Landscape Architecture - Honours
The Crossing is a master-planning project focusing on the re-surfacing of identity through process experimentation and socially regenerative outcomes. The restoration of Dalby’s vibrant communal heart sits within a wider town planning scheme, alongside proposed concepts for a new outdoor event precinct and infrastructure connection upgrades, projecting the rural town as the future city-hub of the Western Downs Region.
Physically, the landscape can be perceived (from a visual design sense) as having strong linear sequences that create rhythm through the space. This physical space creates a resound feeling of progression and succession, an almost hypnotic state of passing patterns and forward propulsion.
The crop lines, cattle grates, fences, road markings and powerlines all dominate the landscape, conveying a language of linearity. While the whole of Dalby and its surrounds are on a “flat” plain, with only few sporadic trees intervening along the horizon, the vertical lines (power-poles, fences, signs) become the feature visual stimulant.
Hypnotised by the rhythm of crop lots syncopated with powerlines and fencelines, the constant passing of threshold markers propels you through the space with a gratifying momentum –the land may be flat and vast to the eye, but sense of movement is not lost with the linear element organisation acting as progress-checkpoints. The constant passing of these linear thresholds become markers along a journey, a persistent beat in the landscape as you drive towards the Town Heart.
The Crossing Masterplan reflects the strong linearity of the landscape narrative while staying true to the historical purpose of the land as a passing place, a threshold into the town, and into/out of the wider Western Downs Region.
The linear gardens and spatial organisation pull people into the site to naturally congregate at the central amphitheatre and gathering place – the community forefront becoming the heart of the cross-roads.
Three main drivers influenced the design process throughout the project completion;
1. Framing Identity – Shifting the paradigm lens of identity to be inclusive of all cultural and social practices.
2. Narrative of place – Retrieval of memory and cultural enrichment of place and time.
3. Connection to country – Reciprocating ways of seeing and ways of acting through multi-dimensional models – reinforcing opportunities for acknowledgement and dedication to country through views, interactions and educational interventions.
The initial site analysis was navigated with heavy focus on identity, interrogating the interwoven strands that complete the tapestry of the Town’s urban fabric. Consideration of the current cultural and social representations were re-framed within models of landscape equity and inclusive identity – aiming to diminish the bias cultural undertones and resurface the marginalised layers outlined in phases 1 and 2 of the methods.
Preliminary concepts and brainstorm generation, in phases 3 and 4 of the methods, were directed by physical and emotional responses to the landscape space – placing myself as a character in the landscape narrative. Attempts to capture my feelings, thoughts and ideas were communicated through artistic expressions of ‘dreamscapes’. The dreamscaping and radicalised concept generation allowed for an abundance of ideas to be tested simultaneously, while portraying concepts and meanings in a more captivating and apprehensible portrayal to audiences outside of the design profession. The method, while seemingly more confusing to others, was very effective in my own personal grapple to apprehend the complex site identity. I personally find it easier to gain understanding through emotional connection, sensory experiences, and the viewing of space as art –even when replicated in drawing, it has the power to incite the ghost of experience. For me, drawing is a window to the memory.
The final masterplan and spatial arrangement of the site was then rationalised with design conventions and Connections to Country in phases 5 and 6 of the methods. The sky, soil, inhabitant species, ecological and cultural systems specific to site acted as the grounding anchors for the fantasy dreamscapes. Compromising what is achievable in the creative mind and what is achievable in the laws of reality, refined the outcomes into well-informed designs while upholding conceptual virtue and meaning.
A brief synopsis of the wider Town Plan for Dalby is displayed below. For a more comprehensive overview of The Crossing, Event Precinct, Town Infrastructure Upgrades and more process content, please see the below link to Renee’s Behance Portfolio where the full works are published.
Having completed the Honours design studios at QUT, a common philosophical theme of empathetic understanding and eco-centrism is woven through Renee’s design thinking. She believes that empathetic understanding of landscape experiences is paramount to regenerative outcomes and embracing human evolutionary expression in practice. For design without feeling, is design without self.