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March 13, 2015

My Adelaide with Grace Lin

Landscape architect Grace Lin has a unique view of the city coloured by her understanding that the way a place makes you feel can be influenced by something as minute as joinery.

  • Pictures: Andrè Castellucci

“I was initially attracted to architecture as a profession,” says Grace. “I was excited at the prospect of being able to combine my interests across the arts and the sciences, while also influencing the places of human experience and everyday life.

“Landscape architecture was a natural progression for me. I first became exposed to landscape architecture during my studies, through studying the work of Australian studios, such as Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL), where I practice as a landscape architect today.

“We get to collaborate with really interesting people; experts from a range of disciplines, including artists, writers, historians, engineers, ecologists, architects and other talented designers, as well as our clients and stakeholders.

“Landscape architecture has provided me with a particular lens to view the city and public spaces… I can often get quite focussed – perhaps a little too focussed – on the details and how design operates across vast scales from the big picture concept, with poetic expression carried through to the little details.

“I get engaged with the junctions between materials, how paving patterns can help you navigate a space, the quality of welds on a hand rail or the comfortable angle of a bench… this is all important. These small details help to create spaces of an intimate scale with small moments of tactile or visual pleasure.

“However, this is also when I need to  remind myself to step back and look around and just watch how people are enjoying and interacting with the space. Sometimes it’s good to stop analysing and just enjoy a space.

Grace was part of the design team for the Adelaide Botanic Gardens Wetland

Grace was part of the design team for the Adelaide Botanic Gardens Wetland

“I like that most projects here in Australia are public projects where great design is potentially accessible to everyone.

“North Terrace has all the qualities of an engaging and inviting space; it is appropriate for the users, with a strong connection to place, is layered and expressive, functional, beautiful and environmentally aware.

“The development there has really transformed the Terrace and provides a fitting setting for Adelaide’s cultural institutions.

“One of my favourite projects that I’ve worked on since being with TCL is Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga where we collaborated with our clients, Adelaide City Council, and with a fantastic local team. It has been inspiring to see the realisation of the first stage of the masterplan there and how people transform the space during programmed events, like the Royal Croquet Club, which is part of the Fringe Festival.

“Another favourite is the Adelaide Botanic Gardens Western Entrance, which we worked on with Hossein and Angela Valamanesh. The Western Entrance to the Gardens includes a pedestrian entry gate, paving, fencing, and a service entry gate. TCL worked with Hossein and Angela to convert these otherwise utilitarian elements into a sculptural environment with an enduring presence. These small details contribute to a beautiful everyday space.

The Wetland was a collaboration between TCL, SKM, David Lancashire Design and Paul Thompson

The Wetland was a collaboration between TCL, SKM, David Lancashire Design and Paul Thompson

“Apart from design and spaces, I also love food, so this often guides the places I visit in the city – the Central Markets, Adelaide Farmers Market for our weekly groceries, Market Street Café and Café Troppo for coffee and delicious treats.

“I live on the outskirts of the Adelaide Parklands. I usually alternate between riding my bike and walking. Sometimes I will catch a ride by car if it’s rainy or I’m running very late. The mode of transport really does affect the experience of the journey to work.

“Lately, I’ve taken to walking because I like the pace. It is slower, but I like taking the time if I can, especially when I can see a hectic day ahead of me. I feel more connected to my surroundings this way. There is so much to see and birds are amazing through the parklands, and there’ve been some pretty spectacular sunsets on my walks home lately. I also really enjoy the incidental places you discover on the way, and the little chats I have when I bump into a familiar face.

“I also love riding. I feel energised when I get to work. The journey is exhilarating, as I get to ride up through North Adelaide and down Montefiore Hill, past the white trunks of the lemon scented gums. I have a few different routes to work depending on how I’m feeling on the day. But the Montefiore Hill route balances the fun to fast ratio.”

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