International accolades for NZ landscape architect

Published: Tue 23 May 2006 11:56 AM
Media release – May 23, 2006
International accolades for New Zealand landscape architect project
One of New Zealand’s foremost landscape architects Megan Wraight receives her highest honour in Sydney on Friday night.
Wraight will win an International Federation of Landscape Architect award during a congress in Sydney for her part in the redevelopment of the Wellington waterfront, namely Taranaki Wharf.
She is one of just a handful of people to receive one of the industry’s highest honours. But it’s no surprise to people in the know, considering all the public projects she has been involved in.
Megan has a special interest in the way cultural, historical and natural processes interact to shape the landscape in urban environments and the Taranaki Wharf redevelopment project in Wellington has reshaped the face of the capital.
It is a credit to the quality of the landscape architectural profession in New Zealand that the Taranaki Wharf project has been recognised with the award.
The project was carried out by Athfield Architects in collaboration with Wraight and Associates Limited.
Megan Wraight was a key figure in the 1997 masterplan team that developed the principles for connecting Wellington city back to its waterfront, developing a linked “necklace” of open spaces that would form a braided promenade around the inner harbour.
``An important first move for the design was declamation,’’ Wraight said today. ``Although it probably goes unnoticed now, the original finger wharf form of Taranaki Wharf was revealed by reducing the level of the backfill behind it, which also established a better setting for the rowing club buildings on the lagoon.
``Wharf structures are also revealed through the use of cutouts and access to the underside, where there can be shade and shelter and beautiful reflections onto the underside of beams.’’
The grand vision for Wellington’s inner harbour waterfront is yet to be fully realised but Taranaki Wharf works superbly well as it is.
It still has the raw hard honesty of a working wharf area. And it attracts Wellingtonians in their thousands to walk, ride, sit watch and enjoy the ever-changing edge of the sea.
The project transformed what was once a grimy waterfront working area into a place of alluring community interest, dovetailing art with the natural landscape.
``It now has a strength of place, it is individual rather than copying international trends. As a major international city waterfront enjoyed by tourists, workers and weekenders, Wellington now rates very highly and our people here are very proud of the developed area,’’ she said.
Wraight’s next project, Waitangi Park, east of Te Papa Museum, again a collaborative design with architect John Hardwick-Smith of Athfields, is almost finished.
Kumototo, north of Queen's Wharf, is the next planned development along the Wellington waterfront.
The grand vision for Wellington’s waterfront is a series of interconnected spaces, a necklace, reflecting the archaeology and ecology of the place/site.
``I would like to see similar plans for other NZ cities, in Auckland and Dunedin etc, but they need to tell their own stories.
``One of the biggest challenges facing the NZ landscape is urban spread. Consolidation is needed in the urban environments to protect the natural and rural land. The anti building movements are generally NIMBY based and are not assisting the protection of the environment, we need people living densely in our cities, this includes on our waterfronts,’’ Wraight said.
Athfield Architects and Wraight and Associates have collaborated on many projects and continue to do so.
Projects such as: Wellington Waterfront public spaces, the new Ngai Tahu cultural and corporate headquarters on the old King Edward barracks in Christchurch, ALX Block Christchurch Polytechnic, Waitakere Civic Centre, Henderson Library/Unitec Facilities, Manners St redevelopment and Whitireia Polytechnic.
Landscape architects throughout New Zealand are striving to enhance the landscape and to contribute to the design, conservation, and management of the environment, New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects’ president Renee Lambert said today.
``What was particularly impressive with Taranaki Wharf was the strong emphasis on environmentally responsible and sustainable solutions. This is a great credit to Megan Wraight and all those involved in the wharf project.’’
Landscape architects throughout New Zealand are striving to enhance the landscape and to contribute to the design, conservation, and management of the environment.
IFLA’s Eastern Region President James Hayter said the awards recognised the best quality landscape works within the region including Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan Indonesia, India and China.
``The best of landscape design and planning is vitally important for the future of the planet in order to blend man's footprint with nature,’’ he said.
Megan Wraight has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours) from RMIT University in Melbourne and graduated in 1992. She worked in Melbourne, with projects such as the Williamstown Foreshore and Commonwealth Masterplan and the Box Hill Gardens Masterplan to her credit.

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