A colour photograph of Australian native planting design. Grey-green branches of round eucaluptus leaves emerge from bright green tufts of grass.

Images: Chloe Ferres

Growing more at LESS

31 Jan 2023

Landscape is a living process, complex and evolving. As designers, we seek to influence but not control, enabling landscapes to shape us more than we shape them.

Within Canberra’s Dairy Road Precinct – a changing neighbourhood adjacent to Jerrabomberra Wetlands – sits the LESS Pavilion, designed by Chilean art and architecture studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen for Molonglo Group, with landscape architecture by OCULUS.

A colour photograph with Australian native planting in the foreground, and a concrete architectural structure in the background. Small tress are surrounded by long grasses and shrubs. A clear sky is visible in the top left corner of the image.

Part artwork, part public space, as "an intentionally ambiguous structure," explains Pezo von Ellrichshausen, "LESS invites the evolving community to interact with and occupy its varied spaces as they see fit."

The pavilion is encircled by 6,000 individual plants of over 40 different species, many of which are endemic to Canberra, designed to introduce a degree of wildness to a structure defined by formal geometries.

A colour photograph of a spiralling ramp taken from below. Two people are walking down the ramp. A sea of Australian native plants takes up the bottom half of the photograph and the canopy cover of large green trees obscures the sky.

Ngunnawal Country plant life is distinct for its muted tones of greens, greys and whites, floriferous winter and spring displays, with an ability to cope with harsh temperature variations and long periods of low rainfall. 

Eucalyptus mannifera (Brittle Gum), and its cultivar Little Spotty, give emergent canopy cover. While a floriferous mid-storey of Callistemon, Grevillea, Melaleuca and Acacia arranged in a lyrical composition, flower profusely at different times of the year, bringing a sense of enclosure to the landscape.

Our planting design for LESS engages with the particularities of space and ambience. Drifts of groundcovers and low-growing shrubs are interspersed with matrixes of grasses, sedges, and local wildflowers. Chaotic in appearance, the naturalistic planting will become more immersive and dominant with time. The growing plants will support the site’s evolution from its recent industrial history to a recessive landscape that might more closely resemble its pre-colonial ancestor.

This is Ngunnawal Country, within an area known as Biyaliegee.

A photograph of the landscape at Dairy Road in Canberra. The bottom half of the image is filled by Australian native plants, in the background a grey structure is visible - the structure is made up of very tall columns clustered together and a curved ramp reaching about a quarter of the way up.

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