Botanical garden in Australia wins
World Landscape of the Year 2013


World Architecture Festival 2013: this year's award for the best landscape project at the World Architecture Festival has gone to a botanical garden at a former quarry in Australia.

The Australian Garden

Situated in a former sand quarry in Cranbourne, outside Melbourne, The Australian Garden was designed by landscape studio Taylor Cullity Lethlean and plant expert Paul Thompson.

The Australian Garden

The garden is laid out as a journey through Australian fauna, from the desert to the coast, set among buildings and beside artificial lakes.

The Australian Garden

The garden showcases 170,000 plants across 1700 species, and is used by both researchers and the public.

The Australian Garden

"This garden brilliantly summarises the great variety of Australian flora as well as the large part of the country which is arid desert," said the panel of judges. "Like a botanic garden, it is a collection of difference, but with a strong unifying set of journeys through the various landscapes.

The Australian Garden

"This landscape stood out with its originality and strong evocation of Australian identity without having to use any signs or words – just the beautiful flora of Australia’s countryside."

The Australian Garden

Last year the World Landscape of the Year title was given to a riverside park in Singapore.

The Australian Garden

World Building of the Year 2013 was awarded to the Auckland Art Gallery and World Interior of the Year 2013 was presented to a tiled apartment in Barcelona.

  • mwigle

    There needs to be a ban on publicly funded projects. How can the designs of privately funded projects compete with the nearly unlimited budgets government funded projects receive?

    This project looks absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful. It breaks my heart to know it was paid for by Australian tax-payers. The best analogy that I can think of, are the massive parades and shows communist regimes put on to boost morale. In a world of starving and struggling people, how is this ethical to spend so much on making a garden this extremely expensive?

    • Nick

      Should there be no art? What a world that would be…

    • Craig

      $11,000,000 AUD for a 40ha garden is not what I would call a ‘nearly unlimited’ budget. What is remarkable is that the designers managed to achieve so much for such a limited budget.

      Consider this. The recently completed Eastlink freeway project in Melbourne cost $4.5 billion, or $55 million per kilometer. So what would you prefer, this garden, or 200 meters of road? Congratulations to the whole team!

      • The $11 million AUD second phase began in 2008. The total project cost was $49.5 million AUD and it took more than 20 years to complete. The Australian Garden that took these two phases to build covers about 50 acres. The rest is left to be natural, but the entirety of maintenance cost will be burdened upon the taxpayers.

        If a private company with private funding had been tasked to build a garden, it wouldn’t have taken 20 years. They would have gone bankrupt or their investors would have laughed at them. Can you imagine a company approaching a designer in 1989, and for them to learn their botanical garden will open in 2013?

        Only governments allow for these unsustainable projects. This project should be likened to Versailles.

        In comparison the 120 acre Huntington Library and Botanical Garden was entirely financed and built privately. It has an entry fee, which is set to be low enough to attract enough people to pay for it’s conservation and maintenance. It also features a wealth of rare flora and rare books.

        The reason you believe that only the government can create these types of projects is two-fold. Firstly, they artificially inflate the cost of these projects with the ability to easily access money. Instead of responsibly spending, they freely spend on public projects, increasing the cost of other projects in the market.

        Secondly, they control the entire process. A private entity must fight the bureaucratic mess of permits, land purchase, enforcement, zoning and fees. When the government wants to build anything, it does it without the roadblocks private entities must overcome.

        This is a former sand mine used for military testing and training. To repurpose it as a garden without hurdles, they passed a law making it mandatory to have Royal Gardens. It’s also mandatory to fund them. This guarantees them an essentially unlimited budget and unlimited resources to finish a project to satisfy their rules.

        This is why all the big design firms have massive portfolios that feature public projects. It’s welfare for design and architecture. These handouts are silencing smaller firms without political access, and dominating the entire process artificially.

    • Will

      I couldn’t disagree more, do you seriously think the private sector would take up the same kinds of projects? This garden is hardly going to be a huge money making project and the low financial return would put most private investors off. Unless you want the world to be covered in office blocks and huge shopping centres, there needs to be publicly funded projects! Well done to the whole team on this one, it looks fantastic!

    • zac

      Like Craig, I’d much prefer a $11,000,000 innovative landscape architectural piece than the East West Link!

    • Robert

      A high percentage of the cost was from private donations and another high percentage from gambling revenue. It aims to inform inspire and enhance the lives of people for their own sake and conservation of natural systems.


    • janine

      Beauty can only be attained with a large budget? I absolutely disagree.

    • Nathaniel Bradford

      We aren’t exactly starving or struggling in Australia. And if this was a private enterprise there would be a massive entry fee. This cost 50cents per Australian citizen, just under $1 per taxpayer, so it wouldn’t go that far in feeding the countless starving people in the world.

      • Australia is doing really well actually. $4.7 Trillion in national debt. What’s a few hundred dollars more in liability to the future generations when they already share over $200k a piece.

  • Adam

    Cranbourne and surrounds is still one of the worst examples of urban sprawl in Australia.

  • Adam

    You couldn’t pay me enough money to live in Cranny.

    • frank

      Having caught public transport to get to the garden, which meant hiking through the centre of Cranbourne en-route to the garden’s remoteness, I can understand why. Take a car, so you get there in plenty of time to take it all in, because there’s a lot to see and you need time to dawdle.

  • Gary Walmsley

    You seem to be one hot-under-the-collar libertarian or something. “Liberty Disciple — or is that Zealot(?)’. The role of governments is to create public works —including gardens. I’m sure there was an open review process.

    • The role of government is to protect liberty, not unbalance it. Creating a massive, expensive “public work” project like this, destroys the market for private gardens that are open to the public. Government ownership of property leads to neglect, not stewardship.

      The Australian government has saddled the people with expenses that fuel a corrupt system of bribery. The morality of making these decisions goes against the will of the public to make these decisions for themselves.

      This is why the premier projects are mostly public projects. Museums, institutions, education, transit, and government offices make up the top projects.

      Public funding without the need to budget continually raises spending, and the market cost of architecture for all.

      This ballooning system of design has nearly destroyed innovation in architecture, as the money-makers direct lawmakers into setting strict zoning and building code. When a new designer innovates, they are denied, unless they find enough money to bribe. The powerful have an advantage over my generation. This system is stifling design.