McGregor Coxall has been appointed to lead the landscape renewal of the National Gallery of Australia’s sculpture garden following a successful open tender process.

McGregor Coxall will deliver a landscape design framework that guides the future development and management of the National Gallery’s iconic sculpture garden and landscape setting that lies within Canberra’s National Parliamentary Triangle. Interventions will seek to strengthen connectivity between distinct areas within the Gallery’s surrounds, creating a series of flexible, resilient public spaces and infrastructure suitable for a range of events, commemorative services, cultural appreciation, and visitor activities.

The landscape renewal framework will be developed in collaboration with the Traditional Custodians of the Canberra region to ensure local First Nations knowledge and culture is embedded within the renewed design principles and plantings.

Transformative strategies will draw on several National Gallery objectives ranging from enhancing the original garden design to improving accessibility and creating new opportunities for the dynamic display of public sculptures. The landscape design framework will explore the relationship between cultural, heritage, and ecological management, developing a holistic, multidisciplinary approach that ensures architectural integrity is maintained while achieving lasting social, economic, and environmental legacies for the site.

McGregor Coxall’s appointment marks the second opportunity to collaborate with the National Gallery, previously engaged from 2005 to 2010 to design the public spaces surrounding the Gallery’s new entrance (in collaboration with PTW Architects) and James Turrell’s Skyspace Within Without, culminating in the opening of the Australian Garden in 2010. Project Manager and Landscape Architecture Associate for McGregor Coxall’s Sydney Studio, Fraser Halliday, said: “The National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden is one of Australia’s most significant cultural landscapes,” he said. “With careful consideration to National Gallery’s inclusion on the National Heritage List, we must ensure its future direction pays respect to its past, is Grounded in First Nations knowledge, and demonstrates national leadership by advancing representation of First Nations culture and women artists.

“Nearly 40 years since the garden was first established, an incremental expansion of the institution and surrounding landscape, varying commitment to horticultural management and a decline in availability of resources has resulted in a landscape setting that in places is unbefitting of a national cultural institution. “Our approach will seek to enhance positive cultural, environmental and social outcomes for the National Gallery, creating a functional, aesthetic, and climate-resilient landscape that complements prestigious art commissions for the public to explore and appreciate.

“We are excited to return to the National Gallery and assist them in realising their vision for a dynamic cultural hub in the nation’s capital.” The National Gallery of Australia and McGregor Coxall acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the Traditional Custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.

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