While infrastructure projects provide valuable improvements to our cities, adequate consideration of their visual impact is critical so that they are not only functional, but also contribute to the visual quality of the landscape, or at the very least, not degrade it.
Landscape Assessment provides a comprehensive summary of the landscape context and values and the manner in which they should be managed. A comprehensive assessment ensures that landscape considerations are not overlooked.
One example is Brisbane’s Veloway 1 project. A quick online search and phone query could not confirm whether a visual assessment was completed as part of the planning for this project.
This is often a requirement for significant and complex transport and road projects. Whether Veloway 1 is classed as a major project or not, a landscape assessment would be beneficial, particularly considering the close proximity of Veloway 1 to existing dwellings.
AILA Guidance Note – Landscape and Visual Assessment
It references a number of other established guides and outlines five key steps for visual assessment. Applying this to the Veloway 1 site area, some observations are noted below.
Australian Institute of Landscape Architects 2020, Guidance Note for Landscape and Visual Assessment, viewed 27 May 2020. https://www.aila.org.au/
It references a number of other established guides and outlines five key steps for visual assessment. Applying this to the Veloway 1 site area, some observations are noted below.
The Veloway 1 consists of removal of several stands of established trees, construction of new bridges at three locations and a new raised concrete structure, that is the bikeway, to the Bapaume Street verge alongside the M1 Motorway.
By no means or interpretation were the existing site conditions extraordinary, or hold significant visual or cultural value.
The presence of trees to the western side of the M1 Motorway was a noticeable feature that provided intermittent relief from the adjoining M1 Motorway.
There are some significant stands of vegetation along the Veloway 1 corridor. There also doesn’t appear to be any features of cultural heritage significance located in the area.
The stands of vegetation are not likely to have held any significant ecological value, but they did contribute to the amenity of the corridor along Bapaume Road. They were effective in providing relief to the continuous Motorway barrier and retaining structure.
In addition to this, they created a visual backdrop when traveling along the motorway. They also provided a visual and acoustic separation between the Motorway and adjoining suburbia.
Was the existing vegetation investigated as part of an ecological study or Arborists assessment?
The impact of the project varies along the route. The scale and bulk of the new structure is disproportionate to existing motorway infrastructure. The sections of the Veloway 1 bridges are bulkier than the adjacent motorway itself.
A number of dwellings are in close proximity to the Veloway 1 route. This proximity, the removal of vegetation and new built form constitute a significant change to views from these properties.
Other locations could be argued to be minimally impacted. For instance, the new overpass over Marshall Road is positioned on the same alignment and height of the existing motorway overpass, imposing minimal change to views in this location, so it could be argued that this change is relatively minor.
In the vicinity of the Holland Park busway station, the new works consist of pavement on grade, without the need for any bridge, resulting in minimal impact.
Opportunities to Modify and Mitigate
While not affecting the majority of road users, a handful of specific locations along the route will experience a high degree of change primarily viewed by local traffic on the approach from side streets and from adjacent residences
TMR’s Tree Removal Strategy includes the intent to re-vegetate the remaining cleared areas with trees, shrubs and ground covers. At the time of writing, no detailed landscape treatment proposals could be obtained.
Possible mitigation measures could have included:
New street tree planting along Bapaume street
Buffer planting of trees, shrubs and groundcovers to embankments and front of built form where space permits.
Additional planting within green spaces to the opposite side of Bapaume Street could provide additional screening to dwellings.
Final finishes of the built form may also bear some influence on the overall impact of the structure.
Effects and Residual Impacts
The constructed Veloway 1 will impact the visual character the road corridor of Bapaume Road – dramatically in some locations and minimally in others.
New planting of trees and understorey to the road reserve will in time contribute to softening the impact of the new structure from the road corridor and nearby dwellings.
Some dwellings will continue to experience a high impact due to the orientation of the dwelling in relation to the built form (i.e. dwellings that face new bridges where there is no space to establish screen vegetation.
Adequate consideration of the above steps is important to forming a Landscape Integration Strategy that has the potential to guide a project to an outcome that considers the visual experience.
No doubt the decision-makers involved in public projects have numerous issues to consider in order to meet the project time-frame and budget.
The logistics involved in the different design options no doubt impacted the design, time-frame and budget.
Many of the foreseeable design constraints are likely the result of other issues being prioritised. As a result, some amenity considerations do not always receive due attention.
This begs the question – what is the best way to determine a tangible value on landscape amenity so that it can have an impact on decision making?
The completion of the Veloway 1 and establishment of vegetation should prove to provide an interesting case study in gathering information on the delivery of transport infrastructure.
A deep planting zone is an area that is dedicated to landscape and is able to sustain large subtropical shade trees.
The aim is to retain or provide significant vegetation to urban areas for shade, amenity, offset of carbon emissions and to mitigate the heat-island effect in urban areas caused by dense built-form and hard surfaces that fill cities.
No driveways, maneuvering or hardstand areas and pedestrian paths
No underground development (basements, tanks) or infrastructure (services)
In natural ground (not in cut/fill area or a planter)
Can incorporate existing trees
Sometimes must meet a minimum dimension
Clearly, not all of the landscape area typically indicated on a site plan meets these requirements.
Multi-storey apartment buildings often include garden areas at entry areas that are located beneath upper levels. Multiple services and structural footings are often located beneath landscape zones.
4 Common Intrusions to Deep Planting Zones
(transformers, fire boosters, water meters, switchboards)
A common and significant (size) intrusion to a deep planting zone is the introduction of a pad-mount transformer. Ironically, the requirements for locating transformers are quite similar to deep planting zones so of course this is exactly where they end up.
Understandably, the requirement for these is often not certain until after a DA is achieved. Because of this, it is now common for Brisbane City Council to require transformers to be indicated on site plans for development approval.
Overland flow zones are often accompanied by restrictions to the density and type of vegetation that can be planted within it.
Sometimes it means no planting at all. Where a stormwater pipe is shallow, any large tree planting will pose a risk to the integrity of the pipe. Many tight development sites make use of underground stormwater treatment devices.
But when the need to an open bio-retention area is identified late in the design process, often the only location left on the site to put these are landscape areas.
At times a bio-retention area may be designed to accommodate trees, but this falls short again, as the very design of a bio-zone involves replacing the filter media at a future time, thereby removing any vegetation.
Footings to walls and structures can significantly impact landscape areas in terms of the amount of growing media that is available to plants. Boundary walls that require footings to be contained within the site can result in significant footing extents that commonly impact landscape areas.
For instance, a typical landscape buffer zone might be 2 metres wide, which normally allows small columnar trees and screen shrubs to be planted.
If such a buffer happens to be located adjacent to a wall that has a footing intruding 800mm into the landscape area, it could mean that no trees can be planted in that zone unless footings are greatly lowered, adding significant cost to the whole exercise.
(footpaths, hardstand, parking spaces, driveways)
Fire exits and access paths to service areas are items that are at times resolved quite late in a project. Where landscape areas are minimal, these can have a big visual impact on the resulting amount of planting area, as well as affecting what areas can be counted as deep planting.
The challenge here is that many of these components remain in a conceptual form throughout the DA phase. Often their resolution occurs after key structural components of buildings and structure and it is then simply too late.
While each may be small individually, their combined impact on the amount of deep planting can be significant to the point where landscape conditions cannot be fulfilled.
The key is to factor in realistic area estimates required for all components and services at the early stages. Getting a Landscape Architect involved early in the site planning phase allows an opportunity for feedback that can lead to a more robust proposal that will withstand inevitable change.
What does the Client need to know?
An area designated as deep planting should be treated as a planted garden bed area that includes trees. Turf is not considered an acceptable solution.
It is important that a client/developer understands this as there are reasonable design and cost implications.
Commercial Landscape Architects deliver services for projects in a variety of industry groups. Commercial projects often require a more intense level of detail and service.
Everyday commercial landscapes are designed and constructed by professionals, landscape contractors and builders.
These particular projects can range from Government infrastructure upgrades, private residential developments through to wetlands re-rehabilitation.
Delivering these projects requires a lot of skill and expertise. Engaging a registered qualified landscape architect will make a difference to the end result.
Landscape design and delivery of commercial projects include a range of factors that should be considered. Throughout the design and construction phases of the project there are many things to consider.
This can include:
Existing site features and value;
Consideration of aspect;
Landscape contractor capability and experience;
Landscape contractor alliances with suppliers such as nurseries and sub-contractors.
However, with innovative thought the landscape can become an integral part of the project instead of simply added on as an after-thought.
Early input at the preliminary stages of a project will ensure an outcome that often results in a design that better accommodates the natural elements of the site. This can include physical elements such as topography, drainage, existing vegetation and other valuable features.
Contribution from the landscape architect at a preliminary stage of the project can often result in less delays through the Council approval process.
Therefore we ensure that we are ready to assist promptly at this critical phase of the project and deliver answers when they are needed.
Landscape Architectural Advice
Often we see commercial projects that do not engage a landscape architect at the beginning of the development approval process.
Often there is significant vegetation or a design proposal that ignores the natural landscape as an initial proposal to the Local Authority.
Significant time and money is spent negotiating with the Local Authority with minimal result achieved. Often Council’s expect the landscape to be the priority of a development and this is often ignored much to the detriment of the developer.
Engaging a qualified landscape architect at the preliminary stages of a project process will often save a lot of time and effort. Typically the project will also achieve development approval faster.
We have a proven track record of successfully delivering a large range of commercial landscapes from small lot developments to large corporate office and residential subdivision and high-rise projects.
Contact us now to discuss your next commercial landscape.
Roof Gardens, Roof Terraces and Gardens in the Sky
It is amazing to see some of the ideas of Roof Gardens and Roof Terraces within high rise buildings popping up everywhere. Architect’s are racing to see if they can have a crack at Landscape Architecture as well as Architecture.
Successful projects seem to have got the hang of establishing greenery into the vertical concrete jungles created by Architects.
However, is it really all it is cracked up to be?
Picture this – a lot of skyscrapers with 50% or more vegetation amongst the footprint of the buildings.
Imagine the fire inferno that could potentially be created by combining dry weather, limited or poor maintenance and close combination of highrise structures in a densely populated area.
Wow – that could potentially be a huge risk.
Really, why are we trying to shove landscape into a place where it doesn’t really want to go?
After all, a landscape in a podium environment is only going to have a limited life span before it needs to be replaced.
5 years? 8 years at the maximum before it starts looking tired and the nutrients of the building contractors cheapest podium mix have been sucked out of each planter box?
Lots of planning documents are now appearing with the obligatory landscape tacked onto the side of a building or draped over the facade to make the artists impression more ‘impressive’.
However the reality is, creating these types of landscape spaces above ground for the long term is not a cheap exercise. Let alone a maintenance nightmare for body corporate down the track.
Additional weights for the building structure, additional watering systems and waterproofing issues.
More maintenance, limited life spans and numerous other challenges ensure these ideas are ‘booted’ as soon as the builder gets hold of the contract.
More Open Space?
Is a better approach to plan ground plane areas for more open space?
Open vegetated corridors in and amongst cities and urban areas is always at a premium. Not paved open parks, but significantly vegetated environments with large trees.
Not manicured lawns and water features but naturally occurring native bushland or forest space. Good for bush walking, mountain bike riding or general appreciation of the outdoor environment.
What about bigger communal deep in-ground recreational areas around the base of buildings that spread across sites?
Encouragement of residents to be a true part of the local community. Facilities that are hard to resist. Limited pavements and hard surfaces. Large urban vegetable gardens. Heavily vegetated in-ground spaces around entry points of buildings that adjoin neighboring sites, green spines, and parklands.
It is almost like the policy of squeezing water filtration devices into every development. Jammed onto the site boundary so the landscape buffer is then limited due to the Hydraulic Engineer’s horror of adding trees to their underground pipework.
A better approach is to treat the water downstream in a larger filtration basin – therefore eliminating the need for conflicts of interest on small lot developments.
Is trying to add significant landscapes to podiums the same scenario?
It is important to consider measures to make these developments liveable, functional and sustainable. Gardens of all kinds have been shown to have a positive effect on human well-being. In addition to this also achieving positive environmental effects.
One viable and practical measure is to incorporate productive vegetation for the benefit of occupants/users.
Vege Gardens in the City?
While the idea of a vegetable and/or herb garden may not be for some the ideal landscape solution for a high-use area, it is important to consider the potential social benefits.
Communal gardens can provide a means of bringing people living in close proximity together to share and build relationships.
Many herbs, fruits & vegetables require good sunlight, so a rooftop location is an ideal situation for maximizing productivity.
As with any other climbers, fruit and vegetable vines can be trained to maximize the use of small spaces.
A significant design consideration is that edible and productive plants must be easily accessible as they will generally require more maintenance, as well as the obvious need to access the produce.
This is why it makes sense to position vegetable gardens near high pedestrian traffic areas. It is more likely that it will be maintained in a place that people walk past every day rather than a hidden corner.
In a highly built up urban environment, extremes in heat, cold, shade & sun are likely to occur, and only the right plants will thrive.
Design considerations are:
Make the gardens easily accessible;
Position vegetable gardens near high pedestrian traffic areas;
Consider extremes in heat, cold, shade & sun;
Provide maintenance guidelines for users.
In any case, only a small percentage of residents may actively take ownership of gardens to maintain and reap the benefits, which will normally be the people who know what they are doing.
The long-term management of productive gardens in any communal setup therefore requires flexible approach, as well as a backup plan if community participation does not happen automatically.
It worth considering the benefits that may come with a development that is recognised as an environmentally and socially conscious development. Productive vegetating of buildings can contribute to EnviroDevelopment recognition.
BHCL Creating Livable Communities and Citicene recently endeavored to include herbs and vegetables amongst the new planting of a few high-density housing developments.
Different herbs and vegetables were planted in communal areas and individual balcony gardens to encourage sharing between residents. At another development, a number of new residents have planted herbs and vegetables of their own initiative.
The successful incorporation of productive gardens into our urban environments could allow more of us to enjoy local produce while contributing to the sustainability of our cities.
“During the latter 19th century, the term landscape architect began to be used by professional landscapes designers, and was firmly established after Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and Beatrix Jones (later Farrand) with others founded the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 1899.“
There is not a lot of published evidence of a history of Queensland gardens or landscape architecture in Brisbane.
However, from when the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects was formed in 1966, Brisbane has seen a steady growth in the profession with significant contribution through a number of large, medium and small scale projects.
“The Institute had its beginnings at a meeting held during a national conference of the Royal Australian Planning Institute in August 1963 whereby a group of professionals held an informal meeting to discuss the need for a new professional body to represent Australia’s Landscape Architects.”
We have delivered many projects throughout the Brisbane Shire. Our team have an excellent understanding of Brisbane City Council’s requirements for landscape.
Landscape Designer or Landscape Architect?
Landscape Architects and Landscape Designers can both produce excellent quality landscapes. The difference is in the type of training and sometimes the scale of project delivered.
For example, Landscape Architects undertake University training and typically work on larger masterplanned type projects, infrastructure or commercial works.
Landscape designers have usually completed a Diploma of Landscape Design can also produce excellent quality work. They often focus on residential scale projects. Either way, if you are looking to engage a professional, ensure you choose your landscape architect or landscape designer based on the type and scale of project you are wanting to deliver.
Depending on your project type, there are numerous requirements regarding landscape that must be met to achieve Development Approval.
These are known as ‘Performance outcomes and acceptable outcomes’. From the protection of trees through to the connection of drainage for podium planters, landscape requirements are detailed.
The intention is to ensure quality landscapes across the Brisbane region. Landscapes need to meet specific standards of design and construction.
Citicene Experience in the Brisbane Region
Our personnel have delivered many commercial projects in the Brisbane City Council Shire. Our experience includes a large range of project types. From multi-story high rise through to industrial sheds and master-planned communities.
We offer professional advice from landscape concept plans through to on-site contract administration. This includes supervision of landscape contractors and quality control. We also work with a network of consultants and landscape contractors to deliver to your requirements.
Tender and Construction Drawings and Bill of Quantities Deliverables
Site Supervision and Inspections
Regardless of your type and scale of project, Citicene can tailor our services to your requirements. Contact us to learn more about what we can provide for your next project.
Brisbane Project Experience
Apartments, shopping centres, corporate landscapes, bio-filtration basins and residential communities are just some of the projects we have delivered in Brisbane. A small snap shot of some of these projects include:
Brisbane City Council requires the use of native plants throughout the region. This is to enhance the natural environment, reduce the use of weeds and protect our natural landscapes.
As landscape architects we are seeing more and more exotic species replicated across developments throughout the region. Even professionals are repeating their plant palettes for many projects and this is causing concern for native species in the Shire.
‘Most (66%) environmental weeds have been introduced as garden ornamentals.’
Therefore, species that were once popular have become weeds for many different reasons and should be avoided. The Brisbane City Council provides advice on what are declared weeds. This weed identification tool can be accessed here.
It is important that species are carefully considered for all projects to add to the city’s urban forest and support the unique wildlife in the region.
Supply from commercial nurseries can also be an issue. Typically commercial nurseries will grow only what is popular and only what sells. There are native nurseries around and it is important for landscape architects to look deeper into using more suitable species. Species that are indigenous to the specific area their project is in.
Also encouraging local nurseries to grow suitable alternatives will assist in ensuring we are protecting the natural habitats of the region.
Best plants for Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate
There are plenty of plants to choose from that are hardy and will live a long life. Often species come onto the market as hybrids, however they often don’t last long and die out after one season. If you like replacing your plants on a regular basis – then this is ok. However if you want a garden that lasts then using the proven performers is what you should be aiming for.
Shrubs such as Coastal Rosemary Westringia fruticosa and Syzygium ‘Aussie Boomer’ are proven performers that do well in this climate and if treated well will last for years with little maintenance.
Commercial Landscape Architecture vs Residential Landscape Architecture
A lot of the larger landscape architectural firms focus on commercial and government projects as well as urban planning and design, visual assessment or major infrastructure projects. It may be difficult to get them to interested in a project of a residential scale unless the project is totally unique.
Often the fees for a landscape architect can be a substantial amount which for the everyday urban home would likely be better spent on the actual construction.
Pavement and Finishes Landscape Works
Obviously landscape is not just about the plants. Pavements, finishes, outdoor furniture, outdoor lighting, irrigation, play equipment, rocks and pebble, edging, seats, fencing, retaining walls, entry features signage, way finding signage, stairs, handrails, grates, artwork and service pit covers are just a range of items that can be included in any landscape.
Depending on the project scope, location and client, all of these things contribute to a landscapes. Landscape construction costs can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars in significant city parks.
Landscape from a Visual Perspective
Landscape visual assessment involves investigating the visual impacts of development on the landscape. Broadly, natural environments have a high visual amenity and built form a low visual amenity.
This area of landscape architecture is detailed and extensive and an important part of city planning which is not recognized enough.
Significant projects or projects where existing amenity has a high value should always include a visual analysis and impact assessment study.
Frequently Asked Questions
When did Landscape Architecture start?
The first person to write of making a landscape was Joseph Addison in 1712. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) was founded in 1899.
When was the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects formed?
August 1963 at a meeting held during a national conference of the Royal Australian Planning Institute.
What are some famous gardens in Brisbane, Queensland?
The City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Roma Street Parkland and the soon to be built Victoria Park Gardens.
How many landscape architecture firms are there in Brisbane?
There are approximately 30 landscape architecture firms in Brisbane and over 100 practicing landscape architects.
Over more than 20 years, Citicene have been involved in delivering many projects across the Gold Coast region. We have participated in numerous small, medium and large projects from the northern end of the Gold Coast through to the Tweed Shire.
Gold Coast City Council Landscape Approvals
The Citicene team have a detailed understanding of Gold Coast City Council’s expectations regarding landscape. From statement of landscape intents through to detailed landscape maintenance plans and landscape assessments, we have delivered many projects of varying scales throughout the region.
Local Gold Coast Requirements
Gold Coast City Council have specific requirements regarding the landscape for any project. These requirements can be strict and it is important to seek professional advice to ensure a cost effective delivery of the landscape is achieved.
Gold Coast City Council have a ‘whole of city’ landscape strategy that aims to promote an integrated design approach to ensure the landscape of the Gold Coast is a positive component when designing and planning new developments.
The Gold Coast City Council landscape strategy is a Planning Scheme Policy attached to the Gold Coast City Planning Scheme and forms part of the Landscape Strategy for the City of Gold Coast.
This strategy is defined in 3 parts which include the landscape character, the landscape works manual and information sheets.
Gold Coast Landscape Character Areas
The entire length of the Gold Coast is broken up into Character Areas and each area has a defined character.
Shopping Centres, Marketplaces, Plazas and Malls – typically, these types of retail centres require a high level of detail and finish and this is why we enjoy designing in this industry sector.
The landscape is an important component of the entertainment and outdoor eating/foodcourt portion of any retail centre and normally requires a high level of detailed design closely coordinated with Architecture and Interior Design consultants.
Construction budgets can be significant and providing entertainment in outdoor spaces lined with shops, cafe’s, restaurants and retail outlets creates a strong atmosphere and character for shoppers to enjoy.
The landscape often includes:
intricate pavements and tiling;
feature walls and retaining walls;
internal planting areas and interiors-capes;
vertical climbers and green walls;
shade trees and structures;
significant water features;
striking plant selections;- play spaces.
Stand-alone Retail Outlets
Stand-alone Retail outlets often require a level of landscape that meets the local authority requirements while also accommodating restricted budgets.
Citicene has experience in delivering a large range of these types of projects while meeting these two important requirements.
Citicene has a broad range of experience in delivering the landscape component of retail projects. We have been involved in numerous shopping centres, retail outlets, malls, marketplaces and stand alone retail and commercial projects throughout Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.
We have experience in delivering both ‘hard’ landscapes and ‘soft’ landscapes paying a high degree of attention to detail.
Some of the exciting retail projects we have been involved in include:
With the growth of development in the Surat Basin, Toowoomba is changing at a rapid pace. Therefore, delivering landscapes and urban developments of a high standard is critical to ensure a quality standard of living for the residents of the city.
Toowoomba is a diverse region. The types of landscapes across the region are varied and include many picturesque rural landscapes. These are typically made up of flat agricultural black soil plains and rolling low hills. The forested range and an urban plateau makes up the Toowoomba City and Highfields areas.
Enhancing the amenity of these areas is a priority for Toowoomba Regional Council. Landscapes also need to comply with standards of the Landscape Code contained in Part 9.4.4 of the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme. This ensures they are suitable for the type of development proposed and also the micro-climatic conditions.
The overall landscape aim is to ensure aesthetically pleasing environments. Places where people work, live and play are to be comfortable and functional.
The landscape should be functional to the context it envelops. Each project is different and response to the local environment is important.
Protection and enhancement of existing vegetation and ecological values is important. Contribution to streetscapes, local characters and cost-effective maintenance are all important aspects of landscapes under Toowoomba’s Regional Planning Scheme.
Landscape Architectural Design in the Toowoomba Region
Enhancing the amenity of urban areas is a priority for Toowoomba Regional Council.
Citicene have been involved in numerous commercial developments in the Toowoomba Region including: