Earth Sciences Garden

Project Details

rush wright associates pty ltd

Winner Category: 6 Landscape/Outdoor Learning Area

Monash University Clayton Campus Mathematics & Earth, Atmosphere and Environmental Building 9 Rainforest Walk


Project Overview

The Earth Sciences Garden at Monash University creates a new type of teaching resource for Geology and Earth Sciences. The project creates a large scale outdoor system garden, that integrates principles of geology, geomorphology, landscape character and ecotype into an exciting new campus asset. The project has established a new global precedent for the way in which specific scientific knowledge can be embedded in an outdoor space and used as a primary teaching resource for the study of environments.

Jury Citation

The Earth Sciences Garden delivers much more than an outdoor teaching laboratory.  The jury unanimously agreed this is a stand-out and exemplary model addressing all the criteria of its category.

It is described as a “a new form of ‘system garden’- a place of knowledge, a physical library for teaching and research”.

The intent is to showcase key features of the geology and geomorphology of Victoria enabling students to study the dramatic variety of Victorian ecosystems in one central landscape. However, careful consultation and research, along with a desire to provide much more is evident in the garden. The ‘natural’ features which are specifically selected and created, including hand crafted elements, tell a story of the past but also look into the future.

The garden has established a new precedent for the teaching of earth sciences, showing that scientific knowledge can be embedded in outdoor learning. With creativity and imagination it has successfully melded art and landscape architecture to provide  a beautiful space for the wider community including students, staff and neighbouring residents.

The amount of detailed consultation and planning required to  meet the University’s expectations for the space as a learning tool , ensure authenticity, yet provide more than a ‘curated garden display’ is commended and evident in the “truly accessible form of education, and a ‘constructed ecology’ par excellence.”

Monash University’s Earth Sciences Garden was created to showcase key features of the geology and geomorphology of Victoria and to establish an outdoor teaching laboratory for the study of Earth Sciences. The garden integrates rigorous geological science with landscape architecture and art making in a unique, hyper-real, semi-natural scene.

The garden establishes a new global precedent for the teaching of earth sciences.

A collection of rocks is arranged around tracings of the shapes and forms of Victoria’s geological and geographical features. These include the rocky Gippsland and Otway coasts, the western volcanic plains, and the sandy dune fields of the Wimmera Mallee region. The artificial landforms drain towards the central cracking clay pan, which holds water for short periods after rain. Feature rocks, stone pavements, gravels, mulches and plantings all echo the environments of specific regions of Victoria. Forms and shapes collide, creating difference and roughness at boundaries and edges. The effect is more ‘national park’ than curated display garden.

The 20 different types of rock, each representative of different formations and geological age, are specifically arranged so that students may map and understand the fundamental geological and geomorphological processes that have and continue to operate in Victoria. The angle, orientation, and specific placement of approximately 500 rock specimens tell a technical story about local geology, while the larger arrangements create a very diverse series of landscape spaces traced from regional geomorphology. Mapping the stones gives students hands-on insights, and experience of working in the field.

Plantings reflect the unique flora of each region on display. These demonstrate the vital biological links between the characteristics of each regional rock type, and the many ecological niches created by diverse geological processes over time. Students from a diverse range of disciplines can analyse the botanical qualities of the plants and the unique ecosystems, specific to each region. They can form an understanding of how closely intertwined the geology and environmental conditions, of a region, are to the flora and fauna that then evolve to colonise each specific habitat.

This page last updated: Tuesday 24 May 2016