Wen Yu Kee wins 2013 HASSELL Travelling Scholarship

Wen Yu Kee from the University of New South Wales is the winner of the 2013 HASSELL Travelling Scholarship – Robin Edmond Award. The annual award recognises landscape architecture students studying in Australia who show outstanding potential for future contribution to the profession. It provides the winner with the opportunity to expand their education by travelling abroad and immersing themselves in a destination of their choice that is undergoing significant urban development or renewal.

Wen Yu Kee was chosen by the HASSELL landscape architecture leadership following interviews with all 20 nominated students from the seven participating universities. Kee’s outstanding project ‘Tidal Impressions’, looked to the City of Gosford on the New South Wales central coast as a case study into the greater dynamics of a coastal city’s water systems. It investigated the potential ramifications of extreme flooding scenarios and the preventative possibilities of an adaptive approach to the landscape in pursuit of answers to the question: How can designing for environmental change improve a human’s experience in an urban landscape?

“By obtaining a greater understanding of the intertidal nature of Gosford’s urban estuary landscape through in-depth research, analysis and ideation modelling, Kee was able to present some innovative and compelling strategies for the development of more ecologically sustainable and flood resistant places for communities affected by the phenomenon of rising sea levels,” said
Angus Bruce, Head of Landscape Architecture at HASSELL.

“We received many outstanding submissions for the 2013 Travelling Scholarship and commend all students who participated in this year’s program, and their universities, for continuing to drive such a high standard of design thinking and development to the benefit of the landscape architecture profession,” said Angus.

From experiencing subtle daily tidal changes to fearing the dramatic rise in sea level, the local estuarine waters evoke imaginative scenarios, which reconnect one with their landscape systems. Tidal Impressions looks at stormwater infrastructure as landscape typology that is not simply about ‘naturalising’ infrastructure, but as an opportunity to explore new ways for urban dwellers to engage more meaningfully with their water systems.

Site Flooding Analysis

Gosford’s estuarine landscape system has defined an intertidal and highly sensitive landscape condition, which adds to the challenges of other existing site issues, such as walkability to thewaterfront, run-off contamination and disconnection from the greater community. This proposal acknowledges that complete elimination of flood risk on the floodplains of Gosford is an impossible task, and consequently it proposes a series of tidal-sensitive edge conditions to embrace this dynamic relationship between the city and the landscape.

Site Opportunities And Constraints

Tidal Impressions investigates the physical and temporal qualities created along these edges to engage individuals physically and emotionally with their intertidal landscapes. It represents the first phase of a long term vision of social and environmental sustainability through a series of schematic and flood adaptive planning and design proposals to re-envisage Gosford as ‘a city, not just a place in space, but a drama in time’ (Geddis, P. 1925).

Tidal Impressions

“The process of analysing the waterfront site was highly inspired by The Performative Ground: Rediscovering the Deep Section by Stephanie Carlisle and Nicholas Pevzner. Revisiting the site after a group investigation, I looked at the complex hydrological processes taking place above, below and within the urban ground,” says Wen Yu Kee. “A thorough series of analysis was undertaken to consider additional site issues relevant to creating an adaptive landscape that focuses on the human connection with the estuarine waters and its processes.

“For instance, during the low-tide, low-rainfall seasons from September to December, there will be greater dry area for events extending from the plaza in front of the new mixed used buildings
towards the daylighted creek. During the high-tide, high-rainfall seasons from March to June, the water edge would be brought closer to the urban edge engaging greater visual accessibility, attracting more users towards the waterfront.”

“A conceptual model of experience helped to express the complex social and ecological relationships desired in the design and scheme. The materiality of the conceptual model not only established the ecological functions within the scheme, it also helped to interpret an impression that could be related on a human scale,” she said.

The scheme addresses the WSUD principles: protect the waterways; manage stormwater in the landscape; and add multiple benefits while minimising development costs, by proposing adaptive strategies and design concepts, including:


Collect: Increase rain water collection and storage points
On the permeable plaza surface are strips of rain gardens that connect to an underground harvesting system. The plaza then connects to the lower level as a universal designed amphitheatre – this area responds to tidal change.

Filter: Improve water quality
The project investigated the use of a filtering sea wall and filtering bridge with the dual function of remediation and flood management. The filter infrastructure is made up of two terraces of reeds where the higher is at ffl of 2.2 m – 2.7 m. It would not only retain the surface run off and rain gardens for treatment, it would also treat water and during the general high tide of 1.7 m, it will overflow into the pool retaining and treating the water before the next daily high tide.

Flow: Improve drainage capacity to manage flooding during high rainfall seasons
Widening and exposing the boxed culvert will better manage drainage during high rainfall season to help prevent clogging of underground pipes causing a back flow bath tube effect in the city
centre. People will be able to experience the area with a series of boardwalks that project towards the waterfront.

Section | Rain Garden Plaza
Section | Tidal Terrace


Tidal Impressions: Flood adaptive planning and design for Gosford, Australia

Graduate | Wen Yu Kee, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, University of New South Wales

Images & Text | Wen Yu Kee

About Damian Holmes 5441 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/