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Up Rooted: 108 Flinders Street Reinvents the Courtyard

Designing outdoor spaces is considerably more than coming up with the correct plant selection. For Tract Consultants, creating the right ambience or feel to a space is as pivotal to the success of each scheme.

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BY Lorenzo Logi

March 11th, 2016


Melbourne is synonymous with generous parks and gardens. However, many landscape architecture projects focus on tight inner-urban areas. In many cases, these green wedges offer respite from the daily ritual of working or living in small air-conditioned or heated spaces. The out-door spaces aligned to these inner-city abodes not only need to address the architecture, but address the needs of those using these areas. “It can be quite a difficult process, particularly if the client doesn’t share the same vision in wanting to make a difference to people’s lives,” says landscape architect Steve Calhoun, Founder of Tract Consultants. “In the inner-city, people are being ‘squeezed’ for space. It’s important to create a sense of release,” adds Calhoun.

That sense of release, as well as surprise, has been delivered by Tract Consultants at 108, a high-rise apartment building at 108 Flinders Street, Melbourne. Designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, these apartments feature a breathtaking courtyard at the core of the site. With only eight metres separating apartment windows, and wall-to-wall towers either side, designing a traditional courtyard garden would have not been appropriate.

“Plants need light as well as soil to survive. There has to be the structure in place to support the amount of soil required, particularly for a lush garden,” says Calhoun, who worked with graphic designer Garry Emery on this project, as well as collaborating with architect Karl Fender. So needing to diffuse the sight lines from opposing apartment windows, as well as creating a lush green garden in a relatively harsh urban environment, produced this extraordinary solution. “I had this light-bulb moment. The idea was mulling over in my sub-conscious even though at that point I had no idea what the scheme would look like,” says Calhoun.

Read the full story in Indesign Issue #64, on sale now. Subscribe here.

Photography by: Michael Cowled and Plant Images.

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