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Competition: Future Park, Melbourne

The University of Melbourne has launched an ideas contest for a major new park in Australia’s second largest city (Deadline: 1 August)

The two-stage competition is open to all practising and emerging built-environment professionals and seeks proposals for an innovative green public space demonstrating the potential role parks could play within Melbourne by 2050.

The call for concepts – supported by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects – aims to create an ‘open and dynamic’ dialogue between built environment professionals, residents, the government and businesses. Concepts may focus on any location and harness any budget but must promote ‘reconciliation, biodiversity and evolving concepts of publicness and community’.

Contest area: Future Park, Melbourne

Contest area: Future Park, Melbourne

Contest area: Future Park, Melbourne

In its brief, the university says the competition ‘challenges professional and emerging landscape architects, urban designers, architects and planners to speculate on new park possibilities for a future Melbourne. How can parks shape Melbourne’s urban form?

‘Where should this new public open space be located, how should it be configured and what is its role? Is a new signature park in the spirit of Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon Park (2005) or Moscow Zaryadye Park (2018) appropriate, or instead smaller sequences of parks? Should parks be designed at ground level or are other spatial locations possible?’

Melbourne is the second most populous city in Australia and home to 4.7 million people. It is thought to be one of the most sustainable cities in the world and is targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2020.

The latest competition responds to the need for more green spaces within the rapidly growing settlement which is expected to have a larger population than Sydney by 2050. Concepts may focus on any site within 10km of the city centre.

Melbourne city centre

Melbourne city centre

Source: Image by Diliff

Melbourne city centre

Submissions should include two A1-sized boards featuring images and diagrams along with a 400-word written description of the project.

Concepts will be judged on their analytical and conceptual rigour, engagement with Melbourne’s future, imagination and originality, and graphical and communicational quality.

Judges include Victorian state government architect Jill Garner, landscape architect Mark Skiba, philanthropist Susan Alberti, and Syracuse University professor of architecture Julia Czerniak.

The overall winner, to be announced in October, will receive A$15,000 and there will also be a second prize of A$5,000.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is midday local time, 1 August

Contact details

Jillian Walliss
Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture
The University of Melbourne

Tel: +61 3 8344 0104

View the contract notice for more information

Q&A with Jillian Walliss

The senior lecturer in landscape architecture at the University of Melbourne discusses her ambitions for the competition

Jillian Walliss

Jillian Walliss

Jillian Walliss

Why are your holding an ideas contest for a major new park in Melbourne?

There have been very few landscape focused competitions in Australia. The idea first emerged during planning for the 2019 International Festival of Landscape Architecture (presented by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects) to be held in Melbourne. The curatorial team of Kirsten Bauer, Cassandra Chilton and myself wanted the festival (which is framed around the typologies of the square and the park) to have a greater legacy than the standard professional conference. We felt that an ideas competition could advocate for a greater ambition for contemporary parks in Melbourne and expand discussions into the broader community, politicians and other design disciplines. We approached the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne to run the competition. In 2019 the University was celebrating 150 years of Built Environment education and was looking for opportunities to mark this anniversary and this ideas competition was considered a great opportunity to promote new design visions for Melbourne.

Melbourne waterfront park, Australia

Melbourne waterfront park, Australia

Melbourne waterfront park, Australia

What is your vision for the future of the city’s green spaces?

Melbourne has experienced significant population increase over the past decade. Much of this development has occurred will the addition of little open space. Consequently, an important part of any vision is conceiving strategies for ‘finding’ areas for open space through strategies such as amalgamation, demolition, repurposing, redefining or rezoning. Envisaging the role of the park in 2050, ecologically and culturally, is a further challenge. Melbourne is facing an increasingly hot and dry future, which will have major ramifications on biodiversity and liveability, while reconciliation and shifting demographics challenge concepts of publicness and community.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The competition aims to inspire an open and dynamic dialogue between built environment disciplines, the broader community, government and the private sector. Consequently, there are few restrictions on entrants. We expect a mix of local, national and international designers and university students across landscape architecture, urban design, architecture, engineering and planning. We also have a category for Victorian high school students.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Australia doesn’t have a great record of running design competitions on parks. Recent competitions have tended to focus on urban precincts or cultural buildings where the role of open space is often secondary to the architecture. This is why our focus on the future park is so important. We hope that the competition entries will provide the foundation for further debates, discussions and lobbying. For example, the shortlisted entries will be exhibited for a month at the Melbourne School of Design with the finalists invited to present as part of the festival. An academic symposium and a major public lecture will follow the festival. With the Office of the Victorian Government Architect as a major sponsor, we hope that the competition entries will inform future strategic directions for the city.

The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul

The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul

Source: Image by Francisco Anzola

The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul

Are there any other innovative green space masterplan projects you have been impressed by?

Some of the most innovative approaches to green spaces are found in Asian cities. Seoul for instance has impressive strategies for inserting new open space into its dense urbanism such as the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Cheonggye cheon restoration; Seonyudo Park designed by Seoahn Total Landscape and PARKKIM’s transformation of the Yanghwa riverfront of the Han River. And of course, no-one can beat Singapore’s continuous investment in green infrastructure.

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