Jun 24 2021, by Fleetwood Urban

“Shaping the public realm is both a privilege and a responsibility"

Over the years, we’ve met few people who are more passionate about the future of landscape architecture than Adrian McGregor and Phillip Coxall. So we were absolutely thrilled when one of their studio’s talented graduate landscape architects, Amie Mason, was recently recognised with AILA’s 2021 Future Leader Award in NSW.

Born and raised in the regional Queensland town of Kingaroy, Amie graduated with a Bachelor of Design (Landscape Architecture, Honours) from QUT in 2018. We were lucky enough to catch up with her to discuss her winning submission exploring the issues of climate-responsive design, together with her vision for the industry’s future. As we think you’ll agree, the future is in good hands, as is McGregor Coxall’s.

“With the shift in working and thinking in 2020, Amie fully understood that a shift of paradigm is necessary and, underpinned with her approach, is fundamental to create resilient and sustainable contemporary landscapes.”

2021 AILA NSW Awards Jury

FLEETWOOD: Firstly Amie, congratulations. Your research submission was powerful and thought-provoking, yet also quite personal. How did it all come about? 

AMIE MASON: The brief and judging criteria were very broad in terms of structure and content, so it allowed me to really reflect on what it means to be a ‘future leader’. The opportunity was less about showcasing my project experience and technical skills, and more about expressing my identity as an emerging landscape architect: Why am I here? What drives me? Where am I going? To tell this story, it was important to go back to the beginning and share a few of the many experiences that have shaped my values and perspectives as a designer. Through this process, I was able to set a clear vision for where I see myself heading, and the contribution I hope to make.

FWD: Why is the topic of climate-responsive design so close to your heart?

AM: My background and childhood experiences have instilled strong environmental values, which have translated in some way throughout my design work so far. Growing up in a rural area, our livelihood was directly impacted by events such as droughts and floods. Moving to the city, I found the effects of these events were far more widespread with catastrophic consequences. As landscape architects, we play a key role in determining the effect our cities have on the environment – so having the privilege to collaborate, innovate and see the real-world impact of our realised ideas is incredibly rewarding, even at the smallest scale.

FWD: Obviously, your work was very well received by the AILA judges. Now you’ve been recognised, what does that mean to you at this stage of your career?

AM: Being recognised as a Future Leader is an exciting beginning of many more things to come as a landscape architect in Australia. It’s validating and motivating to have my work and potential acknowledged by the industry. I think it’s also a testament to the talented and passionate leaders, mentors and peers I’ve learnt from so far.

FWD: Would you encourage other emerging LAs to get involved in the Future Leader Award? 

AM: Absolutely, yes. Forming my submission was such a valuable experience, and something I’d recommend for any landscape architecture graduate. It gives you the unique opportunity to pause and reflect on where you are, your values and interests as a designer and how these can be used to drive the direction of your career. It’s also a great platform to get your name out into the industry and open up other networking possibilities and collaborations.

FWD: Looking ahead, what are your ambitions within the industry? What type of work do you hope to be doing in years to come?

AM: I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible team at McGregor Coxall, who create a motivating and inspiring work environment. At such an early stage in my career, my aim is to get as much exposure as I can working on a broad range of project types and scales, learning from many different designers, and continuing to find my own identity as a landscape architect. It’s hard to say what I’ll be doing years down the track, but I believe as long as you have a strong guiding philosophy and you’re willing to chase new opportunities and throw yourself into challenging situations, the best is always yet to come.

“As designers, we have both the privilege and responsibility of shaping the public realm. 

However, we are trapped in an outdated and complacent paradigm that continues to see densely packed houses, dark asphalt roads, and bare expanses of concrete rolled out across new developments. 

We are designing cities that are rigid and vulnerable to our ever-changing environment, and as we are discovering in Western Sydney, the consequences are catastrophic.”

Excerpt from Amie’s award-winning submission.
Read her full paper here.

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