Synergy 43

SOFT ENGINEERING

The ideal is alive and kicking at the City of Melville. Sitting and working side by side in its local government offices are the City’s civil engineers and landscape architects*. And while this is not new in itself, Melville’s projects are changing form thanks to the two disciplines bouncing ideas off each other. One in particular – water sensitive urban design – is a growing accepted practice across many professions, producing results using ‘soft engineering’, aka plants. Landscape architect, Zoe Williamson, explains how landscape and engineering work together at Melville, using the recent Esplanade works as an example…

“Landscape Architects have been using ditches and swales – land forming – to manage run-off for as long as the profession’s existed. However, the terminology is now changing: they’re known as biofilters and rain gardens and the science and design behind them is growing rapidly. So when our civil engineers were recently faced with designing a riverside drainage upgrade along the Esplanade in Mt Pleasant, we unanimously decided on a rain garden design to capture a large proportion of the road run-off.” The two teams joined forces – their aim was to engineer a biofilter.

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