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TCL

Founded in 1990 TCL -Taylor Cullity Lethlean is a Landscape Architecture and Urban Design studio passionate about the poetic expression of landscape and contemporary culture. This has permeated our design work in a multiplicity of public settings, from urban waterfronts and cultural institutions including botanic gardens, museums and zoos to desert walking trails in national parks. In each case the detailed exploration of context, site and community have informed outcomes and enriched the patterning and detail of built landscapes. TCL are particularly interested in collaborating with other designers, artists and specialists to expand the field of landscape architecture.

Four streams of investigation inform the practice’s work:

– Contemporary urban life and global culture
– The elemental power of site and landscape
– Artistic practice in a range of disciplines
– The creation of a sustainable future

Our practice is committed to undertaking ongoing research and has a dedicated research arm known as TiCkLe, which aims to challenge, generate, capture, disseminate and archive, through a wide range of media and sources research investigations, manifestos, exhibitions, lectures and symposiums. TiCkle is facilitated through a culture of staff involvement, shared discourse and formed alliances, as well as through the identification and establishment of project / research relationships. TiCkle also speculates on the future of landscape architecture and emerging practice, and how TCL may continue to contribute meaningfully and challenge existing paradigms. TiCkLe booklets to date include a wide range of topics such as studies of typologies including waterfronts, streetscapes and pop ups, Aboriginal Traditional Owner – First Nation engagement , friction in public space, peculiar, colloquial and temporal environments in cities, environmental sustainable design and more recently heat mitigation in hot environments (in progress)

In order to interrogate, question and reinvigorate their practice founding directors Kate Cullity, Perry Lethlean and Kevin completed research PhD studies at RMIT Melbourne (2009 – 2013). The collective document Braided Pathways: A Practice Sustained by Difference explored undercurrent themes of TCL’s design practice. Kate’s PhD essay entitled “More than Just Looking Good; Beauty Aesthetics and Care” focused on beauty, sustainability and the conduit of care. Kevin’s “Making Sense of Landscape” explored his interest in First Nations culture and their connection to place, as well as social planning, politics and the new civic in large urban redevelopments. Perry’s essay “It’s Hard Being Messy When Your Compositional” focused on large urban waterfronts and the inherent friction between deliberately designed compositions and allowing the inherent site history of idiosyncratic detritus and messiness to determine the project.

After the untimely death of Kevin Taylor in 2011 TCL set up the Kevin Taylor Legacy with an annual grant of AUD$12,000 to fund a ‘Creative in Residence’. In collaboration with TCL each recipient explores an aspect of the expanded field of landscape architecture with an exhibition or performance at the conclusion of each residency. To date recipients have included a film maker, poet, classical musical, dancer, theatrical performers and a visual artist.

In 2018 TCL were Australia’s first practicing Landscape Architects to take on the role of creative directors for the Australian International Festival of Landscape Architecture. Entitled “The Expanding Field: Charting the Future of Practice”, it canvassed what people are doing in the field, what the possibilities and limits are of exploration and invention, and how these are being challenged and expanded by the larger forces and changes in the world.

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TCL is internationally published and recognised, as well as being Australia’s most awarded practice with over 150 Australian and international awards.

Australian Garden- TCL with Paul Thompson


The Australian Garden (TCL with Paul Thompson) is a major new botanic garden on a 25-hectare site at Cranbourne on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne, Victoria. The garden seeks to create environments in which specific qualities of flora are highlighted in a manner that will inspire visitors to further explore Australian plants. Surrounded by pristine indigenous environment, extensive research was conducted to ensure any plant selected did not become potential native weeds. The Australian Garden employs a landscape design approach that communicates landscape, scientific and cultural narratives via experience and immersion rather than didactic signage.

The artistic modes of abstraction, distillation, sculpted forms, repetition and patterning are employed to create environments rather than by recreating landscape types or ecosystems. The primary narrative is the journey of water, from the arid centre of this vast continent to its fertile continental edge. This journey of water is also a principal orientation device for visitors navigating their way within the garden. The garden highlights the tension between the natural landscape and our human impulse to steadily change it. This tension is not eliminated, rather it is the driving creative impulse for exploration, expression and interpretation of the landscape and its flora. The Australian Garden has received seven state, national and international awards including 2013 World Architecture Festival Landscape of the Year.

National Arboretum – TCL with TZG


Following devastating fires in January 2003, the ACT Government developed a proposal for an International Arboretum to be established on 250-hectare site six kilometres from the centre of Australia’s capital city Canberra. TCL + TZG (architects) won an international competition to design the Arboretum entitled ‘100 Forests’ and were subsequently engaged for the detailed master-planning and first stage implementation of this important national institution. The vision for the Arboretum is a viable public destination for the next 100 years and beyond. The masterplan is centred on creating 100 forests from the world’s most endangered tree species and offers a unique opportunity to redefine the meaning of public gardens in the 21st century as it grows out of the very real issues of sustainability, biodiversity and public environmental concern.

The 100 forests not only provide an immersive experience of being enveloped in a forest of one species but are also seed banks for the future. As it develops into the future, the National Arboretum will build links across the world, an exchange of knowledge and actual plant material that will work towards reversing the planet’s loss of biodiversity. It is therefore a strategy, a program and an ongoing event, not merely a design based primarily on aesthetics. National Arboretum has received seven state, national and international awards, including the 2014 World Architecture Festival Landscape of the Year.

Uluru Kata-Tjuta Cultural Centre- TCL with Gregory Burgess


Located one kilometre from the base of one of Australia’s most loved icons, the Uluru Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre is an ongoing testimony to the value of joint Aboriginal and non-Indigenous management of the landscape. Its intertwining of building with vegetation and desert sand imbues a fluidity symbolic of the ‘give and take’ of joint management, the inner and outer experience of culture – the physical and spiritual experience of landscape by Anangu people – the Traditional Owners. This is a cultural centre where the Traditional Owners are indeed the hosts and tourists are visitors. The intent of all designed landscape elements was to minimise the centre’s impact on this ancient and easily disturbed landscape while maximising the visitors’ experience of the desert’s subtle beauty. A landscape ‘island’ was created around the building in which visitors have a little time to pause in the desert as they approach and leave the building. The car and bus parks are deliberately held back 150- 300m away from the building and winding paths of compacted desert site sand navigate through the undisturbed landscape. Courtyards within the building were delineated with desert earth walls that protect indigenous vegetation. Courtyards within the building were delineated with desert earth walls that protect indigenous vegetation. As a result of consultation with Anangu, no new vegetation was planted, no trees and very little vegetation were removed and no site gradients were altered, ensuring minimal change of this pristine environment.

Adelaide Botanic Gardens First Creek Wetland – TCL with David Lancashire Design + Karl Telfer


The Adelaide Botanic Gardens Wetland is located on First Creek, a highly urbanised waterway near the centre of Adelaide. This former drain is converted into a living wetland that ameliorates flooding, purifies polluted stormwater runoff, is the source for an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) system, provides habitat and is an educational and recreational resource. The conceptual and collaborative design process led to a fusion of engineering, landscape architecture and interpretation, resulting in an integrated system that combines physical, biological, mechanical and hydrological processes. Three primary themes – plants, water and people – are explored throughout the design. These themes are established within a layout that improves visitor entry to the gardens through the eastern gate, maintains visitor and service access and provides a range of new opportunities for educational experiences. Close collaboration with Kaurna artist and custodian Karl Telfer ensured the inclusion of First Nation Kaurna stories, while the wetland is planted with a mix of hardy Australian native and non-invasive exotic species. The project has received four state, national and international awards.

Forest Gallery – TCL with Paul Thompson

The Forest Gallery exhibit promotes the idea of a new museum of the future, one that hosts living things and contemporary storytelling. TCL acted as principal consultants leading a diverse team of scientists, engineers and multimedia consultants in the development of a large living exhibit of 50m x 25 m within the new Melbourne Museum. Located within a large semi enclosed courtyard, open to the elements, living plants and animals, sculpture and sophisticated technology are integrated to interpret the majestic Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forest east of Melbourne- the tallest flowering trees in the world. A feature of this project was the degree of integration of Museum staff and the consultant team. Close collaboration was an essential element in synthesising the vast knowledge of the Museum specialists and transforming the many ideas and issues into a cohesive, inspiring and comprehendible interpretive environment. The Forest Gallery is divided into 5 interconnected zones that express the forces that form and impact on the forest environment. These include water, earth, fire, the seasons and human impact. First Nation stories of the 6 seasons of their calendar are interpreted along with the dark history of their removal from their ‘country’. Other narratives include the geological story of Gondwana and how it shaped the landform as well as plant and animal communities. The project has won three state and national awards.

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