Published on 05 July 2021

City of Onkaparinga sweeps SA Landscape Architecture Awards

City of Onkaparinga’s tree planting program, efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, planning at Aldinga, and its marquee nature playground were all recognised with major landscape architecture awards on Friday night.

The 2021 AILA Landscape Architecture Awards, presented by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects SA chapter, provides a key vehicle to promote the achievements and work of landscape architects in SA.

The awards also demonstrate to the community, industry, business and government the positive impact the profession has on people’s lives through the planning and design of the built and natural environments.

City of Onkaparinga’s Suburb Improvement Program Review – Greening Onkaparinga won the Award of Excellence for Landscape Planning, demonstrating council’s efforts to support the more disadvantaged people in the community through targeted tree planting efforts.

Greening Onkaparinga involves a detailed assessment of tree canopy cover, urban heat island mapping and social vulnerability in a highly graphic and digestible document, with the data being used to direct tree planting to the suburbs that need it most.

Through its implementation, council has planted approximately 10,000 new trees over the past decade, and aims to deliver 1000 new street trees and streetscape improvements each year, which the awards judges said, “provides an exemplar process and outcome for both local and national councils alike”.

Council’s environmental efforts were also recognised by picking up the AILA SA President’s Award, which acknowledges, celebrates and recognises City of Onkaparinga’s level of commitment to “get on” with climate change and biodiversity loss actions, and for “placing social outcomes above other measures”.

“A common issue in growing cities, particularly in peri-urban areas, are legacies of poor urban design outcomes, with car-centric suburbs and lower amenity streets and parks when compared to inner urban areas,” the judges said.

“Often these areas are hotter with lower levels of tree canopy, and lower levels of biodiversity and habitat protection, retention and enhancement.

“While ultimately responsible for these streets, places and communities, the City of Onkaparinga has taken on this challenge by proactively initiating strategic landscape and urban design initiatives to deliver quality outcomes for communities through direct influence and advocacy on statutory processes and operational delivery.

“The 2021 AILA SA Presidents Award is pleased to recognise, celebrate and encourage all local and state authorities to look to the significance of the City of Onkaparinga’s progressive endeavours as exemplars to the practice of landscape architecture in South Australia.”

City of Onkaparinga’s marquee nature playground at Wilfred Taylor Reserve, Morphett Vale, was another big award winner on the night, winning both the Landscape Architecture Award for Play Spaces, and a Commendation Award for the Healthy Parks Healthy People SA Award.

Jointly won by Peter Semple Landscape Architects, the awards recognised the design approach to integrate the 2020-built playspace into the natural environment, and the collaborative approach taken with the community.

The judges particularly singled out the collaboration with Kaurna Elders and Aboriginal artist, Allan Sumner, whose work at the playspace provides an opportunity for all users to gain a greater understanding of and respect for Aboriginal heritage and culture.

Finally, City of Onkaparinga’s work to help council and community to provide input into significant state government initiatives taking place in Aldinga was recognised with the Landscape Architecture Award for Landscape Planning.

Council’s Aldinga Framework Plan is a persuasive planning tool that ensures advanced key stakeholder awareness of potential development outcomes along with providing Onkaparinga Council the ability to influence these to benefit their community.

The Plan achieves this by bringing together known information about the Aldinga region and identifies key issues and opportunities to ensure that large scaled greenfield developments provide high-quality design outcomes, including plentiful open spaces and functional streetscapes.

The jury praised council on its ability to build strong political awareness of Aldinga’s development context and community advocacy, saying the plan provides an “excellent precedent” for other councils.

The award wins for the Suburb Improvement Program, Aldinga Framework Plan and Wilfred Taylor (Landscape Architecture Award) mean City of Onkaparinga will represent SA in those categories at the AILA National Awards Presentation in October.

Woodcroft College was the south’s other big award winner, taking home two gongs for its Early Learning Centre (ELC) Outdoor Learning Area.

The educational landscape for children aged three to five melds the natural landscape, civil engineering solutions and flexible teaching platforms, and it won the Award of Excellence for Health and Education Landscape, and Landscape Architecture Award for Infrastructure.

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Wilfred Taylor Reserve