landscape masterplanning

A guide to future growth and development.

Definition: A comprehensive document that sets out an overall strategy.


A Masterplan is a document that provides a guide to future growth and development. It could involve either a strategic master-plan or a project specific master-plan. Basic principles are common to the process of establishing a Master-plan.

economic, social and environmental factors are typically the key drivers for change.

Whatever the desire, carefully planned stakeholder engagement and a comprehensive consultation process is an important step in the production of a Masterplan. Without proper planning and consultation a Masterplan is likely to fail due to the changes not being well received in the community.

this could range from wishing to attract investment through to the desire to improve, rehabilitate and regenerate a parcel of land.

The purpose of the master-planning process is to encourage creative thinking and define a road-map that achieves a defined set of outcomes.

Residential Masterplanning

sustainability maximized through lot orientation

With regard to residential subdivision development there are a number of critical components that should be considered if the development is to achieve a sustainable outcome. 

These are correct lot orientation and retention and protection of significant vegetation in combination with consideration of the topography and natural elements of the site. 

These components can significantly impact the ‘flow on’ effects of impacts on the environment and getting them correct at the initial stages of a project will ensure a successful outcome at the end. 

For example, the number of housing lots facing north east in a typical Brisbane climate impacts the overall sustainability of the whole development. If the majority of the lots face west, then achieving passive cooling through each dwelling will be difficult.

Road position and access as well as undulating topography all impact on the orientation of each lot. Services such as access to existing stormwater and overland flow requirements also impact on the overall design.

If a ‘squeeze as many lots in as possible’ approach is taken to try and maximise yield, then chances are the end result is very unsustainable and greatly impacts on the environment in a negative way.

Utilization and enhancement of existing overland flow paths and the creation of ‘green spines’ through any residential subdivision will create a development that attracts a higher price per lot.

Hundreds of homes jammed in like sardines separated by cheap timber paling fences and concrete access paths between a few lots will create a community based on price. Typically this is the lowest price possible.

Schools, Educational Facilities Masterplanning

a landscape perspective

Like any project, consideration of an overall aim that captures the history, culture and values will set the scene for the overall intention of the project.

Then, establishing objectives identify the specific steps to achieve the aim. Together these frame a direction and establish a strategy that is a blueprint for the future.

When masterplanning educational facilities, the landscape plays an important part of a successful masterplan.

Once again topography, aspect and existing vegetation are the first elements requiring consideration. Typically, too many schools are masterplanned with a cut and fill mentality which instantly destroys the existing environment and natural assets. Too many schools are masterplanned based on ‘benching’ in an oval and positioning the administration facility near the front carpark.

As a simple example, what if parents, visitors, students and teachers had to walk through a heavily landscaped ‘green spine’ to the middle of the school to an administration block surrounded by cool, inviting landscapes?

Imagine the inviting atmosphere this creates for a school environment.

Topography and existing vegetation have a large amount of existing value, and to cut/fill, clear and ‘bench’ not only impacts on the surrounding environment, it also does nothing to reduce the impact on the environment.

Non-Negotiables for any Masterplan

landscape should be a priority

Regardless of the project type, there are some non-negotiables that must be considered for any masterplan. We believe the following should always be considered.

Street Trees
Most projects have streets and therefore street trees must always be included. Provision of shade over hard surfaces is something that reduces the impacts of the built environment and further to this reduces the impacts of the urban heat island effect.

Protection of Existing Vegetation
The existing vegetation already provides so much value and removing it simply for clearing purposes or ease of construction is simply a waste of resources.

Consideration of topography
As soon as a site is excavated and existing overland flows are altered, the site becomes unnatural. Enhancement of overland flows should be a priority and their existence should be integrated into the design.

Typically overland flows are places where flora and fauna thrives. Water is naturally attracted to these areas due to natural overland flows, and to remove these elements from the development is

Green Space and Green Spines
Every master-planned community needs green space and green spines. Landscaped areas that stretch from one end to the other in a consistent and uninterrupted manner.

Providing so many benefits for both humans and animals, these green areas should also be enhanced with native and indigenous plants.

Reducing Built Form Impacts

landscape more important

While Architecture is often promoted as exciting or groundbreaking due to it’s innovative and striking design, we believe as landscape architects that the impacts of built form of any architectural proposal are always significant regardless of the project.

impacts of built form of any architectural proposal are always significant regardless of the project.

Screening and buffering of built form reduces the impacts of structures from a visual amenity perspective and further reduces the impacts of heat on communities.

Citicene have been involved in numerous Master-planning activities and have delivered a range of master plans from Species Master plans to Residential Site Master plans. 

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