NZILA Landscape Architects Conference 2023 Update

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Garth Falconer was pleased to be a guest speaker at the well attended 2023 NZILA conference held May 18-19 in Nelson. His presentation entitled “Struggling Centres “ focused on the dynamic challenges our traditional centres of population have been facing such as the shifting retailing and the immense challenges of Climate Change. 

Beginning with a summary of his experience with leading design teams in over 30 projects across rural towns, provincial cities, suburban centres and our largest city centres, Garth recounted the evolving sophistication in responses that have occurred over the past three decades. 

Culminating with the Heart of Wānaka Town Centre Plan, Garth described how the role of a landscape architect was changing to being a coordinator and builder of community consensus through empathy, resourcefulness and practical compromises that ensured broad support to create real incremental steps forward through an era of massive transitions and challenges. 

It was heartening to note that the key note speakers from overseas such as Melbourne City Architect Rob Adams and Thailand’s Kotchakorn Voraakhom were emphasising similar points.
Conference Update From NZILA

It was a thought provoking opening to the 2023 NZILA Firth Conference in Whakatū Nelson on the theme of “Growing Pains.” NZILA President Henry Crothers says highlights included the opening presentation from Kotchakorn Voraakhom, chairwoman of the Climate Change Working Group of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA World) and the CEO and Founder of Landprocess and Porous City Network in Thailand.
Henry says Kotchakorn is a real powerhouse and was inspiring on the subject of climate adaptation while providing strong project examples from Thailand. He says her presentation highlighted the importance the role of advocacy and community engagement plays in landscape architecture design.

He says it was also inspiring to hear from Professor Rob Adams, the Director of City Design and Projects at the City of Melbourne. Henry says hearing from a man so instrumental in the creation of one of the world’s most liveable cities was inspiring especially around how to adapt to climate change while maintaining the amenities of a city along with its vitality.
Henry says landscape architects and urban designers here in Aotearoa are grappling with many similar issues to those facing Melbourne and there was a great deal to learn on how to grow and adapt while taking in cultural and community concerns.

“It’s why we are all here really, to learn to do better,” says Henry.

For Boffa Miskell’s Rachel de Lambert day one was an important “tune up” for the profession on the importance of continued involvement of mana whenua in all aspects of project design and implementation.

“The theme of “Growing Pains’ was expertly woven through the whole programme. The message is clear about working with mana whenua; there is still more to be done and we can and must improve in this area,” she says.

Rachel also saw Rob Adams presentation as a highlight. “He speaks of 40 years plus perseverance on the delivery of a vision; a big picture challenge delivering on a big scale.“

She says Kotchakorn Voraakhom was also inspiring especially around her experience of working with, and not against water. This is in reference to her role as CEO of Porous City Network which is a social enterprise that looks to increase urban resilience in Southeast Asia. Says Rachel; “She’s really doing it, not just talking about it and we have a lot to learn from her.”

The second and final day of conference today will include presentations from New York’s Kate Orff, the Founding Principal and Partner at SCAPE who was recently named in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2023.  Kate will discuss SCAPE’s high level practice with particular focus on coastal and climate change.

Dr. Jala Makhzoumi from Iraq, Lebanon and London will also present today. She is adjunct professor of landscape architecture at the American University of Beirut and the acting president, Middle East Chapter, the International Federation of Landscape Architects. Jala will be presenting on a landscape architecture approach to sustainable urban growth.

Content care of New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Tuia Pito Ora (NZILA).

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At Reset Urban Design, we offer a broad scope of services within the specialist areas of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. We also actively engage in research and have contributed two published books on the history of design in New Zealand.