John Williams from RMIT University wins HASSELL Travelling Scholarship

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HASSELL has announced John Williams from RMIT University as the winner of the 2016 HASSELL Travelling Scholarship – Robin Edmond Award. John was selected following interviews with 18 students, nominated by the seven participating universities around Australia. His outstanding research project called ‘The Space In-Between’ took a multi-scalar approach to the reintegration of post-industrial sites, using phytoremediation strategies as a framework for urban land rehabilitation that supports greater accessibility, diversity and resilience. This project was undertaken as part of the Master of Landscape Architecture program at RMIT University.

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John’s project focused on the highly-industrialised suburb of Brooklyn in Melbourne’s inner-west. Just 10km from the CBD, the current landscape is dominated by quarries, landfill and large industrial estates, and it’s under increasing pressure to transform. The Space In-Between proposes a new model of productive urban park for Brooklyn that taps into the cleansing capacity of select plant species to enable a staggered development transition from contaminated brownfield into a productive, mixed-use residential community. This approach will allow people into the process of remediation to build a sense of narrative and ownership in the space over time, says John.

HASSELL Head of Landscape Architecture, Angus Bruce said: “We were extremely impressed with John’s compelling design solution. His research comes as cities face rising pressure to adapt degraded inner-city sites to house and transport swelling populations. This tricky challenge is one John’s research intends to help solve.”

John is excited to be travelling to Amsterdam on the scholarship – a city rich in industrial history, saying: “The HASSELL Travelling Scholarship provides an incredible opportunity for me to delve deeper into my design research on post-industrial development processes. To engage with and document the transformations that are happening in urban communities on the ground is a truly inspiring prospect.”

The HASSELL Travelling Scholarship – Robin Edmond Award is an annual award that recognises graduating landscape architecture students who show outstanding potential for future contribution to the profession. The annual award provides the winner with the opportunity to expand on their education through travel to a destination undergoing significant development or renewal.

Student Project Summary | The Space In-Between, by John Williams

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The Space In-Between is a multi-scalar approach to post-industrial reintegration that uses phytoremediation strategies as a framework to allow a more resilient and diverse urban fabric to accumulate over time.

The way that we produce and consume goods is shifting, resulting in a series of contaminated post-industrial void spaces that the project recognises as opportunities for new forms of urban living, new modes of production and new typologies of green infrastructure.

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The Space In-Between is focused around the highly-industrialised suburb of Brooklyn in Melbourne’s inner west. Brooklyn is a landscape dominated by quarries, landfill and large industrial estates. Lying only 10km from the CBD, these industrial uses are facing a series of increasing pressures to transform. The project taps into this condition of post-industrial vacancy and contamination, proposing a series of phytoremediation transition parks that would allow land owners to break down these super parcels into a connected urban fabric throughout the process of their remediation.

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These phytoremediation sites would also provide a framework for a series of programs that would plug into the phyto-forest and its clearings in order to activate the space and trigger new cycles of production in Brooklyn. At a precinct scale this process would gradually transition the suburb into a new flexible, productive and connected urban fabric. The large, disjointed and dehumanised industrial superblocks will be degraded into transitory remediation parks, which over time will inform and develop into more permanent but flexible land-uses. The suburb, currently devoid of tree canopy and green space, will become one of the west’s most densely vegetated pockets, an important coolant and ecological link for the city.

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The Space In-Between represents a new model of productive urban park that staggers development from contaminated brownfield into mixed-use residential community, allowing people into the process of remediation and building a sense of narrative and ownership in the space.

Images Credit | John Williams