Landscape Architecture student wins 2021 Future Landscapes Competition

Congratulations to Zhuocheng (Jackie) Gu for winning the 2021 Future Landscapes Competition run in conjunction with the recent Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) national conference.

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The competition invited emerging landscape architects to speculate on scenarios of future Australian landscapes by presenting and illustrating a unique narrative for an existing Australian street, park, or public open space in its current form, as a landscape of spectacle and as a landscape from collapse.

There was no budget and entrants were encouraged to speculate imaginatively.

Zhuocheng (Jackie)'s winning entry focused on the regional town of Port Augusta and was developed as part of his graduating Master of Landscape Architecture Project which he is currently completing at the University of Adelaide.

Graduating design studio 

The graduating design studio of the Master of Landscape Architecture program runs a variety of specialised studio options supporting intensive design research and the development of creative landscape architecture products.

This year students had a choice of three studios including the Port Augusta Solar Nexus Studio run by Dr Scott Hawken, the Roxby Downs Arid Landscapes Studio run by Dr Tanya Court and the Franns Farm Studio run by Jo Russell-Clark.

Solar Nexus, Zuocheng (Jackie)'s chosen graduating design studio, led by landscape architect Dr Scott Hawken, encouraged students to engage with the sustainable transitions currently taking place in Port Augusta.

The winning entry

Together with his classmates, Zhuocheng (Jackie), travelled to Port Augusta to get a sense of the landscape and to hear about the hopes and aspirations of locals direct from local activists, workers, engineers, horticulturalists, and the government of Port Augusta itself.

The trip saw students visiting extraordinary landscapes including the Arid Lands Botanic Garden, the vast Bungala Solar Farm, the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park, the Iron Triangle on the Spencer Gulf, and other hi-tech ruins and construction sites for energy and agriculture projects across the region.

This experience highlighted both the bright and dark sides to the renewables transition, including new  social and environmental challenges.

Zhuocheng (Jackie)’s entry, entitled Silicon Gulf, captured this duality. It depicted the transition of the Northern Power Station ash dam from contaminated post-industrial land to regenerative Data Centre Park.

"As an emerging landscape architect, I am excited to explore the potential action on climate change informed by the integration of technological advances into ecology in various spatial and temporal scales" Zuocheng (Jackie) said.

Jackie’s teacher, Dr Scott Hawken, says this winning entry is both powerful and timely, given the current focus on COP26 and climate discussions in Glasgow.

"The win shines a light on a regional landscape that doesn’t usually get much attention from the political establishment and design world," Scott said.

The feedback

The competition jury said the imagery in Zuocheng (Jackie)'s entry was speculative, expressive and the overall graphic representation was of incredibly high quality using ingenious collage technique. Each image evoked a strong sense of place. They were particularly impressed with the restrained colour scheme that resisted conforming with the idea of a ‘green’ spectacle and instead enhanced the intensity of the site with a powerful overall effect.

The work is thought provoking, to say the least. This competition win is a wonderful achievement.

You can learn more about the competition, read the glowing review given to Jackie Zhuocheng Gu by the jury, and see the work of the runners up here.

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