By Melissa Keogh
You might not know their name, but chances are you’ve heard of, seen or even walked along their work.
Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) is a leading Australian landscape architecture firm based in Adelaide and is behind some of the city’s most redefining public settings.
From the city’s heart of Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga to the Riverbank footbridge that connects thousands of sports fans with Adelaide Oval, their work has helped shape the CBD.
TCL’s senior landscape architect Alexandra Lock played a part in both of these landmarks.
But for Alexandra – an I Choose SA ambassador – designing something as significant as the 255m-long footbridge is about much more than getting people from A to B.
“It’s more than just a bridge,” she says.
“We’ve created a space that has become iconic in itself but also speaks to the scale and activity of the city.”
The Riverbank footbridge, completed in 2014, provides a vital connection to the Adelaide Festival Centre, railway station and Adelaide Oval. Its glass cladding, LED lighting and waterfall features make it a showpiece for the River Torrens.
But Alexandra’s portfolio doesn’t stop there.
The 33-year-old has worked on a number of other projects which have gone on to become highly recognised public spaces across Adelaide’s CBD and wider metropolitan areas.
When she joined TCL eight years ago as a graduate landscape architect from the University of Adelaide, her first project involved working on the masterplan and further documentation for the stage one redevelopment of Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga.
The project included an overall greening of the precinct, featuring flexible lawn for major events, extensive urban lounges, water features, and a more vibrant central plaza.
“That was a significant project for the studio but also for Adelaide in general – it is the heart of the city and was the first masterplan to be fully endorsed for the square in 40 years,” Alexandra says.
In 2015, Alex’s work on the redevelopment of another town square 11km from the city in Henley Beach was complete, featuring public furniture, terracing, shade for visitors and a “playful plaza”.
Her work also sprawls across cities and regional areas around the country.
TCL was born in SA in 1989 and has an office on Grote Street in Adelaide and in Melbourne, employing a complete team of 25 people.
Its name comes from the first letter of the surnames of each of its founders, the late Kevin Taylor, Kate Cullity and Perry Lethlean.
TCL has influenced the design and layout of national parks, wetlands and gardens across the country, and also works on projects overseas.
Its local portfolio includes a collection of infrastructure, urban design and residential projects, from the Adelaide Airport pedestrian bridge and plaza upgrade, to public art along the 23km Northern Expressway.
TCL was also behind the redevelopment of North Terrace in the CBD.
Over the years the northern side of the premier civic street has been transformed into a more open and inviting cultural boulevard with a greater connection between the major public institutions and the open space around them.
“Beforehand, North Terrace had fences and rambling, overgrown gardens around the institutions, which blocked them off from the rest of the street,” Alexandra says.
“Views to the exceptional heritage architecture of the buildings were being lost.
“It was a big move to remove these barriers, open up the ground plane and replant with taller canopy trees. It allowed the public to filter through the university and around the museum and library, creating far better access to these institutions and reconnecting the terrace to the river.”
Alexandra says she believes the way Adelaide people engage with the public realm is becoming more important to their every day lives.
“People need to feel just as comfortable in a public space as they would in their own backyard,” she says.
“The city is developing quickly so there needs to be a focus on design quality and innovative design solutions.
“Adelaide has a lot of local talent in design, planning and in the engineering disciplines that our city is benefiting from.”
Not only is Alexandra choosing to allow her design career to flourish in Adelaide, but she’s also raising a family here.
With her second child due in October, she says she finds comfort in the city’s affordable housing market and its “small town” vibe.
And it’s this same small town community feel that holds the key to Adelaide’s success, she says.
“I think it’s going to be really important that Adelaide builds strength as a vibrant city and that we stay true to that as Adelaide continues to grow,” Alexandra says.
“It’s important that we don’t rush it and that we get it right, and I think Adelaide is quite good at getting things right.”
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