2019 Landscape Architecture Australia Student Prize: The University of Melbourne

Transitioning to renewable energy: An integrated landscape approach by Cheng Xing, Master of Landscape Architecture, The University of Melbourne

Project statement

Melbourne is facing growing pressure over waste management, with extensive food waste currently being placed in landfill. This proposal explores the potential of this undervalued resource as a source of renewable energy in the urban context. The site is Box Hill. Like many suburban contexts, residents would be hesitant to accept a factory-like energy facility into their immediate environment. This scheme integrates a hybridizing waste-to-energy facility with public open space to produce a new spatial and programmatic typology that produces renewable energy while respecting the suburban context and providing recreational and natural amenity. Put more simply – the project aims to turn NIMBY into IMBY.

The scheme embeds a biogas generating system into a grassed landfill site. This system draws on anaerobic digestion from food waste to generate electricity, heat and fertilizer. The land form is sculpted to accommodate the units and the circulation of waste material in order to “tame the technological monster.” The final scheme is a park-like space shaped by recreational mounds and a novel ecosystem of indigenous grasses, which reflects the late-nineteenth-century landscape aesthetic of the region captured by artist Tom Roberts. The project demonstrates how landscape architects can work with technology and open space to address Australia’s challenge of transitioning to cleaner energy sources. Instead of a polluted horizon, renewable energy production could also produce a new landscape aesthetic.

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