Part A – Design Legacy

There are numerous questions that can be asked regarding “Design Legacy” and its importance:

  • When did this legacy occur?
  • Why did it occur?
  • Are we creating the legacy that will survive generations, centuries
  • Are we creating the legacy for a time
  • When was the last time we or society talked about why great design is needed

However assuming that “design legacy” is important – there are really only two questions that are relevant to the Urban Parks Industry:

  • Are we at a moment in time where the shape, form and function of urban parks are crucial? and
  • How does this Industry promote and nurture this legacy?

With passing the point where over 50% of the worlds population are now in cities, where society health issues that result from being disconnected from nature (obesity, diabetes, depression etc) have become the major cause of death, where the city heat sink is causing spike in power usage, where individuals are becoming disconnected from society, where history has shown us that the cost to infrastructure to retrofit “greenspace” into the urban jungle is prohibitive, where urban renewal is occurring everywhere to address poverty and well being. I think the question regarding “are we at the moment in time”, answers its self

Australia has many examples to draw upon and provide “signposts” to the future:

  • Centennial Parklands and the home of “federation” – a great park that was designed with a clear vision but has shown the ability to adapt and be flexible to changing needs.
  • Canberra – Walter Burley Griffin – his legacy which was a city in a landscape with exceptional use of water (artificial) and a long run vision
  • The Shrine – ANZAC Day – The People’s Park (MCG) – a football game – defining our culture: Sir John Monash’s leadership against Government wishes gave Melbournians one of the greatest landmarks that now (and it is hard to know if Sir John had this sort of insight) on one day each year defines being an Australian from the dawn service to the Australian Game at the greatest Stadium in a great parkland and city.

Outside Australia:

  • San Francisco: Golden Gate National Park and the Presidio – a legacy of one man “Brian O’Neill” . A great modern example of an individual who held a vision that is now carried by many.

In the last twenty or thirty years in Australia has there been any examples at a city or nationwide scale where a park or system of parks have been designed that has the Legacy of a Central Park? It is hard to find a clear example: It is difficult to consider that Sydney Olympic Park or Bicentennial Park as an example but MONA in Hobart – is it “The Shrine” of Melbourne and it’s relationship with the Derwent River?

Developments in Park Design thinking:

Progress has been made in this area with concepts of “way finding” and site “activation” however most are at the detail design level rather than a legacy scale. There is also the emergence of “resilience thinking” coming from both the environmental (landscape scale conservation) and social (post crisis – such as) spheres. However I wish to focus on the underpinning design concepts that have yet to be explored regarding the future of park management.

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