Urban Wetland in heart of Adelaide wins Australian sustainability award

Designed by Australian landscape architecture and urban practice firm TCL, Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens Wetland has won the 2017 Sustainability Award for Landscape and Urban Design. Located in the south-east corner of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens (ABG), the Wetland is a highly urbanised waterway near the centre of Adelaide.

Initially tasked with creating an interpretation of the wetland, TCL expanded the brief to create an experiential place with playful rather than static elements that would allow people in the city to interact with the environment for a more hands-on, educational experience.TCL Urban Wetland, Adelaide, Australia

The Wetland is designed to ameliorate flooding, purify polluted stormwater runoff, is the source for an Aquifer Storage and Recovery system and provides habitat for wildlife. In addition The Wetland now holds about 20,000 plants, mostly Australian, with majority native to the state and some rare and endangered plants grown from seeds collected by the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre.

“The Wetland creates an environmentally sustainable precinct, as well as an immersive, educative, aesthetic and sensorial landscape, one that allows a greater understanding in order to care more deeply about our present and future use of one of our most precious assets – water,” said TCL Director, Damian Schultz said.TCL Urban Wetland, Adelaide, Australia

“Visitors experience the wetland site through the integration of a number of water bodies, built structures, an assortment of engaging and equally accessible trails and non-didactic and experiential interpretation installations,” he said.

In presenting the prize, the Sustainability Awards jury stated “It’s easy for east coast people to forget about how water-dependent the rest of Australia is, and Adelaide especially, being at the tail-end of the Murray-Darling Basin. So, a wetland in that environment that invites participation, and elegantly and creatively thumbs its nose at those who show scant regard for the health of the river system, is a project for all Australian’s to be very proud of.”TCL Urban Wetland, Adelaide, Australia

A mix of public art and integrated interpretation installations provide a series of experiences to stimulate imagination. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the wetland via the sunken amphitheatre, observation deck, bridge, wadli, ‘cracked earth’ stones, stepping stones and trails around and through the wetland, and interpretive signs that explain wetland features.

The design of The Wetlands is the result of close collaboration between TCL, the ABG, Sinclair Knight Merz, David Lancashire Design, Paul Thompson, Aquenta and AECOM.

The Sustainability Awards is one of Australia’s most respected design awards program devoted to sustainable building and recognising those working to curtail and reverse the ecological footprint of our built environment.