AILA Fresh Studio Tour Review

This is belated post to feature some content from the two AILA Fresh Studio Tours we ran in October across Melbourne and its CBD.

Myself and Veronica Carrasco each took one of the studio tours, leading a different group of enthusiastic young professionals through the day.

A big thank you goes out to Veronica for keeping me sane!

A big thank you as well to Danielle Rancourt for helping us out with the second tour review!

Both tours captured different aspects of Landscape Architecture practice, from small fledgling businesses finding their feet, through to large practices of international renown. A total of six offices were visited, with a variety of presentation methods and media.

AILA Fresh Studio Tour 01
Date: October 8, 2014
By: Nathan Collins

Tour 01 saw eleven students and graduates begin the day with a visit to Hansen Partnership, with a presentation by Anton Malishev and Jessica Gigliotti about the development of a graduate into the senior roles of an office, and generally the professional growth associated with work at Hansens. A whirlwind overview of some of their completed projects, along with a stealthy walk around the office and some ‘desktop discussions’ with some staff on the floor kept everyone interested.

Next on the agenda was Aspect Studios, which after an interesting ride on the 86 tram began with a brief introduction by Melbourne studio Director Kirsten Bauer, before an in depth conversation with Niki Schwabe about the use of digital tools, such as 3D modelling and photo realistic rendering, in contemporary landscape architecture. Niki ran us through a number of cutting edge projects where the use of modelling and visualization tools were critical in the delivery of the projects.

Lastly the team visited CoDesign Studios (literally across the road from Aspect Studios), where we met with co-founder and CEO Lucinda Hartley who ran us through the evolution of CoDeisgn, and her personal journey which led her to become interested in community oriented design. With a wide discussion ranging between the implementation strategies of community oriented design, through to the effective measures that can begin to assist with gradual change in the landscape.

The day was capped off with a few drinks at a local Smith Street haunt, with chit chat about professional life, the Royal Botanical Gardens Cranbourne (by TCL), the latest design studio and ambitions for the future. All in all a great day, with some interesting presentations that captured a wide range of practices across Melbourne.

AILA Fresh Studio Tour 02
Date: October 8, 2014
By: Danielle Rancourt BLA

33 Guildford Lane

A studio presentation was led by landscape architects Cameron Macdonald and Diane Baini which began with a brief overview of the company and presentations of featured projects designed by the OCULUS studio team. With offices in Melboune, Sydney, and the USA, OCULUS’s design team includes landscape architects, architects and urban designers who design through process and collaboration, along with both top-down and bottom-up approaches. The creation of physical models for their designs is what makes OCULUS unique as a studio, which is apparent as soon as you enter their office and see all of the models. As Di and Cam presented the featured projects, they invited individuals from the office who were involved in each project. Each professional provided intimate details of the design and how it was developed. The designs that were featured were at a range of different scales and styles, including the following: a Parks Victoria project for Studley Park in Kew where the design was communicated through a series of experiential images rather than a site plan; an intimate roof garden in Brunswick winning eight Greenstar points; and the design for the FABP building at Melbourne University where the landscape seamlessly integrates the historical buildings into the modern architecture.

143 Franklin Street

Urban Initiatives director Tim Hart and senior landscape architect Jason Isaks gave a presentation of their studio, starting with a breakdown of the design approach at Urban Initiatives and discussed in detail some of their recent significant projects that they had worked on. Urban Initiatives is proudly one of Australia’s first landscape architecture studios, with a focus on public space, urban design, playground design and large-scale projects. They have a diverse team with backgrounds in landscape architecture, urban design, architecture, industrial design and graphic design. Their design approach involves putting an emphasis on the character, history of place and site context of a project, while working closely with contractors to ensure their designs are followed through from concept to construction. Tim and Jason spoke to their studio’s design of the town of Marysville that was devastated by the bush fires in 2009, where Urban Initiatives created a meaningful master plan for the rehabilitation of their streetscape. Other featured designs included the very sincere design for the Strathewen Memorial; the Grange Reserve playground with a fun UFO play space; and modern zoo designs for the hippo exhibit at Werribee Zoo and the lemur exhibit at the Melbourne Zoo.

73 Sackville Street

Presenting their studio in a group discussion, the entire ENLOCUS team, with company principals Jason McNamee, Michael Ford, and Wade Trevean and landscape architects Ivanka Buczma and Richard Grocke spoke to their company’s design culture and approach to their projects. In contrast to the other studios visited on the studio tour, ENLOCUS is a young and emerging design firm in Australia. Their design approach involves connecting with communities and the youth within them to create social infrastructure in their projects. They also use strategies such as creating their own prototypes to prove points – for example, in their streetscape design for Pascoe Vale Road, the team manufactured their own paving stone to prove that it could be produced (in which it was successfully installed). Additionally, to ensure their unique designs are successful in their production, the team maintains close relationships with manufacturers and artisans. Other featured designs presented by ENLOCUS included the intersection of Sydney Road and Dawson Street in Brunswick with informal spaces where the user can create their own experience; Peel Street Park which was designed from a detail that evolved into a master plan; and various skateparks around Australia that are designed to unite communities.

Speed Dating Meet & Greet

Hey Team,

The next event for Fresh will be an AILA FRESH Speed Dating night.

This event is about CONFIDENCE, and getting to know some of the professionals currently working in the various fields of Landscape Architecture.

You won’t be dating for love, you’ll be dating for information, critique, review, opportunity, and professional tips.

Get to know what it takes to make it in the industry, what the lessons are, and how you can set yourself apart.

Food and Drinks supplied. Numbers are limited.


Poster coming shortly


Hey Freshers,
Just keeping you up to date with some events happening in the landscape world.
It is time for the 9th Australian Road Engineering & Maintenance Conference, which over two days will discuss the importance of new developments, their issues with roads and their environs.
While the title of the event may not spark your interest, the second day of the event features a high number of Landscape Architects and other associated professionals speaking about:
Wayfinding, Safety, Transport, Subdivision and Road Layout Design, Popular Street Design (Focus on High Street in Northcote), and Pop-Up Street Experiments among other things.
Some of the key speakers from Day 2 include Lucinda Hartley, Tim O’Loan, Scott Graham (Chair), David Dreadon, Martin Reeves, Charles Nilsen, Matt Doolan, along with a host of others speakers.
AILA is subsidising the cost of the event for all new AILA Members, making it a more affordable event for us, so please become a member! More information on the weblink bewlow:
AILA Student Membership forms are on the link below:
AILA Graduate Membership forms are on the link below:

Active Landscape

Hey Guys, 

Nate here doing my first post as AILA Fresh leader for 2014. 

I hope you are all looking forward to getting involved in some events this year with AILA. We are open to any ideas or suggestions for forums or events that you think could be fun, helpful, and hopefully landscape architecture related. 

We are brainstorming some events as we speak, however we more than welcome new ideas. 

In the coming weeks I will be announcing some other Fresh Helpers, and a lineup of what to look forward to in Fresh this year. 

But to kick us off, Fresh is helping to promote an event, ‘TRAINING DAY’ in Brunswick, run by BOULDERGEIST in conjunction with the City of Moreland. 

BOULDERGEIST is after a number of volunteers to help run their ‘TRAINING DAY’ – centred around a pop up park at Wilson Avenue, which is earmarked for development as an Active Space in Brunswick. 

The event promotes healthy and active lifestyles, while encouraging active space to be developed in Brunswick.

See below for some info from the guys at Bouldergeist:



 “Everyone likes Parking Day but we think it could be bumped up a notch. Our first experiment with this is Training Day. Training Day is essentially a 9 station training circuit which, is centred around the pop up park at Wilson Avenue Brunswick. The pop up park is part of a lead up to a permanent active space on the same site. The circuit leaves and returns to Wilson Avenue several times taking participants to several community gyms where they will be put through custom workouts lead by some of the suburbs finest trainers. 

We are running the event in 3 modes. Gentle mode is for seniors and the not as fit is the first. This will allow people to engage with the trainers who may impart some simpler exercises to keep the body active. We hope this is a gateway in for some people who may be intimidated by the idea of going to a facility to learn or train. The second is fun mode where participants are encouraged to choose what they want to do at their own pace. We are expecting hipster types to frolic around this mode before heading to Howler. It’s for fun! The third mode is competitive mode where participants will be timed and ranked from fastest to slowest. The fastest male and female will be given the title champion of Brunswick and may get a trophy. Competitive mode is as much about pushing yourself as much as beating others. Competition can be friendly and the mode creates an event within the event.

We hope as this event develops that we can start to take the trainers out of the gyms and place them more solidly in the urban realm with some parking day style aesthetics to feature the landscape in a fuller way however for now we are just happy to give it a run to see how it goes. We are very happy with who we have involved. Gym culture is changing and some progressive people are redefining the gym into something more cultural and tailored to a wider audience than what is traditionally available. There will also be a climbing wall station and couple of Brunswick type twists thrown in.

What I’m loving about organizing this event is the awesome spirit of collaboration found within the community and the enthusiasm everyone has for developing more active spaces beyond what we traditionally get. Its also great to see how the private enterprises are quite enthusiastic about the potential of public space and see it a complementary to their own ideals…….. So that’s what we are doing. Its Sunday March 16, Wilson Avenue Brunswick from  2 – 6. Go to Better Blocks Brunswick on facebook for more details and see what has already been happening at this space. 

We could use a couple of helpers on this one so if you think you would like to help organize or run the event then email “

Get keen, be involved, learn something. 

More to come…

pic below: West African Drummers playing on The Bunjil nest used to initially activate Wilson Avenue in the fun filled lead up to the permanent space to be completed later this year


Shades of Green – Event

Hello LAs, design and planning professionals and engaged individuals!

Are Victoria’s National Parks important to you? Are you aware of the latest policy changes allowing commercial leases within national parks and the environmental and practical implications surrounding our professions?

Get informed on the recent Victorian National Parks Act Amendment Bill and discuss broader landscape management issues such as: are protection and development mutually exclusive? Join the diverse panel of key players to grapple with Shades of Green…

6pm Tuesday 24th of September@ Flagstaff Bowls Club panel including:


Director of Tourism Consultants Sanmor and Associates – Graham Morris


Executive Director Land Management Policy, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) – Peter Beaumont

Executive Director, Victorian National Parks Association – Matt Ruchel

Director, McGregor Coxall – Mark Haycox (Speaking on Shipwreck Coast Masterplan)

Professor of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT – Michael Buxton

Group Business Development Manager, Grollo Leisure and Tourism – Darren Walls

Promises to be a great night – book now as numbers are limited!


SHADES OF GREEN - book now



At the end of July Hope Street Studios provided the venue for a CAD reFresher. We discussed ACad and Vectorworks programs, favorite shortcuts and shared file maintenance tips. Thanks to some advice from Andrew Chau (Cad extraordinaire), we’re a little bit more qualified to document projects.


Mid-July saw an event addressing the concern of many graduates trying to ‘find ground’ in a difficult job market. There appears to be very few graduates finding work in studios/firms and the competition among job seekers of 5+ years experience in rife. We invited several guest speakers in various avenues within landscape architecture where graduates might be able to continue to broaden their skills and find some much necessary experience.



A few tips..


Consider how additional information can send a clear message about you and be sure to address the Key Criteria. Some job applications ask for additional submissions.


Experience and knowledge can be gained from many types of work


An overview of Landscape Architects – presentation by Kirsten Bauer


A career in Project Management – presentation of Grant Cameron of Surface



‘Find your niche’ – presentation by Chris Findlay of Flora Victoria



Installation art and Sculpture – presentation by Mark Stoner (artist)


Opportunities in volunteering – presentation by Lucinda Hartley of CODesign



Article submitted by Natarsha Lamb

3d model maker

‘Tech’ is such an apt name for this talented guy friends with the Fresh group for a number of years. A native of Malaysia Ooi Tech Yan completed his Masters of Landscape Architecture at RMIT University in 2012. His interest in 3dimensional graphics and model making continues and he has been working building his own 3d printer and fine tuning his art.

I started with a Reprap Prusa back in 2012 with parts printed from someone with another Reprap. Repraps are Open Source 3D Printers. That means anyone can view the plans and contribute to their development. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop printers that are self-replicating. Right now, the printers can print the majority of its structural components. I initially intended to use it as a tool to accompany and develop my design process in school (RMIT University).

The ability create actual accurate physical objects from an virtual 3D drawings has been really useful. A year later, after using the printer for various projects and countless hours tweaking and calibrating the printer, I would say my design process has grown alongside the printer, giving me a stronger ability to visualise designs and spot potential problems before it is created.That said, having the luxury of quickly printing a physical model out and spotting problems to fix in the modelling software is amazing as well.

I’m currently running a Mendelmax with parts that was printed from my Prusa.

I’m happy to talk to anyone who has any questions regarding 3D printing or is interested in getting some parts or a project printed. Drop me a line if you’re keen on building a printer yourself and would like some advice.


Detail of a print; the layering effect isn’t very noticeable and the object is quite robust.


My design for the X-Carriage for my 3D printer.


Chainmail Bracelet. Prints flat, bends and flexes around the wrist.


Regular and Diagrid bracelets. Makes great gifts for people.


Sim City 2000 Tabletop Play Set


A model that was used to help conceptualize the layout of a space through playing and rearranging the different elements.


A vase that was scaled up to make a pencil case.


Eiffel tower model. Printed in two parts and stands approximately 330mm tall.


My custom designed battery case for a quadcopter.


One of my earlier prints of a Gyroid. Only a fourth of it finished, but the outcome looked pretty good.


A blockbot toy and assorted 3D printer parts.


Yoda Bust. This print won a small competition on the Reprap forums.,154559,157388#msg-157388

Studio Tour 2013

2013-05-07 22.23.24

Pollen Studios with Dan Nunan (& Flynn Hart)


Bike/Train Tour

From Northcote, to Richmond and the city, a few kept it Fresh by taking the scenic route to peddle the Merri Creek and Capital City bike trails between studios.

The following is an account of the two tours by participants.



Pollen Studio, situated on the corner of Westgarth St and High St, shares its space inside the ‘Head Quarters’ with a diverse range of other designers and artists.

Dan Nunan, the Director of Pollen Studio, presented the practice through a series of slides on a projection.

Dan and Flynn enjoy the process of making and creating, ensuring that their designs are detailed on an intimate level; everything from their hand stamped business cards, to small badges and planter boxes.

Pollen’s projects ranges from small scale landscape architectural designs such as playground to public art installations at events, as well as some pro bono work for ‘pollenation’.

Whilst Pollen is considering adding another member to the team in the future, they are quite happy with where they are at right now, in terms of the amount of projects and the scope of the work.

Tract with Mark Skiba

Tract with Mark Skiba


Tract is a mid to large sized practice in Richmond, employing a team of around 60 talented urban designers, town planners, landscape architects, and admin staff.

We were greeted by Mark Skiba, Landscape Architect, and were introduced to a brief history of Tract, their work, and taken through a tour of the office.

The studio is broken up into different sections; with landscape architects working on the ground floor, urban designers and town planners on the first floor – perhaps an unconscious embodiment of the typical range and level of consideration the respective disciplines engage at within their work? However it was suggested that they frequently experimented with the reallocation of desks, whether to have the planners mingle within landscape architects or to separate the two – which would work better? The Directors also work in the same space as the other staff members, making
it easy to talk to them and get advice.

An interesting practise in Tract is that on Fridays, the whole office gathers together to present work to each other, which doubles as a Friday night drinks session.



AECOM, situated in a landmark building in the CBD, Nauru House, occupies level 45. Having breathtaking views in 360 degrees was just one of the benefits of its location.

Tim O’Loan, Associate Director of Planning and Design, presented some of what AECOM represents and took us through a tour around the office.

Tim reflected on his experience at AECOM and his decision to work at this global corporation. It was pointed out that a benefit of being a part of a large company, and being situated in a government building, is that you are able to pull expertise across from the different levels of professionals to assist in the more complex projects. The ability to do this allows AECOM to undertake projects on a larger scale and complex nature that smaller firms cannot normally handle.

The day was finished off with drinks and snacks, while the students and presenters comingled and discussed various topics relating to the profession and the tour.

by Zhipeng Cai

City Tour

by Dolly Chew

I would like to express my appreciation to AILA Fresh for organising the 2013 Studio Tour event. This event offers Landscape Architecture students like me an opportunity to gain an insight into some of the Landscape Architecture studios and offices across the Melbourne CBD. The studios that I visited were Oculus, Hassell and Aecom. I thought it was really interesting that I got to see all three of these studios as I thought each one of them were unique and different in its own size and operation, offering me, three varied types of experiences.

Compared to Hassell and Aecom, Oculus would probably be considered as a relatively small-sized firm focusing on landscape architecture and urban design. Hassell on the other hand, is what I would consider as a design powerhouse that incorporates architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, planning and urban design.  Aecom is unique in its own sense, that it is a multidisciplinary organisation that has departments raging from engineering to environment to transportation. This suggests a more consultancy and holistic design office where they can easily draw on the expertise of different disciplines within their organisation.

Overall, I thought the studio tour ran very successfully. We were given the opportunity to ask questions throughout the tour and also, a really good opportunity at the end of the tour to connect with past students and people that are currently working in the industry.

by Emily Assheton

As an overseas student from Edinburgh University I was very pleased to be invited to the ALIA Fresh tour, which I attended along with fellow RMIT students.

The afternoon’s walking tour took us to three offices within the CBD. The first was Oculus, it was great to be able to look around this creative and dynamic studio where we had a chance to look at the honest way that they work, with impressive models and artistic visual techniques, which I found very inspiring.

A short walk across the city took us to Hassell, where a great contrast in scale was immediately apparent between the studios. A particularly interesting project to me was the redesign of a high street in a predominantly Afghanistan community, the design involving the subtle integration of cultural designs, with tiling motifs and geometric patterns in the street furniture.

At ear popping level and with an impressive view of the city, we then visited the Aecom. After a presentation of their current work, I had a chance to chat with the other students, Fresh Team and with one of Aecom Landscape Architects about the studios we had seen and the current work climate in both Melbourne and worldwide.

Overall this was such a valuable afternoon, to be able to see into these studios and hear from the people who work in them every day. It would be great if something like this was offered in Edinburgh around the practices based there and I will definitely be asking for a chance to do this. Thanks so much ALIA Fresh Team!

by Qian Wang

The Fresh walking studio tour was carried out very well and provided us a great opportunity of getting to know how the different practices work.

The 3 studios that we visited varied in scope:

Oculus: 8 -10 people

Hassell: around 100 people

Aecom: a couple hundred people (internationally)

Among the three studios, Oculus stood out for a number of the students on tour, for presenting  a very flexible design atmosphere. The design team is formed of 8 designers, all taking a crucial role within the design process.  Together they run the projects with great flexibility.

They presented a variety of modelling techniques including the use of unexpected materials and innovative details. We learnt that master plans don’t always need to be photo-shopped, they can be a master model as well.

Hassell is a corporate office including a Landscape, Architecture and Interior department. The presented projects are mostly street scale with a careful method of catering the social infrastructure.

The 3 studios visited, presented 3 potential career paths of a landscape architect. As a soon-to-be graduating student, the smaller design studios which would provide a more creative, flexible working environment appeals most to me.

Oculus studios

Oculus studios

Hassell studio with Cassandra Chilton

Hassell studio with Cassandra Chilton

Aecom foyer

Aecom foyer

view from the 45th at Aecom

view from the 45th at Aecom

AILA REGISTRATION – What is it all about?

You’ve graduated and have been working in landscape architecture, so now you’re wondering whether to become a ‘RLA’ (Registered Landscape Architect) and what is involved? You’re not alone. Amongst other early career LA’s, I have felt a little confused by the whole thing, so I have talked to a few people involved in the process to get a better understanding.

Many other professions; accountants, engineers, lawyers and our nemesis the architect, have a registration process or charter, giving what seems to be the final ‘cap’ in training for the profession, that is legally recognised.
Unlike those professions, to practice as, and call yourself a ‘Landscape Architect’ does not legally require registration. However, the task of becoming a RLA structures professional development and aims to raise the bar in practice. Registration requires that the person has:

  • a recognised academic qualification;
  • a period of training through experience (two years minimum post-grad.), followed by successful completion of the AILA examination;
  • completed 1 year mentorship with an AILA Registered Landscape Architect;
  • applied for registration to AILA 

Becoming registered may enable you as an individual to be considered for job promotion and as a company having registered landscape architects, can give professional credibility and reassurance amongst government departments and other companies where project tenders have been submitted. Being a registered member and maintaining the relationship with AILA will allow you to have a greater say and help further develop the profession.
It is argued that there is a tangible difference between those who are registered and those who are not, however there are many ‘Landscape Architects’ whom have been practising for many years but are not registered.

Registering gives you the opportunity to help the profession grow, know what else is happening in the professional sphere, and also have the backing, or supposed backing of a professional body.” (A. Chau)


You are able to undergo AILA registration as a:

  • graduate member (2 – 4 years post-grad.),
  • standard entry (5 – 8 years post-grad.),
  • senior member (8+ years post-grad.) or,
  • candidate that has overseas experience/registration.

A one year mentoring program is required for graduate members and standard entry but not for seniors or those with overseas registration (although these are also welcome to undergo mentoring). Some members may be able to be individually reviewed on their experience for consideration of entry into the registration program.
Following graduation, landscape architects may have limited exposure to the many areas of practice during their early years. Therefore some potential applicants may be better advised to wait another year or two beyond the 2 year minimum before applying for AILA registration. It may take several years (3 to 5 years) to gain the necessary levels of competence across enough of the identified categories to be accepted as a registered member.

“AILA membership as a graduate is something that is not really spoken of, it is a great way to start learning about what the AILA does and its purpose, before going down the road of registration/mentoring. The bare minimum is two years, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t look into what the AILA does, or participate in the CPD offerings, or Fresh. Every bit helps when it comes to a young professional just starting out in the real world. When you should register is completely different for each individual, because AILA is not a regulatory body, and you don’t need it to do what we do best – design spaces for people.”
(A. Chau)



When you have decided to commit to the registration process, contact someone registered that is willing to act as and commit to mentoring you through the course of one year (more on this under ‘Get A Mentor’). You will need to have two sponsors that will confirm your experience that enables you to proceed with the mentorship.
Next you are required to pay the AILA membership fee of $550 if you are already a graduate member or $880 for non-grad members (so a good reason to already have your membership). This is due February upon application but membership renewals are due July.
From there you will need to download a copy of the AILA handbook that includes information about the AILA charter, Code of Practice and the Constitution etc.

Frustratingly not all the information required can be found in one handbook. It would be useful if there were a study guide incorporated into the handbook and that a hard copy would be sent to applicants (the hardcopy can be requested), accompanying the receipt of payment.
The intention is that you undertake your own research. You will need to source the additional resources through the AILA website and talk to professionals including your mentor.

“There is a great study guide prepared by Michael Ryan; it covers a lot of the things that you should know before you even attempt the interview. Then there is the AILA handbook, which would provide you many hours of brain numbing reading, it’s not that bad, you have to break it down and find examples of your work/experiences to compare.” (A. Chau)


A workshop is organised through AILA which occurs in April of each year, after 12 months of mentoring and once you have lodged your mentors’ report. This workshop is taken by volunteer RLA’s and aims to prepare candidates for the final exam held in May of each year. It summarises the 13 competencies, topical subjects to give you a broader understanding of current issues, professional responsibilities to the community & environment, your understanding of AILA as a legal entity and professional body.
It has been suggested that an initial workshop is held at the beginning of the mentoring process, with recent registrars to discuss the assessment process and address any issues that might have arisen. It is also a good idea to form a network with others that are going for registration so that together you can discuss topics that you may be having difficulty with. This is up to individuals to organise for themselves. Such groups are formed in other states (NSW & QLD) and are said to help with ongoing professional development, even years after you have registered. In general, it is a good idea to discuss your work methods with others for continual learning and support.

“This year a group of mentorees have setup some discussion sessions, with some of the mentors providing lectures on certain topics. Be proactive and speak to people who have done the mentoring, they will know what there is out there.” (A. Chau)

Professional Roles and Responsibilities

Through the course of one year, the Professional Roles and Responsibilities are covered with the help of a mentor who will discuss your experience in these areas and where further experience may need to be gained. These competencies are:

  • The AILA
  • The Profession
  • Legal Aspects
  • Administration
  • Design Process
  • Sketch Plan
  • Master Plan Competent
  • Technical Skills
  • Collaboration
  • Tendering Techniques
  • Contract Administration Skills
  • Report & Policy Writing Skills


The mentor is someone you have approached that is registered (they need to have been registered for over 2 years), and experienced across all sectors of practice. Commonly, this is a person with whom you work but can also be someone that you know in the industry that you have a good rapport with. The mentor must also be committed as they are signing up and should be able to provide credible feedback or point you in the direction of further learning. The mentor also earns CPD points through the mentoring process.

“The opportunity to meet with your mentor allows you to talk about issues that you may have experienced at work, regarding the profession. And to also discuss parts of the criteria that you are not well versed.” (A. Chau)

During scheduled monthly meetings (as a minimum), the mentor will review your work, assess, critique and suggest where you might improve. Within this schedule it is a good idea to set yourself goals between meetings and learn to challenge your mentor with ‘how to’ scenarios. The mentors’ role is to discuss and check your work and when they are satisfied that you are showing a level of competency, will sign off on the different roles and responsibilities. The work will often be projects that you have worked on (past and present), although there is also an opportunity to investigate work through analysis and re-working, to reflect and challenge it.

“When you involve yourself in the learning process, it is likely to give you a greater understanding of your responsibility as a landscape architect, when dealing with other professions, and provides you with confidence in your practice and capacity to challenge the status quo.. The sooner you learn to become involved in the process, you can engage with the criteria”.
(C. Martin)

The work examples that you discuss with your mentor are not further submitted to AILA. In this, there can inconsistency between candidates and the amount of effort that they put into their mentorship, and this will vary depending on what different mentors are willing to sign off on. This might be caused through the mentor not having enough time, so it is important that both the candidate and the mentor commit to their meetings at regular intervals.

“Through this (signing off process), the body of work that supports the mentor’s report is not presently required to be submitted for AILA’s review.” (C. Martin)

“The AILA provides a checklist for the mentor to go through, as a guide to ensure that the applicant has the experience. I think the list is a good starting point for discussion and investigation into your own professional experiences, and lacking that, the experiences of other people/mentor. I think the purpose of the mentoring is for the applicant to learn, that aged old saying of “you never stop learning” stays true. It’s most likely you won’t be tested/interviewed on every aspect of the criteria, but for the applicant’s own development the criteria should be reviewed.”  (A. Chau)


While it is ideal to be able to gain the necessary experience within your place of work, through professional development, it might be necessary to move around to gain experience across different fields. Where you can, discuss your professional development and set goals with your place of work so that they can give you exposure to work that covers the different areas of practice. It might be a useful opportunity for people working in a small practice to go outside the company and seek other professionals that are experts in different fields and can supplement your knowledge.

“Even talking with your peers is important, I think especially you and your peers would be more candid about the experiences, which normally means more real world interpretations as opposed to text book style.” (A. Chau)

Additional experience may be gained through information sessions with alliance projects, courses taken, professional events and academic work. There are good opportunities through the various events organised through AILA that give you CPD (Continuing Professional Development) points .
Your mentor may suggest you contact other experts to cover areas. This is quite often done in areas of: due diligence, indemnity insurance, copy-right law, intellectual property, tendering and contract law which can be updated regularly.

CPD’s (Continuing Professional Development)

Identify your weaknesses and attend events or courses to gain the necessary experience. As an AILA member it is necessary to meet 30CPD’s per year. This can be done through industry events, courses, teaching, volunteering and contributing articles. AILA Cultivate and AILA Fresh run several events each year which addresses interest topics. Events and courses are often promoted on the AILA website but other courses are available such as:

DPCD courses –

Lectures and interest topics run by different councils or government departments –


In May of each year the exam or interview of registration candidates take place. On the interview panel there are three state representative volunteers who will question you about your understanding of the AILA charter and have a discussion on professional roles and responsibilities, as well as your work experience. Generally within two weeks after the interview you will be given notice of whether you passed the interview or not. If successful, there is a sometimes a small ceremony within one of the AILA events where you will be presented with a certificate of Registration.


Whether you decide to register or not is both a professional and personal opinion. Factors worth considering are the cost involved in being a member (initial registration and then yearly fees), continued learning and development through the mentoring process, and whether you believe the AILA is a worthwhile professional body that you want to support and be involved with. The more members that are involved, volunteering their time and expertise, the stronger AILA will be to lobby for change in both practice and environmental development.

For further information go to:


Written by Natarsha Lamb, Landscape Architect, AILA Fresh leader, volunteer

Article contributors:
Darren Atkinson, RLA, Urbis Melbourne – AILA Victoria Membership Chair
Sophie Barnsley, Senior Landscape Architect, ASPECT Studios, Melbourne – overseas applicant 2013
Andrew Chau, Landscape Architect, ASPECT Studios, Melbourne – membership applicant 2013-2014
Clare Martin, Associate, Oculus, Melbourne – membership applicant 2012-2013