Editor’s picks: Top events at Melbourne Design Week 2019

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has announced the program for the 2019 Melbourne Design Week, which will run from 14 to 24 March.

Unfolding over 11 days, the program, broadly themed “Design Experiments,” will ask how design can shape the future. Under this umbrella, the program has been curated to five sub-themes: Design Routes: Reconnecting with Birrarung, that explores how we can reconnect with the Yarra River; The War on Waste, examining design’s potential influence on the environment; Materials, which explores the lifecycle of materials; Possible Futures, considering how design informs our quality of life; and Inclusive Cities, a collection of events that look at how role of design might offer ways to redress urban issues.

Overall, the program will offer more than 200 events, from the annual three-day Melbourne Art Book Fair, to Welcome to Wasteland, an exhibition exploring the use of waste materials, to lectures by international landscape architects and designers. For the first time since the program began, the program has also been expanded to include Geelong.

LandscapeAU rounds up the top landscape-related events of the 2019 program.


9 March–28 April, Koorie Heritage Trust, Federation Square

An exhibition of photographic works by Bangerang artist Peta Clancy created in collaboration with the Dja Dja Wurrung community. The works reveal hidden massacre sites that have since been drowned as a result of colonial occupation of the land and disruption of the natural waterways. Through a process of cutting into and tearing the photographs Clancy references the emotional, cultural and physical scars left in the landscape by frontier violence. The installation explores history and memory, revealing the layers of colonial erasure.

Water regimes of Bolin Bolin: past, present and future

Sat 16 Mar, 9.45am–11.45am, Veneto Club, Bulleen

A two-hour walking tour on the challenges facing Bolin Bolin and the collaborative approach being taken to restore the billabong. Melbourne Water is working with Parks Victoria, Manningham Council and Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation to restore natural water regimes, remove weeds and rehabilitate Bolin Bolin, aiming to provide improved habitat for wildlife and enhanced community amenity. The Bolin Bolin Integrated Water Management Project is a collaboration between Manningham Council, City of Boroondara and Carey Baptist Grammar School, which aims to capture and treat stormwater to irrigate local sports grounds.

Watering the gardens

Sat 16 Mar, 4pm–6pm, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

A tour through the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s Melbourne Gardens with landscape architect, Andrew Laidlaw to learn about the challenges of keeping a living landscape alive during times of water scarcity in a setting that includes some of the world’s rarest and most significant plant species.

Forgotten ecologies of Birarung

Sat 16 Mar, 10am–1pm

A 12-kilometre bicycle tour exploring the oft-forgotten ecologies of the Yarra River, as a basis for a conversation about its future. Tour commences in Richmond – bring your own bike and helmet.

Visions of Chinese urbanism with Jing Liu and Beatrice Leanza

Mon 18 Mar, 6pm–8pm, NGV International

The urbanisation of China presents the largest and most rapid city-making exercise in history. China’s National New Urbanization Plan is an ambitious program, of ‘people-centered urbanisation’ swiftly changing millions of rural residents into urban dwellers, while reshaping the nation’s ecology, economy and vast tracts of the landscape. Jing Liu, co-founder of New York-based practice SO-IL and Beijing-based design critic Beatrice Leanza will present interrelated perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of this rapid city-making.

Dan Pearson

Tue 19 Mar, 6pm–7pm, NGV International

London-based landscape designer, gardener and journalist Dan Pearson will discuss his studio’s approach to commissions and how their work strengthens a sense of place. Known for his painterly, naturalistic perennial planting, the studio’s key projects include the Tokachi Millennium Forest, a 240-hectare public park in Hokkaido, Japan, the courtyard gardens at photographer Juergen Teller’s studio and the Garden Museum, both in London.

Melbourne’s green spaces: from sci-fi fantasy to future reality

Thu 21 Mar, 6pm–7.30pm, Venue Victorian Archives Centre, North Melbourne

A chance to view the original landscaping plans from the Public Record Office Victoria’s collection – from the designs for the Fitzroy and Royal Botanic Gardens to the overly ambitious submissions by the general public for the doomed 1978 Melbourne Landmark Design Competition. Peta Christensen from Cultivating Community, Warwick Savvas from Aspect Studios, Skye Haldane, Manager of Design at City of Melbourne and Andrew Laidlaw from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne will discuss how we can learn from the past to ensure that green spaces continue to serve our communities’ needs into the future.

Explore Geelong’s green rooftops

Thu 21 Mar, 2pm–4.30pm, City Hall, Geelong

The City of Greater Geelong, Geelong Manufacturing Council, Victorian Government and Deakin University worked together to rejuvenate Geelong’s landscape through a design competition. Faced with challenges like climate change, changing economic conditions and urban growth, the competition invited commercial building owners and occupants to explore innovative ways of incorporating rooftop gardens by working with students. The tour includes stops at four of the built outcomes: GMHBA, T&G Building (Deakin University student residences), Barwon Water and The Black Shed Project and will include a display of the rooftop garden designs and planting schemes by Deakin University landscape architecture students.

Future Acts: Land, treaty and property

Sun 24 Mar, 2pm–3pm, Testing Grounds, Southbank

A panel discussion with Lidia Thorpe, Libby Porter and Jana Perkovic and moderated by Genevieve Murray addressing how urban planning, development and policy might recognise the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Is the creation of treaty and reparations possible through urban development or is it incongruous?

Thomas Doxiadis

Sun 24 Mar, 3pm–4pm, NGV International

Greek architect and landscape architect Thomas Doxiadis, principal of multidisciplinary practice Doxiadis Plus, will present a lecture on how landscape can strengthen the relationship between humans and nature. The work of Doxiadius Plus is research-driven and includes parks, marinas, resorts, urban interventions, landscape restoration and policy. Recent projects include Landscapes of Cohabitation, a 40-acre landscape project and series of residences on the Greek island of Antiparos and the restoration of the historic gardens of the Gennadius Library of rare books in Athens.

River rights: Yarra Bend

Sun 24 Mar, 11am–1pm, details from Open House Melbourne

Join Andrew Kelly, Yarra River keeper, for a walk along the river that explores waterfront access, development and the river as public space.


Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn

Watermark explores the diversity of our relationship with water through stories from around the globe. Shot in ultra high-definition with soaring aerial perspectives, this film shows water as a terraforming element and the scale of its reach, as well as the magnitude of our need and use.

For full details of the events listed, including location, costs and bookings, visit the Melbourne Design Week website.

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