Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington Landscape architecture students Tyler Florance, Luke Gray, Lauren Kendon, Zoe Mason and Hannah Merrett-Kaufman achieved joint first place in the Student Design Competition at the Coastal & Estuarine Resear
The conference, themed ‘Resilience and Recovery’, comprised of a range of activities such as workshops, panel sessions, and field trips to landscape restoration projects at Salmon River and Cascade Head near Portland.
The Design Competition challenged entrants to formulate innovative solutions to combat climate change-inducedchallenges, particularly flooding, erosion, and related impacts within the town of Tillamook, Oregon.
The students immersed themselves in a comprehensive understanding of the local ecosystems and community dynamics. They conducted a meticulous analysis, identifying strengths, risks, and vulnerabilities of the study area.
Harnessing the power of virtual collaboration, the students engaged with esteemed academics, including Dr. Stephanie Grutzmacher and Dan Stark, along with fellow students Kira Frever and Hailey Coll from Oregon State University. Valuable feedback poured in from a distinguished panel of experts, including Coral Avery (Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center), Dr. Lea Johnson (Longwood Gardens), Wetland Research Associates landscape architect Ingrid Morken, Dr. Christo Rautenbach (NIWA), Amanda Rockler (University of Maryland Extension), Sanket Sali (JSC Premium Architectural & Building Solutions), Dr. Olyssa Starry (Portland State University).
The students embarked on their project journeys during the Landscape Architecture Design Studio IV / Te Taupuni Mahi Pokepoke, Whakarākei hoki i a Papa-tūā-nuku IV under the mentorship of Dr Victoria Chanse. The design competition site is characterised by timber and agricultural landscapes that are low-lying, at risk from earthquakes, and at risk from sea level change. The student entries included first developing a resiliency framework and included climate change design responses around addressing salinity, stormwater management, agroecology and cultural landscapes.
Reflecting on the experience, student Tyler Florance expressed profound gratitude, stating, “I couldn't have asked for a better educational experience; being immersed in an environment filled with climate, environmental, and ecological scientists and researchers proved to be endlessly inspiring.”
Beyond the competition, the students delved into the vibrant landscape, planning, and design scene of Portland. They visited acclaimed firms such as GreenWorks and MIG, gaining insights into award-winning projects. The immersion extended beyond professional exploration; students networked at the Oregon Chapter of the American Society for Landscape Architects’ Design Awards Banquet and paid a visit to Tillamook, generously facilitated by Oregon State University Extension’s Dan Stark.
Zoe Mason said, “Exploring the Cascade Head, the Forestry Museum, and the vibrant ambience of Portland provided unparalleled opportunities for networking with both remarkable students and seasoned experts in the field.”
Luke Gray recalled, “I listened to and talked with some of the most amazing, intelligent and dedicated people I have ever met. The opportunity to learn and network with such a great group of people was truly special.”
Lauren Kendon emphasized the broader impact of the trip, sharing.
“The trip has opened up opportunities for work and study experiences overseas and allowed me to understand how different cultures approach the same issues in regard to climate resiliency.”
Behind the scenes, Dr. Victoria Chanse played a pivotal role in securing this transformative opportunity for the students through funding associated with the conference.
Dr. Chanse, visibly impressed by the students’s performance, commented, “I remained so impressed with our incredible students throughout the conference. The design competition jury was surprised to learn that our students were finishing up their final year in the undergraduate programme. This was due to the excellence of the student design work and their sophisticated presentations.”
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