Laneway a winner for kiwi landscape architect in Australia

Former Lincoln University student Matthew Durning has won a prestigious Australian Landscape Architecture Award. His project, Brisbane’s Fish Lane, won the 2018 Landscape Architecture Award for Urban Design, presented by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA).

Fish Lane is a vibrant inner-city laneway that connects Brisbane’s Cultural Centre and South Bank to suburban West End. It was once a dark, derelict backstreet before being transformed into a destination for dining, arts and culture.

 Matthew Durning (left) with RPS discipline lead Andrew Green.

Matthew Durning (left) with RPS discipline lead Andrew Green.

Durning says Fish Lane embraces four design principles:

* To create a safe and legible pedestrian focused streetscape

* To create desirable and inspiring subtropical spaces and places that are responsive to Brisbane’s climate

* To provide a canvas for sustainable innovation and creativity

* To provide a venue for local economy to thrive through distinct niche retail and commercial spaces.

Because it’s spread over four blocks, with a multitude of private owners and an omnipresent council, the need for a comprehensive stakeholder communication programme was paramount.

 Fish Lane is an escape for curious pedestrians, hungry workers, and art purveyors to explore.

Fish Lane is an escape for curious pedestrians, hungry workers, and art purveyors to explore.

“Because we were turning an unused space into a dynamic, 24-hour retail, hospitality and commercial area, we had to come up with a bold design to ensure a successful transformation,” Durning says. “We wanted to create an element of surprise and intrigue so decided to turn it into an ephemeral arts scape.”

Over 35 pieces of art including sculptures, murals, landscape and lighting , both temporary and permanent, are on display. Durning says this strategy “creates a destination and experiential immersion for audiences seeking out vibrant public places.”

 Fish Lane is punctuated by 35 artworks.

Fish Lane is punctuated by 35 artworks.

He says the experiential and discovery nature of the laneway unearths forgotten stories of the lane’s industrial history and Mr George Fish - the laneways namesake and proprietor of the old Fish Steam Laundry.

“The flexible nature of Fish Lane allows the space to become an ever changing landscape which supports festivals and events such as the Fish Lane Festival, which sees over eight and a half thousand attendees enjoy some of Brisbane’s best operators and live entertainers. It has positively contributed to the cultural and economic sustainability of this South Brisbane project.

“Fish Lane demonstrates how landscape architects can recreate and revitalise forgotten spaces in thriving viable public spaces that enhance quality of life for the wider community and expand the accessibility for social interaction.”

Durning graduated from St Bede’s in 2005 and then completed a Masters in Landscape Architecture at Lincoln University before moving to Brisbane in 2011 and then to Sydney with landscape architect company RPS.

 Fish Lane is quickly becoming Brisbane's coolest laneway.

Fish Lane is quickly becoming Brisbane's coolest laneway.