Eucalypteae: An Arboretum for Melbourne


“In the second half of the nineteenth century, arboreta joined natural history museums and zoological gardens as archetypal embodiments of the Victorian Fascination with the natural world.”


The arboretum is a typology symbolic of empire, enquiry and experience.  Emerging from Western colonial aspirations to classify and systematize new and old world ecologies, arboreta offered botanical fields for the exploration of production, objectification and aesthetics.  However, looking to the future what new forms could the arboretum take in Melbourne?


This thesis studio asks students to respond to a live brief for a new Eucalypt Arboretum for Melbourne, located on the urban Fringe in the rapidly developing suburb of Mernda.  This Area has experienced an unprecedented shift in land use over the past 200 years from an indigenous landscape to the colonial bucolic, through to the contemporary suburban greenfield.  Given the speculative nature of the economies of the land value in the surrounding context, against a climate in flux, this thesis asks, ‘what might an Arboretum in Mernda look like in 2050?’


Students will begin by interrogating the project brief, to critically speculate on novel forms for a twenty-first century arboretum.  Given Melbourne’s increasingly dry conditions and extreme weather patterns, designs will explore the potentials of form through hydrology, ecology, geology, culture, heritage, history, and shifting demography.


Master of Landscaping Architecture thesis

Fiona Johnson

Melbourne School of Design, Semester 2, 2019

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