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