Amalie Wright is Director of Landscapology, a Brisbane-based design studio committed to achieving positive change through good design, and will speak at the seventh lecture of the 2018 UQ Architecture lecture series.
Her practice works across scales, with projects ranging from private gardens to the updated master plan for the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens, and the multi-award winning Big Plans for Small Creek, a 1.6 kilometre channel naturalisation.
Registered as both a landscape architect and architect Amalie brings a broad perspective to private and public realm projects. Her book Future Park: imagining tomorrow’s urban parks, was commissioned by CSIRO Publishing and she speaks regularly on the topics of parks, public spaces and integrated urban stormwater.
In addition to her practice Amalie tutors in landscape and architecture design at the Queensland University of Technology, regularly mentors candidates and sits on the assessment panels for landscape architectural registration in Queensland. She is a former Board member, and is currently Queensland President of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.
Her talk is entitled: Big Plans for Small Creek: Confidently doubting towards the future.
Tell us a little about your background, and what originally led you to architecture?
I grew up in Mackay, with a dad who was a draughtsman, and I was always fascinated by his drawings, equipment and plan printer. Mum expressed her creativity through music, cooking and gardening. I vividly recall a set of childrens’ encyclopaedias that had a story on Fallingwater. There was a summer picture and a winter one, and the question was posed: which came first, the building or the waterfall? I was intrigued!
I studied town planning for two years before switching to architecture. One of the first offices I worked in practised both architecture and landscape architecture. I started seeing what the landscape architects were up to, and helping out. Apart from a brief, wonderful stint at UAP, I’ve worked in landscape architecture ever since. I now consider myself a reformed architect!
In recent years I’ve been more involved in work concerning urban stormwater, and looking back I can see how many things about the place where I grew up were to do with living with and near water.
What principles inform your work?
It’s impossible to be a landscape architect and not think about the health of the planet.
My approach recently has been informed by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: what do people really need? It starts with the most fundamental requirements – fresh air, clean water, sustenance – the physical requirements for survival, and then moves through to shelter, a sense of safety and security, a sense of belonging, a need to feel self-respect, a need to realise potential and so on. What I like about this approach is that the starting point, ensuring clean air, clean water and sustenance for people is both modest and hugely ambitious, but also not just of benefit to human beings. Additionally the higher order needs cannot be met until the lower ones are satisfied, so it means there is a place for beauty and delight in design, but it must be built on a solid foundation.
In what way do you think your work responds to the lecture series theme ‘in-terre-vention’?
Landscape architecture is all about the architecture (the ‘vention’) of the landscape (the ‘terre’). There are many ways to define landscape, and many ways to ‘do’ landscape architecture, but all landscape architecture has a physical and spatial reality.
I think we try to approach things with humility, responsibility and the understanding that no matter what kind of ‘in-terre-vention’ we do, we are working with dynamic, complex systems and processes.
Where do you find your design inspiration?
Everywhere! I am constantly inspired by Claudia Bergs and Christina Gnezdiloff, who bring their distinct contributions to our work, as well as the incredible collaborators and clients we’ve been privileged to work with. I read voraciously, love to travel, and spend far too much time on social media, but I find it equally fascinating to watch a new leaf in my garden unfurl day-by-day. How could you live on this plant and not be inspired!
As David Attenborough said “There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive.”
What are your top 3 favourite design books?
How did we get into this mess? : politics, equality, nature by George Monbiot
Outside lies magic : regaining history and awareness in everyday places by John R. Stilgoe