Jock Marshall Reserve Nature Walk wins landscape architecture award

The Jock Marshall Reserve Nature Walk at Clayton has been awarded the Landscape Architecture Award in the Infrastructure category at the 2017 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Victorian Awards.

Landscape Architects Urban Initiatives accepted the award at the AILA Victorian Landscape Architecture Awards on Friday 21 July in Melbourne.

The Nature Walk provides an elevated footbridge through the ecologically-significant Jock Marshall Reserve. Completed in 2016, it allows students, staff and visitors to experience first-hand the exciting botanical life in the reserve and enjoy a unique bushland experience.

A 200m board walk introduces a new campus entry along Blackburn Road, improving connectivity between the campus heart and the surrounding community. Jock Marshall Reserve Nature Walk

With sweeping views across the lake into the Reserve, the Nature Walk features seating, book leaning rails, wheelchair accessible desks and power points.

Access at the canopy level ensures that the educational, research and environmental qualities of the reserve below are preserved.  

The Nature Walk unlocks the potential of the Jock Marshall Reserve as an accessible and connective space.

“For the first time in fifty years, the campus community and public can access and enjoy the ecologically and culturally significant remnant landscape that is Jock Marshall Reserve,” said Campus Design manager Jocelyn Chiew.

“In combination with the JMR Environmental Centre, the project responds to the University's ambition to be inclusive; to enable outreach, new partnerships, collaboration and innovation; and to create memorable, impactful and enriching campus experiences,

“The Nature Walk embodies the idea that a bridge isn’t just a means of getting from A to B, but a site for exchange, collaboration, encounter and discovery, all of which are ingredients for innovation,” she said.

Landscape Architects Urban Initiatives developed a minimal disturbance approach to all aspects of the design – both on and above ground.

“It was essential that we preserved all valuable vegetation, both for construction and to contribute to the ongoing experience and use of the nature walk” said Urban Initiatives Director Tim Hart.

“We used drone aerial photography during the design phase to map the path of the proposed boardwalk through the existing tree canopies. This helped to establish an elevated alignment for the boardwalk structure which retained the significant trees, providing a close tree top experience and excellent views into the Jock Marshall Reserve.”

The reserve was established by and named after the Foundation Chair of Zoology and Comparative Physiology, Professor AJ 'Jock’ Marshall. Professor Marshall was passionate about the campus environment and envisioned a native planting scheme for the campus and reserve. Many of the trees that line the walkways and squares of the Clayton campus are from plantings that were made in the early 1960s.

As a state award winner, the Jock Marshall Reserve Nature Walk will be considered for the national AILA landscape architecture awards, which will be presented in Sydney in October 2017.

This article was first published in The Insider, 27 Jul 17.