden - an impressive project which well-reflects their poetic approach.
With abundant experience in planning national parks, public gardens, museums, university campuses, town squares, and hiking paths, TCL has had the opportunity to study the extraordinary variety of the contrasting components comprising the Australian landscape.
The firm’s declared policy emphasizes four themes:
· Contemporary urban life in the context of global culture
· Artistic practice in a range of disciplines
· The inherent elemental power of site and landscape
· The creation of a sustainable future.
Established in 1992, TCL now operates from offices in Adelaide and Melbourne, conducting an “open studio” method whereby each project is conducted in collaboration with architects, artists, landscape architects and town planners. Following the great international success of the project, TCL was invited by the Royal Botanic Gardens to extend the park to include additional landscape components.
The Australian Garden is located in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne, about 30 km. south-east of Melbourne. Its uniqueness stems first and foremost from its not adopting the classic European models, rather focusing on representing Australian landscape with all its contrasts: horizontal dry land, varied flora, and sculpted nature.
The central theme in the garden is the developing relations between the various populations and the landscapes surrounding them. The garden expresses the constant tension between the awe the Australians feel toward wild virgin nature, and their innate impulse to “conquer”, to shape it as they see fit, and thereby to appropriate it to themselves.
Accordingly, the garden is made of two opposing parts: the west side is prominently abstract, expressing wild nature including flatlands, woodland hills, chasms and thick forests. The inspiration for this part, actually lending the garden its creative uniqueness, comes from the flowing forms of nature, the connection to the past, the earth, the skies, the wind and the light.
The east side, on the other hand, expresses human ideas and similes through theme gardens. Between the two parts runs a stream bordered by a rusted steel wall sculpted by artist Greg Clark. Similar to the unpredictable river-beds typical of Australia, the water is not calm, and the flow varies from one part to another.
A series of gardens arranged as beads on a necklace includes an homage to the Australian eucalyptus, brought, by the way, to Israel in the 1880s by an Australian Jew named Etzion (Shmuel Zvi Holzman), who bought lands that became the Etzion Bloc at the turn of the 20th century. To imbue the experience of discovery with a cultural dimension, along the winding paths there are works of well-known artists and architects.